One of my favorite teaching aides to teach proper shaft lean at impact is the Tour Striker Educator. Watch this video to see how to use this teaching aide to learn proper shaft lean.

 

 

One of the charms of golf is that you are trying to swing the club in a circle and hit the ball on a straight line. This is a best case scenario. Many times players come to me with swings that are inefficient because the radius of their swing circle does not stay constant. This problem is easy to spot because it looks like the left arm is bent and the club shaft is too close to the body at the top of the backswing. The result is that the downswing must compensate for the lack of swing radius on the backswing. The compensations include casting from the top, the weight staying on the right foot and scooping through impact. I call this type of motion a “puller inner-thrower outer.” See the video below for a full explanation

 

Most players visit me on the lesson tee to improve their distance, hit the ball straighter or make better contact. Improving distance is by far the most popular reason I get to meet so many golfers.

Improving distance is a product of increasing club head speed along with making better contact. I am going to share a simple drill that will help you create more speed on a consistent basis.

It has been my experience that many golfers focus too much on hitting the ball rather than swinging the club. This normally induces tension in both the grip and the arms. This results in less rather than more speed through the ball.
It is much better to focus on the club rather than the ball in trying to improve distance. This month’s video shows you a simple drill so you can stay focused on the club as you develop more club speed. It will show you how to start the body first, lag the club behind the hands and release the club through the ball. Best of all, you will be able to hear how fast you are swinging.

How To Have A Strong Mental Game

One of the most important assets that a fine golfer can possess is having a strong mental game. Golfers come face to face with adversity in every round they play. Having a strong mental game is what separates players in their ability to deal with adversity and maximize their score.

Many books have been written on how to improve your mental game. In this newsletter, I will discuss what I consider to be the biggest enigma in golf.  I am also going to give you one of my favorite tools for developing good mental habits. These mental habits are just as important to practice as your swing habits on the range.

 

One of the most interesting things about golf to me is that most players are focused too often on both where their ball goes and their score during a round of golf. This normally results in their mental attitude being shaped by performance. The problem with this dynamic is that the player gives up control of his thoughts and emotions during a round of golf. This leads to widely varying results.

One paradigm that is important to realize is that golfers have control over one thing on the course – namely, what happens up until the ball is hit with the club. This includes the mental keys, the swing keys, the shot selection, swing selection and the rest of the preshot routine. After that, the golfer becomes a spectator along with everyone else.

The enigma to me is that many players focus on what they cannot control rather than what they can control. Players cannot control where the ball goes but they can control everything that happens up until the ball is struck.

Allowing performance to dictate thoughts and emotions is an easy trap to fall into. I believe it takes a certain mental toughness to stay focused on controlling your thoughts on the course in the face of differing results.

One of my favorite tools for making sure that I maintain discipline on the course for a strong mental game is a simple card. I have seven of my favorite thoughts written on the card. Here are two examples:

 

“I focus on process and detach emotionally from results.”

“I always have good self talk on the course.”

The most important thing I do with this card is to pick two of the seven thoughts BEFORE I hit a single shot on the range before the round.  This way I am controlling my thoughts from the start rather than allowing the ball flight to control my thoughts. I also make sure I focus on these two thoughts for the entire day.
As I mentioned before, it takes a certain mental toughness to use this approach. Most PGA Tour players give credit to focusing much more on the process rather than the outcome to help them shoot their lowest scores. I hope this benefits you also.

 

Proper Alignment for Better Shots

Professionals are meticulous about their alignment at address. It is quite common to see them working with their caddies and alignment aids both before and after rounds. One of the main reasons for this is that it is easy to line up incorrectly and this is often the cause of poor swing habits.

In this video I will show you the proper steps to insure that your alignment is correct. I will also show you how to set up to hit a straight shot as well as for a fade and draw. There needs to be a different set up for all three shots.

Remember that the only way to hit a good shot from a poor alignment is to make a bad swing. So, line up correctly so you have to make a good swing to hit a good shot and you will be promoting good swings on the course rather than poor ones. Professionals are meticulous about their alignment at address. It is quite common

Use Dry Swings for Swing Changes

It has been my experience with many players that their practice swing and their real swing often look different. Some students are completely surprised by how different their swings look on video. The reason for this difference is that when striking the ball there is a hit impulse. This occurs when the player is actually trying to put the club head on the ball. In contrast, a swing impulse occurs when making practice swings with no ball. This occurs because the player focuses on the swing and not the ball. Many players improve when they can replace their hit impulse with a swing impulse. The swing often becomes much smoother and more full.

 

One of the techniques that quite a few tour professionals use is to make dry swings. These are swings that are made without striking the ball. Five to ten minute blocks of time are part of a daily or weekly regimen that is followed. The primary benefit of making dry swings is that it requires you to focus on the swing rather than striking the ball.  It may seem somewhat monotonous at first but it will give you a much clearer feel of what you are trying to accomplish in the swing. You will get much more in touch with your swing impulse and get away from your hit impulse. Once this is accomplished, you strive to use that same swing impulse as you are striking the ball.   

 

This video shows an example of using dry swings to improve your backswing. You will see how following this regimen will help you create more body awareness during your swing. 

Conquering the Over the Top Move

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Athletic Development for the Youth Golfer

In today’s culture of youth sports, athletic specialization is becoming the norm and the days of the three sport youth athlete are almost extinct. Golf or whatever your child’s sport of choice is, it is so important that they stay “athletically well-rounded” to reach their full potential. Early specialization of one sport can stunt long term athletic development. Many parents think that early specialization of golf or another sport may be putting their child ahead of the competition, but the consequences of early specialization can have a profound negative effect on athletic development. These consequences could be physical imbalances, overuse injuries, poor fundamental movement, and most commonly, the burnout effect.golfer

The mind set of youth sport needs to shift from making your kid the next Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam, to allowing your child to develop into a solid, well-rounded athlete. The former cannot happen without the ladder. The science behind long term athletic development is complex from both a physiological and neurological stand point. Simply put, a young athlete must develop fundamental movement skills before they can begin to master their fundamental sport skills. Examples of fundamental movement skills are agility, speed, coordination, balance, object control skills, and awareness. If these crucial athletic features are bypassed, the potential of the developing athlete will become limited.

So please, allow your developing child to become a well rounded athlete. Encourage them to play a collection of sports that involve swinging, kicking, throwing, swimming, running, and catching. If they are meant to be a professional golfer, football, basketball, or baseball player, they will already have had the built-in intangibles necessary to rise to the cream of the crop. Those intangibles are there at birth and will develop along with your child’s love of their sport.

For any questions about long term athletic development strategies and programs, please contact me, Jason Rivkin, directly at [email protected].

Jason Rivkin, ATC

Swing Aids for a Strong Pivot

Many golfers tend to overuse their hands and arms in the golf swing. Overusing the hands and arms requires great timing to have a repetitively good impact. It is my opinion that it is a great asset to have your lower body pivot control and steady your downswing. It makes the swing much easier to time. A good lower body pivot also creates a much more efficient transfer of energy from the club to the golf ball during the swing.  

 

This video shows two swing aids that will help you develop a strong lower body pivot. These two swing aids are the swing fan and the impact bag. They have been used by golfers for a long time and with good reason.

You Can Not Shoot a Cannon from a Canoe

There is an old saying that you can not shoot a cannon from a canoe. The reason is that if you do so the cannon exerts a downward force when it is fired and blows a hole through the canoe and it sinks. However, this downward force is exactly what you want to create when you start the downswing in your golf swing. It is created by feeling that you are actually sitting down. I tell my students to feel as though they are getting a grass stain on their fanny. The Scots call this movement “curtsying through the ball.

 

Biomechanics labs actually measure how many pounds per square inch a player is putting into the ground using force plate analysis. Longer hitters have been proven to put much more pressure into the ground on their downswing. In this video I will describe and show you how to use your hips and legs to create these ground reaction forces in your swing.

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