Golf Swing Philosophy
Effortless power is something we all seek in golf. Luckily, there are a million and one ways to get it done…no one would mistake Jim Furyk for Rory McIlroy. Unfortunately, some aspects of modern golf have pidgeon-holed people into specific swing mechanics. Rather than ask you to mimic a video of a tour pro, we work with your biomechanical signature to maximize your efficiency.
Individuality is a big part of how we serve you best. However, all good golf swings do essentially three things:
1. Separate the hips and torso on the downswing;
2. Leverage the ground for power; and
3. Release stored energy to the target. (not the ball!)
The corresponding physical and mental components required are:
a. Enough joint mobility and stability to achieve separation;
b. Good balance and a strong backside (hamstrings & glutes); and
c. A mental focus on the target/trajectory.
The physics of golf is really pretty simple. We want long levers rotating around a stable axis. Therefore, balance and counter-balance would seem to be paramount in achieving this simple state of affairs. Your arms weight about 15-35 pounds. So in order to be stable, don’t we need to counter that mass somehow? Yes, using the backside, the buttocks. You know, the “caboose.”
The counter-balance of these two components helps steady the axis of rotation, which increases speed. However, many golfers (for many reasons) “arm” the backswing, pulling the club behind them. If I were to counter-balance that motion with my butt, well I’d be throwing it forward (towards the toes) of its starting point, right? Yes, and that’s a problem!
You can’t leverage the ground from that position because leverage requires balance. The easiest way to prove that is to ask someone to jump high. They instinctively counter the sinking butt with the arms to leverage the ground for power while staying balanced. You wouldn’t try to jump by throwing your butt forward and your arms back, would you? But due to movement restrictions, strength deficits, or poor mental focus, many golfers do exactly that. This causes an unstable axis of rotation, likely straining the shoulders and lower back in the process.
Keeping the arms in front of the body allows the axis to remain steady and primes the glutes to leverage the ground. Some people are very mobile. Like Rory McIlroy, the backswing has a huge shoulder turn but the hips remain pretty still. This type of backswing “X-factor” was espoused as a teaching philosophy for some time. Unfortunately, very few people have these physical traits, and trying to swing in this manner is often a recipe for frustration and injury. Most of us will need to turn our hips and roll our feet a bit to keep that club in front of us. Here’s the beautiful part: we don’t need to think about how much or when. We just need a decent amount of mobility/stability, and focus on staying balanced. And bingo! If you don’t bother it with 50 swing thoughts, the brain delivers effortless power.
The brain is a fascinating piece of equipment. We tell it to do something, and it does so with varying degrees of grace. One constant is that there’s always a goal. And when that goal is reached, the brain says “OK, I’m done, what next?” It’s really cool, but has huge implications for how your focus and directions apply to your golf game. Here’s just one example:
Many golfers who “cast” or come over the top are releasing their stored energy at the ball. This is a weak slice. Never forget the brain’s #1 instinct: self-preservation! If I’m focused on releasing energy at the ball, I run the grave risk of hitting my lead hip/torso. The brain isn’t too keen on that. But don’t forget the brain is all about reaching the directives you provided. How to resolve this conflict of interest? Well, the brain can still achieve the goal (the ball) and fulfill self-preservation. It does this by a very early clear of the lead hip (getting the body out of the way of itself), and releasing all its stored energy at the ball (achieving the directive). Sounds like over the top, casting, and a weak ball flight.
So how can the services of the SPEED Clinic help? Although we can help with that, not all golfers come over the top due to poor focus of release. Over the top and casting can come from physical limitations, as well. Moreover, sub-optimal movement will affect the efficiency of neural circuits in the brain and impair your ability to focus. We at the SPEED Clinic are in a unique position to figure out who is who and what is what. We can see if power leaks are derived physically, mentally, or both. And we can help you fix them!