We all know hip turn is extremely important in the golf swing – but what is the ideal amount to produce the best results?
I went searching for the answer to this a while ago when, after having my first few golf lessons, my golf instructor said my hips didn’t open up enough in the backswing, and were too square at impact.
But the deeper I delved into my online research – watching countless videos from different teaching professionals explaining the importance of hip turn, and offering up drills on how to practice the correct movement – it became clear to me that there is a lot of misinformation out there on this topic.
Luckily for you, I’ve sifted through the many different takes on hip turn that are floating around on the world-wide web and am presenting you the tips that best helped me improve, and understand how the hips should move.
How much hip turn do you need in the golf swing?
Excessive opening of the hips in the backswing can hinder, rather than help your swing. Ideally, you want your hips to be around 45 degrees open in the backswing, and 40 degrees open at impact. Too much hip turn in the takeaway will make it difficult to get your hips open enough when it comes to striking the ball, which can hurt your swing.
Did that just blow your mind? I know it did for me when I first discovered the truth.
For years, I fell into the trap that many other amateur golfers do in believing that you should open your hips as much as possible in the backswing in order to maximise power, distance and accuracy.
That was until I watched two videos produced by Athletic Motion Golf which completely changed my mindset regarding hip turn – and has helped improve my performance and consistency dramatically.
Both videos can be viewed below (and I highly recommend you watch each of them from start to finish, and more than once):
While it’s important to get your hips open in the backswing, it is the way in which they move that determines whether you’ll strike the ball well or not.
Let’s take a deeper look at what that means.
How important is hip turn in the golf swing?
Correct hip turn is one of the most important components to a good golf swing. When making your backswing, you should focus on turning around the centre of your hips as this will help keep your buttocks back, prevent early extending into the ball, and improve the consistency of your ball-striking.
When most amateur golfers think about moving their hips, they envisage rotating around their trail hip socket during the backswing, before rotating around their lead hip socket during the downswing.
Unfortunately, this is flawed thinking and creates an excessive, figure-eight motion with the hips – the lead socket rotates too far around from its starting position, making it extremely difficult to open the hips back up at impact.
Professional golfers, however, move their hips in a completely different manner, mainly due to having an opposite mindset when it comes to envisaging how their joints should move throughout the swing.
Instead of rotating around their trail hip socket on the way back, and their lead hip socket on the way through to impact, the world’s best ball-strikers envisage rotating around the centre of their hip bone.
This comparison is demonstrated well in video #1 that I linked above.
Simply focusing on this thought during the swing will help limit excessive movement off the ball, prevent early extension, increase clubhead speed and get your hips far more open at impact.
The team from Athletic Golf Motion explained this new way of thinking to an amateur golfer, and in the space of just 38 swings his numbers improved out of sight.
He went from this:
- Hips at impact: 18 degrees open
- Chest at impact: 14 degrees open
- Shoulders at impact: 15 degrees closed
- Clubhead speed: 83mph (with seven-iron)
- Hips at impact: 33 degrees open
- Chest at impact: 23 degrees open
- Shoulders at impact: Square (0 degrees)
- Clubhead speed: 92mph (with seven-iron)
Simply by changing your way of thinking about how the hips should move throughout the swing can result in huge improvements in a short space of time.
After all, who doesn’t want to hit it longer and straighter without having to spend hours and hours on the range practicing a dozen different drills?
How much hip turn do you need in the backswing?
In the backswing, you should rotate your hips open no more than about 45 degrees, and without feeling the need to stand-up out of your posture. Maintaining your spine angle at address will prevent early extension and stop your hips thrusting towards the ball during the downswing, which will allow them to rotate open easier as you move into impact.
Ensuring you are balanced at address – with some slight knee flex, and with the centre of your hip bone lined up over your ankles – will help you maintain your posture during the takeaway, and lay the foundations for a good swing.
One of the biggest mistakes amateur players make is opening their hips excessively in the backswing – sometimes as much as 70 degrees – because they think this will generate more power.
In reality, all this does is make it almost impossible for them to get their hips open enough at impact, due to the hips having too far to travel in the time it takes to make a swing (less than a quarter of a second from the top of the backswing, to impact).
The result is inconsistent strikes, stalling of the hips, flipping of the hands, or an array of other swing faults that will affect the repeatability of good shots.
It is for this reason why restricting some hip turn in your backswing is important, as I’ll explain a little further below.
Should you restrict hip turn in the backswing?
Yes, you should restrict your hip turn in the backswing to no more than 45 degrees open in the takeaway. This is what the best players in the world do. Restricting your hip turn in this manner during the backswing allows you to open your hips more in the downswing, which creates a more stable impact position.
While it may feel more powerful to open your hips up wide on the way back, it may be hindering your ability to reproduce the same swing time and time again – it is for this reason that some restriction is necessary.
And at the end of the day, consistency and repeatability is key to shooting low scores in golf.
If your hips don’t open up as far on the way back, it means they have less distance to cover in order to be open at impact – this is how professional players move.
The video below, which is also from Athletic Motion Golf (they simply have the best content on the internet about the hip movement in the golf swing), explains this in more detail:
How much hip turn do you need at impact?
Studies of multiple major champion golfers shows, on average, that the hips should be 40 degrees open at impact. This allows the arms room to swing, and prevents the club from getting ‘stuck’ behind you causing blocks or hooks.
If your hips are not open enough by the time you arrive at impact, your body will have to make other inefficient compensations – such as early extending, or steeping of the club shaft – in order to make room for your arms to hit the ball.
I’ve written another instructional article about why early extension can be a swing killer (and how you can fix it), which I definitely recommend you read.
Should your hips be square at impact?
No, your hips should be open, not square, at impact. Your arms need space to deliver the club, and clearing the hips out of the way ensures you can do this efficiently. If your hips remain square at impact there isn’t enough room to swing the club effectively, which can cause it to get ‘stuck’ behind you and create flipping of the clubface with your hands.
Flipping of the clubface is a killer for consistency, so eliminating this – by creating enough space to deliver a stable clubhead every time you take a swing – will lead to better ball-striking and, as a result, better scores.
How do you move your hips in the backswing and downswing?
The hip movement in the golf swing is broken into three parts – the opening of the hips in the takeaway; a bump of the hips towards the target; and then the opening of the hips upon arrival into impact.
Opening the hips in the takeaway is one of the most important parts of the golf swing and can set you up for success, or failure – and will have a flow-on effect into the downswing, and at impact.
Here’s some easy steps to remember in order to make the correct hip movement throughout the swing:
- Visualise turning around the centre of your hip bone (not rotating around your trail hip socket in the backswing, then lead hip socket in the downswing). This will keep you in your posture
- Be careful not to open your hips excessively in the backswing (there should be some restriction). No more than 45 degrees open is ideal
- Your hips should begin to glide towards your target while you are still completing your backswing. This separation of your hips and upper body generates effortless power in the swing
- Once you begin to bump your hips towards your target, you can begin to open them up as you strike the ball
For a full visual guide on how to move your hips perfectly throughout the swing, watch videos #1 and #2 from Athletic Golf Motion that I mentioned above – it will change your life.
How do I make more hip turn in the golf swing?
Increasing your hip turn can only be done by improving the mobility in your hip joints. This may be difficult for older players, or golfers who are less flexible and have less range of motion. The only way to improve this is through regular stretching, and repetition.
Golf instructor Paul Wilson demonstrates a great golf-specific drill that can help you make a bigger hip turn – and understand the range of motion you should create when making a swing – along with improving your mobility.
Simply follow these steps:
- Firstly, grab and alignment stick and place it on the ground next to you, so that it is running parallel with the direction of your lead foot
- Secondly, grab a driver and lay it horizontally across the front of your hips
- Holding both ends of the club, rotate backwards until your hips are 45 degrees open to the direction of the alignment stick. This will create the correct amount of hip turn in the takeaway
- Then, rotate fully in the opposite direction as if you were making a swing, and finish so that the driver shaft is parallel to the alignment stick. This will create the feeling of your hips being fully open at the completion of your swing
Repeating this action will train you to move your hips correctly.
How can I turn my hips faster in the golf swing?
To turn your hips faster in the golf swing, you need to put pressure into the ground. You do this by driving your lead hip and leg into the floor, creating flexion in the lead knee, when beginning the downswing. From there, you should feel your lead hip working back and around as your lead leg begins to straighten before impact – the faster you can do this, the faster your hips will move.
One of the best ways to turn your hips faster in the golf swing is by training them to do so, using the drill described above.
Simply repeating the motion while trying to get faster and faster from the takeaway to impact position will see your strength and speed increase over time (as long as you practice it each day).
We’ve written an in-depth article explaining exactly how to use you legs in order to maximise power, which I’d highly suggest you check out.
Golf instructor Russell Heritage also has a great video breaking down each part of this movement, in order to create speed, that I recommend you watch.
It cannot be understated how important hip movement is in the golf swing.
Simply setting up in the correct posture at address and moving your hips in the right way will go a long way towards you shooting lower scores, and greatly improving your consistency.
Study and implement the concepts detailed in the videos featured in this article (in particular, the Athletic Motion Golf videos) and you’ll never have to worry about poor hip movement ever again.
You’ll create that open, pro-like impact position in no time.