In this article, we will tackle the 4th golf power effector that is one of the top 8 that most effect your golf distance. Improving your secondary spine angle will help you gain up to 15 yards on your drives…instantly!
Secondary spine angle is a measure of the lateral tilt of your spine at the top of the backswing position. It is a key factor and one that I have not written about until now.
Although we measure the secondary spine angle at the top of the backswing, it is naturally setup in the address position. If you are a right handed golfer, you right hand is lower on the golf grip than the left hand. If follows that if the arms are the same length, the right shoulder will be lower than the left shoulder.
The key is to maintain this position to the top of the backswing and properly load your right side to prepare for a powerful release back down to the impact position. The the secondary spine angle is the spines tilt away from the target.
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2 Big Swing Faults
When golfers lose or fail to utilize the power of the secondary spine angle, 1 of 2 possible swing faults occur.
1. The first swing fault that we see with a loss of secondary spine angle is the nasty reverse pivot. A reverse pivot occurs when the golfer keeps more weight on the front leg than the back leg at the top of the backswing position. You can tell if you are subject to this swing mistake if you left knee moves forward over the left foot instead of moving backwards towards the golf ball.
From my physical therapy background, I can tell you that this position is very bad for you back and I have treated many golfers with associated pain due to the repeated jamming down of the left side of the spine.
From a golf performance perspective, the reverse pivot often leads to excessive shoulder dipping and downward spine tilting toward the ball on the downswing. Lots of swing faults are related to this. These include blocking shots to the right, snap hooks, hitting the ball inconsistently and “fat,” and a loss of golf power.
2. The second swing fault we see is that when the secondary spine angle is lost, the body of the golfer naturally wants to sway towards the target. In effect, the golfer puts the position of his body ahead of the golf ball!
When this occurs, the golfer naturally feels the need “catch up” with his/her swing leading to an overactive lower body and thrusting the body.
Remember from earlier articles, you want the body to rotate like a whip and not thrust like how a shot putter launches the ball….there is no power there. (Click here for an earlier article addressing this).
In addition, when the body moves too far forward in front of the ball, the golfer is more likely to come over the top and slice the ball, and/or lose the extension in the arms at impact which is so important for power and consistent ball contact.
This has been a very difficult problem to correct and I have seen a lot of very creative attempts at training golfers to improve their secondary spine angle. Take another look at the picture at the beginning of this post, you want a secondary spine angle between 10-20 degrees. I would make a guess that the average golfers spine angle is between 2-8degrees. Not many amateurs get it right.
I prefer the easy fix…at least I feel it is easy. Take a club and take a backswing and hold the position. You want to achieve a position that we call getting stacked. Getting stacked means that at the top of the backswing: the buttons of your shirt (if you have buttons that go down the middle), your belt buckle, right knee and right foot are all stacked directly on top of each other.
If you have lost your secondary spine angle, your head and shirt buttons will be left of and not directly above your right foot. Take a couple of practice backswings getting into the correct position and “feeling” it. Then hit a ball trying to replicate the position.
The Drill in this video is also an excellent way to train the position. This drill is from the Age Defying Golf Rx program.
The crazy thing about improving your secondary spine angle, is that you will pick up a minimum of 5 mph on your driver swing…immediately. I have done this many times with golfers on the range and it is awesome. Just so you know, a 5 mph increase in swing speed equates to increase in 12-15 yards with the driver. You can increase your drives by up to 15 yards today. Go do it!
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf