Body Rotation in Golf Backswing - Chair Drill

If you want to power up your swing in golf, body rotation in the backswing is crucial. Unfortunately, you likely struggle to rotate your shoulders separately from your hips. It's this separation that creates all the torque you see with the Tour pros. In this video, you can find out just how simple it is to get this separation and pick up distance!

  • Rotation Drill:
  • Sit in Edge of Chair with Spine in Good Posture
  • Rotate Your Chest Without Moving Your Hips
  • Practice Separation Between the Hips and The Shoulders

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jane
Craig my last video review I sent ,in watching it again my head and shoulders are lifting up and out again. So I am not keeping the spine angle while finishing the turn with left hip and rolling right foot inward
June 23, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jane. Exactly. I think you are just trying to over cook the move. Simplify it. I will get to your current review shortly.
June 23, 2020
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jane
I am also realizing the more I keep my left shoulder lower than my right and allow the hips to turn the shoulders, the more square the shoulders are in the post up.
June 23, 2020
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Remington
My b/s works well with arms crossed; when the club is added the sequencing falls apart. You say two things about the b/s which are difficult to reconcile: i) that after the initial takeaway, the obliques take over and rotate the core to the top; ii) that it is the rotation of the shoulders separately from the hips that creates the torque in the swing. Looking at the pros - once the L arm is parallel to the ground in the b/s, the shoulders appear to complete the turn. This may be an illusion. Do the obliques in fact finish the b/s turn or are the shoulders involved and if so at what point? Please clarify exactly which muscles work in the b/s and in what sequence. I am puzzled!
May 13, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Remington. The core and shoulders finish the turn. The illusion for some pros is actually a little bit of lead shoulder push. If you aren't finishing your turn you may be limiting the hips too much. The abs/obliques/lats will help facilitate your full rotation to the top.
May 13, 2020
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Charles
In my swing review, RJ Jones discussed the inter-scapular muscles as important in proper rotation. If I have my hands laterally as Chuck does in the chair video, it is much harder to feel them contracting than if my hands are more medially on my chest. I can feel them strongly when I rotate with one wrist on the other over my upper chest. Will doing it this way have any negative effect when doing the backswing drills?
March 23, 2020
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
As long as you're not aiding the rotation in anyway with your hands or arms, you should be fine as long as you're focusing on the contraction of the muscles under the trail side shoulder blade.
March 25, 2020
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Dean
In one video you suggest to pull you right shoulder back, in one video moving you shoulder blade back and down towards your spine, and in the chair video you say the shoulders should not be what moves you but the midsection? Can you explain how this all goes together. Ty Dean
February 2, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Dean. The upper shoulders you need to shy away from. In the chair video you are still using the shoulder blade glide. You are using the core (abs, obliques, and lower fibers of the lats) to pull the shoulder blade down and in.
February 3, 2020
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Gary C
Patrick Callahan recommended this drill to me after my swing review a few days ago. As I have started to practice this drill I am noticing that when I feel like (or it appears in the mirror) that I get a good body rotation that the motion seems to start more from my obliques that from my shoulders. Is this correct? Should this be a trunk rotation that is initiated by my obliques and those muscles in turn help rotate my shoulders around my spine?
January 23, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Absolutely the obliques/core will help facilitate rotation off the ball. Sounds like you are on the right track. You are still using the shoulder blade glide, but the core will be very engaged in this process.
January 23, 2020
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Matthew
Hi Craig, Question about hip rotation in the backswing. Is it ideal to keep hips square and only torque upper body in backswing? Or do we want some hip rotation? I feel like I overdo the hip rotation in the backswing which makes it very hard to get back to square with hips in transition. Maybe there is a happy middle ground. You had told me my backswing was fine, I just noticed that it’s really hard to get my hips square all the way and I feel like that why, hip over run in backswing.
December 18, 2019
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Matthew
Last part where I said get hips square, I mean getting hips back to square in transition.
December 18, 2019
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Rich
Hi question for Patrick Callahan. This is regarding my swing review on September 17 - The chair drill was recommended so I hope this is the right place. Informative swing review and detailed on the tiny nuances. You mention about the right hip coming up slightly and say that you drawn a line or something. I can't see it on the review. Can you explain a bit more please and also how do I go about not raising it? My head is totally thinking about shift and turn with the LEFT hip so I I dont know why the right hip is raising?! Thanks
September 17, 2019
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
If your hip is still raising up, you are still overusing your right leg, which needs to feel "dead". Your right foot should be unweighted when you do this drill. When you make the shift back to the left side, you cannot feel any weight bearing onto the right leg and foot. Check out the "fix your weight transfer". You can do the drill that Chris shows you, where you drag your left foot in towards your right. This helps you to feel the pulling movement coming from the left leg. Your abs will be involved as well. The left knee will externally rotate as well, as if you were throwing a baseball.
September 17, 2019
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Mark
Hi question for Patrick Callahan. This is regarding my swing review on September 16 - The chair drill was recommended so I hope this is the right place to post a question. First of all, awesome review and I am really pleased with the advice given on the backswing turn. The video also showed the transition move, and I was hoping for some feedback on that as well. Did it not come through on the video ( it was 25 seconds including backswing and transition). Thanks!
September 16, 2019
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Mark, thanks for checking in. Was the video cut off? Tech issue?
September 17, 2019
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Mark
Hi Patrick, yes wondering if that might be the case. When I look at the video in my Completed Swing Reviews it stops at the end of the backswing. However, the video I submitted also had the squat to square part. I had been looking for feedback on that as well. Did it get cut off? The video I originally sent was 25 secs in length.
September 20, 2019
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
Hmm.. I can go back into my instructor panel to watch the review and see if it was cut short during upload. Thanks
September 20, 2019
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Mark
Thanks Patrick!
September 20, 2019
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
Sure. Just watched the video. The video played back just fine. I want you to stick to fixing the backswing before we can work on the downswing, as we're not ready for it yet with your training). Be sure to narrow your stance and create centered rotation. You have to ingrain that first. Thanks!
September 20, 2019
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Mark
Hi Patrick, the comments you provided on the backswing were awesome and I am working hard on those. The thing is, I will need to be able to get feedback on the rest of the swing as well because I am in the middle of the Boot Camp. We are now past the transition and into the post up, and Chuck recommends that we get swing reviews on everything as we go along. So that we are not wasting our time doing reps the wrong way Obviously there will more fine-tuning later on, on each specific piece.
September 20, 2019
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
My apologies Mark, as you will have to upload another video for me to look at your transition and post up. That said, even if I provide feedback, you will still need to learn proper weight shift and rotation (not moving off the ball) before working on the transition. Otherwise, the swing becomes a bucket of compensations. Again, my apologies for any confusion with the bootcamp format.
September 20, 2019
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Mark
Thanks Patrick. I have uploaded another which deals with backswing, transition, and post up. I am working hard on that backswing feeling with the chair drill but need to cover the other pieces as Boot Camp moves quickly and will get left behind if I don’t keep up!
September 21, 2019
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Dean
Great drill for maintaining the tush line, especially on the downswing into impact. Constant feedback and a safe drill on the body to execute. One of my favorites.
August 27, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Dean. Glad you like the drill.
August 27, 2019
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Scott
Wouldn’t restricting your hips and turning your torso put strain on your spine and back muscles potentially leading to injury?
August 27, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Scott. Yes, excessive restriction on the hips will create more torque leading you to spine issues. However, 45 degrees of shoulder rotation for a takeaway and minimal hip turn should be very easy for most people. Continuing from there we allow for the hips to get pulled open to facilitate a full shoulder rotation to help alleviate the issue.
August 27, 2019
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Robert
With this chair drill it seems the shoulders rotate max 45 degrees to 60 degrees so in the real swing to complete 90degrees of shoulder rotation the hips need to rotate 45degrees is that correct?
August 27, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Robert. Nailed it! Couldn't have said it any simpler.
August 27, 2019
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Paul
Hi, should I be trying to rotate my chest in this drill instead of focusing on shoulders. I think I am possibly being lazy by more moving my shoulders back and forward in my sockets independent from sternum and also shifting my spine left and right a touch also instead of staying centered. Thanks.
June 9, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Paul. Try to feel more core engagement in the above drill. The shoulders have to work, but focus mainly on the lats, obliques, and abdominals. This will rotate the chest for you.
June 9, 2019
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Paul
Getting confused with this Craig. So the way the body rotates in the backswing is first, shoulder blade glide with weight shift, the rotate the chest/shoulders with the lats, obliques and abdominals, in other words the core? Thanks
June 10, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Paul. You need to think about the lats being involved in your core. The box muscles, versus the rectangle muscles. The trail lat pulls the shoulder blade down and in to facilitate shoulder rotation. The obliques and abdominals are also working to facilitate rotation. Shift weight and use the lat, obliques and abs to rotate the shoulders and back to the target.
June 10, 2019
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Jim
Hi RJ - I found that "in the chair" drill. Only question would be how much to do it before doing the full standing rotation drill - and how many reps of the rotation drill to do before moving on. I think I got the "chair" concept pretty well. Ok to toggle back and forth between them? I am anxious to continue to add the building blocks but don't want to go too fast either. Thanks - Jim Darcey
April 21, 2019
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
I would say that if you can put your arms out in front of you with a grip and can do the rotation in the chair without your hands moving laterally (moving away from being in line with your sternum) while you're distracted (i.e. watching TV, talking to someone, etc...) then you should be ready to do it standing up. Basically the chair is teaching you how to do the takeaway perfectly without using the arms or the hips too much.
April 21, 2019
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Jim
Hi RJ - Thanks - to make sure I get it right: Extend the arms out all the way with the hands gripped together and then rotate the shoulders, right? Keeping the gripped hands in front of the sternum so the arms don't "take over", right?
April 23, 2019
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
yes, exactly. This basically simulates what you need to do in the takeaway. Try not to turn your head with your arms when you do it, just turn and look after you finish the rep to see if the hands stayed in front of the sternum.
April 23, 2019
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Jim
Hi RJ - Thanks - that helps a lot. Will look forward to doing this a lot over the weekend. I can see that lots of reps on this one will help a lot to make that proper move happen without having to think about it. To say the least, I have not done that move right up til now. Best, Jim
April 24, 2019
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Paul
Hello Craig, Two questions mate, What would be the shot result if a player rotated from core without coiling it. I may have felt this coil for the first time today and at impact I felt my torso mas more stacked over hips. Other question is how long does it take a pending swing review to get answered. Am I allowed to use one of my free reviews to ask for a general swing review instead of a specific section of the 5 step program. Thank you.
April 16, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Paul. Typically, if someone rotated without coiling they would tend to overuse/spin the shoulders creating an outside in in swing plane. The ball flight would be determined by how good they are with their hands to correct the maneuver. Most common would be big pull hook with fast hands, or a slice with not very good hands. Reviews will be 2 Business Days and yes you can use your free review for anything you would like. It doesn't have to be a specific section of the 5 Step.
April 16, 2019
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Paul
Thanks craig your a legend
April 16, 2019
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Cameron
I have been told my thoracic mobility is poor which I think is limiting how well I can rotate. Are there drills/stretches I can do along side this drill?
April 15, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Cameron. Absolutely. Start with this video first and work through the series. Golf and the Thoracic Spine Series Intro Video.
April 15, 2019
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James
Whilst I have no problem doing this drill on the chair when I do this drill in posture it does cause inordinate amount of strain on my left femur when trying to turn my shoulders to 90 degrees. If you are answering this Craig you know the history. I do find that in doing this separation over a round of golf, my femur gives me problems (soreness), especially towards the latter part of the round and tend not to turn so well. What I find helps though is that when I rotate back, is to allow my left (lead) heel to lift slightly. This allows me to turn fully and not cause undue strain on my left femur. I still feel tension in my obliques and glutes, plus it helps get my weight better into the right hip. Is this ok to do, I am no young chicken now approaching 78? Plus I find that with my left heel coming off the ground it acts as a trigger, rather like Chuck's drill of stomping into the ground with the left (lead) foot to start the forward movement of the swing.
April 5, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. You can allow for some variance with the lead leg/knee. We know the issues that plague you with the lead leg. Allowing for a little bit of lift is freeing up the hips just enough to help you finish rotation. That is fine for right now. We just have to keep in check it doesn't get excessive and sloppy.
April 5, 2019
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Mohammad Shah
Hi there, I'm trying this drill and have been doing it for close to 100 reps. I'm feeling the muscles at the back below the shoulder blades doing the work but not the front (torso). The front muscles aren"t aching compared to the back ones. Where am I doing wrong?
February 26, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mohammad. It doesn't sound like you are doing much wrong. If you are feeling more the lats and obliques you should be fine. The lat will aid in pulling the shoulder (Shoulder Blade Glide Video) which sounds like the awareness you are having right now.
February 27, 2019
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Marc
Hi Craig, as I see the trail oblique and the trail scapula initiate the takeaway. When sitting down like Craig the movement is obvious you have a twist and turn action. But when I bump my hip a bit to have some tilt at address I find things get a bit more difficult. Should I twist and turn around the inclined spine? Would it make sense to do the sitting drill wit an inclined spine? Best, Marc
September 2, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Marc. For the drill above I wouldn't add any axis tilt. You are missing the component of forward hinging from the hips. You may end up rotating too flat instead of the proper shoulder plane. Golf Backswing Shoulder Plane Drill Video.
September 2, 2018
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Erik
Which movement begins the back swing? The shoulder turn or the hip/oblique turn? I would think that it must be the hip/oblique that starts the back swing because in the down swing the hips must start to move before the shoulders. Furthermore, this follows the "swing from the ground up" idea. However, other comments below indicate that the trail shoulder begins the back swing and then this pulls the hips into rotation.
October 31, 2017
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hi Eric, the first move should be a subtle shift of the hips to the trail side and then coupled with body rotation. This will allow you to load the swing up in the correct order and the body rotation on top of your trail side will increase the load to help get the lower half moving in the other direction to start the downswing.
October 31, 2017
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Joseph
Craig, is the turn to the top a sequential engagement of first the obliques and then the whatevers to pull the right shoulder blade back? IOW, do you start exclusively with the obliques and then at some point engage the whatevers or should they both start simultaneioyusly. And if it is sequential, what is the cue to start the whatevers; ie when the obliques are maxed out or before? This is related to my not completing my turn when hitting a ball in contrast to 95 degrees of turn with a club on my chest when I am just seeing if I CAN turn enough.
October 11, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Joseph. Most players feel the trail oblique and shoulder pretty close together like in the 5 Mins to Master Rotation Video. The oblique might start hair before the other, but since they are so close in timing it will usually feel the same.
October 12, 2016
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Loran
Then, the oblique rotation is more of a twist or turn, correct? The right shoulder does minimal activity compared to both obliques? I noticed in my swings I lean backwards...there is sort of a curvature from the chest to both shoulders? I take it the right shoulder is only responsible sliding backwards?
January 16, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Loan. The obliques will pull to create more of a twist/turn. In the initial the obliques will be working a lot. The right shoulder can be the culprit or pushing of the right hip.
January 16, 2016
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Loran
Excellence.
January 16, 2016
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Damien
Hello As you move through the backswing, focusing on rotating from the abdominals, is there a point were you focusing on turning with your right hip back into your glute, or does the hip rotation just come naturally?
July 20, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Damien. The pull from the trail shoulder blade will start to pull the hips open going back. You should only concentrate on it if you are having a hard time loading or restricting the natural motion.
July 21, 2015
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Damien
Thanks Craig, I was working on these things today, not sure if it is related but I started to top the ball on a number of shots. Can't find anything specific on topping it and it has not been a problem for me before.
July 22, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Damien. Topping the ball is typically hanging back on the trail side versus transferring the weight properly to the lead side. Also, excessive secondary axis tilt. Make sure you get a good weight transfer and shy away from too much tilt (Level Shoulders Drill Advanced Downswing Section).
July 22, 2015
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John
Excellent video! Please let me know if this statement is correct. It's so much easier to rotate the shoulders by focusing on rotating the torso/sternum over my right knee so that my back is basically facing the target. Then there is no reverse weight shift and it's much easier to swing inside out. Turning the torso takes all the stress out of just trying to rotate your shoulders across your body without help from the core muscles.
July 4, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello John. All you are doing is engaging the "box" muscles. It will make the rotation simpler for you. Or, not so contrived.
July 5, 2015
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Connie
I can feel my obliques stretching from my ribs to my hips very well this way, thanks for the great tip!
June 13, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Connie. Great. Glad you liked the drill!
June 13, 2015
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Maximilian
Hello RST, i'm struggeling with the separation of the lower and upper body. The only way i can do this, is fully streching my abdominal muscles before starting the backswing. After full streching i can rotate around my spine and have no longer axis tilt. That's the only way that my hips aren't move during the start of the takeaway/backswing. It also feels like that the hips are rock solid at the ground without any movement in this case. So my question is, should I aiming to this motion or is it wrong to strech the whole abdominal muscles before starting the takeaway/backswing?
June 6, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Maximillian. Sometimes flexibility fights what would be ideal in the swing. Nevertheless, the hips do rotate in the golf swing. I would rather see better sequencing and allowing for a little hip motion than fighting and forcing over usage of your abdominal stretch. Take a look at the Weight Shift Video Part 2 in the Weight Transfer Section. As long as the hip is getting pulled and you pivot into the glute properly. You can allow for a little hip turn.
June 7, 2015
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Christopher
This video is great in solidifying the upper torso rotation. But - I struggle in combining this with the bucket drill. if I take my address position and recreate this feeling, my bucket will dump out water .... UNLESS I actively rotate my forearms to keep the bucket level. It feels (to me) like a lot of forearm rotation. Can you confirm that for the bucket to remain level, a certain amount or forearm rotation is required?
May 20, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Christopher. Its not a whole lot of rotation, but there is some required forearm rotation in the takeaway to keep the bucket from dumping water. Take a look at the Unleash Your Thumbnail for Power Video in the Advanced Takeaway Section.
May 20, 2015
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Remington
Thanks for a most interesting and informative video. A couple of questions: at what point to the hips stop rotating in the b/swing and the shoulders take over; also, in good golfers, as I see it, the left shoulder is stretched to the right to add power - where and how does this happen?
January 6, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Remington. The hips will be pulled by the rotation of the trail shoulder roughly 45 degrees to the top after the takeaway. The shoulders will always be rotating in the backswing. The hips relatively little in the takeaway. The is some lead shoulder protraction for added turn. Take a look at Left Shoulder Push in the Backswing Advanced Section.
January 7, 2015
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Bill
Great drill and what I need to repeat over and over. This would also appear to be great exercise!
December 20, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Bill. This should help you start to feel the upper half rotate more against the hips. Get that separation.
December 20, 2014
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Jukka
Hi! What is the right amount separation or coiling? Yes it´s powerfull and tour pros can do it, but even they have sometimes some back problems. Here is good demonstration this powerfull "snap" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNvi1kdo4Wg Now imagine older spine CRACK!
June 24, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Jukka, 90 degrees of shoulder rotation, against 45 degrees of hip turn in the backswing. We are trying to move around are body the most efficient way possible. The spine doesn't like the golf swing.
June 24, 2014
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Jukka
Thanks for the answer. Is there anyway to swing that spine likes and still enough power?
November 7, 2014

A great golf swing drill to learn how to properly rotate your body during the backswing. This torso rotation is the primary engine in your golf swing so make sure you work on this drill!

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