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A Biomechanical Look at David Leadbetter’s “A Swing”

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The seed for what would blossom into the A Swing was planted back in 1998, while I was visiting David Leadbetter at his academy headquarters in Florida. As time went by, our discussions about the A Swing deepened, which, as a biomechanist specializing in sports, excited me tremendously.

While about 10 years in the making, the A Swing has now made its debut to the world. I feel proud to have helped David realize his dream of developing a swing that maximizes energy efficiency, employs a minimum of body movement, is easier and simpler to repeat and is far less stressful on the body than conventional golf swings. In a manner that I hope all will understand, I’d like to present and explain a few of the A Swing’s key biomechanical facts and principals and offer some of the reasons why the swing works as well as it does.

First, the A Swing (which stands for the Alternative Swing) isn’t based on flat, two-dimensional Euclidean geometry. The golf swing unfolds in the same three-dimensional space we all live and act in every day, so one needs to think about the golf swing and frame it within the voluminous space of the real world as well.

With this in mind, we can compare the biomechanical efficiency and overall efficacy of the A Swing to a helicopter’s blade revolving around the fixed axis of its stable hub. A helicopter can, like a gyroscope, nimbly and precisely tilt and shift the plane of its orientation while flying in space without disturbing the constant rotation of its blade — just as a golfers tilt their bodies while swinging their arms and club around the hub of their spines. This is why the helicopter metaphor is a very good one for the A Swing, whose set-up posture, alignment, grip and flat-arm swing/steeply set shaft backswing motion has been designed to swing in sync with the body’s stable hub-like pivoting action, which we will shortly discuss. Our research reveals that golfers can repeat their A Swings with less of a need to make last-moment arms and hands compensations before impact than when executing conventional swings.

The Traditional Backswing vs. The A Swing Backswing

A_Swing_Traditional

Photo Credit: The A Swing by David Leadbetter. St Martins Press, 2015

The A Swing is unique among contemporary swing philosophies in that it values and considers the biology part of biomechanics as much as it does the mechanical side. In this context I want to discuss with you the importance the A Swing places on the use and control of the body’s deep core muscles of the entire torso, from the abdomen up through the chest. Anatomically known as the abdominal-thoracic hydro pneumatic caisson, this organic structure of bone, muscle, organs and other tissue establishes a composite beam, or girder-like structure, around which the several kinematic muscular chains of the golf swing revolve.

In more layman’s terms, it is this core “unit” which in tying into the muscles of the golfer’s shoulders, pelvis, hips and legs both transmits and stabilizes the golfer’s motion throughout the swing. The correct and sustained engagement of the body’s core is an inviolable principal of the A Swing, and when golfers fully engage and sustain the contraction of their core muscles throughout the entire swing, they reap the benefits of a tremendously stable and repeatable swing that produces power and accuracy on a consistent basis.

Our research also shows that 30 percent less energy is needed in the A Swing to complete the backswing pivot or coil than in conventional swings and that the golfer’s center of gravity shifts 15 percent less during the swing than in conventional swings. The first finding allows for a greater establishment of potential power during the backswing, while the second allows golfers to more easily transition into their downswing while maintaining complete balance. Taken together, they result in a more efficient energy and controlled build up and application of power applied through the downswing and release into the ball. Please keep in mind, however, that the percentages quoted in this article and in the book refer to A Swings made in a fully efficient manner according to our model, and that any incremental movement in the direction of these percentages and improved will result in better shots and long-term better swing for golfers. Furthermore, we obtained these findings by working with a group of golfers of different handicap levels who had previously trained by working with The A Swing book’s “Seven-Minute Practice Plan.”

Photo Credit: The A Swing by David Leadbetter. St Martins Press, 2015

Photo Credit: The A Swing by David Leadbetter. St Martins Press, 2015

With that said, it’s important to know that the key to the A Swing, and, indeed the impetus behind David’s commitment to developing it lies in its simpler and more efficient backswing. In testing the A Swing’s backswing, we found that the hands travel 20 percent less in distance, while the club itself travels 15 percent farther than in a traditional backswing.

Now the reason an A Swinger’s hands travel a shorter distance to the top of the backswing is because they stay inside of the arc of the club head’s backswing motion all the way to the completion of the backswing itself. In a conventional backswing, the club head actually swings back inside of the hands at some point in the motion, and this change of direction, so to speak, increases the distance that the hands travel as well. We can compare the hands’ path of an A Swing’s backswing to driving a car directly from Chicago to New York City. If we extend the analogy to a conventional backswing, we would find this car driving first to Miami Beach before turning around and heading north to NYC.

So let me ask you a question, and believe me, you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to answer it correctly. Which route consumes more gasoline and, therefore, expends more energy during their respective road trips? Obviously it’s the Chicago-Miami Beach-New York City route! The same scientific concept of conservation of energy applies to the A Swing’s compact, “short” and direct backswing. The time and energy saved when the hands move on the most direct path to the top of the swing both allows the golfer to more leisurely transition their swings into the downswing, and provides them, again, with more energy that they can apply into the club, and, ultimately into the ball.

Ryan Blaum

Photo Credit: The A Swing by David Leadbetter. St Martins Press, 2015

Now the golf club itself travels up to 15 percent farther in the A’s versus a conventional backswing because of the efficiency of the swing’s pivoting or coiling motion and also because of its extremely flexible “Prayer Grip.” The grip, which features a slightly strong left hand and weak right-hand placement on the club, yields maximum wrist motion and bend but almost no rotational motion during the backswing. David, who designed this grip specifically for the A Swing, really understands that the human wrist joints are extremely mobile, even “fluid,” and are not machine-like and rigid like clamps. Again, the A Swing is backswing oriented, but only for the sake of its capacity to create a powerful and easy-to-repeat downswing.

From a biomechanical point of view, the A Swing’s backswing and downswing create far better synchronization between the body’s rotation and the movement of the arms and club than do a conventional swing’s. In fact, a key “episode” in this coordinated and synchronized “story” of the swing in motion takes place during the transition from its backswing to its downswing. Here is where the initially steeply set shaft flattens planes into its shallower downswing counterpart, which produces a kind of whiplash effect that turbo-charges the shaft with an infusion of living energy. Now I’m aware that this isn’t the most mechanical description of a downswing’s transition that you may have ever encountered, but, remember, this is BIO-mechanics that we’re discussing here!

Let me conclude this article by talking about the two synergistically linked ideas: the applications of “ground forces” in the swing and the role and importance of the body’s center of gravity (COG). These two elements combine in the A Swing to create its powerful, stable and consistent pivot motion, which David describes in the book as “the life blood” of the swing. Since the mid-1990s I have focused on studying and understanding the essential elements of the closed kinematic chain as they are expressed and executed by golfers and other athletes. This intricately involves the way ground forces work and interact with the throwing (and swinging) and posture forces of the athletic actions in which they take place.

To begin with, golfers need to use the ground correctly in order to execute the essentially circular motion that defines a pivot as a pivot and creates the swing’s vital centripetal force.

I’ll turn to another car analogy, and this time ask you to imagine one riding in a straight line on an ice rink. Now when the driver of the car attempts to steer this vehicle into a turn, what will happen? Because of the insufficient friction between the tires and the ice, the car will skid off in the same straight direction on which it was driving. Correspondingly, the feet in the A Swing really need to grip the earth to provide what’s called the “centripetal requirement” that allows the body to move in a circular pivoting motion. To this end, The A Swing book teaches with great detail a pivot action that first transfers the golfer’s weight into the right heel by the completion of the backswing (and its concurrent and diagonal distribution of the weight that’s placed on the left toe), then how it moves in a symmetrical fashion into the left heel by the completion of the full swing.

Now the A Swing’s pivoting action, again initiated and sustained throughout the swing by the body’s core, must rotate around the body’s Center of Gravity (situated approximately just above the body’s naval) and it does so by taking advantage of the stability the ground forces provides. Finally, it is the circularly generated centripetal force of the pivoting action of the feet and body synchronized around the body’s Center of Gravity with the swinging motion of the arms and club that produces the A Swing’s power, accuracy and consistency.

In conclusion, then, let me say that it is the entire gestalt of this wonderfully synchronized, unified and biomechanically efficient “system” that represents the A Swing’s greatest achievement. It is a golf swing that offers a tremendous opportunity for improvement to golfers serious about working on their swings and games.

For more information about the A Swing, visit www.leadbetterAswing.com

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J.J Rivet is one of the world’s leading authorities on how the body moves during athletic activities, particularly during the golf swing. He specializes in detecting inefficient movement and offering solutions on how to improve the required action. He has worked with numerous Tour players, and during the development of the A Swing completed a full biomechanical study and evaluation. J.J. Rivet is the Head of the Under Under Armour Innovation Center for Europe, as well as the Head of Biomechanics & Sport Performance at the European Tour Performance Institute. He's also a Research Associate Institute of Movement Science at the University of the Mediterranean, Marseille, and the Biomechanist for the French Golf Team.

66 Comments

66 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Feb 14, 2020 at 2:18 am

    Lydia Ko lost her game with Leadbetters A-Swing.
    Good Job Rivet with bio mechanics……………………………

  2. Alan Long

    May 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    There is no such thing as a revolutionary swing.
    There is no such thing as a perfect swing.
    There is no such thing as a text book swing.
    There is no such thing as a conventional swing.
    There is no such thing as the “right” swing.
    No two swings in the world are alike.
    A golf coach should never teach you to swing like he does.
    A good golf coach will give pupils the tools to discover their own unique swings.

  3. frank

    Jul 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I tried the A swing at the range an it is a easy swing to use. If you are a athlete there should be no problem using it.
    Took it to the couse. My distance was about the same but I hit 13 of 14 firways very accurate.

    If you look at some of the pga players in slo mo they use a very similar style like brook koepa and nick price.

    All I can say dont knock it unless you try it. Many golfer get stuck by taking the club back to far inside this will fix any floors an it is a very efficent swing

    leadbetter great job DAVE.

  4. Rick

    Feb 20, 2016 at 11:59 am

    The A Swing appears to be the ‘Craig Stadler Swing’. It’s very similar to the swings of bigger barrel chested golfers who can’t rotate as much as the flat-bellied pros. On the takeaway the A Swing clubhead stays a little more outside the hands, but overall it’s very similar. Check out Stadler’s DTL swing below:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=45mYS7QRv4s

    Stadler had great success with this swing. It works.

  5. Tom

    Dec 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I can’t find anywhere where it states, or ia discussed, what is the position of the left wrist at impact. Is it still cupped like it is in the rest of the swing, or does it flatten out just before contact? I would think there would be a tendency to hit the ball thin with a cupped left wrist

    • Robert Pine

      Feb 4, 2016 at 5:16 am

      impact potion is exactly the same as a conventional swing..it is the release that is different..instead of rolling the arms you use like a “skipping a stone on water” motion while on continuing on plane

  6. Steve Wozeniak PGA

    Sep 27, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Lydia told these “teachers” to take a hike…….she tried this for a month, missed cuts, and hit it like a dog!!!!!! Of course she did, she was just used, horribly I might add to sell some trash. And if someone that says they understand physics and bio-mechanics signs off on this, they have no clue how to apply their craft to the golf swing……

    http://www.stevewozeniak.com

    • Ted Edwards

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Totally agree with you Steve.

    • Robert Pine

      Feb 4, 2016 at 5:24 am

      I believe Lydia Ko is still using it..she is still with Leadbetter and is still #1..how many #1 pro golfers do you mentor steve?

  7. Jimmy

    Sep 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Im a 10 handicap and love the result of this swing pattern. Tried lots of different patterns. This works and has value. Interesting the positive and pro comments mostly coming from those who have actually tried it and experienced the ideas. What a concept!

  8. Carol Greco-Cardinale

    Jul 17, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Thank you Mr. Leadbetter. I recently lost sight in my left eye. It has been difficult keeping my eye on the ball with the traditional back swing. For some reason it is much easier with the A swing. I also am better able to hit a draw since it is easier going from in to out instead of over the top. Hugs and kisses to you for being so innovative and creative.

  9. Captain Caveman

    Jun 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Please help me swing like a caveman.

  10. Hudson

    Jun 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I found a very interesting video explaining the PROS/things to avoid implementing this method.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6akWVwovRQ

  11. Mike

    Jun 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Can you please explain the cupped left wrist and open club face at the top of the swing? I’ve swung exactly like this but worked hard to get rid of it.

  12. Barryw710

    Jun 5, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Whats with all the haters ? If you dont like it dont do it. Personally i have been into the A swing for 3 weeks. I am hitting the ball way better and way more consistently than ever before. At least 1 club extra distance but the quality of the strike is something that is difficult to explain. Golf is a total blast and cant wait to get on the course as often as possible. Handicap is down 1.2 strokes and i have only lost 1 golf ball in past three rounds. That to me is an indication of something positive. No more high right slices off the tee that just destroy your soul. Not even a hint of a shank.Thank you David Leadbetter.

    • Robert Pine

      Feb 4, 2016 at 5:11 am

      I have been using it myself..it is easy to understand and have also picked up more distance with this swing

  13. Ball

    Jun 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    This stuff should be taught for FREE, if it works so naturally. Why are they even charging for it?

  14. Jang Hyung-sun

    Jun 4, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I no like this ugly reverse pivot yuck. Looks like stack n tilt! This major shank!

  15. Desmond

    Jun 4, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    We’ll see how Lydia Ko does with the A Swing … From the the stories one hears, Leds has a lot of enemies …. they’re called former students.

  16. Scott

    Jun 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    No point to my response other than this is hardly new.
    My wife was taught most of this stuff 20 years ago. After her lessons, her swing has morphed into the EXACT poster child for this method. Maybe Leadbetter copied it from her on one of our southern trips? She hits that ball OK for not playing very often. Other than her right hand becoming too strong, which needs occasional adjustment, her swing seems to be repeatable year after year. Might be worth a try for some people.

    She is not very good, but she has fun playing about 10 times a summer.

  17. ald

    Jun 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

    You are aware that David’s teaching methods have been termed “lead poisoning” on the PGA Tour for about 20 years. A well respected European tour pro with multiple wins world wide once told me “he’s ruined WAY more swings than he’s helped including mine”….just sayin’

  18. KK

    Jun 4, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Decreased effort and increased repeatability, accuracy and efficiency are goals of a lot of golfers. However, some just want to bomb it longer down the fairway. *Raises hand*

  19. Paul Glazier

    Jun 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

    “…and during the development of the A Swing completed a full biomechanical study and evaluation.”

    Is this published anywhere? If not, is it possible to obtain a copy of the report?

    • Frosty

      Jun 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Ha. I think you just read about as much publishing as this “study” received.

  20. Desmond

    Jun 4, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I generally have an open mind about swinging a golf club. Over the last 20 years, I’ve had instruction with at least 4 types of systems/methods. I am now taking instruction that involves a biomechanics approach.

    Having said that, when the author says “conventional golf swing”, I’d like to know what he means. Does he means “Ledbetter’s conventional swing” versus Ledbetter’s A Swing?” I hope so because there is no conventional golf swing unless it’s the one Leds has taught for 20 years, or how Pros were swinging in the ’80’s — head moves back, no extension of back leg, arms off chest, clubhead pointed at target, swinging in a barrel, etc.

    Got away from that about 5 years ago…

  21. dapadre

    Jun 4, 2015 at 5:59 am

    I dont know if this is so revolutionary. To me the key move when is midway the hands go up and the shaft points almost down. This move makes the club feel very light vs the laid of position. Another advantage is that the club butt will WANT to come down straight more pointing to the target, which is very key for those coming over the top. Actually this SECRET has been adopted by Jack Nicklaus, Calvin Peete and Straham.

    To me its about finding YOUR swing. There are elements that you must maintain, but at the end, its the impact position that counts the most.

  22. JT

    Jun 3, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    The A Swing seemed to work pretty well for Ben An a few weeks ago when he won the BMW PGA Championship by 7.

    “David has helped me understand my own swing. His A Swing approach has really improved my ball striking and consistency. My game is getting better and better and winning the BMW PGA Championship just proves it. The A Swing technique is simple and the best part is, apart from at the very beginning, I don’t have to see him that often to maintain it. When I do see him, if my game is a little off, it is an easy process to get back on track. He has made me my own best teacher, which is important as I travel the work playing golf.” – Ben An

    • Bog us

      Jun 3, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Yeah? So he won one tournament. This is the exactly same sort of thing that the Stack & Tilt guys said when they won one. Where are they now, eh?

    • stephenf

      Jun 4, 2015 at 3:52 am

      You do know what anecdotal evidence is and what its level of significance is, right?

      What a lot of people don’t seem to understand about the guys who are good enough to play for a living is that some of them do a lot what they do because of what they were taught, and some of them in spite of what they were taught.

      • Ball

        Jun 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        So what’s the point of being taught, or teaching at all, then? Eejit

        • stephenf

          Jun 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

          Eejit your own feckin’ self. That some people are taught well and are helped by it, and that others are taught at least partly in error and are not helped by it but become good anyway through systems of compensation, athletic skill, an accumulation of good elements that tend to overwhelm the bad, etc…these facts do not negate for one second the idea that good teaching of true things about the swing is worthwhile (as in, “what’s the point of teaching at all?”). In fact, it only emphasizes the worthwhileness of good teaching. It also emphasizes the need for an objective standard as to what good technique is, since the fact that a player swings a club reasonably well may not be a result of the quality of his instruction, and neither is the fact that a player is having trouble at the moment an indication that he’s on the wrong path or working on the wrong things (cf. Faldo in his first two years working with Leadbetter). Eejit.

  23. Paul

    Jun 3, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks for your article.
    In looking at the comments above, it is interesting to see all the doubters, and how critical they are. What is the point?
    If they had taken the time to try this method as it is set out, and practice it for a reasonable amount of time their comments I am sure would not be so derogatory.
    A lot of the angst seems to be directed at David Leadbetter himself, as opposed to the A Swing.
    I am a low handicap golfer. I play often, and consistently, and was happy with my game.
    I also (unlike some others it seems) have an open mind.
    I bought the book. Changed to everything as set out in the book and practised daily for 2 weeks before taking it to the course.
    I shot the easiest 73 I’ve ever had.
    My game is now the straightest it has ever been, length is about the same, but the percentage of pure shots is now amazing. It is so easy.
    So, to all you doubters, and everyone else whose game isn’t perfect, look at it with an open mind and you may be pleasantly surprised.

    • JT

      Jun 3, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Exactly .. nothing like a bunch of know it alls that haven’t tried it. I’m generally indifferent to Leadbetter, but I like Paul have an open mind.

      If you watch his 1 hour intro video from the North Coast Golf show on youtube, he is says that he didn’t invent each of the component parts. It’s a culmination of what he has learned from others combined with his teaching.

      For those that say it’s no different than conventional teaching … please point me to a well known instructor says that at half way back he wants the club to match the spine plane or to be across the line at the top?

      I’m not sure that I’m going to employ every piece of this methodology, but one thing I can say from watching myself on video … a the OTT move that haunts 90% of golfers does not compute with this backswing.

    • Desmond

      Jun 5, 2015 at 4:33 am

      Let’s see the video. Feel ain’t real.

    • JOHN

      Oct 30, 2015 at 9:49 am

      i totally agree paul , i did the same, read the book twice, practiced the moves , instantly saw the improvement , i started the Aswing 5 months ago ive come down from 15 hcp to an 8 and shot 77 last start , & our coarse slope rating is 137 , gone from high 80 s now into the high 70 s . My advice is if anyone`s golf swing is not consistent give it a go ,or keep giving your mates your cash LOL

  24. erick

    Jun 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    nothing spectacular to say aside from.. womp womp..do not pass go do not collect 200 dollars. disappointed that leadbetter is still trying to encourage.. “golfers” to his teachings… which minimal follow among the best in the world.. he teaches “flipper” style golf. the best in the world dont do so and have far fewer books and videos..everything leadbetter comes out with reminds me of watching a golf channel commercial with ALL THE BEST SWING TIPS IN THE WORLD. square to square, hank haney, and the other one who doesnt like confusing conflicting instruction.. its all just another way to get over on those who dont have the natural ability to receive direction and have to work extra hard…. not saying one is better than the other just saying they.. and leadbetter are taking advantage of those who want to enjoy the game better, who dont have the ability or understanding to be recreationally successful at golf

  25. Marc

    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Nothing revolutionary or new here at all. More annoying is how the “A-swing” compares and contrasts the “conventional swing” as if all the swings performed in a conventional matter are all the same. I think it’s clear that they are not. In addition, I’m willing to bet many “conventional” swings have the exact same sequences described as an A-swing anyways.

    All he’s done here is describe the golf swing in his own words and slapped a name on it trying to create a brand. Pretty lame IMO.

  26. Roger the codger

    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Have any of the commenters tried this swing? Doubt it. I’m 75yo 10 index with typical
    flexibility issues of golfers my age. After careful study and practice of the “A” swing method
    I am hitting at least one club longer thru the bag with a surprising level of accuracy. Finding
    clubface center consistently easier. It takes a little work and commitment like any swing
    change, but don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

    • JT

      Jun 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Amen to that.

    • Dale Doback

      Jun 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      I have tried the swing, in fact a year an a half ago my swing looked identical to the A swing and I am currently overhauling my swing and here is why. I think I always swung the club into the A swing backswing position because it is easy to repeat and bio mechanically follows how the body wants to move but the A swing and mine have one major flaw and that is the club is so far across the line that it takes tremendous amount of timing to loop it back to the plane. If the body rotates to early from the top the club will not flatten enough and you are stuck from a steep position and can only pull left and have to release early to shallow. If you slide laterally to long the club flattens to much and you get stuck behind with an open face. While the A swing is an easier back swing to learn the downswing is harder to time because of sequencing. Like Furyk and Ryan Moore it can be down but it’s not for most people.

      • Frosty

        Jun 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm

        Well said. I wondered, as all the hype I have seen concerns the back-swing, followed by a few sentences about how the swing magically falls into the slot on the way down. You don’t hit the ball with a back-swing.

        • Dale Doback

          Jun 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

          Don’t get me wrong I don’t think this is a bad way to swing the club. So far I have read and watched every piece of A Swing material I can find so as to limit blind ignorant commenting. I wouldn’t call this swing type hype because there are lots of elite champions that were across the line and the closest look a like to the A Swing that comes to mind is Bobby Jones. What Ive found since my backswing is similar is that it is a really easy back swing to learn with minimal forearm rotation but the BIG KEY to this swing is TIMING what Leadbetter refers to as the VPlane or shaft shallowing. I think most people will agree that the steeper you are at the top of the backswing the more the shaft has to shallow to get back to impact plane on the downswing. What Leadbetters logic is that if you go to max on shaft steepness in the backswing it will force golfers to shallow because they have nowhere else to go with the club and a players natural athletic ability will takeover but there is an element of timing. I am intrigued by the A Swing because i have spent a year and a half trying to overhaul the backswing but i can do the A Swing back swing in 5 minutes so it may be more productive to spend the time on working on the downswing motion. Just my 2 cents worth.

  27. BustyMagoo

    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Isn’t he Michelle Wie’s coach? I’m surprised her overbearing dad would allow such a thing if that is indeed the reputation Leadbetter has on the pro tour.

  28. DC3

    Jun 3, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Furthermore, if the joints of the human body are ‘fluid’ as you say, why would they be connected to a system of rigid/fixed pieces known as the kinematic chain?

    I understand your attempt to wow and impress with technical jargon, but, gestalt? GeSTAHP.

  29. DC3

    Jun 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    While some of the points you make are indeed valid, there exists no counterpoint to the argument(s) you use in support of Mr. Leadbetter’s theory. You may paint a very convoluted picture, but the deceit is plain to see.

  30. cb

    Jun 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I read the book and wouldn’t use the term “revolutionary” to describe it but it is a good compilation and explanation of a way to swing the club. in golf all that matters is the club at impact and there are hundreds of different ways to get the club to the ball. this is merely one way that some golfers have found to be personally easier. Also, to all those who say this is not a powerful swing, go watch rory mcilroy swing the club and you will notice he does a lot of the same things that leadbetter advocates in the book. obviously rory is not someone who has trouble hitting the ball long.

  31. Ian

    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    That backswing looks a lot like Ryan Moore to me.

  32. Shwing

    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Besides – not being able to stand in position to use the ground forces is the main problem for most bad golfers because they’re not athletic nor fit enough in their legs to start.

  33. Bobtrumpet

    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    “The A Swing is unique among contemporary swing philosophies in that it values and considers the biology part of biomechanics as much as it does the mechanical side.”

    Unique? Not hardly. Don Trahan’s Peak Performance swing has had substantial input from a number of docs and engineers during development, and he’s been teaching it for more than 20 years. It still appears more body friendly, and in-line with physiology, than the “A” Swing (and conventional teaching at least back to the the “X-Factor”).

    • Ted Edwards

      Nov 2, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      When I saw video of Leadbetter demonstrating the A swing, I was immediately reminded of the backswing position that Don Trahan teaches in his Peak Performance videos (which I have). So I completely agree. In my view Leadbetter stole this idea from Trahan.

  34. Shwing

    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    A short-lived, short-term swing fix for the young body. Not to be swung in your old age. Won’t be able to twist and stay compact like that when your arms won’t even let you flip it behind your head like that as you get older. But they don’t care. They’ll have a swing for you to use when you’re older, so they can sell you more DVDs!

  35. martin

    Jun 3, 2015 at 11:36 am

    looks like someone was reading the Stack and Tilt swing

    • redneckrooster

      Jun 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      I agree stack and tilt . Jim Furyk swing modified slightly.

  36. Tom

    Jun 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Lost after the 3 rd sentence as a teaching pro this type of analysis of a golf swing will screw up more than it will cure.

    99 percent of golfers dont have the capacity or time to go down this road.

    • Jimmeh

      Jun 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      I read the whole article and as a low-level playing pro and teaching pro, I agree. I know Leadbetter is a house name in the teaching circuit, or was, apparently, but who needs to know about specific vertebrae moving through certain positions? What happened to teaching with the ball-flight?

  37. M.

    Jun 3, 2015 at 8:37 am

    David designed the ‘prayer grip’, lol… I think there are a handful of people who deserve recognition for some of the concepts explained here without the marketing machine of Leadbetter making them his!

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 3, 2015 at 10:21 am

      No kidding. I was gripping the club like that long before I ever heard about the A swing.

    • Bob Jones

      Jun 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I adopted this grip to stop hooking due to my right hand overpowering my left through impact. The left hand in this position acts as a buttress that the right hand cannot move. Also, I saw a good number of players using this kind of grip at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2003.

      • other paul

        Jun 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

        Anti hook grip. I use it as well. And I thought I made it up ????

    • George Jefferson

      Jun 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Ben Hogan appeared to have a much stronger left hand grip paired with an extremely weak right hand grip. I’m not saying Hogans left hand grip was strong but he had one of the weakest right hand grips I’ve ever seen and his palms do not face each other when they are on the club. Sounds kind of like Leadbetters prayer grip.

      • M.

        Jun 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        …and the cupped left wrist at the top… think Leadbetter has gone back to the roots of the game with the greatest ball strikers and is now claiming ‘a new swing’…. disgraceful really!

      • dekker

        Jun 8, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Hogan’s left hand was weak , no more than 1.5 knuckles, compared to Ledbetter’s 3 knuckle A grip.

  38. Gary Gutful

    Jun 3, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Not sold on this…

    • brendon

      Jun 3, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Me either. Especially flimsy is the argument that this would be a more powerful swing.

      I interviewed Dr. Sasho Mackenzie, works on biomechanics of golf, and he says high hands with flexible arms and wrists are much more powerful

      http://youtu.be/2cj1gTfKeTs

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 2)

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Golf is very much a monkey-see-monkey-do sport. If you ever go to the local range, you are sure to see golfers trying to copy the moves of their favorite player. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. While I understand the logic of trying to mimic the “secret move” of the most recent winner on tour, I always balk when the person trying to create their best impression fails to realize the physical differences between them and the best golfing athletes in the world.

Read part 1 here. 

In addition to most golfers not being at the same fitness levels as the best players in the world, they also do not have bodies that are identical to their favorite player. This single statement proves why there is not one golf swing; we all are different sizes and are going to swing the club differently due to these physical differences.

You have to understand your swing

The biggest reason I believe that golfers are better than they think is most golfers I meet do not understand what their swings should look like. Armed with video after video of their golf swing, I will always hear about the one thing that the golfer wishes they could change. However, that one thing is generally the “glue” or athleticism of the athlete on display and is also the thing that allows them to make decent contact with the ball.

We are just coming out of the “video age” of golf instruction, and while I think that recording your golf swing can be extremely helpful, I think that it is important to understand what you are looking for in your swing. As a young coach, I fell victim to trying to create “pretty swings”, but quickly learned that there is not a trophy for prettiest swing.

It comes down to form or function, and I choose function

The greatest gift I have ever received as an instructor was the recommendation to investigate Mike Adams and BioSwing Dynamics. Mike, E.A. Tischler, and Terry Rowles have done extensive research both with tour-level players as well as club golfers and have developed a way to test or screen each athlete to determine not only how their golf swing will look, but also how they will use the ground to create their maximum speed. This screen can be completed with a tape measure and takes about five minutes, and I have never seen results like I have since I began measuring.

For example, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a golf swing that tracks more to the outside during the backswing and intersects the body more towards the trail shoulder plane during the backswing. A golfer with a shorter wingspan than height will have a swing that tracks more to the inside and intersects the body closer to the trail hip plane. Also, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a more upright dynamic posture than a golfer with a shorter wingspan than height who will be more “bent over” at the address position.

Sport coats and golf swings

Have you ever bought a sport coat or suit for a special occasion? If so, pay attention to whether it is a short, regular, or long. If you buy a long, then it means that your arms are longer than your torso and you can now understand why you produce a “steeper” backswing. Also, if you stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your middle-finger tips touching the top of your kneecaps, you will have perfect dynamic posture that matches your anatomy. If it appears that you are in a taller posture, then you have your second clue that your wingspan is greater than your height.

Translation to improvement

Using this and five other screens, we can help the athletes understand a complete blueprint of their golf swing based off their anatomy. It is due to the work of Mike, E.A., and Terry that we can now matchup the player to their swing and help them play their best. The reason that I believe that most golfers are better than they think is that most golfers have most of the correct puzzle pieces already. By screening each athlete, we can make the one or two adjustments to get the player back to trusting their swing and feeling in control. More importantly, the athlete can revisit their screen sheet when things misfire and focus on what they need to do, instead of what not to do.

We are all different and all have different swings. There is no one way to swing a golf club because there is no one kind of golfer. I encourage every golfer to make their swing because it is the only one that fits.

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Instruction

How golf should be learned

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, golf is more popular than ever. Beginners being introduced to the game often find that golf is very hard, much harder than other sports they have played. To simplify the golf swing and make the game easier, it needs to start with a concept.

Golf should first be learned from a horizontal position. If the ball was placed four feet above the ground on a large tee, players would naturally turn in an efficient direction with the proper sequence to strike the ball on the tee.

Take for example, a person throwing a ball towards a target. With their eyes out in front of them? having an awareness to the target, their body would naturally turn in a direction to go forward and around towards the target. In golf, we are bent over from the hips, and we are playing from the side of the golf ball, so players tend to tilt their body or over-rotate, causing an inefficient backswing.

This is why the golf swing should be looked at as a throwing motion. The trail arm folds up as the body coils around. To throw a ball further, the motion doesn’t require more body turn or a tilt of the body.

To get the feeling of this horizontal hitting position or throwing motion, start by taking your golf posture. Make sure your trail elbow is bent and tucked with your trail shoulder below your lead shoulder.

From here, simply lift your arms in front of you while you maintain the bend from your hips. Look over your lead shoulder looking at the target. Get the clubhead traveling first and swing your arms around you. Note how your body coils. Return the club back to its original position.

After a few repetitions, simply lower your arms back to the ball position, swing your arms around you like you did from the horizontal position. Allow your shoulders, chest and hips to be slightly pulled around. This is now your “throwing position” in the golf swing. From here, you are ready to make a downswing with less movement needed to make a proper strike.

Note: Another great drill to get the feel for this motion is practicing Hitting driver off your knees.

Twitter: @KKelley_golf

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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