Thursday, December 3, 2020

Wake up call: Are you a swinger or a pusher?

A classic follow through.

A classic follow through.

BREEZEWAYS
Lou Thibeault

Watching people struggle at the practice range turns my thoughts toward helping and what swing keys could I suggest that would make the big change for them. It really surprises me that so many players do not know how a golf ball acquires lift and that seems to a major reason for so many bad swings with poor ball contact. Golfers need to be taught that a golf ball is struck on the downswing with some clubs at the bottom of the swing with others. I like to help players realize that lifting the ball in the air does not come from getting under it as the club head does not go under the ball. The club head catches the ball on the downward side of the arc. When you have been trying to lift the ball by getting under it for a long period of time, striking the ball on the downswing can be a difficult move to achieve. Proper motion and action at the bottom of the swing during practice sessions will enable a player to experience the correct feel.

The second problem that seems to be more evident as I work at instruction is the differences between swinging the club and forcing with the upper body or shoulders to increase power which I call a push. The big question is, are you able to feel the difference between swinging the club or pushing with your shoulders to increase power which I call a push. The big question is, are you able to feel the difference between swinging the club or pushing with your shoulders and upper body? When you cannot feel the difference on the downswing, your chances for improvement are not very good. A common saying around the practice tee is, “when I swing at twigs, cigarette butts or golf tees, I always make good contact with them, but I do not have the same result with the ball.” To begin with, the small items mentioned really do not have to go anywhere so in all probability the player uses a good swing or lets the club head do the work. The problem begins when we try to make a golf ball go a long way and we bring force into the picture. There are many articles written about hop work, leg work, foot work and turning, but I rarely see one about arm work. If your arms were tied to your body, there would be nothing to swing. Your arms and the golf club are an extension away from body and rotate around your body during a swing. When a player is able to distinguish the difference between swinging and pushing, they are on the way to immediate success. Students often ask for a swing thought that will help them feel the difference of a swing versus a push and the one aid that has been more helpful than all others for me is a simple one. Hold the club up in the air about waist high like it’s a baseball bat and then swing it waist high. Swinging a club or a baseball bat waist high is a few motion with the bat or club dong most of the work. The body turns and there is a weight shift from one foot to the other, but the swinging of the implement causes those things to happen automatically. During this swing, when the club head returns to the center of the swing, the wrists and forearms rotate over the club shaft and that movement closes the clubface and develops proper spin and more power. That is one reason that the baseball swing feels so easy and natural. When a person does not feel the difference between pushing or swinging the club, their chances for major improvement become limited. Improvement comes when the proper swing thought or thoughts are repeated with practice. Repetition of thought will soon produce a repeated action. The ball is sitting still and if less attention is paid to the ball and more to what a good swing feels like, the opportunity to develop a natural and loose motion reachable.

Golf is very much like a bank account. You can never take out more than you put in and that says quite a bit about practice. I like what a famous golfer used to say, “The more I practice, the luckier I get!” Head back out to the range, discover the swing thoughts that suit you best, learn how to swing the club head and feel the club do the work. The reward will be a great one.

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