Analysis

Hips Don’t Lie: The Importance of Hip Fluidity in NFL Players

Hips Don’t Lie: The Importance of Hip Fluidity in NFL Players

Remember that scene in Happy Gilmore when the playful Chubbs Peterson is providing some light-hearted coaching to a frustrated Happy at The Waterbury Open? 

“It’s all in the hips, yeah, it’s all in the hips,” Chubbs sings. “It’s all in the hips.”

Well, whether Chubbs realized it or not, he was stating a truth that applied just as much to success on a professional football field as it did to perfecting a golf swing.

One of the key biomechanical elements to evaluate in a football player is the degree to which he can open, flip, and redirect his hips. Loose hips equate to smooth change of direction ability, which is vital for success at every position.

Wide receivers need to change direction to snap off their routes. Pass rushers need to change direction to win on inside moves. Linebackers need to change direction to match running backs and tight ends in coverage. There are countless examples all over the field.

While there is certainly an element of explosiveness to directional change, it is impossible to change direction on the move without loose hips. Humans can only run in the direction their hips are pointed, so the explosiveness factor only matters to the extent that hip fluidity is present. 

This is why prospects with blazing 40-yard dash times but limited change of direction ability don’t always make it; without compensatory technique, strength, etc., it is very difficult for the tight-hipped, linear athlete to survive in a league that requires split-second redirection.

Check out the clips below to see how oily hips show up time and time again among successful players, regardless of position. The more you watch the hips, the better you understand both who wins their matchups and why. Shakira had a point, people. Hips don’t lie.

Watch Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari on this play from the 2020 season. As soon as Detroit’s Austin Bryant declares inside, Bakhtiari redirects his hips to ride Bryant into the middle of the pocket. 

Then, in a sudden and extraordinary display of athleticism made possible by his hip fluidity, Bakhtiari whips open like a defensive back to engage the looping Jahlani Tavai and keep Aaron Rodgers upright.

In this clip, the Eagles’ Miles Sanders is pushing horizontally toward the sideline before easily snapping his hips to explode vertically through the hole. 

Once into the second level, Sanders again puts his loose hips to use to put a would-be tackler through the spin cycle and finish for a few extra yards.

The bottom of your screen features a matchup of Pro Bowl selections in Cleveland’s Denzel Ward and Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson.

Johnson stems with urgency to slide Ward outside before breaking inside and deep. In sync with Johnson’s break, Ward cleanly flips his hips across his body to remain in-phase with Johnson down the field before challenging the catch point.