After John Rahm just won the 2023 Masters, we can all say he is one of the best players to play this game. If you watched the Masters this year, you may have noticed they showed his swing in slow motion quite a bit, which revealed that he doesn’t really take the club that far back, leading to a short backswing. But how is he still able to produce so much power and swing speed? I will often hear from clients that they want to increase their flexibility so that they can create a better turn into the backswing, and they believe that is what’s going to help them hit it 50 yards further. Don’t get me wrong I have had golfers with 18 degrees of thoracic rotation into their back swing improve to 50 degrees and get a better turn and create more swing speed. Along with increased spine rotation into the backswing, they are able to get the hands deeper to the inside causing them to attack the ball from the inside and more shallow, leading to less spin on the ball and more carry distance. But what else could help increase swing speed that doesn’t have to do with more turn in the backswing?
Answer: Kinematic Sequence. What exactly is the kinematic sequence? Well to start, you’ll notice that all the elite golfers have different types of swings. Jim Furyk, Matt Wolfe, Adam Scott, John Rahm, and Tony Finau, all swing the club differently when comparing their swings side by side. They all hit the ball a mile and score very well! You’ll also notice if you watch these guys in real life, they don’t look like they are swinging that hard. So what do these golfers all have in common? One thing that tells us, is there is no perfect swing. If you hooked a motion analysis sensor to their pelvis, torso, lead arm, and hand/wrist you would notice that they all move those body parts in the same sequence on the down swing. Their timing of those areas are perfect. They start the downswing with their hips/pelvis, which pulls their torso into rotation, which then pulls the lead arm down towards the ball, which then pulls the hand/wrist to snap down into the ball which leads to a very efficient downswing with maximum power/speed.
The reason John Rahm can create so much swing speed without much of a backswing is because he is able to start the downswing with his hips/pelvis first. This creates a large separation between the pelvis and torso causing his obliques to stretch and consequently causes a reflexive and more forceful contraction of the obliques continuing the downswing sequence of the torso, lead arm, and hands/wrists.
If you are an amateur golfer and not firing those body areas at the right time, then you are leaving a lot of yards on the table. Not only is the firing of those body areas important, but you need flexibility through the wrist, shoulders, spine, and hips in order to even create the separation needed to follow the kinematic sequence. So many of my clients lack the flexibility piece and try working on the coordination part through youtube videos, without addressing the first part of the puzzle which is the mobility and flexibility portion. Once we clear up the flexibility and mobility portion through hands-on manual therapy, I find that working on the coordination of the kinematic sequence allows them to make a nice jump in swing speed. So far in the last year we have had 16 golfers gain an average of 24.1 yards of carry distance over the course of working through The Royal Treatment Golf Performance Program. If you feel like you are leaving yards on the table don’t hesitate to reach out!