How I Gained Over 10 MPH of Club Speed…In One Lesson

More Speed

About two years ago, I wrote one of my most popular posts, How I Gained Over 10 MPH of Swing Speed.  I’ve maintained some of the gains that I made, but due to a variety of factors, I haven’t been over 110 MPH in a while.

That changed recently when I went in for a lesson with Rick Silva at Movement 3 Golf.  In one lesson, he helped me add 11 MPH of club head speed, reaching a personal best of 115 MPH.  In this post, I’ll explain the small changes that led to these massive results.

Changing the Gamma

The first change, and the one that had the biggest, most immediate impact, was also the most surprising.  Rick changed what my hands did in the back swing.  

Coming in to the lesson, I was holding the club face “square to the target” well into the back swing.  The face was pointing at the ground when the shaft was parallel to ground.  Rick referred to this as “Negative Gamma.”

The change Rick suggested was to use “Positive Gamma.”  He asked me to get the toe of the club pointing up to the sky when the shaft was parallel to the ground, and to keep turning the club in that direction all the way to the top of the back swing.  Additionally, Rick asked me to stop my exaggerated forward press which was contributing to the shut club face.

This simple change shot my swing speed north of 110 MPH instantly.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t experience it for myself.  However, as I reflected on it, it started to make sense.  When I was using Negative Gamma, my body was getting contorted into weak positions.  When I introduced Positive Gamma, my back swing ended in a strong, athletic pose.

It’s also worth noting that this change had an equally big and positive impact on my accuracy.  Prior to this change, I was hitting the ball miles left.  After the change, my drives found fairways and my irons flew arrow-straight.

“It’s All in the Hips”

After we infused my back swing with Positive Gamma, Rick explained how my hips should be functioning.  He started by dispelling the notion that the hips are this singular thing that simply rotates back and forth in the swing.  In fact, the hips are two independent ball-and-socket joints that are the major drivers of everything else that happens.

In the back swing, Rick prioritized getting my right hip to internally rotate.  Think of your knee staying perfectly straight as your belt buckle turns to the right.  That’s internal rotation of the right hip.  It’s a feeling I had never had before, but I loved it.  When I started my back swing with that sensation, there was no need to “recruit” rotation from my spine.  Translation: the swing is easier on my body.

To start the downswing, my right hip needed to rotate externally and my left hip needed to rotate internally.  Imagine both knees staying straight or turning to the right while your belt buckle rotates left.  Particularly for my left leg, this was unusual as I had developed the habit of starting transition by throwing my left knee toward the target.  One proper swing convinced me I needed to ingrain this new pattern – it felt athletic, strong, and balanced far beyond what I was used to.  More than anything, these hip movements gave me the ability to drive off my right side while knowing my left side would be rock solid.

High Hands

The icing on the cake was to get my hands higher at the top of my back swing.  Rick explained that the greater the distance between my hands and the ball, the greater the opportunity to create speed.  This made intuitive sense: I’ve never seen a long drive competitor with their hands at shoulder height.

Conclusion

Though I hope it’s obvious, I want to say this clearly: this was my recipe for adding speed, it may not be yours.  Some of these moves may benefit you, others may not.

If you’re interested in getting a personalized prescription for more speed, contact Rick Silva at Movement 3 Golf.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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13 Comments

  1. Much thanks for posting this. Can you expound further on the hip action? Never heard/taught about the independent action of each side; always heard a lateral one piece bump or one piece turn of the hips.

    • Matt Saternus

      Do you have any specific questions about it?

      -Matt

      • Are the hips always working in opposing direction? On backswing left hip internal, right hip external then transition to downswing left hip external, right hip internal.? Do the hips work in vertical as well, such a right hip higher the left after impact? Or the hips both working up?

        • Matt Saternus

          Caveat: I’m relaying information here, so I may be off.

          I don’t think the hips are “always” opposing, but I believe they are largely opposing. When you say “up”, are you referring to the hips losing flexion? If so, then the hips lose flexion post impact.

          Best,

          Matt

  2. Michael DAnnolfo

    Hi Matt. Great information as always and thanks for sharing. Getting the toe up in the backswing is opening the club face and adding a little cup to the left wrist. If you continue this move to the top of the backswing, in my understanding, you will need a compensating move on the downswing. The compensating move would close the face having the toe rotate more shut and add speed I would think and maybe explain some of the gain. From what I have read, and it seems to be true in my own experiments, left arm rotation closes the face. I used to think bowing of the left wrist closed the face, but it does not for me. It delofts, but it does not close for me.

    I have struggle between a flat or bowed left wrist in the backswing and a cupped left wrist similarly. I felt as though I have less compensation on the way down to square the face with a flat left wrist at the top of backswing. Speed versus accuracy debate. I have a stockier build and thicker chest (5-11, 200 lbs) and have a hard time getting the club to parallel without a lot of wrist hinge. If I let my wrists hinge fully, then I introduce a cupped left wrist. It is an open face only depending on the grip in my understanding. My grip is neutral to strong.

    I tend to hit the ball high and find that as I get my hands higher in the backswing and then in the forward swing to match, I hit the ball higher. On calm days it works great as the course I play on is more of a target golf course with smaller greens. It is also located near the ocean and the wind often blows pretty good. With a flatter more rounded swing, I am able to keep the flight down and control trajectory better. I guess it depends on what you are trying to accomplish really. I’ve heard numerous times that you do not hit the ball with your backswing. Although true, the moves made in the backswing have ramifications on the moves in the downswing and follow through to balance them out to be successful. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction type of deal.

    Glad you are finding success with your new moves.

  3. Gerry Lapalme

    Hi Matt,
    Don’t know if those images(lessons) would provide 10mph more speed. What worked for me was the SuperSpeed Golf Men’s Training
    System which I think you tested. After a couple of weeks of training with this system, I gained at least 10mph and more. Exercises are hard but the results are fantastic.
    G.L.

  4. Hi Matt, so with the hip rotation you are talking about, are you saying that you are counter rotating your right hip a little against your waist and torso to create more torque in your body that can then be released in the downswing?

    • Matt Saternus

      TJR,

      I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m not sure how to explain it better than I did with the images above, and I want to stick to medically accurate terms because things get dicey otherwise.

      Best,

      Matt

  5. Fantastic article.

    While I think focus on body part motion is counterproductive and misguided, the body part motions you are describing are ‘bang on’ in my opinion.

    The lack of responses for such an accurate article makes me think that most golfers must be rather lost on how to swing a golf club.

  6. Keith Finley

    Hi Matt
    This is very good information. I have recently made the opposite correction. I learned from an old school Scotsman and my toe pointed straight up as you illustrate. From that position I was adding too much loft. Your former position lowered trajectory without losing my straight to tiny pull draw.

  7. Peter Feinman

    Terrific post. External rotation too frequently produces a fat iron shot ( a slight sway). Internal rotation equals crisp compression !!

  8. Hi Matt,

    I really appreciate everything you cover on your site.

    When you said “right hip needed to rotate externally and my left hip needed to rotate internally” How do they turn towards each other? By rotating the left hip internally, is that the sensation of stabilizing the left leg and turning through (externally with the right hip)?

    Thanks,
    Brandon

    • Matt Saternus

      Brandon,

      To understand, you need to break out of the model (perpetuated by 99% of golf instruction) that the hips are one thing. You have two hip sockets that operate independently. Each can rotate internally or externally, as shown in the photos, independent of the other.
      The feeling you describe could be correct for you, but there’s no way for me to say definitively. The photos above are the best way I can think of to communicate the motion.

      Best,

      Matt

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