Recently I was giving a lesson to a very diligent and knowledgeable student. We’ll call him Jack. We identified that he was coming at the ball too much on the inside (under the swing plane). As a result Jack was mostly hitting big draws or hooks and it didn’t seem like he was generating maximum power.
Check the Backswing First
It’s been my experience that downswing problems like swinging from inside to outside usually start in the backswing. Normally I can take one look at a student’s swing and identify what is going wrong. Now I looked at this fellows swing and he was coming at the ball from the inside big time but I didn’t immediately see exactly what was causing the Inside-To-Outside swingpath. Jack’s backswing looked pretty good, starting off on-plane nicely. He understood the concept of the swing plane. He also understood the concept of tuning the core (shoulders, chest & abdomen). We double checked his grip and the grip was fine.
Jack is very bright and he is a reader. He poured over all the Symple Swing instruction materials so well that when I went to tell him something he knew it already and could finish my sentence. Yet, with all that knowledge Jack was still drawing or hooking the ball and he couldn’t figure out why.
I asked Jack to describe step by step what he was doing (and thinking) in his backswing and he was exactly right with everything he described. He described the “core powered” Symple Turn right in every detail.
Taking a quick look at his swing, his backswing looked pretty good. Towards the top of his backswing the butt of the club was pointing at the extended target line just like it’s supposed to. His backswing was on-plane but when he got to his downswing he was coming at the ball from way inside.
Now I knew I was missing something when I was looking at his swing. I could see “the problem” (the Inside-To-Outside swingpath) but I didn’t immediately see the root cause. Just because your see what someone is doing doesn’t mean you understand what is causing them to make that incorrect movement (the root cause). Some teachers would just say you’re coming at the ball from the inside, stop that. But the problem is if the student doesn’t know what movement is actually causing the Inside-To-Outside swing how is he going to stop doing it. Maybe he could just try changing various things but that’s not an efficient way to make changes.
Benefits of Slow Motion Video
So I decided to video his swing so I could see it in slow motion. I use a little pocket camera that happens to take really nice high speed slow motion video as well as HD video. The camera I use is the Casio EX-FC100 http://exilim.casio.com/products_exfc100.shtml I’d recommend that camera to any golfer because of the great slow motion video. With the slow motion video the student can immediately see any mistakes they may be making. The slow motion feature is a significant advantage over regular video. Actually seeing your mistake especially in slow motion is more helpful than someone telling you about it.
When I video’d Jack’s swing I immediately saw the problem. He knew he was supposed to make a “core turn” but he was doing it in the wrong sequence! His shoulders should have started the backswing but as soon as I saw the video I realized he wasn’t starting the swing with his shoulders and upper torso like he should.
Jack knew that the shaft of his club was supposed to point at the extended target line during the beginning of his backswing. Normally this is done by beginning the backswing by the turning of the shoulders and upper torso (upper spine). Turning the upper spine lets you turn while keeping the club shaft pointing at the extended target line without problem. However Jack was beginning his backswing by turning his lower spine. Then he had to make a swing compensation to keep the club shaft pointing at the extended target line. Without realizing it he was lifting his arms particularly his back arm up and away from his body. Because he had a jacket on this lifting was difficult to see unless you were standing in just the right spot. (At least that’s the excuse I’m using!) This lifting of the arms is called “losing connection” when the arms separate from the body.
DEFINITION: The extended target line is the imaginary line that extends from the target to the ball and then continues back behind the ball.
So by doing that “lifting compensation” he was able to keep the club shaft pointing close to extended target line during the beginning of his backswing and the swing looked pretty good. However it was during the downswing when his arm came back down near his side that his out of position turn caused him to come at the ball too much from the inside.
So Jack was starting his backswing by turning his lower torso. To begin his backswing he was turning his spine down near his belly button. One thing that made this harder to see what the fact that his hips were okay. He didn’t turn his hips until later in the swing. To put it another way he began his backswing by turning his belly button but not his hips.
IF YOU TURN YOUR LOWER SPINE TOO SOON YOUR CLUB WILL IMMEDIATELY START COMING INSIDE UNDER THE PLANE. So Jack was doing a “core turn” but he was doing it in the wrong sequence. To see what was going on try it yourself. Grab a club, set up in your address position and then just turn your lower spine (Don’t turn your upper spine or move your arms or hands.) You should see that turning your lower spine will cause you too take the club way inside very quickly. Jack was camouflaging that motion with the lifting of his arms.
The power of your swing comes from the large muscle of your core (shoulders, chest & abdomen) not from your hands and arms. Yes, your hand and arms help but the help they give should be “in reaction” to the turning of the core. The key to generating power is the synchronization or the proper step by step activation of the right muscles. The big hitters all use their muscles in a synchronized or additive way. You’ve all seen big powerful football players who can’t hit a drive 200 yards. That’s because their muscles aren’t working together.
Progressive Backswing Sequence
The turning of the shoulders and the turning of the upper spine should start your backswing. Your upper arms should stay connected to the sides of your chest. The core motion of Symple Swing is generally much easier to synchronize than any other golf swing. That’s the reason most everyone gains distance with Symple Swing.
The way your spine turns should be “progressive”.
- By that I mean the turning of the spine begins with the upper spine.
- Then the turn of the upper spine starts the turning or twisting of the mid-spine.
- Then the turning of the mid-spine starts the turning of the lower spine.
Lower Body Motion
Towards the top of the backswing the turning of the spine (upper, mid and lower) will turn the back hip pulling the back hip away from the ball. You should review the article about the Symple Turn at http://simpleswing.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~1192.asp for more information about the proper motion of the lower body.