Thursday, May 14, 2009

Learning Feel From Mechanics

I've got some smart readers because they ask good questions. Asking good questions is something I find very tough to do because more often than not, it's tough to figure out what to ask when you don't clearly understand it.

One of the questions I keep getting is the philosophy of learning feel from mechanics and why I think it's so important. Obviously, I could go into the power of the human brain, but let's just say it's much more powerful than most people realize and can accomplish surreal achievements when applied correctly. When Roger Bannister attempted to run the mile in under 4 minutes, most people thought he was going to kill himself because the human heart could not take running that much distance in that short of a time. And they probably had good points. But, Bannister's mental side was so strong he was able to accomplish the feat that nobody thought was possible. Now, running the mile under 4 minutes is considered quite achievable for the talented long distance runner.

The same can work for the golfer trying to improve their golf swing and Homer Kelley refers to the brain as the 'computer' to the 'machine' (aka the golf swing). And the computer is vital to an efficient golfing machine.

The great thing about The Golfing Machine is that it realizes that 'swing feels' are largely SUBJECTIVE and it is a manual for golfers to create their own swing feels thru understanding the mechanics.

That's a big problem I have with popular golf instruction. Many of the drills that you will see given by popular golf instructors do not provide any insight on the mechanics of the golf stroke and how these drills work in relation to the mechanics of a particular swing pattern. Who can forget Trevor Immelman telling golfers that they should straighten the right wrist thru impact in the March 2009 edition of Golf Magazine?

I thought Jeff Mann summed it up quite well here (

Trevor Immelman is using a horizontal hinging action during the followthrough, and that causes the clubface to be horizontal to the ground by the end of the followthrough (when both arms are straight). During a horizontal hinging action, the flat left wrist-hand moves to the left (like a door opening) and the left wrist/hand remains flat and vertical to the ground. Note that his right wrist has straightened during this followthrough phase of his swing. However, it has straightened without simultaneously bending (dorsiflexing) the left wrist - because the left wrist/hand is moving leftwards along the surface of the inclined plane. That's a critically important point! If the flat left wrist/hand moves leftwards in a horizontal hinging action, it allows the right wrist to straighten (palmar flex) without there being an obligatory simultaneous bending (dorsiflexion) of the left wrist. The left wrist/hand must remain flat through impact, and also immediately post-impact. The left wrist must never dorsiflex post-impact (during the early followthrough phase of the swing) and it should only undergo a small degree of dorsiflexion during the finish swivel phase of the swing (when the right hand pronates over the supinating left hand).

The key point that a golfer needs to understand is that the right wrist can straighten post-impact as long as the left hand is moving fast to the left (with the flat left wrist/hand remaining vertical to the ground) while the right wrist is straightening. If a golfer stalls his hands at impact, then the straightening right wrist will flip-bend the left wrist (dorsiflex the left wrist) and a golfer should not allow that slap-hinge action to happen. There should be no active/independent hand actions through impact. The hands are like "clamps" and they should simply hold onto the grip end of the club while the hands pass through impact. A golfer should never employ any active hand release action through impact - whether it is slap hinge release action (as recommended by Laird Small) or a crossover hand release action (as recommended by AJ Bonar) or a puck release action (as recommended by Nick Bradley). One doesn't get additional power from actively straightening the right wrist through impact, and it can actually result in a decrease in swing power, and a loss of accuracy, if the hands flip prior to impact because of poor timing of the active hand release action.

So unfortunately with a lot of popular instruction, not only do they avoid explaining the mechanics to the golfer, but they erroneously explain the mechanics which just compounds the problem.

But the big thing for me is that most of these drills get too involved in the result of the shot instead of the feel. A golfer will read a drill or use a training aid and not actually FEEL what's going on.

An example of a TGM drill I like to do is to help with an over the top move. I like to take a driveway marker (which you can get in the mailbox section of Lowe's for $1.99 a piece).

I will then find my target. Next, I will stick the driveway marker into the ground so it is vertical and in between my ball and the target. Now I will take my normal stance and MAKE SURE I am not aiming to the right of the target. And the goal is to avoid hitting shots that start out left of the driveway marker that is sticking up out of the ground. If I hit it to the right of the driveway marker, that's good. If I hit the driveway marker, that's good. But when I go left of the driveway marker, I tell my brain that is not acceptable.

This forces me into better mechanics. But I cannot just rely on the results in order to improve. I need to really FEEL what's going on. What's the difference in feel between the bad swings and the good swings? What's going on with different parts of my body in the bad swing vs. the good swing? What's the elbows, hands, forearm, feet, hips, etc doing differently?

Sometimes only one thing has changed in feel from the good swing vs. the bad swing. Sometimes it's many things.

Like this 'Aiming Point' drill

What's going on when you get the divot in front of the balls vs. when the divot is where the golf balls are? And if you can understand more of the mechanics, particularly what a 'swinger' does vs. what a 'hitter' tends to do, you're probably going to wind up in better shape?

I've made a post about recent 'hitting revelations', but the biggest revelation of them all is how you have to FEEL your way around. And how understanding 'basic', 'acquired' and then 'total' motion and using them properly can help incorporate your own customized swing feels.

Now, to understand some of the concepts one should understand 'basic', 'acquired' and 'total motions.'

Basic Motion = clubhead goes 2 feet back and 2 feet thru, much like a chip stroke

Acquired Motion = Club taken back until the right forearm is parallel with the ground and then parallel with the ground again on the follow thru. Much like the 9-3 drill.

Total Motion = full golf swing.

Start off with basic motion and try to get that down. Then move onto acquired motion. If you can't quite get the transition from basic to acquired down, then ask yourself what feels different about the two? Close your eyes and swing if you have to. Go in super slo-mo if you have. Or do both.

But always try to feel. Feel the different parts of your body. What's your pressure points doing? What's your pivot doing? What's your arms doing differently?

And do not be afraid to understand the mechanics if you're struggling. I didn't quite correctly understand the right forearm takeaway when I first started to use it. But, when I saw the diagrams of what a 'fanning forearm' looked like, I then copied those mechanics and then started to try and grasp the feel of what a properly executed 'fanning forearm' was like.

And once you 'get it' when it comes to understanding how to develop feel, you will 'own it' and you will realize just how easy it is and probably feel a bit stupid for not learning this long ago.



Anonymous said...

Hello !.
You re, I guess , perhaps very interested to know how one can collect a huge starting capital .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may begin to get income with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you thought of all the time
AimTrust incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

It is based in Panama with structures around the world.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your choice That`s what you wish in the long run!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to take up income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to select a correct partner utilizes your money in a right way - that`s it!.
I earn US$2,000 per day, and my first deposit was 1 grand only!
It`s easy to join , just click this link
and lucky you`re! Let`s take our chance together to feel the smell of real money

Anonymous said...

Glad to greet you, ladies and gentlemen!

Let me introduce myself,
my name is Nikolas.
Generally I’m a social gmabler. for a long time I’m keen on online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out about my progress.
Please visit my web page . I’ll be glad would you find time to leave your comments.