Motor Control: What it is and Why It's Important for Golf - IMPACT Physical Therapy

Motor Control: What it is and Why It’s Important for Golf


A healthy and effective golf swing requires many different components, including mobility, stability, strength, power, and motor control. These all go hand in hand; it is difficult to have an efficient golf swing if you lack even one attribute. This article will discuss the foundation of a healthy golf swing. That component is MOTOR CONTROL.

What is Motor Control and Why is it Important for Golf?

Motor control is the ability to produce the movement you intend to perform. In other words, how coordinated a person is. One may have the strength and/or flexibility to perform a certain movement but lack the ability to coordinate the motions and carry out the intended act or exercise. Have you ever tried a new exercise and during the first couple sets found it unusually hard to perform a simple movement? After several sets, the pieces come together and the movement comes more like second nature; that is motor control!

Good motor control is important in golf because helps dissociate – or separate – the upper body from the lower body; all while maintaining the correct pelvic posture during the golf swing. When a golfer is unable to dissociate the lower body from the upper body, the potential for injury can occur. For example, when a golfer is unable to rotate their hips over a stable mid-section or vice versa, risk for increased compression on the lumbar facet joints can occur. This compression may cause low back pain during or after your golf match.

Exercises to Improve a Golfer’s Motor Control

How can a golfer improve motor control? The three exercises below help to incorporate the coordination a golfer requires during their golf swing. The exercises will help to control/stabilize the pelvic posture as well as improve the ability to separate the lower body from the upper body during the golf swing.

Pelvic Tilt:

An important skill incorporating overall mobility of hips, lumbar spine, and the ability to control the position of the pelvis. This helps a golfer produce power transfer from the lower body to the upper body during the golf swing.

Pelvic Rotation:

This exercise helps a golfer train their brain to separate/move their hips independently from a stable thorax or midsection. Pelvis rotation helps proper sequencing of the backswing and downswing as well as being able to generate the proper separation between the upper body and lower body.

Torso Rotation:

This exercise helps the golfer to rotate the upper body separately from the lower. This skill is important to help properly sequence the backswing leading to better power and efficiency.

How to Perform Motor Control Exercises

Each of the following exercises should be performed 2-3 times a week to have the greatest success.  They can also be used as a warm-up before teeing off to improve hip mobility and coordination.

Pelvic Tilt:

  •   Stand in golf swing posture
  •   Cross arms over shoulders with feet shoulder-width apart
  •   Find Neutral Pelvis; halfway between full flexion/extension
  •   Arch the back to your full range and then tuck the back
  •   Repeat about 10-15 times

Pelvic Rotation:

  • Stand in a golf swing posture
  • Cross arms over shoulders with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep upper body stable
  • Rotate the hips back and forth
  • Repeat about 10-15 times
  • Note: This is not a big movement; the key is to keep the upper body still

 Torso Rotation:

  • Stand in a golf swing posture
  • Cross arms over shoulders with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep lower body stable
  • Rotate the torso back and forth
  • Hold each rotation position for 3 seconds
  • Repeat about 10-15 times

Injury Screenings for Golf Injuries

Motor control plays an imperative role in the efficiency and health of a proper golf swing. There are of course other aspects that will help with the golf mechanics, but motor control is the foundation for a healthy golf swing and proper sequencing. If you have found yourself with any golf injuries during this golf season or would like a physical therapist who specializes in golf to perform an injury screen; please feel free to email or contact us at IMPACT Physical Therapy.

References: Titleist Performance Institute, “The Golf Screen,” TPI Certified Level One Seminar Manual, p. 94-103, Acushnet Company, 2013.[/fusion_text]