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How to Simplify the Arm-Body Connection

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Making an efficient, yet consistent golf swing is like painting a masterpiece. I don’t believe that anyone can master the golf swing… at least not with 100 percent consistency. Just as with the greatest painters in history, perfection is elusive. Physical inconsistencies, psychological distractions, fatigue, course conditions and weather conditions make it almost impossible to always perform at your peak in golf. But masterpieces aren’t meant to be perfect, and neither is your golf swing. That’s probably why we love golf so much.

With that said, we can still do some things to improve our consistency. I like to call it “damage prevention.” I’ve found that the fastest way to improvement is not to make your best shots better, but to instead to make your bad shots less bad.

The Building Blocks

There are many things that affect how you make your golf swing, but none are more important than what I like to call the building blocks: setup, posture, and grip. They are like the frame, the canvas and the paint that will assist you in creating your masterpiece.

To learn more about the building blocks, please check out some of my earlier content that I have produced for GolfWRX. I go into more detail and explain other factors such as how physical limitations and having the right mindset will affect your golf swing and your game.

My 2 Favorite No. 1 Tips to Improve Consistency

What does that even mean, right? Well, I like to give a little variety to my clients. What works for one golfer may not work for another, and vice versa. Therefore, I have two No. 1 tips to help with consistency. With a little luck, one of these two exercises will mesh well with your swing, too.

Golfers that are struggling with consistency are often all over the place with their body and their arms. The only way they can recover is by compensating — they’re trying to save the shot in some enormously awkward way to get back to the ball. This usually leads to inconsistency and — from what I hear and see on the course — the feeling of having it one day and losing it the next.

The two tips in the video are my favorites because they generally offer the most bang for your buck. They pretty much force you to use your body to move more efficiently in order to swing the golf club in balance. And moving your body more efficiently can only mean one thing… improved shot consistency.

The first exercise really simplifies how you make your golf swing. It should provide you with a certain feeling of confidence as you make a simple turn back and through with your arms connected to your body.

The second exercise is a real game changer. By trying to prevent the hinging of your wrist in your backswing, your instincts will take over and say, “Hey, if I can’t hinge my wrists I’d better use my body to swing the club back and up.” The wrists, as I mentioned in the video above, are an incredibly important part of the golf swing. I see more golfers struggling with consistency simply because they become too “wristy.” So by taking the wrists out of the swing, or at least making them more passive, golfers are simplifying the swing.

My personal experience when using this tip with clients is that the movement of the wrists becomes delayed, which is what I am trying to encourage. The wrists will set as the body transitions from the backswing to the forward swing, which usually leads to more consistent ball striking as the club follows the turning of the body through impact instead of the opposite happening.

If you like these tips and you want more, then be sure to follow my YouTube channel. My mission is to help you bring back the fun to your performance!

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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 Coach Adam also offers online lessons and offers a monthly membership to help golfers stay committed to the process of improvement. All this and more can be ordered through his website www.golfadamstevenson.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.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Jun 13, 2018 at 11:52 am

    to difficult

  2. Geohogan

    Jun 8, 2018 at 9:43 am

    In order for wrists to be ‘free hinges’, the thumb and index finger need to be loose on the grip.
    Using thumb and index finger like pincers will lock up the wrist.

  3. Kyle

    Jun 3, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Tip #1 = Jim McLean ‘connection’
    Tip #2 = Homer Kelley TGM

  4. acew/7iron

    Jun 2, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    My wrist are naturally resistant to becoming involved in my golf swing…Matter of fact, my swing has been as he described in the second drill for over a decade. Im playing more golf in retirement and trying to coax my wrist to be a bigger part of things by exercising them regularly with a weighted club and trying grip variations. My point is…when my wrist play along in tune to everything else the results are magical. Its like a watching a ball flight someone else hit and it soars many yards past my usual distance.
    Ill keep working on wrist movement because IMO it separates a great shot from a good one.

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Instruction

6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

 

Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back

 

Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension

 

Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

 

The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.

 

In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.

 

If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

Nick Randall – golffitpro.net

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Stickney: The dangers of technology on the lesson tee

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One of the best things about golf instruction is the advent of technology to help teacher to better understand what is really happening during the swing. As we know, the swing takes but a blink of the eye, and it’s hard to see, much less, feel, what is going on when you hit the ball.

Therefore, teachers have employed different technologies in order to help them (and you) understand what is really going on…but the key is still the communication of the data output.

One of my biggest complaints in the industry is the teacher who uses technology and consistently ties their students up in knots mentally. Of course, you can have a simple misunderstanding between the teacher and student from time to time- we all fight this, but I’m talking about the teacher who would make a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering confused leading to paralysis through over-analysis.

In fact, take a look around your club, we all know a guy who has taken lessons and has become so over-consumed with the minutia of their mechanics that they can’t even draw it back! Where did this over-technical approach come from? Usually the teacher they have been working with.

My job is to insulate my players from all the crap that they don’t need to be concerned with while using technology and provide them the simplest way to improve.

Therefore the message from the teacher MUST be tailored to the level of the player and the player’s learning style. As players, we learn either verbally, visually, and/or kinesthetically and the teacher must have a working knowledge of the differences. Using technology makes this easer on the student—you can do it without technology, but it’s much harder.

Golf instruction does NOT have to be complicated when using technology, as many people falsely believe. In fact, the more complex it becomes when using these tools, the LESS proficient the teacher is in his level of understanding of what is truly going on, not to mention his skill in communicating with the student!

As it pertains to golf instructional technology you will find three basic types, and if you’ve taken a lesson lately, you have probably used technology like this….

  • 3-D Motion analysis systems like GEARS gives us the ability to measure and understand everything that happens to your body and club in real-time
  • Launch monitors like Trackman show the interaction between the club and the ball during the impact interval
  • Digital video analysis systems like V1 allow the swing to be viewed at different speeds and compared to your other swing files or even Tour Players

In my opinion, the key to golf instruction at the highest (technological) levels is the ability to combine these systems into a useful conglomeration that defines the student’s problem. From there, the teacher is left to explain the data output in a way (using the proper learning style) that ANY level of golfer can understand.

But that responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of the INSTRUCTOR, not the student. The most successful teachers in the world give the player in front of them exactly what they need in order to improve and nothing more and nothing less. It’s a learned art and skill, one that takes thousands and thousands of lessons to accomplish proficiently.

Therefore if your instructor possesses high tech instructional tools make sure that their communicational skill are as impressive as their technology if not, find someone else or you’ll find yourself in mechanical purgatory!

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50 Second Fix: Course management

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Want to fix your tee shots?… Stop falling into old habits, and start standing on the correct side of the tee box!

 

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