Blog: Shoulder to Hip

What a pickle jar can teach us about separation

We’ve gotten a ton of traction in the past talking about common fallacies when it comes to hip shoulder separation. It’s not that we don’t like it. Getting enough hip shoulder separation is critical for an efficient rotary sequence. We just don’t like how it’s often taught.

However, we’ve recently come to an understanding of hip shoulder separation that makes way more sense. It all started by thinking about how you open up a pickle jar…

If you got hungry and decided to grab a pickle jar out of your refrigerator, how would you proceed to open the jar? Would you unscrew the lid using your top hand, or would you unscrew the lid with your bottom hand? If you’re like most people, you probably said your top hand. The bottom hand keeps the jar stable and allows the top hand to unscrew the lid. Makes sense, right?

Now let’s think through a baseball lens. If the top hand on the jar is our trunk, the bottom hand is our pelvis. If we wanted to open the jar up, we wouldn’t try to unscrew the lid with our bottom hand. We’d do it with our top hand. Creating good hip shoulder separation works the same exact way.

We don’t want the pelvis to open up the trunk. We want the trunk to open up the pelvis. Creating good counter rotation with the trunk allows our pelvis to reciprocate against it and open slightly into landing. The bottom doesn’t open the top. The top opens up the bottom. 

Just think about this jump throw below: 

Do you think he’s focused on opening his lower half when he jumps in the air to throw? Probably not. Instead, he’s probably focused on getting closed with his trunk so he can get off a strong throw, despite not having access to the ground. This is the spinal engine at work. When you take the ground out of the equation, you see how the body was built to produce rotational force. 

You also see what happens when the focus is on closing the top. The bottom opens, but it doesn’t open because you were trying to open it. It opens because you were focused on closing the top.

We’ve been calling it hip to shoulder separation, but is it really shoulder to hip separation? 

Interested in more? We break down common fallacies around “shoulder to hip” separation in our level one courses.

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