Over the last two articles, we have looked at why we use box jumps and how they correlate to specific sports movements. The same principles of vertical power are applied to rotational sports such as golf, baseball, and tennis; only once the power is generated, it is applied in a slightly different manor.
While the golf swing is a tri-planar movement, vertical force is still a major part of the swing. To generate power, one must load into the glute on the back leg and push into the ground to power the down swing.
As you can see with the follow through, there is extension through the hips, knees, and ankle of the back foot. While there is debate as to how much vertical power can translate into rotational power, there is no argument against the fact the body is most efficient when power is created up the kinetic chain. Without the initial push, the power would have to be compensated for elsewhere in the kinetic chain, stressing that part of the body.
There is also a horizontal push as well. As the downswing starts and the hips begin to move, the weight should be on the instep of the back foot. The horizontal push is what allows the hips to begin to rotate.
A great way to teach athletes how to combine vertical and horizontal power is the resisted lateral bound.
If you look at a long drive competitor’s swing, you can noticeably see the vertical jump in the down swing. As Dr. Greg Rose points out, the arms of a long drive competitor move nearly 400 degrees per second faster than a PGA tour player’s arms when using a driver. This speed is not created simply from the arms moving faster. It starts with the vertical force from the legs created during the down swing, and transferred into rotational power.
When looking at the lower body, the baseball swing is not much different. The batter loads the weight into the back glute and drives through the inside of the back foot.
It’s not until the leg begins to extend that the hips and hands begin moving. As you can see, the back foot actually leaves the ground because of the force generated.
It’s not until the back leg begins to extend that the hips and hands begin moving. As you can see, the back foot actually leaves the ground because of the force generated.
Focusing on the lower body (for both golf and baseball), you can see the amount of both horizontal and vertical force produced as a result of the load onto the back foot. The legs power the hip rotation, which powers the torso to rotate, which causes the arms to accelerate through.
Helping the athlete to understand how to use the ground is imperative. Doing so should create a more powerful motion without another part of the chain having to compensate.