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Are the arms truly passive in the swing or are they trained well enough that it just seems that way?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I've been working on my swing quite a bit lately with video work and reading up on techniques (I've been mostly looking at Hogan stuff, but I know there's a ton of other great stuff out there...).  I've always been one of those that bought into the idea that "the arms are along for the ride" idea.  After a month of work, however, I think that may be a huge misconception and wanted everyone's thoughts on it...

 

While I thought my arms were simply "along for the ride", video clearly showed that my right elbow (I'm a righty) was fully extended and my right wrist didn't maintain it's angle at impact.  I now am trying to get my right elbow to lead my hands on the downswing and utilize my left elbow rotation to square the clubface.  Because there's snow on the ground here, I haven't been able to hit golf balls outside, but my PW in the garage has me swinging at an average of 73 mph while I used to average 64 mph. 

 

I've always had the swing thought of just getting my hips rotating quickly to trigger the downswing, but that obviously didn't prevent me from releasing my lag WAY too early.  I now feel that I need to "train" my arms to maintain the proper angles through the hitting zone.  If I just let them "go along for the ride", it's not a great result....  On another note, having the left knee bow toward the target line to start the downswing has also seemed to do wonders...

 

Sorry for the technical details, but I've been reading and trying a bunch of stuff lately.

post #2 of 24

Some people feel that the arms aren't doing anything.

 

Others very much feel that they have to swing their arms actively.

 

The arms ARE doing something in every swing. In no good swing ever made have they just been "along for the ride" or passive.

post #3 of 24
I used to swing with my arms "passive" as well. My primary thought at the top was to bump my hips towards the target and let everything else freewheel its way through. The result at impact was awful: my hips were almost facing the target and my hands way behind my body, causing me to have to turn my hands down to make contact with the ball. You could probably imagine what happened when I didn't time that move right.

Now at the top I think "swing down" with my arms. I think in reality its the muscles in my torso that do the primary movement but the feel of swinging my my arms gets me closer to where I should be at impact.
post #4 of 24

I don't think that the arms are passive either and it depends on your level of strength whether or not you will have to actually acknowledge any given muscle during the swing.  I remember when I hurt my wrists and my strength and physical conditioning were bad.  I had to really think about my grip to maintain enough grip pressure to keep the clubface from spinning wide open at impact. 

 

My body was so out of shape that I felt like I had to manufacture clubhead speed.  I don't have any of those problems anymore and so my swing feels very passive because I don't have to acknowledge any muscle groups during my swing and can just let it happen.  To me it feels passive because each muscle is giving minimal effort to perform the shot I am looking to pull off. 

 

IMO "effortless power" is B.S. !!  It just means that your muscle groups are stronger far and above what you are looking to use.

post #5 of 24

I've talked to several pros about this relating to both the takeaway and followthrough. General view seems to be that if the arms dominate, you'll lose power and sometimes have direction problems.

 

Hank Haney gives an interesting view on this: The arms should not keep turning on the takeaway once the shoulders stop turning. This assumes a smooth turn on your spinal axis.

http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2013-01/hank-haney-4-keys-to-shoot-in-the-80s

This goes along with advice to me via about everyone I've taken lessons from: don't overswing!

 

For downswing, the question revolves around whether the hand drop or the hip drive / turn should initiate the downswing.  With a hand-drop trigger, I tend to have at best a "two lever" swing and don't get much lower body into the swing.

 

With a hip turn trigger, (not same as lateral hip drive), I get a smoother swing and more power, closer to a "three lever" swing. (I'm improving, but as my HDCP shows, I'm not completely there yet).

 

The hip turn starts it, but I need to swing arms through to get the most out of my efforts. I feel like I'm getting a 3/4 swing when I turn properly to top, but I have much better balance and power on downswing.

 

On the hip turn trigger, if I just let it happen, the hands fire automatically on the downswing. I get OK lag as a by-product.

post #6 of 24

Well the downswing is anywere from 0.2-0.5 seconds, average human reaction time is 0.21 seconds. So depending on your swing speed and were your at in the downswing, the arms are going to be going were the swing dictates there going, and you have no reaction time to change that :p 

 

But for me, i like to concentrate on my body. I get in trouble concentrating on my arms, because then i throw them at the ball and really get a steep angle of attack and all bad things happen. When i just get my center turned, the whole thing really turns out better. 

post #7 of 24

Arms are everything........in some swings. Just try this: Consider the most powerful blow you could deliver with the back of your lead hand. Try hitting a punching bag with the back of your hand as you would in a golf swing, holding your arm rigid and pivoting around your spine, as you would in a conventional golf swing..... then compare that blow to folding your arm at the elbow, turning your shoulders a little then "bitch slap" the punching bag with the back of your lead hand by using your lead arm triceps. Ouch!!, 

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by logman View Post

Try hitting a punching bag with the back of your hand as you would in a golf swing, holding your arm rigid and pivoting around your spine, as you would in a conventional golf swing..... then compare that blow to folding your arm at the elbow, turning your shoulders a little then "bitch slap" the punching bag with the back of your lead hand by using your lead arm triceps. Ouch!!, 

 

One post on this and then back on topic, because you can't seem to resist trying to take digs at the "conventional" swing...

 

If you were building a swing purely for power you'd add the lever of bending the lead arm in the golf swing, absolutely. And some players bend the lead arm a little bit in the golf swing now at the PGA Tour level. But the tradeoff is that the radius changes and contact becomes more of an issue. That's why you'll see more long drivers bending the lead arm than PGA Tour golfers - they practice one swing with a ball on the tee, so they can get the timing down better.

 

The vast majority of people should not bend the lead arm much because the tradeoff negatively affects their contact WAY more than it helps them add a lever and add speed.

 

But again, that's OT, and NOT what the topic is about. EVERY golf swing uses the arms (the first and fourth accumulators if you want to look at those), whether they feel like they are using them or not (i.e. they're not "kept rigid" - the lead arm still loads across the chest, the triceps are still used, etc.).

post #9 of 24

My 2 cents, free.  From my experience i have found that if i use my arms and shoulders as club controllers the result is bad. If i use the arms/shoulders as rotaters in a wider arc and use the hands only to grip the swinging club ball, direction and distance much better.  I call, in  my head, the using of my arms to direct the club head or my shoulders to develop distance 'steerage', as in steering the clubhead. Using the muscles of the forearms esp is disaster. Sure the upper body moves and the hands hold on but not more than this. Tension or stiffness in the upper body cannot help so let loose and fly around a stable core. 

post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by joekelly View Post

My 2 cents, free.  From my experience i have found that if i use my arms and shoulders as club controllers the result is bad. If i use the arms/shoulders as rotaters in a wider arc and use the hands only to grip the swinging club ball, direction and distance much better.  I call, in  my head, the using of my arms to direct the club head or my shoulders to develop distance 'steerage', as in steering the clubhead. Using the muscles of the forearms esp is disaster. Sure the upper body moves and the hands hold on but not more than this.

 

That's your feel. Others have a different feel... Others feel they have to use their arms, get their lead arm across their chest or straighten their trail arm more actively.

 

The only answer to this question is "no swing has passive arms, but some will feel passive to their owner."

post #11 of 24

It appears that "passive" is a relative term.

 

They are clearly doing a deliberate motion.  I'm just not flexing my biceps like I'm lifting weights...

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Effington View Post

It appears that "passive" is a relative term.

 

They are clearly doing a deliberate motion.  I'm just not flexing my biceps like I'm lifting weights...

It's the triceps that are doin the work. For your arm to be straight the triceps must contract.  Now how aware you are of this contraction may make the arms feel more or less passive but the minimal amount needed is the same for any given club.  Someone that has very weak triceps might feel like they are indeed lifting weights.  It's all relative to how much force above what is needed you are able to provide that will make it feel "passive." 

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Righty to Lefty View Post

It's the triceps that are doin the work. For your arm to be straight the triceps must contract.  Now how aware you are of this contraction may make the arms feel more or less passive but the minimal amount needed is the same for any given club.  Someone that has very weak triceps might feel like they are indeed lifting weights.  It's all relative to how much force above what is needed you are able to provide that will make it feel "passive." 

 

Your lead arm is also rotating and moving across your chest, so more than the triceps are doing work.

 

Also, I don't think it has to do with strength. We've had to teach players who spin to use their arms more and they've had some ripped muscles and huge arms.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

Your lead arm is also rotating and moving across your chest, so more than the triceps are doing work.

 

Also, I don't think it has to do with strength. We've had to teach players who spin to use their arms more and they've had some ripped muscles and huge arms.

I was just making a general statement in regards to his "bicep curls" statement.  Of course there are many more muscles at work than just the triceps and of course just because you have big muscles doesn't mean that you are going to generate more speed, just as flexibilty doesn't either. Surely there is a level of strength in the equation because we are moving a weight and there are going to be muscle groups needed to maintain balance provide force and speed.  It might not be as much as would be required to power clean 300 lbs but it is still and athletic movement and requires strength to execute.  

post #15 of 24

One can play great golf with body dominant and the arms passive, i.e. Paul Azinger of old when was being coached by John Redman, or arms active and body reactive/supportive, i.e. Davis Love and those coached by late Jim Flick and Bob Toski.


In general observation, those body swings will have "relatively flat or flat-ish" swing with the bit of weight forward, where as arm swingers can and does have upright swings, as per Jim Hardy.
 

I wonder what will be the answer of the long driver champions when it comes to their swings and their power and speed generators?

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fearlessgolfer View Post

One can play great golf with body dominant and the arms passive, i.e. Paul Azinger of old when was being coached by John Redman, or arms active and body reactive/supportive, i.e. Davis Love and those coached by late Jim Flick and Bob Toski.

 

You must have a different definition of "passive" than I do. The muscles in the arms are still doing almost exactly the same kind and amount of work in almost all good golfers. Some may feel like their arms aren't doing much, others feel like it's a big arm dominated motion.


For the continued discussion can you define "passive" as it relates to this topic?

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

You must have a different definition of "passive" than I do. The muscles in the arms are still doing almost exactly the same kind and amount of work in almost all good golfers. Some may feel like their arms aren't doing much, others feel like it's a big arm dominated motion.


For the continued discussion can you define "passive" as it relates to this topic?


Passive to me, means that when body is the leader and the hand and arm follows, where as active arm swing, body reacts to hand/arm motion. Dog waggles the tail image worked well for me when I was a body swingers/turner. When my shot pattern became bigger fade/slice, I ended up seeing McLean which agreed that too much body can be a very bad thing and gave me "L-to-L" drill. From there ended up seeing Bender who is also CF arm teacher. Transition wasn't fun at all.

post #18 of 24
Iacas is right as to you can have two different golfers swinging the same way and one will feel his arms are passive and the other feeling they're dominant. I remember reading an article a while back about the top 50 golfers of all time and it included some thoughts on their swings. It was a bunch of contradictions. I think it was Sam Snead who said the swing is made with the left side of the body and then Ben Hogan says he wishes he had 3 right arms or hands.

I'm reading a book, "The Science of Golf" and it breaks down the swing as far as supplying power. The wrists provide 10%, the arms and wrists 20%, and the arms, wrists and upper body 40% with the remaining 60% coming from the lower body. It even quotes Jack Nicklaus as saying you hit the ball with the lower body. I would say that's correct. But then again, you have a small guy like Bob Toski who could hit 250 yard drives from his knees in which he's not using his lower body at all.

Golf is so confusing and humbling.

The arms are definitely active in the swing, no matter that some people might "feel" otherwise. The most important thing is having your different parts of the body firing in the correct order, starting from the bottom up. If someone is thinking to make his arms more active he might start down with his arms too soon. firing out of sequence, and that's a recipe for disaster.

The feeling that I get is the lower body starts the downswing, the arms "feel" limp, the first 4-6 inches my arms drop from gravity and then the muscles take over more and more as you feel like you're pulling down on a rope.
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