Golf-Swing Thoracic Rotation – Boon or Bane?

X-Factor aka Thoracic Rotation

X-Factor aka Thoracic Rotation

Golf’s In-Swing Thoracic Rotation.

(see this video http://minimalistgolfswingblog.com/golf-videos/ for more on Thoracic Rotation – boon or bane)

It all began when someone told us that something called X-Factor could separate the longest from the shortest hitters on Tour. (Was this X-factor relationship one of correlation or causation?). The X-factor required a golfer’s thorax to rotate much more than the pelvis.

The X-Factor in the golf swing has now been expanded to become the Triple X-factor. It now includes the X-Factor Stretch, which means a further separation between the chest and the pelvis starting down, The Hip Rise which means how much higher the lead hip is at impact than at address, and the Head Swivel, which means turning the head target-wards at impact.

The Search for Perfect the X-Factor is leading golfers to spend time (and money) improving their fitness levels so they can rotate the thorax without rotating the hips (practically dividing the spine into two zones – is that even possible?).

X-Factor Stretch might often lead to a forward-swing slide.

Hip Rise is merely the consequence of a raised right side (for the right-handed golfer) during the backswing, which then has to be dropped down in time for impact, and which often includes the Tiger-Woods-like squat during early down-swing. Why would squat-and-rise be a good thing? It’s not, because the body, during the golf swing is meant to make a rotary movement, not an up-and-down one.

And finally, Head Swivel too is simply a compensation for the left side of the body not being able to clear the way from a squat-rise fast enough.

Why not use the Minimalist Golf Swing which offers natural chest-hip separation (each twists to its own limiting ability because, hey, did you know the thorax naturally has much more ability to rotate that the lumbar spine, pelvis and hip?). The Minimalist Golf Swing even has a natural hip-rise, though not so exaggerated as the traditional swing has. (The traditional golf swing’s ‘rise’ could lead to delivering the club to above the ball’s equator). Hip rise should be a consequence of the swing, not a deliberately incorporated movement. As to head swivel. Truly a no-no, as it requires perfect timing to do on time, and not too early. The good-old ‘keep-your-head-down’ was almost on the money, and should have been ‘keep your head and upper-body behind the ball’.

 

Make THIS your BEST EVER GOLF YEAR

Make THIS your BEST-EVER Golf Year

In the new video with this title (in this blog, in the section ‘golf videos’) are some ‘helpful hints’ on what you might consider doing to make the New Year an exciting one for you – GOLF-wise.

Have posted several videos over the past few weeks which give a good picture of what you could do better, once you get a clearer idea of what needs doing, by watching all of the videos in the sequence described below (you could simply click on the links below; go to the ‘golf videos’ section of this blog where they pop up one after the other; or see them on youtube):

The BODY’s ROLE in the GOLF SWING http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM_DbMyHIo8

Over-the-Top GOLF SWING – Best Definition http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCnDGq_q-7s

Is YOUR golf swing a lot of BS? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UosXcURDg0Y

How to hit your best shot – ALWAYS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5_TF7Mfzk8

Is YOUR GOLF SWING Over-the-Top? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO_uFyhuwyo

Putting – A Pendulum-like Motion. Yes or No? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMFGCENGQD8

Make THIS your BEST-EVER GOLF YEAR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CCdzp0ntp0

 

Giving a Golf Lesson – the danger of partial solutions

Giving a Golf Lesson – the danger of partial solutions

Recently observed a friend and fellow golf-instructor give a golf lesson. The student said that recently his ball striking was all over the place. The instructor said, “I will give you one simple solution that’ll instantly bring the joy back into your game.” The student was using a 6 iron, and lo and behold, all 3 shots he hit after making a simple set-up change were great.

The solution? The instructor said, “You have a weak posture.” (Similar to the picture below). He had the student bend forward from the hips more, without a slump in the spine, and bend the knees less – instantly better ball flight!

What happened was that the golfer’s spine now suddenly began moving on a more vertical plane (as his upper body bent forward more), so naturally his arms and shaft approached the ball at a steeper angle and could lift the ball off the ground with greater ease.

However, what about when the golfer uses a longer club when excessive steepness will not help? How about when swing timing gets messed up as it often does when there is only one opportunity to get it right, as on the golf course?

The golfer’s backswing looked like the picture below in terms of the left side of his body being lower than the right, and his right wrist and elbow being bent so that they cannot easily straighten out while still allowing the club to arrive at the ball FROM THE INSIDE.

Moral: partial solutions work for some people some of the time in some situations.

The Ubiquitous Over-the-Top Swing – even the Pros make it!

The Ubiquitous Over-the-Top Swing

While in the process of compiling the Titleist Performance Institute’s 12 most common swing faults for a blog post, decided to discuss the over-the-top subject first, simply because TPI claims that most amateurs have it, and that’s what differentiates the good golfers from the not-so-good.

The TPI definition (one of 12 definitions for OTT, apparently), from their Level 1 course is, “the club is thrown outside of the intended swing plane, with the club head approaching the ball in an out-to-in motion”.

So, as the MGSSystem believes that for every un-desired club position exists a body-position presenting the club incorrectly, the OTT position should be seen just pre-impact, at which stage it becomes apparent that OTT is indeed a universal disease, not one which is biased and afflicts only us ‘lesser’ mortals. The professionals may not be as overtly OTT as others, and definitely not early in their downswings, but they are OTT too.

If you go by the MGSS definition of OTT, which requires the club to be on the lead/left arm plane and both the trail/right thigh and shoulder to be behind the lead/left one.

Look at how the pros leave themselves no room to straighten out the right arm, leave alone let it roll over for that baby draw. It’s only that they have quick (and not always reliable) last-minute reflexes to change club path with ‘feel’, and enough strength to bludgeon the ball into submission and so not realize they could be consistently better.

Now look at the picture below with club on ‘left arm plane’, and both right thigh and shoulder ‘behind’ left (the right thigh could be slightly further behind). All of this HAPPENS without the golfer’s awareness, just by making the MGS full-swing set-up and backswing.

From short fade to long baby-draw – Case Study for teachers and players

From short fade to long baby-draw a Case Study for teachers and players.

See the youtube video with the same title for details. Also on this blog in the ‘golf videos’ section.

Posted this series of pictures on two professional teachers blogs asking members to comment on what this student should do to go from his current situation where he consistently slices the ball with a big loss of distance to a long, superb trajectory, minimally curving back baby-draw.

The only five responses from two facebook-pages of golf-teachers-organizations were:

1. Check the fundamentals – grip, ball-position, alignment. Are they weak, strong, open, closed. Set up for a draw and have the student hit short shots off a tee. The student should feel,, see and expect something different.

2. Weight forward, handle forward, clubface open to target and closed to path.

3. The body is spinning on the back leg which has become the axis of rotation, with weight falling through that back leg and, as that happens, the club face opens causing a fade. You can see this in the 3rd pic. Get him to move the weight forward creating a better axis of rotation.

4. I would work on face position at impact which is related to the players present grip positions, and work on a shallower swing plane to change the path.

5. Have you done a KCA for this player to see if he has any physical limitations which prevent him from moving onto the left side. Could be he has a problem with his thoracic spine which prevents him from loading up in the backswing thus causing him to fall back through impact.

MGSS responses:

  1. Just as knowing one’s A, B, C’s does not convert to writing an essay in Newsweek or The Economist, the set-up or ‘fundamentals’ are only the starting point and do not convert to ‘poetry in motion’ in the golf swing – many things can go wrong in-swing, despite perfect starting positions, and the fundamentals are only the tip of the iceberg.
  2. Weight forward, handle forward to my mind is a delofting of a club – why then bother to carry 14? It’s ‘settling’ and will not always work if joint positions at the top still force the golfer to come over the top, spin around on the trail leg and have a clubface that is opening (present continuous tense) through the impact area.
  3. This analysis is great but once again, the golfer would surely ‘load’ through if they could. They usually cannot because their typical or traditional golf backswing has made the right side of their trunk higher and rotated away from target. Now the golfer has to make 3 independent moves in quick succession (rotate trunk forward, drop trail side down, drop arms down) and when there is no time the poor golfer can but come ‘over-the-top and spin around on the back leg!
  4. We all want to work on face position at impact – how? even with a strong grip and a decent swing plane (as the golfer in the picture has) it is possible to slice the ball
  5. The Titleist performance Institute lists as the top 4 most commonly seen swing ‘faults’ – early spinal extension, swinging over-the-top, and casting/early release during the backswing, and sway. These, they say are all muscular imbalances. While it is important to be able to assess such imbalances, a set-up and backswing with better positioned body joints can cure all of these 4 faults. So, the golfer must decide – work out every day forever or spend a week learning a more efficient swing!

CONCLUSION – the MGSS does not look at set-up or swing faults at all. Whatever they may be they get sorted out simply with better joint positions.

PITCH vs CHIP – when to

Pitch vs Chip – when to

The comment about chipping, by a visitor to this blog who hosts a chipping website, prompted this post. What is the difference between a ‘chip’ and a ‘pitch’ shot and when should one use which one?

It is amazing how many good golfers too do not use that highly versatile, very reliable chip shot as often as possible!

See the short-game section for details.

What is YOUR swing fault?

What is YOUR swing fault?

A leading golf Instructor commented on how a slice and other swing faults should be cured:

“In my experience there are no fixed cures. Every situation can have many solutions. I have seen players doing so many things to slice a ball that there are in my opinion about 4 or 5 reasons for slicing. What remains constant is that the clubface is open at and through impact which imparts spin on the ball and makes it fly with a left to right pattern.”

This is certainly true for traditional golf instruction in which an instructor offers the best solution which is most likely to ‘cure’ the problem. A list of the most common problems instructors might try to cure to prevent various ball-flight faults would include (in random order):

  1. Reverse weight shift (backswing and thus downswing)
  2. Slide and sway
  3. Early extension of spine (in downswing – Titleist Performance Institute claims 75% of golfers have this ‘fault’)
  4. Casting during downswing
  5. Over-the-top downswing
  6. Across-the-line or laid off club shaft positions at top of backswing
  7. Bowed or cupped wrists during backswing (for club open or closed position at the top)
  8. Sliced, hooked, shanked, topped, chunked/fat shots etc. etc.

The list of ‘faults’ a golfer can have are endless.

The solutions are only two:

a. Try one of a few good swing ideas to (hopefully) replace the bad

b. Use the Minimalist Golf Swing System which not only allows all the good movements to happen without a golfer’s having to think about them, (because one good move follows the next), but MOST IMPORTANTLY, PREVENTS ALL the BAD MOVES.

Just as merely shutting a door does not prevent a wind or a person from opening it, merely making a few good moves does not always shut out the bad. The door – and golf swing – need a lock that shuts out any and every possible bad move. This is what the MGSS does, simply because it places all the body’s joints into positions from which they are best suited to perform, based upon their design.

Most ‘bad’ downswing movements are a golfer’s own personal way of re-routing from awkward top-of-backswing joint positions. No awkward positions = no re-routing during the downswing = consistent, ideal impact.

Does ‘GRIP’ matter?

Does ‘grip’ matter?

‘Grip’ means different things to different golfers. Strong or weak; overlap, interlock or ten-fingered; palm or fingers; ‘v’ pointing to chin or shoulder; long thumb or short; trigger finger or not; pressure in last three fingers/middle two fingers/thumb and pointer finger?

Whatever grip a golfer has, he/she will probably always revert to it – a grip change is perhaps the toughest change to make.

However, every golf instruction book ever written starts with a detailed description of ‘the grip’. So, does grip matter?

Considering that the hands are the first thing to depart from the ball at the start of the backswing, and the last to return to the ball – after hips, shoulders and arms, why does grip matter? The ‘mistake’ has been made much earlier in the downswing, before the hands even arrive at the ball! All slices, for instance are created by the golfer’s weight remaining on the trail leg at impact and spinning around it, instead of moving forward. The clubface cannot help but open.

The typical school of thought is that a strong grip produces a hook and a weak one a slice. Saw the famous Conrad Rehling give a demonstration of this philosophy years ago when we were both a part of the faculty at the famous Peggy Kirk Bell’s Golfari Schools. He would ask everyone to hold the clubface square with a weak grip, then raise their arms up straight above their heads and bring them down again. Amazingly, the club would come back open. With a strong grip and square clubface raised above the head then brought down, the clubface would return closed. ‘Wow, I thought, that’s magic! There really must be something to this grip business.’

However, how many golfers with weak grips still manage to hook the ball, while several with strong grips can still slice it!

The fact of the matter is, as demonstrated by Conrad Rehling but misunderstood as a ‘grip’ issue, the club opens or closes because of the position of the forearms created by the weak and strong grip positions.

 

The forearms have two bones which cross one-another when the forearm is ‘prone’ (palms facing backwards) and are parallel to one another when the forearm is ‘supine’ (palms facing forward). As the hands are fixed on the club, and thus ‘connected’, each forearm works to neutralize its position. So, for instance, a weak grip (of both hands) has a prone right (trail) arm and a strong grip has a prone left (lead) arm. The forearms always try to get into a position where both can become neutral in time for impact. (see pics. below, pronated forearm left, supine forearm right)

Instead of making a grip change, then, an instructor could work to simply change the rotation of the forearms, a much easier change (maybe by twisting the shoulders shut a bit for a weak grip, even if you don’t do it to the MGS extent). However, unless all other joints of the body, especially the right (trail) side shoulder, elbow and wrist joints are well-positioned during the backswing, the golfer will still retain his/her old incorrect pattern! This is why traditional golf instruction is so frustrating, it does not offer up any long-term, reliable solutions.

The Minimalist Golf Swing (MGS) makes all ‘grips’ strong, because it requires a ‘closed’ position of the whole body, which means that even a weak grip becomes less weak, or rather, both forearms become fairly neutral. All shots with the typical MGS set-up are thus baby-draws.

As regards other grip ‘issues’ such as palm or finger, trigger shaped thumb or not, all of these become ‘problems’ when people make wrist-using backswings, because wrist hinge is not a simple matter, and is never a pure ‘cock’ (radial deviation or abduction, in anatomical terms), but is inevitably accompanied by some backward wrist bend (extension), which creates problems in the forearm and shoulder positions too, for the right (trail) arm. So, the least wrist bend during the backswing, the less important a ‘perfect’ grip becomes. Wrist bend is easily created when the right (trail) elbow drops down (lags) during the downswing.

Minimalist Golf Swing for junior golfers

If you have junior golfers and wish to introduce them to golf, yes, it’s important for them to have fun, BUT it’s equally important for them to see early success!

Even a 5-year-old knows when she/he hits a worm-burner, completely along the ground! No matter how encouraging parents might be, or how much teachers say ‘good swing’ or ‘good attempt’ or whatever – kids these days are very smart, and know when they’ve hit a bad shot, and a collection of bad shots might just make them lose interest!

So, the main things junior golfers should be taught (in random order)

  • Shoulder-width stance (not adult shoulders, theirs)
  • Keep both feet firmly on the ground, at all times
  • Swing with fairly straight arms (a slight bend in the trail elbow is required though)
  • Keep the trail side slightly below the lead side all through the swing (and the chest facing away from target until well after impact)

One cute 5 year old junior in our summer camps at Oakbrook Golf Course, Edwardsville, Illinois demonstrated two swings – the one his daddy taught him and the one ‘key-run’ taught him, and he replicated both so exactly!

The right leg and knee in the minimalist swing

There were two inquiries within a couple of days regarding the right leg! One student who was hitting the most brilliant shots suddenly noticed that her right knee straightens out while making the MGS ‘twist’. That happens with a lot of students and it’s quite alright, it makes no difference to the quality of the downswing. If you prefer to foucs on keeping the flex in the knee, and add one more thing to the thoughts required during the set-up, that’s OK too, but it does not matter.

Another student asked: “in orthodox instruction much is made of the right leg and inside of the right foot as a pillar and starting block, to be swung around and pushed off with respectively. Is this concentration on the right leg extraneous to the MGS?” The answer is: yes, absolutely. Everything that requires thinking during the downswing is extraneous, if you make a good MGS set-up and backswing, you do not have to think or do anything intentional at all. The good moves simply happen in the correct sequence, and the bad ones – any that you ever made – are prevented.

This is how I phrase it for my students in financial careers. Thins of the MGS set-up as planning the perfect portfolio. Then think of the MGS backswing as buying your shares at the right price. Your downswing is the time to sit back and watch the dividends roll in!

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: