Tips for Clearing the Hips in the Golf Swing

May 15, 2024
clearing the hips in the golf swing

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Clearing the hips in the golf swing is a mechanism that not many golfers understand. You might hear whispers of it while out on course or from the passerby local “pro” who wants to give you a pointer or two (is that advice ever genuine? Nobody knows…). All that aside, it’s a real thing in golf biomechanics and can significantly improve your shot accuracy when done correctly.

Clearing the Hips in the Golf Swing

Clearing your hips is a term that means opening your hips towards the target upon impact with the ball. The hips initiate the downswing and, if technique/mobility allows, they’ll be facing the target by the time your clubface strikes. Failing to clear the hips during a golf swing could result in reduced power, poor striking of the ball, and an overall inaccurate shot.

Now, there are several things that might change, inhibit, or amplify this sequence from occurring; flexibility, mobility, strength, and genetics/proportions of the golfer, to name a few. When figuring out your golf swing, it can be helpful to look at the pros for guidance. After all, not many of us are having our swings filmed from multiple angles on national television!

There is tremendous variability out on the professional circuit when it comes to clearing the hips. If you watch someone like Dustin Johnson, he has tremendous hip rotation that flows quite loosely through his swing, resulting in a full, open-faced hip angle towards his target when striking the ball.

Compare this to Jon Rahm, who’s hip clearance is almost broken up into two segments during his swing. He has a quick, short backswing, and his downswing is rapid, as well. Upon impact with the ball, his hips will be half open and almost paused. Then, while following through, his hips will complete their rotation and open fully towards the target. 

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

What’s Stopping You From Clearing Your Hips?

Since the golf swing is such a dynamic and sometimes violent action (when going for a particularly long drive, for example), the body has to make a lot of decisions in a very short amount of time.

How do I complete this swing in the way that’s most effective? What do I protect and how? Where will I compromise to find the necessary range and power?

These are all considerations that are happening within the time it takes to blink your eye, regardless of how conscious you are of them.

Some things that might stop the body from clearing the hips in the golf swing include:

Lack of Hip Mobility

If the hips don’t have the capacity to rotate, either passively or actively, then they’re certainly not going to magically develop this ability because you decided to go golfing. As a result, your hips may look and feel very locked up throughout the duration of your swing.

Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is a major problem among golfers. A lot of low back problems originate in the hips because of the relationship between the pelvis and the spine. If you have dysfunction in the back, rotation in the hips will likely be discouraged while swinging.

Poor Technique

The problem might lie simply in how you coordinate your swing. Many people have blocky technique that doesn’t flow well together; the wrong parts moving at the wrong time. Ideally, the hips initiate the downswing and open up fully by the end of the follow-through.

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Tips for Clearing Your Hips in the Golf Swing

Let’s move on to how to correct some of these things and get you swinging like never before! Learning how to more effectively clear the hips in the golf swing can give you more clubhead speed, consistency, power generation and accuracy in your shots. A better golf swing makes a better golfer!

Practice the Sequence

Slow your swing down to a snail’s pace, do this with and without a club. Practice moving your body in this order for the backswing: 

  1. Hands/arms
  2. Shoulders
  3. Torso
  4. Hips

Then, for the downswing:

 

  1. Hips
  2. Torso
  3. Shoulders
  4. Hands/arms

Your hips finish the backswing and initiate the downswing when both are executed properly. Try practicing this sequence and making it more fluid with ever-increasing speed and precision. Then, add a ball and start hitting shots until this becomes your natural movement pattern.

Low Back Injury Prevention

Limited mobility in the thoracic spine (mid-upper back), a weak core, weak hamstrings and glutes…all these things contribute to low back pain and dysfunction. This, in turn, discourages movement in the hips for fear of irritating the low back. 

Dynamic Golfers offers a comprehensive 6-week Low Back Injury Prevention Program designed to help resolve these issues (and more) by addressing the area from different angles. High quality, follow-along routines that combine strength, stretching and mobility work to bulletproof the lower back and get you moving like never before. 

Hip Function & Rehab

In the same manner that lower back problems can impact hip movement, problems in the hips themselves are common in golfers and the general public that make clearing the hips difficult to do. Tight hip flexors from sitting, weak glutes from not doing enough strength training, and overall stiffness from never rotating the hips outside of golf are all very common.

Our platform also has a 6-week Hip Function & Rehab Program designed to deal with any and all types of problems in the hip/pelvic area. Many people experience soreness, ache and pain in the hips before, during, and after golf. This program has helped thousands of golfers worldwide practice and play pain-free. The next one could be you!

Strength & Mobility for Golfers | Dynamic Golfers

Sign up for a 7-day free trial with Dynamic Golfers by clicking here. Join a community of golfers at all levels of experience who are being proactive in their health and training. Try our week-long On Ramp program to get a taste of all our programming, or, jump right into one of the injury prevention programs mentioned above to start improving your golf game today!

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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