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The fluid motion of the club and body during the swing encapsulates the brain and body working together in harmony.
When it feels this good, the brain is telling you something.
There are a number of key scientific papers that back up our intuition on this topic; Focus on temporal (timing related) and rhythm aspects of our movement promote peak performance. The nature of this focus is low in cognitive load while being rich in movement cues.
Like most of my coaching, training the optimal movement with a driver revolves around having a clear concept of the end point; in this case, the sweeping motion of the club through strike. You have probably heard this before but let's be clear on our main objective:
"To maximise distance and accuracy the driver needs to hit the ball in middle (or slightly above centre) of the club face
It's no wonder that the world of movement science is so heavily represented by research undertaken in golf. Hugely POWERFUL, yet GRACEFUL to the point of exhibiting fine CONTROL and massive SPEED. This does not occur overnight. Well done David Griffiths (swing model above).
You would think that an 8 year study on the benefits of relinquishing swing thoughts would lead me to become a sports psychologist, complete hippy or otherwise esoteric character. To give you a clue as to the personal impact of the study, I am a technical coach that utilizes 3D motion analysis technology. I value greatly self-awareness of one’s movement and view technical awareness as the route to positive automaticity.
I have just dug up some incredible footage that we shot on the Phantom camera when filming the Golf Coach apps. This is the pro swing model, David Griffiths, playing a chip and run with a PW.
For many golfers this shot represents the toughest of the sloping lies and it is certainly a shot that took me a good few years to get to grips with. I knew the basic swing adjustments listed below but the key understanding for me was that stability is paramount and that I was better off taking more club and staying balanced throughout the swing.
Key Swing Adjustments
Jordan Spieth broke just about every putting record going in 2015 and if this year's US Masters is anything to go by, he will continue to dominate the game in 2016.
He has an incredibly positive rhythm, extra large grip on the handle and a cross hand grip but none of those are unique to Spieth. What sets Jordan's method apart is that from < 6 ft he looks at the hole while executing the stroke.
The Fosbury Flop
Automaticity in our domain is the executing of shots in the absence of swing thoughts. This is the most talked about area of golf psychology and learning.
Championed by Dr Bob Rotella in his best selling books and with it’s roots in ancient arts this area has massive implications for golfers and is the primary focus of my PhD research.
“A single conscious thought will direct the arrow from the course of it’s target”
Zen in the Art of Archery
he golf grip in detail with associate issues of changing to an orthodox grip.In:
Attentional focus is a huge are of motor learning research and includes a mass of studies in the golf arena. Blog post to follow
MAC is a modern system of training optimal performance states. It has it’s origins in eastern philosophy and contains strong elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is fundamentally different to mainstream sports psychology training.
Hitting your chip shots fat or thin usually comes about because the bottom of your swing arc is in the wrong place (usually too far back), which means the angle of attack is poor. You’ll either hit the ground behind the ball or hit up on the ball causing you to thin the ball across the green. The best way to overcome this scenario is to learn to use the bounce on the club and recognize the right feeling of the club ‘skidding’ through the grass.
Easier to Learn
Prominent research into skill acquisition suggests that learning by analogy frees up the mind from specific extrinsic instructions and allows us to perform without the over thinking associated with technical change. Rather than the learner having to compute the individual elements of a new movement, they can tap into a larger, exhisting motor program and adjust and adapt from that.
Don’t Re-trace Your Backswing!
This is a concept taken from the Everyday Golf Coach Power app which covers the dynamics of the swing in great detail. In the ‘Width in Back Swing’ video we emphasize the importance of not trying to re-trace your back swing in the downward movement. It’s clear from these screenshots how the downward arc is pulled to the left and closer to David’s body.
Taken from an article I wrote for Today’s Golfer Magazine
Use the Bounce to Slide
Through the Sand
If you are looking to break 90 on a regular basis then you will need to be able to control the trajectory and distance of your bunker shots. For this to happen we need to have the club sliding through the sand with minimal resistance and that means using the bounce on the bottom of the club and swinging slightly across the ball.
The idea of a constant swing radius is a good model to help learn the the swing shape but it is not entirely true and can lead to really poor dynamics.
This is a much overlooked skill with woods. We need to be able to feel where the bottom of our arc is to strike the ball from the middle of the club face (on both a horizontal and vertical plane) and also to create the optimum launch conditions.
This is taken from an article I wrote for Today’s Golfer magazine
Keep it Simple with a ‘Straight
A lot of golfers overcomplicate the bunker shot when a straight forward approach can give fantastic results. If your goal is to break 100 then you need to be able to get the ball out of the bunker every time with a consistent strike. This is without doubt the best way. In this method we are not opening the club face so make sure you are using a sand wedge or even your lob wedge.
This is piece I wrote for Today’s Golfer magazine on pitching. It’s by no means exhaustive but if you want the nuts and bolts then here they are.
Achieving a consistent, powerful contact on the ball is very much down to you being able to accurately predict where the arc of your club head will bottom out. Once again, here is Mile Bennett of “Stack and Tilt’ demonstrating this skill perfectly.
This level of accuracy and control requires a number of principles falling into place.
It should be the intention of any development plan to improve key factors that dictate the ball strike and flight. In terms of the actual strike on the ball, there are several factors that will heavily influence your success.
Upon learning the game it would seem fairly instinctive to lift the ball from underneath but it is this instinct that leads to an array of swing errors. In actual fact the club should still be moving downwards as we make contact with the ball. It is fairly common advice to ‘hit down’ on the ball but the important thing is not to strike down in the ground but to control where the club arc bottoms out in relation to the ball.
Golf is the most wonderful that one can play. Spending 4 hours in beautiful surroundings with great company while pitting you wits against the course, the elements and that cleverly dimpled ball. If you are reading this then you must have already have experienced the feeling of a ball struck well out of the centre of the club and subsequently you have picked up the golf ‘bug.’ As the saying goes, ‘nothing that comes easily is worth having’ and that certainly apples to golf with it’s enormity of challenges.In: