By Nick Randall – strength and conditioning coach on the PGA Tour
All of the quality golf coaches I have spent time with stress the importance of starting your swing with a good movement. They attribute many of their student’s swing issues to poor set up and first move, and spend considerable time and effort in trying to teach and train improvements in these areas.
The takeaway seems easy but is actually surprisingly difficult to repeat on a consistent basis without practising the correct movement pattern. I’m very familiar with this problem because it happens to me all the time, as you will see in the video clips throughout this article. The footage, taken from a lesson delivered to me by Richard Woodhouse, has been selected to deliver practical examples of how changing set up and early backswing movement can have a really positive effect on the rest of the swing.
The start of your swing is a bit like hitting a putt towards the hole; if you start it off on the right line, the chances of it going in are greatly increased. If you start your backswing in the right way then better positions will be achieved throughout your swing, leading to a much simpler downswing and more consistent strike. If you start off on the wrong track, it can be a big game of manipulation of various body parts to try and get the club back to the ball.
In the video above you can see Richard using the GravityFit TPro to firstly help set my right shoulder better. He then asks me to start working a better rotation from my T-Spine and Ribcage, taking the first steps toward making a better start to my swing. What Richard is aiming to achieve is essentially a backswing that starts with more arm-body connection, moving the arms and body together in the takeaway. All too often people move their arms independently of their body, creating a mismatch and getting off track early.
As you can see, it’s quite a novel feeling for me to feel rotation from my upper body over a quiet lower body. Richard felt it was important that we established the new feel for an improved movement without club in hand. Even though the change is quite subtle, the presence of a club and golf ball could well distract me from dialling in to the feels of this new movement.
As we moved on it was time to continue rotating to a fully completed backswing from the new and improved connected takeaway. I found it much simpler to complete the backswing, once I was better established in set up and first move. It felt like I was on track and simply had to continue turning and everything would fall into place. So often in the past, I have had the feeling of not knowing when and where to complete my backswing and start the move down.
Finally you can see in the video below, we put club in hand and got back to a live ball scenario, where we started to see some nice improvements in contact and ball flight. This all stemmed from focusing on doing a better job with key postural muscles that control the shoulder blades and upper back, critical to developing the stability and feel for the arm-body connection. This led to making a better first move from an improved setup position, thus allowing the rest of the swing to work from an improved foundation.
If you would like to try out the featured drills using the GravityFit TPro, follow these simple steps
1 – Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow
2 – Stretch tall, feel green spikes in your middle/upper back and shoulder blades on the paddles
3 – Hinge forward into golf posture
4 – Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
5 – Keep the lower body quiet as you continue to turn and complete your backsing.
6 – Return the start position and repeat for 10 reps.
7 – Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. You can then go on to introduce a club and ball with the aim of transferring the new move to a full swing scenario.
Hopefully this drill, over time, will have a similar positive effect that it did for me during the lesson with Richard. The aim is to firstly establish great golf posture and then practise that connected takeaway movement detailed above. This should lead to a more complete backswing with good width and turn, which can facilitate a quality downswing move and strike
*Nick Randall is is a strength and conditioning coach, presenter, rehab expert and massage therapist contracted by PGA Tour Players including Cameron Smith. This article originally appeared on gravityfit.com
*Richard Woodhouse is Director of Instruction at KDV Sport on the Gold Coast. KDV Sport is a state of the art Golf and Tennis facility that offer facilities and instruction to suit every level of golfer, to find out more click here
For more on the featured GravityFit TPro, click here