When we analyze the performance of the two of today’s best golfers, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, we can see that a big part of their success comes from their ability to create separation from their upper and lower body – what’s commonly referred to as the “X factor”. By stabilizing and maintaining great posture with their lower body while simultaneously incorporating a significant range/amount of motion through their upper body, they’re able to generate tremendous power and consistently hit the ball farther than most others.
In the picture below, Jamie Sadlowski (former World Long Drive Champion from Alberta) shows the extremes of this physical ability. As you can see, he keeps his lower body very stable, rotating his pelvis approximately 45 degrees. Meanwhile, with his upper body, he demonstrates incredible mobility by rotating his torso (upper back) somewhere between 120 to 150 degrees (depending on the measurement used). This creates an “X factor” or separation between his upper and lower body of anywhere from 80-110 degrees and allows him to accelerate his torso through the downswing and routinely hit drives over 400 yards!
Of course, most of us don’t need an X factor anywhere near that high to see significant improvements in our game. For most of us, achieving an X factor close to 45 degrees would be more than enough. The key is achieving balance between lower body stability and upper body mobility – it’s not about how far your turn your shoulders (you don’t want to over-swing). This will allow you to hit the ball farther, play more consistently and avoid injury. In this month’s exercise tip, we feature exercises for checking and loosening your thoracic spine (mid-back), which will help you add more X factor to your game.
Of course, while adding more X factor will improve your golf game, improving your posture, flexibility and range of motion (benefits of loosening your thoracic spine), will also help with staying healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle. So, it’s definitely worth doing even if you’re not a golfer!