Tension is the enemy to a golfer. Playing a good game takes more than just skill; it takes managing tension in a positive way.
Tension interferes with your game because it causes you to tighten your muscles. This makes it harder for your muscles to efficiently perform a task, resulting in movements that are jerky and forced. When you are not relaxed, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. This makes it harder to focus on your shot.
Most tension during a golf game comes when you’re getting ready to make a shot. Typically, tension starts in the hands and runs up the arms and into the shoulders and neck.
Try this: Once you’re ready to start your swing, and ensuring you maintain your posture, open your hands and let your club fall to the ground. As soon as you open your hands, you will feel a release of tension from your hands to your shoulders. This is the feeling you want to experience before and while you swing the club.
When you swing with this new relaxed motion, it may feel sloppy and possibly less controlled. This is different, but good; eventually it will feel more natural, resulting in more consistent swings. To gain control, you must give up control.
We have all seen friends or watched professionals on TV who have unusual or unorthodox swings. One thing all good golfers do is to get the club to the desired position when it meets the ball, even if it takes an unusual route to get there.
Most good players can tell if a shot is successful before they even see it, because they can feel the contact. They also focus on creating good contact.
This is important, as clubhead awareness gives us information to work with when we get poor contact. At point of contact, the clubhead can be in one of five different positions, or in some variable of them: too high, too low, too far outside, too much inside or just right. Many golfers don’t know what happens at this moment, because it happens quickly and they’re busy focusing on fundamentals or swing thoughts.
Remember: nothing affects where the ball goes more than the clubhead, so learn to pay attention to it!
If you’re a new golfer learning the game, start small!
When learning other sports or activities we usually start small or slow – swimming, skiing, driving a car or using a new electronic device. When you start building your golf skills, it makes sense to start with small swings, then build up to full swings. This makes it easier for new golfers to learn and feel the correct body motions, resulting in the development of a consistent and powerful swing.
Trying to learn the full swing first makes it more difficult to learn the correct muscle coordination and sequence of usage that the full swing requires. Learning to hit for distance first, then trying to find consistency, is putting the cart before the horse. It works more effectively the other way around. Ultimately, consistency allows you to create increased distance.
One effective drill to improve your swing is to let the ball get in your way as you swing toward the target. In other words, you let the ball get hit because it was sitting in the way of your swing, not because you were swinging at it. To do this, you must not be obsessed with keeping your eye on the ball, but rather creating a feeling of swinging freely to the target.
Most golfers have better practice swings than actual swings where a ball is involved. Without a ball it is easier to swing through, and this is the very motion that is needed when improving your swing. The result is a faster, more consistent swing.
It’s important to remember the ball is not the target; the fairway or green is the target. When you shoot a basketball, you focus on the hoop; when you are bowling, you focus on the pins; when you throw a dart, you focus on the board. The key in golf is to avoid focusing on the ball. This is not to say you don’t ever look at the ball, but there is a difference between knowing where the ball is and constantly keeping your eye on it. Focus instead on swinging to the real target.
Lessons or practice sessions to improve your swing are made less effective by a tendency to complicate things. This is the ‘analysis causes paralysis’ syndrome (over-analyzing or over-thinking). People often try to think about and do too many things at once.
First, it’s important to respect the fact that golf is one of the most precise activities we choose to do. Therefore, you need to be patient with your rate of improvement or learning, or you may become overwhelmed by the challenges.
Rather than trying to speed through the process, try to focus on what you want to do, not what you want to create. Work at building up your knowledge of successful swings and your knowledge of unsuccessful swings.
Players often expect to hit a good shot without knowing why itâ€™s a good shot. For instance, a player wants to cure a slice, or stop topping the ball, but doesn’t know what causes it. Fixing a problem is easier when you know the cause.
Have you ever wondered why good golfers always hold their finish for two or three seconds?
It's an opportunity to check a number of things including balance.
In the couple of seconds after your swing finishes, you should still feel balanced. Your lack of balance at the finish, started before you hit the ball.
If your swing ends out of balance, the club head is likely traveling through the area where the ball is in an inconsistent path, creating inconsistent results. To get better results, we need to ensure better balance at the finish which should lead to a more consistent path to where the ball is.
Try holding your finish for at least three seconds on every swing to help build awareness of your balance.
Better balance will lead to better results!