Golf movement and swing assessment TPI-style

Just back from the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Golf Fitness Instructor certification course, and since I’m a geek, I just had to try the swing assessment even though I’m still travelling. As part of the course, I have the results of my rotational movement assessment using the TPI screen; why not review some video of my swing and compare? As luck would have it, the cottage that I’m at actually has a set of golf clubs in the basement. I’m sure the owner won’t mind me taking an iron out onto the lawn. (Only one divot!)

The TPI assessment includes 11 tests and takes about 10 minutes. For non-golfers, I will integrate some of these tests into my current assessment that includes the Functional Movement Screen. For golfers, I will stick with the TPI screen combined with the swing 2 dimensional video assessment.

I knew there would be some tests where I wouldn’t fare that well, as I definitely have some movement restrictions. I move better now than I did a year ago, but there is still work to be done. My results didn’t really surprise me, but they made me think: if I am limited in simple movement, then how can dynamic movement (like a golf swing) be good?

TPI screen results:
1. Pelvic tilt test: Normal range, but some shaking when moving from anterior to posterior tilt (weak abs!). Static posture: a slight anterior pelvic tilt.
2. Pelvic rotation test: Good pelvic mobility but lack of torso stability.
3. Torso rotation: good torso mobility and stability.
4. Overhead deep squat. Torso bends forward.
5. Toe touch test: good.
6. 90/90 test (shoulder range of motion): Limited on the left in standing; severely limited in golf stance. Okay on the right in standing and limited in golf stance.
7. Single leg balance: Good on the right and very good on the left.
8. Lat length test. Good.
9. Lower quarter rotation: Okay on the left for internal hip rotation but poor for external rotation. Poor on the right for both internal and external rotation.
10. Seated trunk rotation: Poor on the left for thoracic spine, okay on the right.
11. Bridge w/ leg extension: good on both sides.

So the trick is to find the 900-lb-elephant-in-the-room. That is, the biggest problem. In my case, it would be the hip rotation – poor external on both sides and poor internal on the right. The poor internal rotation on the right (my back leg in golf) suggests that I will have a hard time setting up my backswing, and will likely need to compensate to get into position. The other big offender is the overhead squat. The TPI team has found a 95%+ correlation between people who do poorly in the deep squat and early extension in the golf swing.

Now let’s take a look at my swing and see if these movement shortcomings show up there. A good guess would be that I lose posture on the back swing, and that I probably sway as I need to make up for my lack of hip rotation. The deep squat suggests I will also early extend, and the lack of torso rotation could lead to chicken wing or hang back. Now I would like to point out that I am not a regular golfer. But I’m keen to be a better trainer, so I took some golf lessons prior to taking this golf assessment course. Yes, that is my version of apologizing for the swing you are about to see.

First let’s look at the swing from down the line:

And now the front view:

I will use the swing analysis that I learned from TPI that can identify 12 common faults in a golf swing: s-posture, c-posture, flat shoulder plane, loss of posture, early extension, reverse spine angle, over-the top, sway, slide, hang back, scooping, and chicken wing.

First, posture. Not bad in that there is no excessive flexion or extension (maybe I’m too far from the ball? I’ll get my golf pro to help with that).

Now let’s see how well I keep my posture throughout the swing, and see if I extend early.

Houston, we have a problem. That’s a whole lot of space between my hips and that little vertical line. And could I be any further from my original posture line? TPI was right.

This next picture provides a good indication of whether I have flat shoulder plane. Not bad.

The next picture is to see whether I swing “over the top”. As you can see from the picture below, my club comes down nicely in the slot.

The following lines are set to show whether I sway, slide or hang back.

First let’s look for sway, or whether my back hip moves off the line during my backswing. What do you think?

There’s clearly some swaying going on! Not surprising since my right hip doesn’t internally rotate well.

The next picture shows that I hang back. It’s pretty clear that I’m replacing hip rotation with lateral movement.

The following image is how I look for reverse spine angle. If I had reverse spine angle (a common factor in low back pain among golfers), that line would be pointed the other way.

The next image shows that my hands cross the hip line well before the club, so we’re not casting.

On impact, it looks like a bit of chicken wing here.

So the video shows loss of posture, early extension, sway, hang back and chicken wing in my swing. And the movement assessment suggested I would probably have early extension, loss of posture, sway, hang back or slide, and chicken wing. That’s pretty close.

Now here’s the cool thing. I’m going to take another golf lesson in about 10 days, so between now and then, I’ll do some corrective exercises for my hip rotation and deep squat. And even though it didn’t show in the posture for my swing, I’m going to address the anterior pelvic tilt because I’ve previously felt lower core weakness when doing pushups and I have a hunch that it’s tied to this anterior pelvic tilt that I have.

It really makes sense if you think about it: if I can’t move my hips into internal rotation when I’m standing still, how can I fix the swaying on my back swing? I would argue that I can’t. But if I improve my ability to move, then the golf pro can fix my back swing.

7 thoughts on “Golf movement and swing assessment TPI-style”

  1. Hi Wendy, I actually just ended up with a flipvideo. It’s got great quality HD, but the frame rate is pretty slow so it isn’t actually ideal for swing assessments, but as you can see, it still works. I think you’ll find just about anything will do the job, especially if you film a few swings. The slower frame rates (like with mine) means sometimes you won’t be able to get a screen capture at the exact point in the swing that you’re hoping for (e.g. at contact), but odds are if you captured 3 swings, you’ll probably have at least one good one per position.

  2. Thank you for this informative overview. I am a TPI Medical Professional, Level 2. What camera did you buy? What do you recommend for us challenged by electronics? This is my next step.

  3. 23. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

  4. Elsbeth,

    What a great post. I love everything in here and it is very informative. I am a TPI CGFI-3 and would agree with all you have said. The only thing that could be changed is your pictures of early extension/loss of posture. In an ideal world we would look at this early extension on the downswing rather than in your finish position. It is common for golfers to come off this line and ‘stand up’ out of their starting position as they near the finish. Great work!

  5. Hey Elsbeth-

    Welcome to the Sport of Golf.

    Just looked at video of your swing. I have started working on the biomechanics of my own golf swing- I have only played 18 games in last 5 years.
    Who is your golf pro? (The trick is to find a good teaching pro who doesn’t have a fragile ego.)
    As I told Dave Phillips at TPI- a man (sic woman) who can putt is a match for anyone. I am not sure that I even agree with the way the game is taught-it may be taught bass-ackwards..

    Talk soon,

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