This time in your search for extra yards; forget about buying the next great driver. Instead, take this lesson to heart, practice the drills herein and you’ll start to see some real improvement in your game.
Your swings path will drastically affect the amount of power you can transfer to the ball at impact. If you do not have an ideal swing path your body is forced to make corrections in order to insure you still make decent contact – every correction reduces the efficiency of your swing. This is why to maximize power – it’s important to have an efficient – on path swing. The ideal swing path for creating power is an in-to-in swing motion.
If you suffer from constant pulls, chunks and pop-ups – you suffer from an out-to-in swing path – more commonly known as coming over the top.
If you suffer from constant pushes and blocks, often slice and hit it off the toe – you suffer from an in-to-out swing path – more commonly known as coming from too far inside.
To get a feeling for the ideal swing path, give this drill a try. Setup a bunch of golf balls in subtle arc around the ball you’re playing (as shown in the image to the right). When you perform your swing, focus on tracing the arc with your club on the backswing and follow-through. If you screw up and either come over-the-top or too far from the inside; you will make contact with the balls in the arc as well, giving you instant feedback to your mistake.
Your balance is an essential ingredient to a powerful and consistent swing. Lower body stability will enable you to rotate to your potential, shift your weight smoothly and finish solidly.
A good balanced setup is much like the “ready” position in so many other sports – much like a short-stop in baseball – your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart, your weight should balanced 50/50 between each leg and resting on the balls of your feet. You should be bent at your hips – which will stick your butt out. In this position, your arms should hang straight down from your shoulders with plenty of room to spare between your legs. You should feel like you could move either left or right on a whim – “the ready position”.
A poorly balanced swing is like throwing a wrench into the engine. You’ll be making extra movements to try and balance your swing – which will interrupt your ability to create power and all but ruin your chances at making solid contact. The most common cause for poor balance is having your weight resting on your toes or heels before starting your swing. Once the swing has begun – a poor or reverse weight transfer is also a common fault.
Swing width is a common focal point when instructors talk about creating more power and adding yards. Swing width specifically refers to the distance your wrists and club are away from your body during your swing. This affects your ability to create power by enabling you to swing faster. Think of it this way, if you had two whips, a short one and a longer one – which one could you snap the fastest? A wrist-only stroke has you literally swinging the club – whereas a full swing with width extends the effective length of the “club” to include your arms.
Adding your arms and increasing your width will increase the size of your swing arc. This means, the wider you swing – the more time you will have to add swing speed coming into impact. When it comes to an accelerating motion like the golfing… more time = more acceleration, which = more power.
The image at right is a mental imagery drill called the Box Drill. The idea is to swing back to 9 o’clock and envision a box resting on your arms as shown. Your lead arm should be nearly straight and pushed away from your body – your trailing arm should be at a 90 degree angle as shown. Get to this position on every swing and you should see a difference in your distance.
The most important swing technique to create distance is called lag. Lag is a term used to describe a specific downswing movement – where the wrists remain cocked and loaded and the club points skyward (as shown in the image to the right). Creating this angle and holding it for as long as possible on the downswing will create the snap and power when released that sets beginners apart from better players.
Interestingly, the motion itself is actually natural to most people, but when it comes to the golf swing – many players forget all about it. A great drill to try to get a better feeling of the lag position I’m talking about is the Club Throwing Drill. Yes, you read correctly – first find a crummy club and an open field – with both hands on the club, step into your swing and throw the club as far as you can. You can throw the club underhand, overhand or side-armed. You’ll soon notice that maintaining a cocked wrists position until moments before you release is the most effective way to throw your club.
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Same thing goes in your golf swing – but this time, try to keep the club in your hands!