In this post we look at how to improve shoulder turn in your golf swing and why you shouldn’t use stretching to do this.
Take a look at most videos on increasing shoulder turn in your golf swing and you’ll see coaches recommending various stretches.
This is frustrating.
Golf is a power sport and the negative effects stretching has on power output are well known.
Stretching not only impacts the power you’re able to generate in your golf swing but it also affects your accuracy.
This study showed a significant decrease in clubhead speed (-4.19%), distance (-5.62%), consistent ball contact (-16.34%) and accuracy (-31.04%) following a full body static stretching session.
The authors suggest these negative effects occurred because static stretching reduces the sensitivity of the neuromuscular system, which may also leave you more susceptible to injury.
Finally static stretching produces only transitory increases in range of motion. These gains will likely disappear once you start hitting balls.
So here you have a method for increasing shoulder turn that will negatively impact how well you play and which will probably only last a few holes.
The only saving grace is that in my experience few golfers actually bother stretching. Hopefully you’re one of them.
So if stretching isn’t the answer, what is?
How to increase shoulder turn and improve your performance on the golf course
The key to increasing motion and having it stick around is creating more stability not less.
It’s your central nervous system (CNS) that decides how far you should move a joint and its primary concern is your safety.
You will therefore only be given motion your CNS is confident you can control.
This is particularly important when you add speed to a movement and why range of motion gains made through static stretching won’t last long when you start swinging a 300 gram driver around.
There is only one method that if used correctly will increase stability and therefore improve range of motion long term and that is resistance training.
Resistance training to improve shoulder turn in the golf swing
The golf swing is unusual in that it takes many joints in your body from one extreme range of motion to another.
To improve your shoulder turn therefore doesn’t just involve improving motion at your trunk and your shoulders
And it won’t be done by simply adding squats and push ups to your exercise programme. You have to get more specific than that.
Ignoring the ankles, feet and wrists for a moment, these are the joint motions involved in the shoulder turn of a right handed golfer.
Left hip external rotation
Right hip internal rotation
Right trunk rotation
Left shoulder horizontal adduction
Right shoulder external rotation
Left cervical rotation
Restrictions in any of these motions may result in a reduction in shoulder turn.
Likewise training these movements with appropriate resistance training can result in improvements in shoulder turn.
Let’s look at how to train one of these motions to improve your shoulder turn by way of an example.
How to increase torso rotation to improve shoulder turn in the golf swing
How far your rib cage is able to rotate on a fixed pelvis is crucial to maximising your shoulder turn in your golf swing.
If you carefully train this movement with the following exercise you will likely see gains in range of motion.
Right trunk rotation exercise with a resistance band
The following description is for right handed golfers. Reverse the direction of rotation if you are a left hander.
Exercise set up
• Sit tall in a chair and check how far you can currently rotate your trunk to the left.
• Make sure the band doesn’t take you further than this during the exercise. This is important.
• Now check how far you can currently rotate your trunk to the right and what this motion feels like. Note any feelings of muscle tightness.
• Attach a resistance band to a cuff placed around your upper arm.
• Keeping your pelvis still and your feet placed firmly on the floor, slowly rotate your torso to the right.
• Note the band should get close to your torso at the end of this motion. If it doesn’t adjust either the position of the chair or where you’ve secured the band.
• When you reach the end of your range pause for second before slowly rotating back to your limit of left rotation.
• Perform 5 – 8 repetitions slowly and with care, each time pausing in the right rotated position for a second or two.
Once you’re completed the set remove the band and check how far you’re now able to rotate your torso to the right.
You should see and feel an immediate improvement.
Golf is a power sport that requires many joints to move from one end of their range of motion to the other.
Stretching to increase motion at these joints will have a negative impact on both the power and accuracy of your swing.
Instead use targeted resistance training to improve both range of motion and stability.