mvmac

To Move or Not Move the Head in the Golf Swing

53 posts in this topic

Here is the blog, Keeping Your Head Still

Wanted to share this blog written by instructor Dana Dahlquist where he takes a look at the following questions:

1. What benefit does having a little or no movement in the head develop?
2. What benefit does moving the head create
3. Is this an actual measurable part of the body?

What's great about what Dana wrote and the information that is shared on this site, is that it gives YOU the golfer, the ability to make informed decisions.  Yes, you can move your head a foot off the ball but there is a good chance that would make hitting the ball consistently solid much harder than if the golfer only allowed for little or zero translation of the head.  It's important to point out that virtually nobody on the PGA Tour is working on moving their head more on the back swing, just isn't happening and that is telling.

Obviously I like this kind of thinking because it reflects the research Dave Wedzik, Chuck Evans and Erik Barzeski have done with 3D motion analysis concerning how much the head moves for the top players in the world (If you haven't heard of the 5 Simple Keys® go HERE ).  T he average PGA Tour player moves his head one inch during his backswing, that's not very much and there are a lot of good reasons why they keep their head steady.  Dave and Chuck feel it's so important and can effect many other aspects of the swing, that it's Key #1.

Taking a look at some swings below we can see that the head will rotate and might even have some up and down, vertical, movement.  There may even be a tiny bit of horizontal movement, making the term steady that much more applicable when describing the movement of the head in an efficient golf swing.

Just want to say thanks to Dana for letting us share his blog and hope there's more to come

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Great vids. When I discovered weight forward, I found that the only way to really execute it was maintaining a still head, and now 15 yrs later those are still my only swing thoughts.

mvmac, my wife is a casual golfer, and she consistently moves her head laterally back during her backswing, and when I tell her this she doesn't feel that she did. I have done the Haney hold her head and the Foley put a club on the right side of her head on the range, but on the course she goes back to moving again. Any suggestions? I'm looking mainly for an on-course verbal thought I can give her.

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What I have found that works for me is keeping the ball in the same position in my visual field (easier for me since I use my glasses frames to "frame" the ball position).

If the ball moves in my field of view, I know I've moved my head.

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Originally Posted by Bobtrumpet

If the ball moves in my field of view, I know I've moved my head.

You can move your head and still keep the ball in what would appear to be the same frame of reference.

Originally Posted by dak4n6

mvmac, my wife is a casual golfer, and she consistently moves her head laterally back during her backswing, and when I tell her this she doesn't feel that she did. I have done the Haney hold her head and the Foley put a club on the right side of her head on the range, but on the course she goes back to moving again. Any suggestions? I'm looking mainly for an on-course verbal thought I can give her.

If her head moves back, tell her to make it move six inches forward on her backswing. Or a foot. Whatever works to get it to remain pretty stable.

Beyond that just figure out whether she needs to "stretch" or "bend" more at the appropriate time in the backswing.

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Originally Posted by iacas

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobtrumpet

If the ball moves in my field of view, I know I've moved my head.

You can move your head and still keep the ball in what would appear to be the same frame of reference.

True, although my problem tends to be side to side and not front to back movement. At any rate, it works for me.

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Originally Posted by dak4n6

mvmac, my wife is a casual golfer, and she consistently moves her head laterally back during her backswing, and when I tell her this she doesn't feel that she did. I have done the Haney hold her head and the Foley put a club on the right side of her head on the range, but on the course she goes back to moving again. Any suggestions? I'm looking mainly for an on-course verbal thought I can give her.

Quote:

Originally Posted by iacas

If her head moves back, tell her to make it move six inches forward on her backswing. Or a foot. Whatever works to get it to remain pretty stable.

Beyond that just figure out whether she needs to "stretch" or "bend" more at the appropriate time in the backswing.

Yep, stretching the right side or getting the left shoulder to go down longer (bend) are great.  I'll just add that when you have the shaft up against her head, ask her what she feels to keep it there.  Then use her words to keep reminding her to do it.  Also doing some practice swings at home, head against a door jam is useful.

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When I've had swing problems caused by head position, the video clips generally show my head is bobbing up and down.

A little lateral movement  on backswing, or on followthrough, seems to come with a fluid swing.  In fact, some pros caution against "choking off" the downswing by restricting head movement on followthrough.

I guess it depends on what you can repeat and control on  a regular basis, how much coordination you have.

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Here's a little basic science, for what it's worth...

During a golf swing, hundreds - thousands - of things happen. And of course we can't control (think about) most of them. But its not a problem, because humans have fantastic 'implicit' (subconscious) control systems that do it for us. When we perform a skill, our bodies make hundreds of complicated movements and adjustments which all work together to achieve the aim - e.g. hitting the ball. We hammer a nail (an equally complex movement) without any thought of head movement. Our problem is, when we think about one position or movement (e.g. the head) within this complex system, we effectively 'fix' that bit - so our wonderful, self-adjusting control system is disrupted. It no longer has the freedom of movement to coordinate and self-adjust. And the more such details we think about, the worse the disruption gets...

In all skill-based striking sports, a variable swing is the best swing because the variability is actually our control system doing it's job - adapting and adjusting.

Sure, our heads might move or they might not not - but it's not a concern because it's just adapting to everything else that's going on.

Isolating one thing in a good player's swing and measuring it (because we can) actually tells us very little about the full package of movements.

Better to think about more 'global' things...

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Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ

We hammer a nail (an equally complex movement)

I disagree that hammering a nail is an equally complex movement to hitting a golf ball. Perhaps it's equally as complex as stroking a putt, but hitting a golf ball? No way.

Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ

In all skill-based striking sports, a variable swing is the best swing because the variability is actually our control system doing it's job - adapting and adjusting.

Sure, our heads might move or they might not not - but it's not a concern because it's just adapting to everything else that's going on.

Isolating one thing in a good player's swing and measuring it (because we can) actually tells us very little about the full package of movements.

Better to think about more 'global' things...

We disagree, and feel we have plenty of evidence to back up our claims.

Golfers get better when they don't have to adjust their visual calculations and when their "swing center" (term used loosely) remains in the same spot, it's easier to control the arc on which they're swinging their hands and, ultimately, the clubhead.

Simple terms: the more a player moves his head, the more likely he is to suck.

You say "variability" and all I hear as a golf instructor is "compensations."

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iacas - no problem....

We actually agree about the mechanics - a stable hub/head is important for a rotary action and a wandering head will ruin it.

My point was not about what to do but on how to do it - the skill-learning parameters that we can build on top of the biomechanics. A thought to 'keep the head still' can disrupt coordination. Thoughts such as 'turn in a barrel' can have a similar result and because it addresses a bigger 'package' of movements promotes other good things as well.

Glad you mentioned compensation.... At one time variability (compensation) was thought of as wrong and needed to be eradicated. Now we know a bit of it is actually essential for any high level skill. (emphasis is on 'a bit of it'....)

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Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ

We actually agree about the mechanics - a stable hub/head is important for a rotary action and a wandering head will ruin it.

My point was not about what to do but on how to do it - the skill-learning parameters that we can build on top of the biomechanics. A thought to 'keep the head still' can disrupt coordination. Thoughts such as 'turn in a barrel' can have a similar result and because it addresses a bigger 'package' of movements promotes other good things as well.

Correct which is why I wanted to clarify this in the initial post.


Originally Posted by mvmac

There may even be a tiny bit of horizontal movement, making the term steady that much more applicable when describing the movement of the head in an efficient golf swing.

Originally Posted by iacas

Golfers get better when they don't have to adjust their visual calculations and when their "swing center" (term used loosely) remains in the same spot, it's easier to control the arc on which they're swinging their hands and, ultimately, the clubhead.

Simple terms: the more a player moves his head, the more likely he is to suck.

Made me think of this drill and appropriate for the thread

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Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ

We actually agree about the mechanics - a stable hub/head is important for a rotary action and a wandering head will ruin it.

My point was not about what to do but on how to do it - the skill-learning parameters that we can build on top of the biomechanics. A thought to 'keep the head still' can disrupt coordination. Thoughts such as 'turn in a barrel' can have a similar result and because it addresses a bigger 'package' of movements promotes other good things as well.

Glad you mentioned compensation.... At one time variability (compensation) was thought of as wrong and needed to be eradicated. Now we know a bit of it is actually essential for any high level skill. (emphasis is on 'a bit of it'....)

We don't do that. Never have. We understand why the head moves the way it does at what point in the swing and what the golfer must do to counter-act that. People whose heads move say they don't and vice versa. We've had some people feel like they move their head down and forward eighteen inches in order to keep it relatively steady. When asked they'll say it moved forward a foot.

We haven't ever taught a single person to keep their head from moving around by saying "keep your head still."

Beyond that, Mike covers it. :)

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Originally Posted by iacas

If her head moves back, tell her to make it move six inches forward on her backswing. Or a foot. Whatever works to get it to remain pretty stable.

Beyond that just figure out whether she needs to "stretch" or "bend" more at the appropriate time in the backswing.

Originally Posted by mvmac

Yep, stretching the right side or getting the left shoulder to go down longer (bend) are great.  I'll just add that when you have the shaft up against her head, ask her what she feels to keep it there.  Then use her words to keep reminding her to do it.  Also doing some practice swings at home, head against a door jam is useful.

Good ideas. Thanks guys.

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In order to keep the head steady you have to consider what the head is attached to.  You cant just say, "keep the head in one place". You have to keep your hips and shoulders maintained on the same lateral plane as they turn and the weight is shifted to the instep of the back foot.  by keeping your hips level and pivoting and maintaining the spine angle the head as a result will remain steady.

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Originally Posted by theworldengine

In order to keep the head steady you have to consider what the head is attached to.  You cant just say, "keep the head in one place". You have to keep your hips and shoulders maintained on the same lateral plane as they turn and the weight is shifted to the instep of the back foot.  by keeping your hips level and pivoting and maintaining the spine angle the head as a result will remain steady.

What are the hips staying level to?  Better not be the ground

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I have experimented with this in a mirror. If you let your hips sag toward your back foot it will cause the head to drop, its amplified if the spine angle closes as well.
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Originally Posted by theworldengine

I have experimented with this in a mirror. If you let your hips sag toward your back foot it will cause the head to drop, its amplified if the spine angle closes as well.

The point Mike is making is that your hips aren't level at setup nor should they turn level to the ground.

I don't know what a "sagging" hip is, but will note that your lead hip will in fact go down, in, and back.

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Harvey Pennick always maintained that the HEAD did move in the golf swing. Just laterally never up or down.

Nicklaus always imagined a stake through his head down his body and he tried to 'swing around it", thereby keeping his head fairly steady.

Trevino said the "head" stayed behind the ball throughout the swing......never forward of it.

I think trying to keep the head completely still is tough to do.

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