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Pelvic Powerhouse Part 1: Pelvic Tilt


Whether you are a golfer, a baseball player or any rotational athlete the ability to control the pelvis is very important for optimizing your performance and health in your sport. To start our series on the pelvis we will begin with the ability to control pelvic bend or pelvic tilt. This is a small yet powerful move that provides a lot of insight into how well you transfer energy from your lower body to your upper body during your sport and how well you are using your 'core' during your sport. Keep reading to find out how we can assess your physical ability to pelvic tilt, what it looks like during your sport and how we can use K Motion 3D motion capture to help learn the finer details of your swing.


What is Pelvic Tilt?

Let's first define a few things about pelvic tilt before testing and showing the significance of this in your sport:

Anterior tilt of the pelvic is defined as titling the pelvis forwards or increasing the arch in the lower back. If you imagine the pelvis being a bucket of water this would be shown in the middle picture with water dumping out the front.

Posterior tilt of the pelvis would be defined as the pelvis tilting backwards or flattening/rounding the lower back. In this case the bucket of water would dump out the back.

These terms will apply to the test below and in the actual swing mechanics. Use this as a reference as needed during that breakdown.


The pelvic tilt test:

Next we are going to look at your physical ability to control pelvic tilt. The Pelvic Tilt Test: The pelvic tilt test was developed by the Titleist Performance Institute/OnBase University and looks at your ability to control the position of your pelvis and your ability to transfer power from the lower body to the upper body.

The pelvic tilt test is performed as follows:

1. Start out by getting into an athletic posture

2. First check your setup posture: you can do this looking in a mirror. Look to see if you have a neutral posture, "S" Posture (too much arch in the lower back) or "C" Posture (slumped shoulder and rounded mid back).

2. From this position fold your arms across your chest and try to tilt your pelvis forward, or arch your back

3. Then try to tilt your pelvis backwards, or flatten your back

*In order to pass the test, you should be able to tilt your pelvis forward and backwards with minimal leg/knee movement or upper body movement. The movement should also be smooth.


There are a couple of different ways to fail this test:

1. Unable to tilt either direction

2. Unable to tilt forward

3. Unable to tilt backwards

4. We also look at the quality of the movement or how smooth the movement is. Sometimes a shaking will be present known as “shake and bake”. This indicates a lack of control or coordination and indicates that you are performing this regularly in the swing. While shake and bake may be a winning combination for Ricky Bobby, it will take the power out of your swing.

How is this related to my swing?

The sequence of your swing begins as you generate pressure from the ground. That energy travels into your legs and continues to travel up to the pelvis. From the pelvis this energy will go to your trunk and arms, then to the club and finally to the ball. The pelvis/core is the link between the upper and lower body, so any dysfunction in this area can have a significant impact on your ability to transfer energy or produce power. Also the ability to tilt the pelvis backwards comes from your abdominal muscles, which are crucial muscles to producing an efficient and powerful golf swing.


What does this look like in your swing?

Watch the pelvis and belt line in the videos below. Notice how the belt line becomes more level as these athletes get to impact/contact during the swing. This shows the pelvis posteriorly tilting during the swing. This is a small, yet powerful move that gives a good idea how the 'core' is functioning during the swing and is seen in the most powerful rotational athletes.

Here is a still frame image of what pelvic tilt looks like. The more the line points towards the ground this would indicate an increase in anterior tilt. Compare the line at address, the top of the backswing and impact. Notice how it becomes more horizontal or level during the swing. This would indicate what pelvic tilt should ideally look during the swing.


Pelvic Tilt in 3-D

While slow motion video and still frame images can give a visual representation of what this looks like 3-D motion capture with K motion can give us even more insight into your swing and how well you can control the pelvis. It is normal to set up with approximately 20-25 degrees of forward tilt. During the backswing this should remain fairly consistent. As you go into the downswing this number should decrease as you get to impact. This would indicate that you are tilting the pelvis backwards/rounding the lower back. The graphs below show examples of proper and improper pelvic tilt during the swing. This is shown in the graph below.

In contract look at this graph and how it spikes at the start of the swing. This indicates that the pelvis is increasing the forward tilt or arch in the lower back. This is the opposite of what should be occurring and makes it difficult to optimize energy from the lower body to the upper body and acts like speed bump for the energy you are creating during the swing. This move can also end up putting more stress on the lower back during the swing. This is a common finding among the athletes I work with who struggle with the pelvic tilt test.


Hopefully this post gives you some insight into the importance of pelvic tilt and how it can effect your performance and ability to maximize the power of your swing. Stay tuned as next week we will cover some ways you can improve your pelvic tilt.


This is also just one piece of our baseball and golf performance assessments. To learn more about the rest of our screening process and how we can help improve your performance contact us at 260-222-6157 or jared@jaredbicklept.com


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