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calcnation

Head position in swing

20 posts in this topic

I am having difficulty keeping my head still during the swing.  On video you can see my head move down towards the ball.  It appears its moving down at least 4-6 inches.  I am trying like heck to not do it but its still there on video.  Any tips? advice? I assume this problem is causing my inconsistency with ball striking etc.

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In all honesty I think keeping the head still is probably overrated in terms of ball striking.  Look at some swingvision video of Graeme McDowell.  Head goes way down on the downswing, and he is a great ball striker.  I think Sam Snead is another good example.

I read George Knudson's book a while back and he says "let the head go where it will go".  In other words it's OK if the head moves somewhat.  Actively trying to keep it still leads to tension and poor ball-striking.

I have had success by focusing on the setup.  Make sure you feel an opposing stretch - your feet are firmly planted in the ground and your shoulders feel like they are stretching upward, against the downward pressure.   If I work on keeping the upward tension in the arms and the proper setup/takeaway, I don't have to worry too much about what the head is doing.

I constantly play with guys who have terrible setup and takeaway, who yell at themselves "keep your head still!" after they top or fat a shot.  Their head is not the problem but for some reason they are convinced it is.

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I tend to hit a lot of shots fat and as I try to stop the head from dipping it seems like I minimize that miss.  Maybe its not related to the head and shoulders dipping.

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Originally Posted by stoverny

In all honesty I think keeping the head still is probably overrated in terms of ball striking.  Look at some swingvision video of Graeme McDowell.  Head goes way down on the downswing, and he is a great ball striker.  I think Sam Snead is another good example.

I read George Knudson's book a while back and he says "let the head go where it will go".  In other words it's OK if the head moves somewhat.  Actively trying to keep it still leads to tension and poor ball-striking.

I have had success by focusing on the setup.  Make sure you feel an opposing stretch - your feet are firmly planted in the ground and your shoulders feel like they are stretching upward, against the downward pressure.   If I work on keeping the upward tension in the arms and the proper setup/takeaway, I don't have to worry too much about what the head is doing.

I constantly play with guys who have terrible setup and takeaway, who yell at themselves "keep your head still!" after they top or fat a shot.  Their head is not the problem but for some reason they are convinced it is.

The moving of the head is the result of how the body is moving so sure it is not a problem with the head moving but the body in the wrong way.  Of course you should not actively think about keeping the head still, you just need to make a centered turn.    Some downward movement is ok, but side to side is generally bad.  I definitely don't think a steady head is overrated.  Almost all PGA tour players have a steady head.

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Originally Posted by cipher

The moving of the head is the result of how the body is moving so sure it is not a problem with the head moving but the body in the wrong way.  Of course you should not actively think about keeping the head still, you just need to make a centered turn.    Some downward movement is ok, but side to side is generally bad.  I definitely don't think a steady head is overrated.  Almost all PGA tour players have a steady head.

I agree, however the constant mantra of "keep your head still" and "stop lifting/dipping your head" is self-defeating to a lot of golfers I think.  They end up "trying" to keep the head rigidly in place, as if that is the key to ball-striking... and it ends up hurting more than it helps.

Agree that pros tend to have little side-to-side head motion, because they all have excellent rotational turns with no swaying.  Since they are rotating around a fixed point there is no reason for the head to move very much.  However as I mentioned quite a few do move the head downward as they come into impact.

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Originally Posted by stoverny

I agree, however the constant mantra of "keep your head still" and "stop lifting/dipping your head" is self-defeating to a lot of golfers I think.  They end up "trying" to keep the head rigidly in place, as if that is the key to ball-striking... and it ends up hurting more than it helps.

Agree that pros tend to have little side-to-side head motion, because they all have excellent rotational turns with no swaying.  Since they are rotating around a fixed point there is no reason for the head to move very much.  However as I mentioned quite a few do move the head downward as they come into impact.

Sure, and it is somewhat natural for the head to dip down if you are loading into your left leg on the way down.

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I disagree with stoverny's post.

The head serves several purposes in the golf swing.

  1. It's a reference point for what should or could be the center of rotation - a point roughly between the shoulders about which we can turn. If the head is moving around, most likely that point is moving around quite a bit as well.
  2. The head houses the eyes (in everyone I've ever seen, anyway). If the eyes are constantly being forced to recalculate the distance to the golf ball, etc. then that introduces the possibility of error. Golf is difficult enough with a stationary ball - why anyone would want to effectively create a "moving" golf ball is beyond me.
  3. Various other reasons I won't get into now...

Key #1 in 5 Simple Keys® is "Steady Head." It's specific more to the "to and fro" motion of the head, with the greatest degree of freedom allowed in the downward direction.

Dave and I will hit balls trying to compress like Tiger, and we both carry the ball 270 or more (Dave is the "more" :D), but when we do that we stick the club in the ground six inches behind it. We don't have Tiger's speed at getting back UP like he does, just like Dave will never jump as high as Michael Jordan (even if you strap a small child to MJ's back).

So a little head movement downward is fine, but it's rare to find a player who can employ a lot and get away with it.

Something is causing your head to go down. Just thinking "keep your head still" will not work - you need to find the root cause, not the effect.

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Originally Posted by iacas

I disagree with stoverny's post.

The head serves several purposes in the golf swing.

It's a reference point for what should or could be the center of rotation - a point roughly between the shoulders about which we can turn. If the head is moving around, most likely that point is moving around quite a bit as well.

The head houses the eyes (in everyone I've ever seen, anyway). If the eyes are constantly being forced to recalculate the distance to the golf ball, etc. then that introduces the possibility of error. Golf is difficult enough with a stationary ball - why anyone would want to effectively create a "moving" golf ball is beyond me.

Various other reasons I won't get into now...

Key #1 in 5 Simple Keys® is "Steady Head." It's specific more to the "to and fro" motion of the head, with the greatest degree of freedom allowed in the downward direction.

Dave and I will hit balls trying to compress like Tiger, and we both carry the ball 270 or more (Dave is the "more" :D), but when we do that we stick the club in the ground six inches behind it. We don't have Tiger's speed at getting back UP like he does, just like Dave will never jump as high as Michael Jordan (even if you strap a small child to MJ's back).

So a little head movement downward is fine, but it's rare to find a player who can employ a lot and get away with it.

Something is causing your head to go down. Just thinking "keep your head still" will not work - you need to find the root cause, not the effect.

can I post or send you a video of a swing for comment?

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Originally Posted by calcnation

can I post or send you a video of a swing for comment?

You already have a "My Swing" thread right?

http://thesandtrap.com/t/64441/my-swing-calcnation

That's not a lot of head movement downward (first video on the page).

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I just posted a new one on there from yesterday.

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Well Knudson in his book spends about 2 full pages debunking the "keep the head still" myth (his words). His conviction is that golf is not a hand-eye game and therefore the idea that the eyes might move is irrelevant. He is more concerned with a smooth, free-flowing swing, and he argues that the "keep the head still" instruction ruins this. Book is quite old so maybe his theories don't fit with modern instruction.
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Originally Posted by stoverny

Well Knudson in his book spends about 2 full pages debunking the "keep the head still" myth (his words). His conviction is that golf is not a hand-eye game and therefore the idea that the eyes might move is irrelevant. He is more concerned with a smooth, free-flowing swing, and he argues that the "keep the head still" instruction ruins this.

Book is quite old so maybe his theories don't fit with modern instruction.

Ah...does he also suggest putting a blindfold on and trying to swing the club...

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Originally Posted by cipher

Ah...does he also suggest putting a blindfold on and trying to swing the club...

Ha funny you say that because he actually does use the example of blind players who are still able to hit the ball well in his book... he calls golf a "target game" rather than a "hand-eye game".  In that sense it is more like darts or archery.  Again these are Knudson's examples, not saying he is right or wrong but certainly food for thought.  He certainly had a great swing, can't argue with that.

Again his overall theme is that the swing should be natural and not mechanical (hence the name of his book "The Natural Golf Swing").  That is why he spends a lot of time advising against mechanical swing thoughts such as "keep the head still", "keep the left arm straight", etc.  He feels these thoughts only lead to trying to manipulate things and a loss of natural rhythm.  He was pretty much against most swing thoughts in general.  My sense is that he is correct in a broad sense, but it was easy for him to say since he already had a wonderful, natural swing.  Some people not so talented do need some checkpoints to keep them on the right path.

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Originally Posted by stoverny

Ha funny you say that because he actually does use the example of blind players who are still able to hit the ball well in his book... he calls golf a "target game" rather than a "hand-eye game".  In that sense it is more like darts or archery.  Again these are Knudson's examples, not saying he is right or wrong but certainly food for thought.  He certainly had a great swing, can't argue with that.

Again his overall theme is that the swing should be natural and not mechanical (hence the name of his book "The Natural Golf Swing").  That is why he spends a lot of time advising against mechanical swing thoughts such as "keep the head still", "keep the left arm straight", etc.  He feels these thoughts only lead to trying to manipulate things and a loss of natural rhythm.  He was pretty much against most swing thoughts in general.  My sense is that he is correct in a broad sense, but it was easy for him to say since he already had a wonderful, natural swing.  Some people not so talented do need some checkpoints to keep them on the right path.

Thanks for being a good sport.  I see what he is saying in some sense, a good swing can become part of the subconscious and at that point all you hypothetically have left is your targets.   The problem is that 99% of us are not there.  The dart example is bad in my opinion.  You are holding the projectile in your hands, in archery, which I have done a lot of you have a sight or you look down the shaft of the arrow in relation to your target.  A good instinctive archer will have the arrow become part of his subconscious but that take a long time.  Put a ball in your hand and of course you look at the target when you throw it, just like a dart.  That is not the case in golf.  He would have been better off comparing it to a field goal kicker who is looking at the ball when he kicks it and not at the target.  It sounds to me that a lot of what he said was more for shock effect.  I think your last sentence is the key.

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Originally Posted by iacas

The head serves several purposes in the golf swing.

It's a reference point for what should or could be the center of rotation - a point roughly between the shoulders about which we can turn. If the head is moving around, most likely that point is moving around quite a bit as well.

The head houses the eyes (in everyone I've ever seen, anyway). If the eyes are constantly being forced to recalculate the distance to the golf ball, etc. then that introduces the possibility of error. Golf is difficult enough with a stationary ball - why anyone would want to effectively create a "moving" golf ball is beyond me.

Various other reasons I won't get into now...

This, along with weight forward are my only constant swing thoughts. I use my eyes to keep my head steady throughout the swing. If the ball moves in my frame of vision, I know I'm moving my head (and consequently my COG and axis of rotation). I never use "keep my head still" as a swing thought.

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Originally Posted by stoverny

Ha funny you say that because he actually does use the example of blind players who are still able to hit the ball well in his book... he calls golf a "target game" rather than a "hand-eye game".  In that sense it is more like darts or archery.  Again these are Knudson's examples, not saying he is right or wrong but certainly food for thought.  He certainly had a great swing, can't argue with that.

Blindfold anyone and they're instantly going to be worse, across the board. Our eyes are helpful. Even more helpful if they're allowed to remain relatively steady throughout the motion.


Originally Posted by stoverny

That is why he spends a lot of time advising against mechanical swing thoughts such as "keep the head still", "keep the left arm straight", etc.

We don't teach that way either.

Every golfer is a "feel" golfer, but at the end of the day, every golfer HAS mechanics, too.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Blindfold anyone and they're instantly going to be worse, across the board. Our eyes are helpful. Even more helpful if they're allowed to remain relatively steady throughout the motion.

We don't teach that way either.

Every golfer is a "feel" golfer, but at the end of the day, every golfer HAS mechanics, too.

Yeah Knudson was big on feel probably to the over-exclusion of mechanics, at least for beginners who need a solid foundation.

As for the eyes an interesting fact is that one of his favorite drills was a closed-eye drill.  I do it at the range and it really is a helpful drill for feeling your swing in a different way.  Once positioned over the ball properly can hit the ball quite well with both eyes closed.  Takes some getting used to though!

He even says in his book that he once played an entire round closing his eyes before every shot, and shot a 68. Then again I wouldn't try that myself on the course!

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Originally Posted by stoverny

As for the eyes an interesting fact is that one of his favorite drills was a closed-eye drill.  I do it at the range and it really is a helpful drill for feeling your swing in a different way.  Once positioned over the ball properly can hit the ball quite well with both eyes closed.  Takes some getting used to though!

That's kind of beside the point… Again, the eyes are powerful, and moving them around causes problems. You have to find the balance between having a "free" swing and having a "functional" swing, with a lot more importance on the latter since you can be as "free" as you want but if you can't strike the ball solidly, you're gonna suck.

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