Tommy Asuma is the Co-Owner, Co-President and Director of Fitness at SMART Golf & Fitness Instruction in Chicago, Illinois.
Dissociation is a golfer’s ability to use his or her upper body independent of the lower body, and vice versa. Though the golf swing looks rather fluid in nature, certain parts of the body need to move separately from one another. For example, in an ideal backswing, the shoulders will rotate further than the hips. Most golf coaches and golf fitness instructors see it every day – many golfers simply cannot rotate their shoulders without moving their hips, creating a challenge in developing the power-enhancing relationship between upper and lower body within the golf swing, known as the X-factor. This concept affects the path of the swing and angle of approach, which directly ties in to the ball flight (left or right), trajectory (high or low) and distance.
The number of degrees of separation between upper and lower body is one of a few elements that determines how much swing speed, ball speed and distance a golfer gets out of a golf shot. With golfers seeking distance more than ever, this is one of the first places we look. If the student is unable to create this separation, common reasons are: 1) coordination, as the individual may not have taken part in activities that require such movement; 2) tightness, inflexibility or lack of mobility that causes a limited range of motion due to age, physical make up or injury, among others factors.
New students seeking help with their golf game go through an extensive screening that includes an interview, where we discuss their history in the game and their goals for the future. We take a look at their swing and derive feedback from TrackMan, K-Vest, Bodi- Trak and live face-on and down-the-line video. The golf professional analyzes the data while a fitness instructor puts the student through a 25–30-minute fitness screening. We tie the physical results with the technical data to develop a plan for the individual, considering eleven characteristics that will determine a student’s rate of development: age, years active, sports played, screening results, major injuries, lifestyle, genetics, available time, mindset, type of practice put in place and work ethic.
Understanding that increased distance is the No. 1 desired improvement factor among golfers, the concept of dissociation is a common topic of conversation amongst virtually every student we see. The process starts with awareness and education, and progress manifests from there.