Monday, March 28, 2011

Why do we swing so fast ?

I would estimate of the thousands of lessons I have given to amateurs at least 50 percent of them swing the club too fast. I have found there are basically two reasons for this.

First amateurs have not had proper instruction on the mechanics of the golf swing. They haven't learned to properly coil and uncoil the bigger muscles, but rather make an instinctive quick flailing motion with their hands.

The second reason for an overly fast swing would be anxiety. This anxiety causes amateurs to rush their swing in order to see where the shot goes or just to get the swing over with. In either case the results are almost always bad.

Here are few mental and physical exercises to help you slow your swing down and give it time to function properly.

1. Make a slow practice swing. On the practice tee before hitting a full shot make two very slow practice swings at no more than 75 percent of the speed of your normal swing. Then step up the ball and try to hit the shot at the same pace - say 75 percent of your normal pace. You may be surprised by hitting the most solid shot of the day.

2. Keep your backswing and downswing speeds the same. Many players who swing too fast may not be quick taking the club back, but get extremely fast coming down. Therefore their backswings and downswings don't match. When this happens you can't fully utilize your lower body in the downswing. Make an effort to keep your backswing and downswing speeds the same by swinging your arms down and through the ball at the same pace which you brought them back.

3. Hit shots with your feet together using your 6 iron with the ball teed up slightly. You'll quickly learn that you must swing in balance or you'll fall over, and that in order to stay balanced you must make a slow and smooth swinging motion. Don't worry how far the shots go although you may be surprised at their distance because you hit the shots squarely.

Amateurs can eliminate a lot of faulty shots by simply learning to slow their swings down. With practice these exercises will help you realize that by swinging in a more leisurely fashion you are allowing the centrifugal force built up in the shaft and clubhead to release through the impact zone.

A good thought is to swing the clubhead through the ball rather that hitting at the ball. Try these drills and you'll soon be surprised how solidly you strike the ball and how much farther you hit it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Effective practice is about quality not quantity

So you just finished hitting 150 balls to improve your game and lower your scores. Well think about this first. An average golf swing takes 1 1/2 seconds. 150 X 1.5 seconds = 225 seconds. Divide that by 60 seconds and you just practiced for a little over 3 1/2 minutes. In my opinion that's not much time to learn a new skill.

Learning proper swing mechanics is essential to play good golf, but you'll master those mechanics faster if you work on them without a ball. If golf were simply about knowing rather than doing wouldn't the teaching professionals be beating the touring professionals?

The only way to permanently learn a motor skill is through repetition, you can't do it without a lot of practice. But it needs to be the right kind of practice. Standing on the practice tee hitting a pile of balls and trying to learn to make a good golf swing simply doesn't work.

Students learn faster if they work on mechanics without the distraction of trying to hit the ball at the same time. With a ball in front of them students worry too much about performance and not enough about learning, seeing and feeling their swing.

As an instructor I have learned to use various props to enhance students visual feedback and develop feel in their swing. These tools help students develop sound fundamentals and to learn by feel without the distraction of trying to perform at the same time.

Students are then able to work on their swing without going to the practice range. Rather they can work on their swing mechanics during a coffee break or in their hotel room when traveling.

Quick fixes may offer you instant gratification but you'll suffer long term consequences. Making a long term commitment may require temporary inconvenience but the benefits are permanent improvement.