The Sadlowski Rotational Axis
- by Kelvin Miyahira
The Sadlowski Rotational Axis
This particular idea kept bothering me for years. Why do some golfers have this endless flow of torso rotation while others get stuck? Why do some rotate fast while others stall out? When studying baseball players, I saw some of the same movements. Some kept moving while others lost their axis of rotation and slowed down or wound up with just an arm swing. Then, while studying the moves of Tiger Woods and Jamie Sadlowski, the answer came to Rick and I. What’s really important, is that the discovery of this axis can also unlock the shackles that are slowing you down.
Skater’s Spin Axis
Imagine an ice skater doing a spin. The farther out the arms extend from the center, the slower the spin. This happens because the farther the mass is from the center; it will create wobbling just as a spinning coin makes just before it wobbles to a stop on the table.
The closer the ice skater brings his/her arms and/or legs in to the center, the faster the spin becomes. This follows simple physics law of conservation of angular momentum. I think everyone can understand this or at least has seen this in action.
Less than Optimal
So it’s logical that a golfer should try to achieve this type of fast spin as well……provided it is sequenced correctly and coordinated. But what is seen most commonly is players moving too much of their body mass away from the proper center of rotation.
In the golf sense, it is not about the arms extending out away from the center in the ice skater example. Typically a golfer slows down by getting his/her hips or upper torso too far forward of the left foot or directly onto the left foot in the downswing thereby causing the slowdown. Let’s take a closer look at these errors.
Lower body slide and Hip Stall
At this point Tom Lehman is right on the Chi Line. He’s already finished his transition and is ready to fire. But something happens on the way to the bash.
He slides forward towards the target even more. This is causing a hip stall. If this hip stall becomes worse, it will cause shoulder stall. But TL has the amazing athletic ability to move his shoulders and drive his hands while his hips are stalling out. Most of us can’t.
Nice hands but you can see how much of his body is forward of that line. In a perfect world, we’d see an even amount of his hips on both sides of that line and his spine in close alignment to the chi line.
There’s really no hip rotation after his slide. Even if he did turn at this point, it’s not going to add anything to his shot. Might just do it for looking pretty though.
The best analogy for this less than optimal move would not be of a skater. It would be like a door trying to slam in the doorjamb. BUT instead of the door slamming, the hinge keeps moving away from the door edge thereby making it impossible to shut the door much less slam it fast.
Upper Body Lunge
Hey, hey Paula, you’re on it right now. Completed transition at this point and ready to fire on the downswing but something happens.
This time it is an upper body lunge. Her left shoulder is too far forward of the chi line. What pray tell might happen?
She can’t jump, rotate or do anything but hit it with her hands and arms. Her whole body is in a stall due to this upper body lunge. She keeps her head down long…………….but does it really matter? This is why her swing has the distinctive look of a body stall and the extreme head dip down. Many amateurs look like this because they are told to stay down. Right………………………..(doing my best Dr. Evil impression).
The Chi Line
Origins of the term
The term Chi or Qi (pronounced “Chee”) was first used by the Chinese and literally means breath. But in western culture we take it to mean energy or energy flow. We could also have called this the Chakra line as in all the energy centers of the body described by the Tibetans or Hindus.
But since chi is an easier word to remember we’ll stick with calling it the chi line.
The Difficulty in defining
Since a golfer is not spinning straight up vertically as a skater does and this makes it more difficult to visualize and understand.
Others have tried to describe the rotational center as a point at the back of the neck. I don’t think that’s quite comprehensive enough of an answer.
Thus, the concept of the Chi Line is needed.
Chi Line at Address
Just draw a line from the top of the head down to the left foot.
JS Top of Backswing
Notice how JS has his back aligned along the chi line
Then check out his body rotating fast on the chi line. His body lines up pretty well with his hips evenly distributed in front and back of the chi line.
Here’s Jason Zuback flying on the chi line. While most people see his swing as having too much lateral motion going through, he’s got all this lateral motion AFTER impact where it does not affect his powerful impact.
Tiger slightly ahead of the chi line. It might be important to note that golfers must play shots from the ground therefore must move slightly left as Tiger shows in order to move the bottom of the arc forward. Long drive guys don’t have to worry about that and can just fly on the chi to maximize body rotational speed.
And here are some pictures of Michelle Wie from 2004 on the left and 2007 on the right. When you’re not on the chi line the difference is gigantic. Just look at the left picture and you see greater hip rotation and her back/ribs are just rotating like a Jamie. You can even see her left glue really contracting.
On the right, you see a reduction in speed, amount of rotation and even muscular contractile force. Which one looks more dynamic? Which one looks dead in the body? On the right, she’s just hitting with her hands. Or shall we call that flipping?
Here’s Ken Griffey Jr. on the chi line.
And Rafael Nadal on the chi line.
Chi chi chia
The Chi line offers you a way to strike the ball with maximum muscular effort by using your body’s natural lines of energy and movement centers. By doing so you can create higher clubhead speeds and ball speeds. Plus, you will increase your smash factor numbers since you have all your energy and mass moving at peak speeds at the point of ball collision.
Want one more reason? Accuracy. If your body is flying on the chi line at impact, your hands have support during the critical zone. This is where max distance and direction come together. Without body rotational support, your hands can flip or fly off on its own and we all know where that gets you.
You can play this power game too. The only drawback is the neck injury you risk by having to look back at your buddies’ short drives. Ouch!
Chi Line Trainer