What is a Shoulder Plane?
Simply put, the shoulder plane is the rotational plane of your shoulders. (e.g. If you stand up straight and rotate your shoulders they are turning on a “horizontal” plane, or if you bend over at your waist and rotate your shoulders, that would be a “vertical” plane.)
If you haven’t read these articles: Posture Perfect, and Scapulae Control Can Flip Your Game Around, I would suggest checking them out if you want a deeper understanding of your shoulders.
Normal rotation of your shoulders follow a circular path 90 degrees to your your spine angle. Draw a line from your shoulders to the ball. In a perfect world, this is the plane EVERYTHING above your waste should be on. In other words, your spine should be 90 degrees (perpendicular) to this line.
The Side Tilt
In order to come close to this “perfect world” scenario you need to have left-side-tilt on the backswing and then right-side-tilt on the downswing. This will accomplish several things without a concerted effort. 1) It will keep you from sliding forward towards the target. 2) It will allow you to keep your tush-line. 3) It will create room for your arms and allow you to freely swing. 4) It will eliminate the “chopping wood” of your arms by keeping them on your shoulder plane.
I previously addressed this issue in my End Your Slice FOR REAL!! post.
The Arm Plane
The plane on which your arms swing is call Arm Plane. For most golfers this is a steep up and down type movement. This is normally caused by a very horizontal shoulder plane which forces your arms to do all the work trying to get down to the ball.
Think about it for a minute. If your shoulders are turning on a plane in line with the golf ball then your arms are just along for the ride. Tiger Woods looks like he has an upright arm plane, but if you look closely, their arms are on the same plane as his shoulders at impact!
What does this Mean For You?
When you stand up in your downswing, your shoulders are turning on a plane that is too horizontal. This forces your arms to be steep and out of plane with your shoulders. Classic problems such as “Over the top,” “Flipping,” and “Getting Stuck,” just to name a few will plague a horizontal shoulder turn.
One thing to note in the second picture above is that Tiger’s spine is tilted toward his right hip at impact to allow the shoulders to turn on a steeper plane. If he had the classic amateur swing, we would have never heard of Tiger Woods.
One more quick picture for you to ponder is Dustin Johnson. Even though he is swinging a driver and Tiger has a 7 iron, do you see how identical he is to Tiger?
If you want one of the fastest tracks to get better, then work on your shoulder plane. Once you get your Posture Perfect and understand Spine Tilt the next step is getting your shoulders to be on a steeper plane. Your arms and shoulders will “match up.” You will increase your power. Your golf swing will also be more consistent.
That’s the fast track to better golf.
Think About It
“I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Almighty God, the creator of the universe wants us to be “on plane” with his work. Listen for his instruction and “match up” with His will. We will become stronger in our faith and more consistent in our walk.