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How good is your balance? Take this test

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In your golf swing, maintaining your balance is often the difference between consistency or lack of it. If you are able to maintain good balance, you will have a better chance of being able to make an efficient swing where you can transfer energy more efficiently throughout your body’s different segments. That will help you to generate more speed and more distance.

The bottom line is that without good balance, golfers are relying on compensations from coordination… and a little bit of luck. So the question is, do you feel lucky (punk) or are you going to do something to improve your odds?

Balance is more than a necessary fundamental in our golf swing; it’s a necessary fundamental in life, too. We don’t usually take into consideration that balance is a gift we have earned through evolution, as well as one we have spent our whole lives mastering. What is given can be taken away, however, which means our balance can only be improved or maintained through continual development from challenging it on a regular basis. Routines that aren’t challenging us to maintain our balance will eventually cause it to diminish.

There are three things that we have acquired through evolution that allows us to maintain good balance: our vision, the vestibular system (between our ears), and proprioception. Proprioception is our sense of touch that sends a signal to our brain allowing us to know where we are in space during any given movement. During the golf swing, we use our proprioception sensory receptors located throughout our body to send impulses to our brain to help maintain balance and coordinate a stable movement. We tend to lose our ability to maintain good balance through our adult lifestyles and the aging process, however, which can leave us in a bit of a predicament when we need to rely on our ability to maintain good balance in our golf swing.

In the video below, I share with you a simple test that challenges you to look at just how good your balance is. It also give you some exercises to help you regain good balance if you are lacking the ability to maintain it.

Now that you have tested yourself, how did it go? Was your balance poor? Don’t panic if your balance stinks, because the beautiful thing is that you now have the ability to improve it.

The great thing about finding your weaknesses is that you now know what you have to do to improve, as opposed to wandering around hopelessly unaware that you have poor proprioception. This is great news, but regaining your skills to maintain good balance won’t happen right away. There is no magic snapping of the fingers that will improve your ability to maintain good balance — only good old-fashioned practice.

The two exercises in this video will challenge your balance and help you to regain it, though you have to do them regularly, which means a minimum of three times a week if you want to see any significant improvement. There are actually studies that strongly suggest that for every decade you have lived, you should be challenging your body in all ranges of movement at least once a week. That means, if you are in your 30’s, then three times a week is good. If you’re in your 60’s, though… well, I think you get the picture.

As an added bonus to regaining and training good balance again, you will be regaining improved muscle activation so that you can re-learn how to fire the correct muscles to create stability. In doing so, you will be opening up a whole new cabinet of possibilities such as improved movement and potential power, not to mention reduced chances for injury.

If you’re fighting yourself to maintain your balance, then I guarantee that you are perhaps unknowingly fighting yourself to improve your golf game. And I know that you don’t want to be doing that… I mean, who doesn’t want to improve their game, right? Improving your balance is going to help. You’ll have one less thing to try and coordinate in an already challenging sport.

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Adam is a PGA Professional and TPI Certified Fitness and Medical Coach. He enjoys working with golfers of all ages and levels of expertise, and his approach is to look at every golfer as an individual to try to help them achieve their goals as effectively and efficiently as possible. He is also the author of two books: The Golfers Handbook - Save your golf game and your life! (available on iTunes and Amazon) And his new book, My Mind Body Golf Please visit the links below to find out more about Adams books. http://mymindbodygolf.weebly.com http://www.golfers-handbook.com "The golf swing may be built from the ground up, but the game of golf is built from the head down" - My Mind Body Golf Aside being an author, Adam is also a public speaker, doing workshops and lectures introducing concepts of athletic movement for golfers of all ages and levels of expertise.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ken Kohl

    Apr 30, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Good article, thanks for the drills.

  2. Bob Jones

    Apr 30, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Especially if you’re somewhat over 50, when balance can no longer be taken for granted.

  3. N

    Apr 30, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    What defines “losing balance” in this situation? Is it wobbling on one leg with your eyes closed, or is it having to put your other leg down as you have lost all balance?

  4. ogo

    Apr 29, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    If there is 70 pounds of blubber hanging down in front of you forget balancing on one foot and then the other during the golfswing. Obese men with a pot belly should not be allowed to set foot on a golf course because it could be injurious to their decrepit health. It’s okay to buy PWG clubs, but stay home and don’t make a fool of yourself swinging like a pregnant duck.

    • Jalan

      Apr 29, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Tell that to Craig Stadler, John Daly, even Jason Dufner. Challenge them in a round of golf, and my money is on them.

  5. S

    Apr 29, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Smash it and fall back. No need for balance

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Instruction

WATCH: Two drills to help you stop hitting it fat

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Here’s a response to a question on my Instagram page from Neil Riley. He asked if he should steepen the angle of attack in the downswing in order to stop hitting fat shots. In this video, I share two of the reasons why golfers might be hitting fat shots, as well as two drills to practice that will help them stop hitting it fat.

 

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Changing your golf swing? Consider this before you do

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Golfers I have taught over the years have an almost uncanny ability to put the golf club on the ball (to varying degrees, of course). I have seen well-hit shots from an incredibly wide variety of positions. I’ve seen closed faces, open faces, steep swings, flat swings, outside-in paths, inside-out paths, slow and fast swings, strong grips and weak grips ALL hit the golf ball solidly at times. How? Well, thinking about this may very well help your swing, especially before you decide to change something in it. Let’s take a look at a few examples to explain.

Strong Grips/Closed Clubfaces

We’ll start with the example of a strong grip that tends to get the clubface quite closed to the arc in the swing and at the top of the swing. If that is left alone in the downswing, the shots are very predictable: low and left (for a right-hander), sometimes barely getting off the ground. But many golfers hit the ball in the air and straight with a strong grip; in fact, many hit high blocks to the right. How? Well, they open the face on the way down and usually “hold on” through impact. They adapt to the closed clubface to make it work, and that’s the point here.

Now, if they reach good impact consistently like a Dustin Johnson, Graham McDowell and several others do with a closed clubface, we have no problem. But often club golfers do not; in fact, many slice and top the ball from a shut face at the top.  They do so because opening a closed face is a very shallowing move and prevents one from releasing the club properly (it’s a power outage as well).  Functionally, however, opening a shut is far better than releasing it from there, for obvious reasons. If the trail hand pronates, the face goes from closed to really closed. So golfers simply learn to open it.

So along comes some well-meaning friend who says your clubface is really closed at the top. You look at many great players, and sure enough, your face is clearly shut. So you correct it. What happens next is also very predictable: high and very right, and very thin with many topped shots. Why? Because you only corrected part of the problem. You fixed the shut face, but now you’ve taken a square clubface and massively opened it as a force of habit. You have ingrained that move into your swing because you had to open your old, shut clubface in the downswing. Correcting only ONE thing made your swing worse. Your swing is now dysfunctional.

That’s why if you commit to one change for the sake of improvement or consistency, you have to commit to both changes. If you don’t, you’ll get worse… not better.

Steep Swings

Here’s another: many amateur players start the downswing with the golf club far too steep. Maybe it’s over the top, maybe not (you can be just as steep from inside the ball). But when the golf club is too vertical in transition, it can result in any one of a number of impact mistakes: namely fat, slices and toe hits. So the idea of “flattening the transition” (good idea) becomes your priority, but there’s always a catch. Most experienced golfers correct steep through one of a few different ways listed below:

  • Raising the hands (standing the club up) to avoid fat shots
  • Tilting the torso back or away from the target to avoid opening the face
  • Sending the hands away from the body to avoid toes hits
  • Raising the swing center

You get the picture here. You learn to get the club on a better plane (flatter with the butt of the grip pointed more at the golf ball), but you’ll likely still have one of the “fit-in” moves left into impact. So a flatter club, which is by far a better way to square the face, might result in a shank if you’re used to sending your hands away from your body to avoid a toe hit. Raising the hands might top. Tilting the torso back away might hit shallow fats or tops. So you fixed the steep transition, but your impact is worse! Again, you’re dysfunctional.

Remember, if you commit to one change, you MUST commit to both.

Weak Grips/Over-The-Top

One more: Golfers who start out with a weak grip (as most do) slice. So as a reaction, they come over the top and swing outside-in. So they fix the grip, and of course, the result is predictable. They pull the ball, generally low and left (for right-handers). You get the pattern here. They need to learn a new swing direction, and on and on.

The lesson is clear; a single correction of a swing issue can be sufficient, but in my experience, two corrections must be tackled for long-term improvement. What to correct first? Well, you’d have to consult with your teacher or coach. As a rule, I try to get better impact first if I can get someone there from where their swing is now. Some other teachers may prefer a different sequence, but I think they’d all agree that a two-part correction is ultimately in the works.

I’ve always believed that teachers can disagree widely on the prescription, but they should be pretty much in unison regarding the diagnosis. Learn the swing flaw AND your reaction to it before you decide to make a swing change.

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How to use your handicap to lower your scores

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The fastest way to improve the game of an amateur, or a handicap golfer, is to use the established handicap as a guide to direct and then to measure that improvement. The measurement component is simple; as the game improves, the handicap goes down. Using the handicap as a guide is a bit more complex because the player must be dedicated, determined and disciplined enough to stay within the improvement process. And before I share with you the process, I want to share the foundation, or the rationale, that makes it work.

“Placing the ball in the right position for the next shot is 80 percent of winning golf.”

— Ben Hogan

Not all that long ago, I was present when a friend of a client of mine was complaining that no matter what he did with practice or lessons he just wasn’t getting better. He said that if he could just break 90 once he could “die a happy man.” It sounded like an opportunity to be of service to me, so I agreed to a playing lesson. The short version of that lesson was I told him what to hit and where to hit it — and he shot 87.

Was he happy? Not on your life! Angry, not quite… but really upset. Why? The poor guy said he didn’t have any fun!

The day of the playing lesson, I met the player on the range while he was warming up. I observed that he should never hit a driver, so I didn’t let him. I observed he couldn’t hit a long iron, so I didn’t let him. I had him tee off with a six iron on the par 4’s and 5’s, which he hated. And if he could have controlled his putting distance a bit better he wouldn’t have three-putted three times. No penalty shots, no water balls and no OB’s. All we did for 18 holes was try to put the ball in play and to keep it in play. He hated it. So much for dying a happy man.

During this playing lesson, I used the player’s handicap as a guide to maximize his playing ability, and I used his ability to help him make the best score he could at that time. So how did I use his handicap? I could see this player was no better than an 18, so I added one stroke to the posted par for each hole. Par 3’s became Par 4’s. Par 4’s became Par 5’s, and Par 5’s became Par 6’s. Once his par was established, he played each hole to get on the green according to that par adjustment. For example, the 210-yard par-3 became a 210-yard par-4. So instead of trying to get on the green from the tee, we used a strategy to get on the green in two and then two-putt for a 4, or “his par.”

I advocate every player use this handicap game-improvement system. A 15-handicap adjusts 15 holes so his par changes from 72 to 87; an 8-handicap adjusts eight holes so that his par changes from 72 to 80. I use this process for plus handicaps and professionals as well. A plus-4 adjusts four holes so his/her par changes from 72 to 68. Using this mindset, my playing lesson shot 3-under his par of 90.

I’ve had clients cut their handicaps in half in just a few months by adherence to this process. It works in lowering scores because it eliminates most “unforced errors,” and about half of all dropped shots at all levels are a direct result of unforced errors. Unforced errors occur when something is attempted that the player can’t do or shouldn’t do. The fewer unforced errors per round, the lower the score. It’s as simple as that.

I strongly urge golfers to chart each round of golf in order to identify every unforced error. Just email me at edmyersgolf@gmail.com and I will send the game-improvement scorecard that I have my clients use to evaluate their performance.

Posting lower scores is how handicaps go down, and all handicaps plateau when the player is faced with the realities of what he/she can and can’t do. For example, an improving handicap golfer may require the need to use clubs or hit shots not previously necessary. The playing experience reveals what needs practice, and practice is where the player should learn what can and can’t be done. Rule of Thumb: if you can do it 7/10 times in practice, you can consider doing it in play.

In the opening paragraph, I stated that dedication, determination, and discipline are required to stay within this improvement process should the player decide to implement it. But I should have said it takes a whole lot of all three. Experience tells me that players say what they feel, but do what they want. Neither is a plan for progress.

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