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Building a repeatable swing


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I spent a lot of time working on fixing a wild slice with my driver, my pro had me working on swing plane and hitting an exaggerated inside to out swing path, I am very consciously hitting out to the right of the ball with a strong grip, this fixed the slice and my driver became a favourite club, however! My irons went to hell - I simply couldn't hit them. I then started working on my irons (leaving the driver at home!) and had to shallow out the inside to out swing I had built with my driver drills, I am now working on creating a solid backswing that is well on plane and trying to avoid casting and early release. I am still working on it but my irons are getting better, but guess what? My driver has now gone to hell again. I know how to fix it, simply bang the range and work on an inside to out path again but I know if I do I wont be able to hit my irons again!

It seems that whenever I fix one thing another thing breaks, the reason seems to be that I am hitting hundreds of balls and building muscle memory to fix one problem with some suggested "fix" but they are work arounds for an isolated problem, it is shifting sands, if I hit an exaggerated inside to out path I shank and top my irons, if I fix it I cant drive. Am I not right in saying that I need one trainable, usable, repeatable swing? If so how in gods name do i get there! 

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Perhaps you're not working on the right fix…?

While it's possible that a change to the driver can be a little detrimental to the irons, it shouldn't be too big of a deal, and you shouldn't be constantly chasing your tail.

Do you have a video of your swing?

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This is exactly the kind of thing that drove me nuts until I found the 5 simple keys - here on this site.  There could be any number of things going on and, for me at least, trying to diagnose the results of my swing just drove me in circles.  Even though I never purchased the 5 keys material and my instructor doesn't teach them . .I can't emphasize enough how this way of thinking about my swing has helped me.  I described it to my instructor and he didn't seem overly impressed . which just goes to show that he might be awesome but not perfect, lol.  I think the 5 Keys way of thinking about a golf swing can totally make the difference for guys like me . .and I know I'm not the only one . .who drive themselves in circles trying to figure out . .why am I hitting it fat . .or thin . .or slicing  . .or too high, etc. 

The deal is - if you're doing these 5 things right . .you're going to be hitting pretty good shots.  All you need is a video camera and you're on your way to knowing why you suck at golf. 

 

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Just an FYI that might help. My grip for my metal woods is not the same as my grip I use with my irons. By that I mean my driver grip is a tad bit stronger than say my weaker 5i grip. It's not much of a difference, but it's enough that it  does work for me, and has for a long time. Years in fact. 

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Not an instructor and have my own swing issues, but in my experience anything exaggerated to fix a problem can't be a good thing.

John

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I think golf instruction is flawed, every lesson i have had (with a few pros) starts with "what do you want to learn" or "what is your current problem" - they then provide a fix and we work on it, with little regard for how that might impact our wider game. There should be a clear lesson plan, with homework and drills, a start, middle and end that covers the key aspects of the game, from iron play, driver and wedges with a separate putting and chipping aspect. Every player is different but I started this summer and had dumped over a £150 in lessons and more on instructional books, and the only place I found any sort of structure was in Ben Hogans book (which actually seems to be the foundation for nearly every lesson I have had so not much has changed) - there has to be a better way to teach.I would pay good money to have a solid coaching structure and someone to work with me over a set defined plan.

Edited by BristolGolf
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In my opinion, you should be able to use the same basic swing for every club in your bag.  Its important for you to find some middle ground between the driver "fix" and a swing that works with your irons.  I'm definitely not an instructor, but it seems that the severely inside-out path you describe using to make your driver work is simply too severe.  Exaggerating a motion can be a good first step towards making a change, but at some time you have to back away from the exaggeration.

On 10/30/2016 at 9:09 AM, BristolGolf said:

I am now working on creating a solid backswing that is well on plane and trying to avoid casting and early release. 

A solid backswing, on an appropriate plane, avoiding casting and an early release, those really should be part of every swing, including your driver.  As @iacas suggests, you can get some solid advice here by posting videos of your swing over in the Member Swings section.  Remember to read the Hidden Contents.

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If you're going back to Hogan's book, good luck!

There is so much more out there - hope it is available where you are located. Video programs, the internet, review of your swing via the internet - it takes effort, and you've shown it - golf is a lot of effort.

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8 hours ago, BristolGolf said:

I think golf instruction is flawed, every lesson i have had (with a few pros) starts with "what do you want to learn" or "what is your current problem" - they then provide a fix and we work on it, with little regard for how that might impact our wider game. There should be a clear lesson plan, with homework and drills, a start, middle and end that covers the key aspects of the game, from iron play, driver and wedges with a separate putting and chipping aspect. Every player is different but I started this summer and had dumped over a £150 in lessons and more on instructional books, and the only place I found any sort of structure was in Ben Hogans book (which actually seems to be the foundation for nearly every lesson I have had so not much has changed) - there has to be a better way to teach.I would pay good money to have a solid coaching structure and someone to work with me over a set defined plan.

I tend to agree with you. Positional instruction is manipulation and this business about building muscle memory is flawed because our brains have to actually re-compute every swing as if brand new. Wouldn't it be better to just have an external key on the clubface and concentrate on swinging it through the ball to a target (ensuring that your intended task is achievable) rather than be ball-bound?  Its really strange how much better we can all play when we swing to a target because our CNS (central nervous system) keeps us in balance and in rhythm automatically. Check out Shawn Clements You Tube videos (there are over 300  I think) because he saved me from giving up the game 5 years ago through pure frustration (and golf became a little more fun).

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19 minutes ago, DownAndOut said:

I tend to agree with you. Positional instruction is manipulation and this business about building muscle memory is flawed because our brains have to actually re-compute every swing as if brand new. Wouldn't it be better to just have an external key on the clubface and concentrate on swinging it through the ball to a target (ensuring that your intended task is achievable) rather than be ball-bound?  Its really strange how much better we can all play when we swing to a target because our CNS (central nervous system) keeps us in balance and in rhythm automatically. Check out Shawn Clements You Tube videos (there are over 300  I think) because he saved me from giving up the game 5 years ago through pure frustration (and golf became a little more fun).

Good points but that is a gross generalization.

Awareness of body and positions, tempo married with awareness of target is a three ring circus that must be internalized through prioritized work to whittle it down as much as possible. I see newbies who are exceptional athletes with great hand-eye co-ordination fall out/spin out all the time trying to send the ball to the target.

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11 hours ago, BristolGolf said:

I think golf instruction is flawed, every lesson i have had (with a few pros) starts with "what do you want to learn" or "what is your current problem" - they then provide a fix and we work on it, with little regard for how that might impact our wider game.

Sorry that's been your experience.

You'll get no argument from me that golf instruction in this world is sorely lacking and, well, bad.

But… I ask students what they want to work on, but that doesn't mean I don't ask them more questions, use my own observations, their history, their age, and a hundred other things to decide what the actual plan is going to be. Sometimes that means I have to convince them that what they want to work on is not the best route, and sometimes they're right about what they should work on.

But your saying "with little regard for how it might impact our wider game" leads me to believe you've simply gotten bad golf instruction. The vast majority of the time, there's a plan, the plan doesn't negatively affect other areas of the golfer's game, and things are done in the right order.

Many instructors just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks each week. Or they tell you twenty things until you hit a good one and then they say "there you go!"

Good instructors don't do either of those things.

But please clarify with an example or two what you mean by "with little regard… the rest of our game."

11 hours ago, BristolGolf said:

There should be a clear lesson plan, with homework and drills, a start, middle and end that covers the key aspects of the game, from iron play, driver and wedges with a separate putting and chipping aspect.

That sounds like a lot of lessons.

But… yeah, if a student wants to take lessons on all areas of the game, sure. And I think my students leave with very clear lesson plans, homework, drills, etc. Just one thing at a time, too.

I agree with the above, generally speaking. Just be cautious about coming here and making statements about the entire industry… an industry I'm in and one in which I've helped train some instructors, and have worked with and seen very good and very bad instructors. They're not all the same. We're not all the same.

11 hours ago, BristolGolf said:

Every player is different but I started this summer and had dumped over a £150 in lessons and more on instructional books, and the only place I found any sort of structure was in Ben Hogans book (which actually seems to be the foundation for nearly every lesson I have had so not much has changed) - there has to be a better way to teach.I would pay good money to have a solid coaching structure and someone to work with me over a set defined plan.

Check out http://evolvr.com/.

2 hours ago, DownAndOut said:

I tend to agree with you. Positional instruction is manipulation and this business about building muscle memory is flawed because our brains have to actually re-compute every swing as if brand new.

I don't know what you're talking about. I agree with @GolfLug that you should try to avoid being so general, particularly without even adding things like "Generally speaking" to let people know you're not saying all instruction.

I demonstrate positions to people, but I'm not trying to achieve positions from my students. The positions are checkpoints, not things that you have to hit. But let's not pretend checkpoints aren't valid and important for what they are.

And as for muscle memory, or whatever you want to call it… what are you saying? Golfers, tennis players, bowlers… whatever have "muscle memory." That's part of the reason changing and improving is so difficult - you're overcoming your current habits. People's swings - good or bad - are consistent and repeatable:

2 hours ago, DownAndOut said:

Wouldn't it be better to just have an external key on the clubface and concentrate on swinging it through the ball to a target (ensuring that your intended task is achievable) rather than be ball-bound?

Why do you think that "ball-bound" is the opposite of this somewhat mystical "external key"?

What controls what the clubface is doing? The meat holding onto the grip.

2 hours ago, DownAndOut said:

Its really strange how much better we can all play when we swing to a target because our CNS (central nervous system) keeps us in balance and in rhythm automatically.

It does? That's news to me.

2 hours ago, DownAndOut said:

Check out Shawn Clements You Tube videos (there are over 300  I think) because he saved me from giving up the game 5 years ago through pure frustration (and golf became a little more fun).

Cool. I'm glad he was able to keep you in the game.

But there's more to golf - and golf instruction - than what I'm reading here, and I think lumping everyone who isn't your favorite guy, or lumping everyone in general into only one bucket, does a disservice to the few good instructors out there.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

I don't know what you're talking about. I agree with @GolfLug that you should try to avoid being so general, particularly without even adding things like "Generally speaking" to let people know you're not saying all instruction.

I demonstrate positions to people, but I'm not trying to achieve positions from my students. The positions are checkpoints, not things that you have to hit. But let's not pretend checkpoints aren't valid and important for what they are.

And as for muscle memory, or whatever you want to call it… what are you saying? Golfers, tennis players, bowlers… whatever have "muscle memory." That's part of the reason changing and improving is so difficult - you're overcoming your current habits. People's swings - good or bad - are consistent and repeatable:

Why do you think that "ball-bound" is the opposite of this somewhat mystical "external key"?

What controls what the clubface is doing? The meat holding onto the grip.

It does? That's news to me.

Cool. I'm glad he was able to keep you in the game.

But there's more to golf - and golf instruction - than what I'm reading here, and I think lumping everyone who isn't your favorite guy, or lumping everyone in general into only one bucket, does a disservice to the few good instructors out there.

I agree checkpoints are good and if that works for you and pupils hooray! But if golfers start to think about them in an actual swing , won't it short circuit their rhythm?

So if you are showing them checkpoints I am assuming they are repeating them to instill 'muscle memory' so that it becomes automated?  Yet recent scientific articles state that muscle cells themselves may not retain a 'memory' from exercise. Apparently, it is the nerves threaded through the muscles that have learned in which order to activate your muscles in order to perform a certain movement. Riding a bike, serving a tennis ball or learning to walk are things you can't forget. Its nothing to do with muscles but an instinctive memory of how to activate the muscles. But the same does not hold true if you need muscle power to hit a 300 yard drive perfectly down the middle of the fairway. You would still need to train to get that muscle power even if your nerves knew which muscles to activate in the correct order at the right time. 

With regards the external 'key'  I meant 'cue'  so apologies for that error but this is related to the research done by Dr. Gabriele Wulf, professor of Kinesiology at UNLV (see article explanation below).

--------------------------------------

She has written a textbook entitled Attention and Motor Skill Learning and has performed dozens of studies that show that external focus improves motor skill much better than does internal focus (consciously focusing on body movements).  She has shown that focusing on the *effect* of what you are trying to do achieves superior retention as well.  Her studies include many different motor skills, including golf.  Her work was even used to help people afflicted with Parkinson's disease.

 Swinging "to right field" would be an external cue, focusing outside the body and on the effect you are trying to produce. This external swing cue will *automatically* produce the correct movement of body parts.

Conversely, focusing on a body part (internal cue), such as "Drop your right shoulder." will not work as well in terms of learning efficiency or retention.   It is very difficult to put together all the body movements in a swing that takes about 1.5 seconds.  Much better to use an external cue that will have a better chance of self-organizing those body parts.

Dr, Wulf had an article several years ago in Golf Digest, where she demonstrated that golfers were much more accurate with their pitch shots when using external cues. It should be noted that Dr. Wulf's research has studied all levels of golfers and numerous motor skills.  She is *not* a golf instructor, but her research with regard to golf provides a great deal of food for thought.

Before anyone gets all up in arms, Dr. Wulf does *not* say that no one can learn using internal cues.  She just states that external cues work better.  Think about it: How many of us have spent years trying to put together various motions or positions in a swing that takes 1.5 seconds (.25-.5 seconds on the downswing)? Dr. Wulf's research makes a lot of sense.

----------------------------

 And yes, apologies to those good instructors out there for any gross generalisation. 

ps. And one of them is Shawn Clement.

 

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8 hours ago, GolfLug said:

Good points but that is a gross generalization.

Awareness of body and positions, tempo married with awareness of target is a three ring circus that must be internalized through prioritized work to whittle it down as much as possible. I see newbies who are exceptional athletes with great hand-eye co-ordination fall out/spin out all the time trying to send the ball to the target.

He has a point, to a point. There are certain fundamentals you need to have any chance of striking a golf ball properly. Grip, stance, alignment, posture, tempo, these are all great thing to work on at the practice tee which is usually perfectly flat.

Then you go out on the course, and it's not like that! You have uphill, downhill, sidehill lies. Different lengths and textures of grass. Winds and trees and hazards, oh my! This is when you need a little imagination and a proper kinesthetic sense of your own body.

I think that once you have learned the basic  fundamentals, the rest of the learning belongs to you!

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21 minutes ago, iacas said:

As I've said, I'll rarely use the phrase "drop your right shoulder" but sometimes I will if the student responds to it. Often when I have to I'll quickly circle back to asking the student what it feels like. But more often I'll put a wall (my hands, a pool noodle, a mental image) blocking the path of their shoulder so it has to "drop." Or something else like talking about stabbing a pig with a spear, or humping a giraffe, or something about a shelf (with or without a rusty nail sticking out of it), etc. (Those aren't all for a right shoulder pattern change…)

I almost shot coffee out of my nose when I read that. :-)

23 minutes ago, iacas said:

Golfers often think that if they can mentally solve the golf swing - work smarter, not harder - that they can short cut themselves to success. But it doesn't work that way. You have to work smart and hard, and often the "smart" part is just being a Stupid Monkey and not chasing every new theory or idea or "fix" that springs to mind.

^^^^ Quote of the year. ^^^^

 

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Just now, Phil McGleno said:

He must like it-He posted it on Instagram.

@DownAndOut if you found the key-or cue-to golf why are you still a 15 after golfing for 25 years?

I just shared it on Facebook. Most of my friends are probably trying to figure out what a stupid monkey is right now. :-)

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I see the main point of this post, I understand completely the feeling of most of the golf teachers out there are not good enough, at least that is my experience. Golf is so technical and so tough to learn (and hence teach) that is really hard to find a great instructor. But... that doesn´t mean all of the golf instructors in the world are the same... no way

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