Essentially, there are two kinds of golf lessons. One I’ll call construction, the other correction.
In a construction lesson, which I almost always reserve for a new player or junior golfer, I am attempting to build a swing from “scratch.” In a correction lesson, I am working within the framework of the existing swing. Correction lessons amount to 90 percent of the lessons most teaching pros do.
How do I know which lesson to give? Quite simply, I ask. I’m always quick to warn a student of the dangers inherent to a construction lesson. Completely starting over and building from the ground up has two perils:
- It is very difficult to do.
- It is usually futile.
The Construction Lesson
The process involves starting with a grip, a posture, a ball position, aim and alignment and building a swing for that player’s body type, athleticism, etc. In this lesson, we have a blank palate on which we can craft any type of swing that is functional.
The important thing here is to build a swing that the player is physically capable of, and one that maximizes his/her body type and tendencies. For example, a taller player might get better leverage from a more upright move, while a shorter one might be more effective swinging around their body. There may also be physical limitations we have to address: a lack of flexibility, an abundance of fast twitch or slow twitch muscles, etc.
Here is the most important thing to remember if you are starting over or have never played:
When “fundamentals” are discussed, you have to consider what fundamentals? Neutral grip, strong or weak? Wider stance or more narrow?
The teacher and student need to settle on the type of swing they are going to build and establish fundamentals that will facilitate that swing. Too many times, I see players working on fundamentals that are not compatible with the swing they are attempting to build.
There are certainly parameters, but they can be tailored. There is always neutral ground, however, perhaps the images you may have seen in various books: The Five Fundamentals or Golf My Way for example. These can be starting points but nothing is cast in stone.
The Correction Lesson
A correction lesson is completely different.
In this case, there is an existing swing. The player does not want a new swing, but a modification of the swing they have. Most of the lessons I do are from golfers of a certain handicap who have recently been in a swing “slump.” Let’s say they had been a 12 handicap, and they started slicing or shanking, and recently have gone to a 16. This player makes it clear that scratch golf is NOT their goal. They simply want to get back to being a 12. In other words, they want to stop slicing or shanking.
My job is to help them get back to their “12” swing, which is why the approach to this lesson is considerably different. Did they recently change their grip? Move their ball position? These things happen without our knowing it, and cause huge changes in ball striking.
The worst thing I see here is when a golfers picks up a tip on TV or from their golf mate and tries to incorporate it into their swing. This can throw the whole affair into a major funk from which they can’t recover.
Golfers have to know if the tip fits into their equation. That’s why I try to advise students (and readers) on an “If this, then that” basis. You simply cannot throw a cog into the wheel. My work is a balancing act. I’m always trying to match swing components to find a equation that works for that student.
There is no one posture or grip or backswing that works for every player. Someone who moves their swing center off the ball in the takeaway needs an upright swing to match. If that golfer starts swinging around or flat, he has has introduced a variation that is incompatible. The correction is to swing the club more upright OR stay more centered on the pivot. The list of variations is endless and you have to keep the parts working together. The point is when a player is playing their best, that is to their skill level, they have matching parts. When they are playing out of their range, they have somehow “unbalanced” the act.
So the choice is yours. What kind of golf instruction are you interested in? Be sure not to confuse the two or you might be asking for trouble. You may very well get worse before you get better!
If you’d like me to analyze your swing, go to my Facebook page or contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) about my online swing analysis program.
The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training
If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”
Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.
In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.
The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.
[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]
Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.
Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.
So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!
Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers
There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.
If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.
My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).
Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.
Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.
If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.
Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.
Clement: Effortless power for senior golfers
Are you struggling with range of motion? Want more EFFORTLESS POWER? We are truly the experts at this having taught these methods for 25 plus years, while others were teaching resistance, breaking everyone’s backs and screwing up their minds with endless positions to hit and defects to fix. Welcome home to Wisdom in Golf!
Clement: How to turbo charge your swing
The shift in golf instruction continues and Wisdom in Golf and GolfWRX are right out there blazing a trail of fantastic content and techniques to get you to feel the most blissful, rhythmic golf shots you can strike! This here is the humdinger that keeps on giving and is now used by a plethora of tour players who are benefitting greatly and moving up the world rankings because of it.
The new trend (ours is about 25 years young) is the antithesis of the “be careful, don’t move too much, don’t make a mistake” approach we have endured for the last 30 years plus. Time to break free of the shackles that hold you back and experience the greatness that is already right there inside that gorgeous human machine you have that is so far from being defective! Enjoy!
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