Showcasing real students with real change. Below you will find out exactly how my students went on to become more powerful and consistent ball strikers.
Dennis came to me as a complete beginner golfer who had kind of started playing golf on his own.. He came to me not wanting to learn bad habits. The before video you see here is actually after a few lessons in where we got some general fundamentals in; grip stance, posture. The after video is after several lessons and when Dennis was showing all time consistencies and power in his golf swing. Read more to find out exactly how he achieved better swing proficiency.
I chose Dennis because he represent a large portion of the golfers who come to me. The chances that you're also making a variation of this type of move is probably 75% according to the thousands of lessons I've taught. I also chose Dennis because he actually put in the time to make these changes and trusted me. He is now a much more consistent and powerful ball-striker in very short period of time. Considering his lessons were only 30 min/week, I consider him to have made substantial progress in this video examples.
Dennis' problem was basically what I call "Spinning" in the backswing. Another good way to visual is to sit in a rotating chair and start spinning around in it. Or also stand up and just turn your shoulders side to side. If you are doing that in your backswing, then you are most likely doing in on your downswing. See there's a big buzzword in golf right now and it's called, "Rotation." Many golfer are misinterpreting it and becoming worse and even injuring yourself. See, this is what Dennis was thinking subconsciously as evident in the first video. You can see how he keeps his forward bend all the way through the backswing and downswing; his hips and shoulder are turning too flat and he's more inclined to be on his toes.
If I had to explain everything little thing we did to fix Dennis' swing, I would need three pages. In order to get to the point, I will explain the things we worked on as succinct as possible. Therefore you can apply it to your own swing.
1st. We created some side bend mobility with drill where I would have Dennis stand straight up and have his hips sway from side to side. Then we had him do this in a normal golf posture to see how it kept his head more steadier. To him, it felt like he was really swaying, but because there was already some hip depth, at address, it didn't appear excessive as you can see.
2nd. We worked on how the lead shoulder, arm, hip and knee had to tilt downward on its proper angles to promote and early swinging of the lead side down and laterally. In return this resulted in an early pressure more to the trail side (leg/hip). If you're unfamiliar with pressure shifts, please refer to my other posts.
3rd. We worked on how this early pressure shift is used to re-route the trail hip back and around to the target side in the transition.
4th. We worked on posting up the lead leg and getting the arms to race of the chest to a fully extended left side on the follow through. The key here is that everything prior to the follow trough was done correctly to inspire him to want to put on the brakes with his lead leg and get the swinging of the shoulders, and arms to accelerate through the ball into a nice balance finish. When he did this all correctly you can see the result in the video of how much more powerful he seems to swing.
This can be a very complicated subject to try to teach using words. Hopefully reading this article along with watching my videos will help you. Remember if you start hitting a few with a ton more power, you know where you got it from !
This post is intended for the better player who struggles with consistency!
If you're reading this article right now. You should feel very lucky. I'm inspired to write this post because of something I keep coming back to in a lot of my lessons. These past few years I've been lucky to make a huge impact on a lot of my students' golf games. However, the more I seem to get better at teaching, the more I seem to notice the importance of this almost looked over aspect of the golf swing: SETUP! SETUP! SETUP!
What I am trying to say is that one of the biggest reasons why golfer's can't be consistent is because they have one or more aspects of their setup wrong. I don't care what type of motion your are working on in your swing, If you don't get the setup right you are not going to be consistent at this game! Mark my words, bookmark this page! You will always wonder what exactly I am talking about when all your swing fixes are only short lived and you keep getting frustrated! I am telling you, it's your setup.
Most people do not understand the intricate detail that goes into the setup. You can watch videos on, read books, even get a great golf lesson. However, there's a certain feel and different parts of the body that need to be engaged at the start of the swing. I wrote in a post earlier about the lead arm and its relationship to the grip and torso, but I have since improved on how to perfect the setup even more.
I know what you're thinking "The setup can't be that hard." I'm pretty sure I got it." Everybody thinks they have the correct setup and everybody thinks it's easy to do. I would say that only 1 out of every 10 of my students have the setup correct! It is a lot harder than you think! But easy if you're already getting into the positions.
Tip: This concept of setup includes how your grip, wrists, arms and elbows support the club. It is very difficult for me to describe these motions in words, and not even video can do justice. But here's something you can try:
Act like you're ready to bump a volleyball and take the volleyball grip with your trail hand under you lead hand. Take your lead hand and flip in palm down and take your golf grip. Notice how you now have a miniature golf grip. Grab a golf club and place it in you hands with this feel. Using only the last three fingers of your lead hand and middle two of your trail hand as pressure points, lower the club to the golf ball. Make sure that the club feels like it's slightly open at address. when you swing back you should notice that there is a lot more control of the club going back and through.
Remember this tip is for the better player.
This post is part of a series of discussions where I tackle a lot of common swing issues. However, instead of providing common fixes that you've probably seen elsewhere, I will be providing a different way to think about how to obtain the correct feels of the swing. This series is catered to help more of an intermediate to advanced player who has somewhat of a functioning swing. These articles will assume you know some swing vocabulary. Please also check out my earlier posts.
Today we will be discussing a plaguing issue called "Casting." What is a cast? A cast is when a player has too much extension in the wrists at the top of the swing. Instead of creating lag tension between the wrist angles at the top of the swing through impact, the player throws or casts the club and shaft immediately away from their bod on the downswing creating inconsistent and very weak shots.
How this tip is different: Most coaches or online instruction will give you drills or feeling to increase lag tension with a combination of wrist flexion drills, holding the wrist angle drills and laying down the club drills. However, when most of this instruction fail to realize is that there's a certain way that the club has to be leveraged into the hands and wrists to overcome the tendency to extend the wrists at the top. The key here is to activate the correct muscles in the lead wrist and forearm to feel the correct flexion and ulnar deviation as the club reaches the top of the swing.
In order to get the correct feel of the wrists take your normal stance but hold the club slightly split handed at waist high position otherwise known as first parallel. In this position take your lead thumb and index finger off the grip and only hold the club with the back three fingers of your lead hand. Now using your trail hand, start pulling back your lead wrist. As you're pulling back your lead wrist you should be starting to let the club get into ulnar deviation (thumb pointing toward you) along with lead wrist flexion (Arm wresting feeling in lead wrist) If you're doing it right you should notice a tremendous amount of tension begin to build up into the back part of your lead wrist and the club will fel solod in your hands.
Things to note, if you are a caster, you'll definitely feel like the club is getting substantially closed toward the top of the swing. You will also feel like you're swinging a lot shorter. Your ball will go farther and feel more compressed. You will come less over the top.
Here's the result of what came about when after some really good grinding from a lesson of mine:
If you know what the Pump drill is then you've probably been around golf instruction for sometime. Those of you have had success using the pump drill will find that it's hard to replicate when starting from you regular address position. In this article we will examine how you can use the pump drill to inform your entire swing from the address position.
I remember first hearing about it when I was first starting to learn this game in the 90's. It has since been my go to drill when working on the transition Call it what you want but the "Pump Drill" or the "Waist High" or any variation of it is when you set you hands at waist high and start the swing from there. Some people just like to swing from there as Viktor Hovland does below or someone like Justin Rose who does it in slow reps on his pre-shot routine. I also like to teach my students to pump it 3 times from waist high to the top to get a sense of the plane as well.
If you have some experience with this drill you will notice that you can hit some of your best shots with it. Most people will assume that the secret behind this drill is because it helps get your shaft on plane. But, in this article we are going to take a look another important reason this drill works; the transition!
What is it in the transition that make this drill work so well? You'll find that it really helps you drop the club down on a shallower plane and more often than not your club will find the middle of the clubface. When you are doing this drill correctly, what you're going to notice is that when your club is set at waist high, your pressure has been set to your trail side. This is also a natural occurrence because the weight of your club is also on the trail side making your trail side that much more pressurized. Then, as you are turning your shoulders and getting your arms up in the air to strike the ball, pay attention to the transition from backswing to downswing. It is during this period where you're inspired to shift pressure to your lead side from the waist-high position and there's a short period of weightlessness before your ground pressure ramps up to our lead side. It is also in this period where there's a lot more space created between your hips and your arms allowing for the club to shallow in the transition.
Now why is it that the drill works but when you set up to the ball normally you can't do it as well? Simply put, you're not getting in to the same waist high position when you start at address. From what I've seen in my experience, most of my students are not pitching the club up the plane properly and loading into their trail side early enough in the takeaway. Instead, the most common mistakes I see are: rolling your wrists back, too much one piece takeaway, spinning out with hips and a late weight shift to the trail side.
The takeaway and transition is huge deal in getting the sequencing right. In fact this is probably the most overlooked part of the golf swing, but most important. Get this right to make a GIANT leap toward improvement!
How many of you have either copied golf drills from online lessons, youtube videos or have even gotten some lessons where a coach gave you some sort of drills to work on? You would probably agree that for the time being, it may work to some degree but then notice that when you take your normal swing after your regular setup, you are unable to replicate the good shots that you would do with the drills? I see time and time again even in my own teaching that students are only able to do the drills yet they cannot translate it to to their normal swings.
Lately, I have been having a significant amount of success upon having students try to focus on what body muscles they are feeling at work when doing the drills. See, drills (the correct ones) are designed to force you to get in to positions that you normally would not get into: for example, the right foot back drill is there to help you get your hip depth on the backswing, the step drill is there to help you transition correctly, the Hogan drill is to help your grip it better with your trail hand, the L to L drill is there to get your wrists to start hinging correctly... and the list goes on and on. However when people do these drills they fail to incorporate it properly into their normal swings.
The key to making drills successful is to be aware of the muscle sensations they are trying to make you feel. Remember, be specific. Do you feel your lead arm or you trail arm taking the club back, is there tension in your left lat or your right lat? When are you feeling a pressure shift, early or late? Are you feeling more tension in your right wrist or left wrist, etc.
Pay close attention to how these feel from a musculature perspective because chances are that when you take your normal setup to the ball, you are already predisposed to fire the same exact muscles you've been firing in the past and that is why your drills are not effective.
Many times I tell my students, "If you're doing it, you're not, if you're not sure you're doing it, then you're still not, but if you feel ridiculous, then there's a slight chance you are."
I am inspired to write this post because it speaks to millions of you out there who have gone through so much in trying to get better at this game. Maybe some of you are coming from dozens of lessons, books, and youtube videos and you just can't seem to figure it out. Chances are that you've either tried to get into certain positions, or had certain thoughts but yet they still don't work or they're short-lived.
After having taught thousands of lessons, over the almost 20 years I've been teaching, I've have begun to increasingly implement a more muscular awareness approach to changing the characteristics of the swing. More and more these days, I've not been trying to get students into positions, but started more manual manipulation of the body to helps students trigger the right muscles and muscle groups in the correct sequence. I am noticing more substantial improvement when I talk about the correct muscles in the motion rather than the motion itself just to get into a particular position. For example: is it the palm of the lead wrist that takes the club back or the outer muscles of the trail wrist? Is it the peck muscle or the trail latt? Should you push off into your lead leg or trail? And also what sequence do all these muscles fire? Here's some food for thought? If you could ever step inside of your favorite gofer's body and feel exactly which muscles they're using in the swing, don't you think you could replicate it far more accurately? That's the approach that I've been taking more as of recent. It's been helping my students tremendously.
But not only showing what positions my students need to get into but exactly which muscles need to be used to get there. And I'm not just talking about simple descriptions, I'm talking about very detailed information as to which exact muscle and when they should fire. It is amazing to see that my students are shocked at their before and after videos of how using the correct muscles will show them swing a lot more like the pros and the positions starting looking better on video analysis as well as in pressure plate traces.
This post should be valuable to all those who are reading it because I am telling you look at learning this game a lot differently. Don't get caught up into simply getting into positions for the sake of it. You need to to know what muscles are involved to a very detailed degree. You can swing into correct positions with incorrect muscle triggers and you won't hit ball well because you are not sequencing your kinematic motion like the pros.
I want you to think back when you first tried learning golf. I don't think there has been any golfer who hasn't entertained the idea that their lead arm needs to be straight in the golf swing. If you think about what your first observation of the golf swing was, it was that you noticed the pro golfer having a straight lead arm.
There is a lot of discussion in popular instruction that says you shouldn't straighten the lead arm... that your arms have to be relaxed when swinging the golf club, but what actually happens in the golf swing? To examine this let's look at other sports. Pick any sport that involves kicking or throwing and you can apply this analogy. let's take for example a tennis player. How are their arms in the beginning of making a serve or volley? It's nice relaxed and ready to go, What about a kicker getting ready to kick? His legs are nice relaxed and ready to go. What about hockey player? Even say a hockey player, I mean you name it, their body is always in a relaxed and predisposed to be making the actual motion,
Now, let's examine what happens during the natural motion of the athlete throwing, kicking, or whatever motion they are making. The arm begins to extend to strike the tennis ball and extends even further after impact, the kicker begins to extend his leg as he approaches the kick and the leg extends further through the kick. The hockey player begins his extension of arms and then the extension increases through the impact area.
So what does this all mean for the golfer and what does it have to do with the lead arm? Well, the exact same thing. When you go for a golf swing, you are in a relaxed state at set up, although your arms are connected more to you sides they are not fully tense and straightened. However as you approach you backswing, your arms begin to start extending toward the top of the swing and even more as you approach the follow through. This will give you that "look" that the lead arm is straightening.
So for all of those who are saying you don't need to keep your arm straight in the golf swing, they are wrong. And to those who say you need to completely keep your arms loose throughout the whole swing, you are also wrong. It's actually a combination of both. Watch the videos of Koepka and DJ. notice how their arms hand and address without and tension and then notice how their arm gradually start tensing up throughout the swing.. Try this!!! You will be amazed!
This post is part of a series of discussions where I tackle a lot of common swing issues. However, instead of providing common fixes that you've probably seen elsewhere, I will be providing a more accurate way to think about how to obtain the correct feels of the swing. This series is catered to help more of an intermediate to advanced player who has somewhat of a functioning swing. These articles will assume you know some swing vocabulary. Please also check out my earlier posts in the swing fixes category.
Today we will be discussing an uncommon swing fix to help you get a sense of hitting the golf ball more in the center of the face or even toward the heel if you are a player who keeps hitting it on the toe.
How it's different: The most common fix that you find online to cure toe shots will deal with early extension or something having to do with the follow through. This tip shows you something you need to look in your actual backswing that may be hindering your center strikes instead of purely looking at the downswing.
The most common tip you will find online on how to fix a toe shot will describe something you will have to do on your downswing. A toe shot is most often the result of the shaft coming through too steep. There can be a lot of reasons why that happens but the most common issue talked about by coaches is the dreaded "Goat Hump" or "Early Extension." While working on these things can definitely help, here is another way to look at how you can create more depth in the impact area leading to more strikes on the sweetspot.
Remember that early extension is resultant of a player who tries to create speed at the ball too early in the downswing. In an attempt to create maximum club speed, they jump up at impact. Remember in the correct kinematic sequence of the golf swing, your pressure is transferred to you lead leg a lot earlier in the downswing before any sort of jumping happens. In the process of starting the downswing the front and side bend angles of you body need to start getting deeper. In order to do that you must feel like you want to do that at the top of the swing.
In order for you to want to get deeper in the downswing we are going to start with the backswing. Take your regular setup and grip. then let go of your trail hand entirely and let it hang right there under your shoulder. As you keep you lead arm relatively straight on the club, let your trail hand swing back into grip and hinge the club back on plane (what you feel is toward your trail ear). If you are doing this correctly you will feel a lot less shoulder movement and more motion in the wrists and hands. It should feel like a sort of exaggerated waggle, however there must be minimal shoulder movement. Now here is the key: when you attempt to swing your club father back, do not try to bend you trail elbow as much, try to swing feeling like you almost have your arms more straight. This will force you to use more shoulders and put more tension on you arms and shoulders. Your grip end of the club should feel a lot farther from you and closer to the ground as you do this. Start off by taking some pitch type shots an progress more into a fuller shot?
Are you surprised that you're not hitting the club more center? Well you shouldn't be because that's what happens when you swing the club a lot more correctly!
I'm so sorry I had to write this article. A lot of you readers out there are not going to like or agree with what I have to say here. Especially those of you out there who think they can figure out the golf swing on your own. I am simply writing this after two decades of experience and what I have found to be true after having done thousands of lessons.
First let me start off by asking you some questions... Do you think it is coincidence that almost every professional player has a swing coach? Even after centuries of this game, we still have not found the "Magic Bullet" in the form of a book, a training aid, or any technology that's a solve all as it pertains to improving the golf swing. You would think that after all this time the game of golf has been around, there should be better-average golfers out there. However, in the past 30 years the average handicap of a recreational golfer has only gone down 2 strokes. One could argue that's mostly due to equipment innovation.
The fact is that most golfers have this idea that they can simply practice golf, read books, magazines or other youtube videos and somehow magically improve their swing. I am not saying it is impossible, but I am saying it's highly unlikely. The typical reaction I get time and time again when I am trying to go over swing changes with a student is astonishment! "There is no way I'm supposed to swing like that! It feels like just arms! I thought I was supposed turn my hips," "I thought I was supposed to cock my wrists like this" or "Aren't you supposed to keep you head down." These are just a few of the many ways the misinterpretation of the golf swing has kept golfers from getting better. That why it is so important to have a seasoned coach show you your swing as compared to the best players in the world. You have to remember, golfers come in different shapes and sizes, golf is one of the few sports where you can actually move more like a professional.
Feel is different that Real
When first showing my students their swings, most of them are surprised because of how drastically different they look compared to a pros. And again, when putting them through swing changes, they can swear they look even funnier. However, after awhile of grooving the correct feels and watching their improvement, they are confident in the fact that they look much better and after some more time getting used to the feels they actually feel more free and powerful. Here is an example of a student who completely could not believe the difference in how he was changing his swing:
Time and time again, I get the response from my students, "There is no way I could have figured this on my own." It is true, the complicated kinematic sequence of the golf swing is almost too difficult to diagnose on your own unless you either have high tech 3D motion analysis or an experienced coach with technological tools at hand.
I am not trying to discourage you
Please don't take this article to heart if you are one of many who are trying to fix your own swing issues on your own. I am not trying to tell you it can't be done. However, I am trying to say that it will be unlikely, especially if you have some major issues. It is worth it to go see a seasoned coach to examine you against the professionals and see how you stack up. Also, if you are going to go about it on your own, make sure the sources that you get your information are based on research and data. There are too many resources where coaches or even players are giving their opinion. Believe it or not, even they can be wrong. Remember, feel is different than real. Make sure that the tips that you're reading regarding the kinematic sequence of the golf swing are based off of measured data of the professionals.
I've been getting a lot of questions lately on what technical studies have influenced me in my teaching. The following below is a list of some of the more popular research papers that I have read to understand the golf swing at a much deeper level. It is not necessary for the average golfer to comprehend this knowledge at the kinetic level, however it does not hurt to understand the findings reported in these papers.
I also believe it is essential for swing coaches to have a grasp of what science is putting out so that we can sift through all the BS and actually know what methods are based on myth and what methods can validate our teachings. Every swing coach is only going to get better at what he does when their teachings are based on facts.
LIST OF RESOURCES
Study focuses on club path relationship to body
A study showing the differences in body parts in angular velocities.
Body segment timing differences between pros and amateurs. This report validates my earlier blog post about the golf swing being a system of gears.
Using the 4 segments in the body. Findings show importance of wrists working in flexion to square clubface in the downswing.
For club design implications: