Your swing – and Tiger’s – should resemble a modern car

Where Tiger – and YOU – go wrong

Concepts about the golf swing have truly never evolved since the time shepherd boys insouciantly swung their crocks and knocked pebbles into holes. Not in any meaningful, scientific manner. So, although Tiger’s coaches have all been smart folks, none of them has ever dared think ‘outside-the-box’ enough to understand they were teaching a flat-earth philosophy! How so? Let’s compare the golf swing to a nice, solid modern car.

The least any driver of a modern car expects is a smooth ride. So too should your body during your golf swing. At least the car has powerful shock absorbers to dissipate the impulse of a jarring dip. How can your poor ligaments, cartilage, muscles and not to forget spinal discs continue to do this throughout a long golf career?

The lead shoulder is the hub around which your wheel should be moving at impact, with its radius being your lead arm and clubshaft. Imagine you’re driving your car and the axle itself moved side-to-side or up and down. What a horrific ride!

At the same time, the engine that drives your car comprises just a single block housing some moving parts – the entire car does not have to move to power the rotation of a wheel!

Look at Tiger’s hub and his engine, then look at how the Minimalist Golf Swing’s hub stays stable and only the engine creates the motion, not every part of the vehicle moving the golf club!

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Tiger’s hub moves, how can the wheel (ie. clubhead) connect the road (grass) the same way everytime?

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Tiger’s car moves along with the engine – everything that can move does!

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Minimalist Golf Swing – the hub never moves out of place, the engine is contained within a powerful ‘block’ – the pelvis.

Anatomy of the Golf Swing – A New Perspective

                                                                   Anatomy of the Golf Swing Blog-post No. 1

THIS SERIES OF POSTS ON THE ANATOMY OF THE GOLF SWING IS DEDICATED TO THE GREATEST ANATOMY INSTRUCTOR IN THE WORLD – AND FORTUNATELY MINE, AT LOGAN UNIVERSITY – DR JAN CLIFFORD
‘Anatomy of the golf swing’ need not be some difficult-to-comprehend, scary, rocket-science phrase. All it refers to is how, during the golf swing, our muscles move our bones at our bone-junctions, correctly known as ‘joints’.

       This will be a series of simple-to-understand posts on the anatomy of the golf swing, area-by-area or joint-by-joint. It will discuss the current movements made by the best players, therefore considered ‘typical’ or ‘conventional’ or ‘traditional’. It will then explain why those movements are not necessarily ‘ideal’. ‘Ideal’ should refer only to a movement which has been devised based on where the body should be at impact, to deliver the club to the ball correctly, based on physical laws of club-ball contact. NOT on how the best players swing.

       After all, we know that even the best players in the world are very diverse in every area of their swings except impact, which they do get right, time after time. So, the only aspect of the golf swing we should learn from the pros is impact. Then, all we need to do is find a set-up and backswing which can put us effortlessly and repeatedly into the impact position of the pros.
Future posts on ‘anatomy of the golf-swing’ will also explain how a more efficient positioning of the body-area/joint under discussion, during the set-up and the backswing, can lead to both greater ball-striking efficiency and less scope for injury.

       It’s a completely new perspective, so if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool, old-is-gold golfer who believes that the swings used by the shepherds in the fields of Scotland – slightly modified to make them workable with 21st Century golf equipment – are just the way they should be, this series of posts is not for you!

       The ‘new perspective’ is based on the fact that the golf downswing typically takes place in a mere 2/100ths of a second. Would the brain be more efficient when controlling the least or the most number of un-bending and un-twisting moves (especially when the golfer is in a state of higher arousal or fatigue)? Much more neuro-muscular co-ordination is involved as a swing gets more complex.

       No wonder it’s so easy for a beginner’s brain (as well as an expert’s, despite years of conditioning, when he/she is nervous or tired) to simply follow the ‘path-of-least-resistance’ and hit ‘from the top’ – a straight-line movement not requiring a sequential rotation of various body-parts. There goes TIMING!

       To better understand the concept presented throughout this series, ask yourself this question. If a body part has to be in a particular position at impact, what sense does it make to have it positioned facing some other direction at the top of the backswing? [If you’re driving a car and need to head South, how does it help to have your car face North first?]

       The posts which follow, will start at the top of the body, discussing one region at a time. They will also start ‘local’ (one particular joint) and then go ‘global’ (whole-body movement).

       If, at the end of each of the succeeding posts you can ask (without any formal knowledge of musculo-skeletal anatomy), with reference to the the ‘traditional’ golf swing, ‘what sense does that make’, the purpose of this series would have been achieved!

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How Phil Mickelson- and YOU – can get more consistency

How Phil Mickelson- and YOU –  can get more consistency

Recently saw a very nice interview with the fitness coach, Sean Cochran, of Phil Mickelson, The Open Championship 2013 winner. [http://www.travelgolf.com/departments/clubhouse/sean-cochran-mickelsons-trainer-qa-1302.htm]

So, wondered if his swing lives up to the fitness improvements his coach has made on him.

Then needed the perfect illustration to explain Phil’s swing – and found it in Phil’s  (Cheetham’s, this time!) very simply explained article on the kinematic sequence (a term he has coined) which is more commonly known as the sequential summation of forces (SSF). [http://www.amm3d.com/Portals/0/ArticlesVideos/KinematicSequenceStretchingRidingFanningFinal.pdf]

The world of biomechanists have probably discovered all the MAIN forces that make up a good impact (based on a study of the downswing movement patterns of the best players), but now it’s high time to move on from ‘mechanics’ to ‘bio’ – folks, there is a reason ‘bio’ precedes ‘mechanics’ in the word biomechanics.

So, if you read Phil Cheetham’s article (link above) on ‘stretching’, ‘riding’ and ‘fanning’ (the latter a poor quality sequence), you know that the ‘stretching’ downswing sequence (hips starting before torso) gives the most DISTANCE (ie clubhead speed), followed by ‘riding’ (hips and torso move together at start of downswing). What he did not add is the equally important factor of DIRECTION in the swing, which can only happen with the ‘stretching’ style of downswing.

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To know more about which factors have been proven so far to produce distance (clubspeed) and direction (only the SSF) in the golf swing, see this systematic review (Patria Hume et al., Newzealand) [http://coewww.rutgers.edu/classes/mae/mae473/golf_biomechanics.pdf]

Now to go back to Phil Mickelson’s swing. Without looking at his swing-sequence graph, one can tell he has the what I call a ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’ type swing. The ‘horse’ being, of course, MAXIMAL power (based on Phil Cheetham’s stretching style downswing sequence), and with it, correct direction!

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If you look at his top-of-backswing (above), think of his upper body looking like a ‘door’ facing you, the viewer. His trail (left) elbow is behind his neck, and now all the upper body can do is drop down and forward, NOT rotate, and certainly not AFTER the lower body. This is especially so as he needs to drop his trail (left) side down, because, for any left-handed golfer, with left hand lower on the grip, the left side must always be lower at impact (and at address!). See how much ‘shorter’ he is at impact (2 pics below).

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Why can the lower body not simply speed away ahead of his upper body? Especially as his coach does so much rotary fitness work with him? Because at the top of his backswing (see pic. below), his trail hip (femur/thigh) has straightened out (extended) and his lead knee had bent forward (flexed) and his lower body has to waste time straightening out these two joints from their forwards-backwards (sagittal plane) direction of bend, before they can join in the rotation that the upper body is trying desperately – as it simultaneously drops down – to make.

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So, now, despite years of practice and ‘hard-wiring’ because Phil has to make so very many independent moves at many joints, when his timing changes just the tiniest bit, his brain says ‘no time, no time, all joints aboard, the trail side is leaving, lets just GO, all together, in whichever direction we can (forwards-backwards or side-to-side or by rotating). The result – less than MAXIMAL POSSIBLE distance. MAXIMAL distance may not be that important for Phil, because his ‘riding’ style swing can produce some power (powered by muscles strengthened for him by his fitness coach!) BUT DIRECTION can never be consistent, because with such a swing the golfer must rely on last-minute hand position changes to hit the ball straight. The golfer must either ‘block’ or ‘roll-over’ with the hands at the last minute and hope it works.

So, if Phil Mickelson were to wish to get MAXIMAL distance ALONG WITH great DIRECTION and TRAJECTORY, his knee, hip and trunk should be positioned so they have ONLY rotational movement (on a horizontal/transverse plane, NO forward-backward or side-to-side-rocking moves) and his trail arm should be positioned so it does not interfere with the purely ferris-wheel (frontal plane) movement of the lead arm.

The only way for a golfer to get IDEAL ball-flight – maximal distance, straight (or baby-draw) direction and ideal trajectory is for the club to connect the ball on its lower inside quadrant. And that can only happen – on a consistent basis – when NO JOINT REQUIRES a CHANGE OF DIRECTION WHEN STARTING THE DOWNSWING.

The same not-ideally-positioned joints which reduce ball-striking efficiency also result, eventually, in injury. The next post will be on ‘predictions for future Phil injuries’.

The US Open and Tiger Woods

The US Open and Tiger Woods

One MGSS fan texted, “hey I was looking forward to your comments on the US Open, as I enjoyed your remarks after the Seniors’ Championship so much”

So, my friend Tom, my response is, “Tiger did not win”, why would I care about the rest of the field.

I’d predicted in a facebook forum of the National Golf Academy of India (and, to an extent, hoped) a month ago, that when the going got tough, Tiger would not do well. Why would anyone be mean enough to ‘hope’ such a thing? For purely selfish reasons.

I have dedicated myself to being worthy of being Tiger’s next coach – or at least getting the opportunity to explain to him my study and research of over 18 years. What does ‘worthy’ mean? It means acquiring knowledge well beyond what even the leading golfer of the world might need to succeed – my Masters in Sports Science and Nutrition has given me information on anatomy, biomechanics, orthopedic assessment, exercise physiology, exercise testing and prescription, fitness, nutrition, sports psychology, research methods. A 21st Century golf coach has to have at least primary-physician qualifications, cannot simply say, “My student can go to so-and-so for fitness or someone else for a chiropractic adjustment”. BECAUSE those people do not understand golf enough to tell what might cause the ball-striking or injury problem!

(See the section ‘Walking the Talk’ in this blog for my orthopedic physical assessment class project – 10 pages include how golf and tennis elbow injury can be cause in golf. Coming soon how knee injury such as Tiger Woods’ and Fred Funk’s are exacerbated by a poor-mechanics golf swing).

Well, when I first ‘came out of the box’ and started telling people that is was the ambition of my life to be Tiger’s next coach they laughed. Not so much any more, they respect my understanding and knowledge of the golf swing (sadly no PGA of the world tells a teacher WHAT to teach – wannabe teachers are given ONLY Gary Wiren’s LAWS, PRINCIPLES and PREFERENCES and then have to GO FIGURE. Many peripherally useful topics, but NOTHING on WHAT to teach. How do I know? I’m a member of four teaching associations!).

In fact many say, forget Tiger, he’s finished, find someone else. NO Tiger is NOT FINISHED. He is the world’s most supreme athlete, has the mental and physical skills and the work ethic to be the best, at the highest level, again. When he plays badly it is not about him, it is about someone-up-there saying “I’m the one controlling you humans, don’t think it’s YOUR great skill or talent that’s making this happen”.

Tiger is, however, running out of time. He cannot afford any more injury and no-one in his coterie even realizes that it’s exacerbated by his golf swing. Coterie, from now on, be aware that if Tiger has more injury or cannot play at the highest level, it is because YOU, his TEAM, do not allow any information from people like me to be filtered down to him. Sure you get lots of such information from lots of people, can you not tell based on credentials or years in the business?

How DARE all his previous coaches mess him up so badly as to tell him to reduce his distance in order to gain consistency (which they have not been able to give him yet), or get him to a stage where he cannot use his driver, AND use effectively enough to be a weapon of mass destruction. One told him to move his left knee out of the way and straighten it quickly. I’d have sued that coach for future ACL injury, but the poor man does not have any background in human movement!

The next coach told him if he gets across the line to try to be laid off. BOTH ugly positions, NOT correct in science (most obviously because both make the club shaft parallel to the ground, a position which does not put the club in it’s position of maximum gravitational potential energy, but which of those pros understood basic physics?)

He needs a swing method which can help him deliver his club correctly (from the inside and at maximum speed) while positioning his body more appropriately based on what human joints are and are not capable of doing.

The Minimalist Golf Swing System works for all strokes not just the full swing, and Tiger neither gets 18 fairways and 18 greens nor is his putting always reliable. So, there’s a Minimalist solution to that too.

Many have asked, “If your method is so good, how come the pros do not use it?” Reply, “The method have taken 18 years to evolve, based on my increased knowledge and experience”. There are 2 pros using it, and winning with it already, even though they have not had more opportunity to work with me on it. Many amateurs are posting things about it on various forums.

Other nay-sayers say, “OK you think you have a method, there are tons of those around!” My answer:
GOLF PROS have the ability to connect the dots from having taught so many people but have no background in human movement science. GOLF SWING RESEARCHERS have little background in golf – either playing it competitively or teaching it to see mistake-patterns. Very few in the world have both backgrounds. Only one has both 24 years experience teaching golf, an educational background in anatomy, biomechanics and physics, years of conducting research on various aspects of the golf swing, a personal need to try to hit the ball better, plus the ability to think outside the box enough to wish to reverse-engineer the golf swing. Reverse engineer meaning start with an understanding of how the club should be positioned for best impact then work backwards to figuring out how the body can be positioned to deliver the club correctly, based on what the body’s joints are capable of doing. The result – better ball-striking and less scope for injury.

Isn’t it funny how we mere mortals are told by the ‘pros’ to swing like so and so, when that Tour Player themselves has mechanical faults? It is presumed, in all sports, that a top-level player is making the best action, when that is not at all true. ONLY reverse-engineering can give the best picture for what movement is ideal for any sport.

Now, if Tiger doesn’t hear of the Minimalist Golf Swing System soon, he can waive his useful career goodbye.

The ONE MOST IDIOTIC Golf Swing POSITION

 

 

 

 

The ONE MOST IDIOTIC Golf Swing POSITION

The GRIP. They told you about interlock/overlap/ten-finger. They told you about palm vs finger. They told you where the ‘V’ for each hand should point, and whether the grip should be ‘strong’ or ‘weak’. They told you which fingers of the left and which fingers of the right should have more pressure on them. Gary Wiren in his seminal work, ‘Laws, Principles and Preferences’ talks of the 4 ‘P’s – placement, positioning, pressure and placement.

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‘Placement’ meaning how far up or down the grip the hands are placed. ‘Positioning’ refers to the clockwise or counterclockwise rotation of the hands (often termed a strong grip if clockwise and weak if counterclockwise). “Pressure’ means the amount of squeezing of the hands and ‘Precision’ means the taking of the same grip each time. The GRIP represents the first of 14 Principles of his paper, a ‘Principle’ being a fundamental consideration.

‘They’ even told you, for goodness’ sakes whether your lead thumb should be ‘long’ or short’. None of this information ever scientifically researched. Just the outpouring of subjective proof by the leading players and teachers.

The only thing they never told you in all of this excessive, makes-no-difference information is the relationship between the two arms, the lead arm and the trail arm, with particular reference to the forearms.

The Minimalist Golf Swing always positions your trail arm subservient to your lead arm, so that it cannot interfere in the role of the lead arm – to remain the radius of the swing from address to impact and a bit beyond. THUS FORCING the club to arrive at the ball from an INSIDE, SHALLOW angle, and connect the ball on it’s inside quadrant and below its equator.

The MINIMALIST GOLF SWING SYSTEM – what’s new for 2013

The MINIMALIST GOLF SWING SYSTEM – what’s new for 2013

If you are a follower of the MGSS, you will be pleased to know that there are now many new ways to IMPROVE YOUR BALL-STRIKING (for the full-swing, pitch/bunker, chip and putt) and reduce your chance for injury.

You will be able to internalize the swing process more efficiently AND learn more about the MGS System and why it works.

Here’s how:

  • A personal ‘learn golf in a day/weekend’ session in St Louis, March to September 2013
  • ‘Get MGSS Certified’ Level I in 2013 (Level II, information for which currently being processed in 2014)
  • One-line video-based golf instruction
  • The ebook DIY (do-it-yourself) GOLF which may be purchased through the website
  • The blog minimalistgolfswingblog.com which now has a forum
  • the www.minimalistgolfswing.com website which will soon have new sections

To avail of 2012 rates on any of 1 or 2 the above, please confirm your dates for personal instruction by 12th March 2013.

Online video-based golf instruction and the DIY (do-it-yourself) GOLF ebook are offered through the website www.minimalistgolfswing.com

Naturally, any general golf-swing related questions as well as suggestions for golf-related youtube videos for the future will always be attended to asap, at no cost!

Is YOUR golf swing a lot of BS – and you don’t even know it?

Is YOUR golf swing a lot of BS – and you don’t even know it?

A new video in the golf videos section of this blog tells you how your golf swing might have a lot of BS to it, and how you may not even realize it, and finally what to do about it.

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Long Drive Regionals in St Louis, July 2012

Most long-drivers do not take golf lessons. (Based on survey information collected at the recent long-drive regional qualifier in St Louis).

They miss 6 out of 6 shots to a grid 50 yards wide, and blame it on everything possible such as bad luck, bad weather, poor mental preparation, cracked driver etc. etc. They NEVER blame it on swing mechanics.

Are they gamblers at heart and not true golfers? They hit endless rounds of six-shots at $40 a pop and keep trying to make it from the Locals to the Regionals, and most of them put in hours and hours a week on fitness training and golf practice, but sometimes do not even hit one of six shots in the grid.

How to tell them that it’s mainly their mechanics that are faulty. They’re trying to make the longest possible levers by going up on the lead toe during the backswing, getting their arms and hands up to the sky, and then they hope to dump all that body mass down at the exact spot where it’s required in the fraction of a second when the club is attempting a passing acquaintance with the ball!

 

How will this Long Driver return his club to the ball? What ‘undo’ movements does he need to make? He must rotate his body forward, drop his right side/trunk down, allow his very elevated right upper-arm to drop closer to the body, do work against gravity to bring his clubshaft back to a ten o’clock or so position (which is its position of maximum potential energy), rotate and then straighten his lead knee and plant back his lead heel. (Not to mention a change of wrist position and fore-arm position!) If he does not time all these movements correctly, or if they overshoot (ie. rotation does not stop in time to allow the arms to drop down from the inside), he spins around his trail thigh and hits the ball crooked! Big deal that he has the capacity to hit it 360 or more yards on the fly! The question is whether he can do it to order.

Another one pasted below. How many separate joints does he move? And, how many muscles must act as prime movers, synergists, stabilizers and antagonists for such complex movements? Are all the moved joints able to return to impact in correct sequence?

MGSS – a new adjective to describe it!

What a treat to explain The Minimalist Golf Swing System to people with a background in anatomy! They GET IT. However, because it’s so different (or in the words of people who’ve tried it, ‘weird’, ‘counter-intuitive’, ‘unnatural’ etc. etc.!) it’s best to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’.

So last weekend, at a gathering of 50 chiropractic students who attended a Motion Palpation Institute’s ‘Golfer and the DC’ seminar, class-room time showed a bit about the evolution of all things golf, after which it was all driving-range hands-on teaching/learning.

 

1. The golf ball has had millions of dollars of research put into it to progress from a feathery to the ultra-sophisticated thing with precise numbers of, size of and depth of dimples, not to mention high-tech materials.

2. Golf clubs have evolved from mere shepheards’ crooks to blobs of metal to oh-my-gosh tools that claim to cure slices and hit the ball a country mile and who knows what else.

3. The golf swing has evolved too —- look carefully at the change

All the chiropractors could see – good golfers, many of them – was a change of apparel!

SO, the moral of the story is, the golf swing has evolved in as random a manner as golf apparel has!

What should happen is once one has a plan for what the ball must do (for instance, in a full-swing, travel maximum distance, be straight and have ideal trajectory for the club being used), one should decide how the club must arrive at the ball (maximum speed, from the inside, and at a shallow angle), and then place all the body’s main joints in positions from which they can make the downswing most efficiently, based on their design, and on where they require to deliver the club!

The easiest way to do that is to separate the role of the arms and the role of the body. Allow only ferris-wheel movements of the arms and only merry-go-round movements of the body (and ne’er the twain shall meet). MGS really does this!

So, many attendees said, “Man this is crazy – but it actually works”! One asked, “I really like this but how should I explain it to my friends when I look so different?”

The reply from the intrepid inventor of the MGSS, “Well, ask them if you should have a rotation/coil/twist of your body during the backswing, then tell them, why do you care if I finish my rotation/coil/twist before my swing has begun? That way all I have to do is get my arms in place and I HAVE to make ideal contact!”

 

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