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How To Stay Centered During the Backswing
My swing philosophies are based on just watching the best players for a long period of time. When I first started analyzing swings I would do the old draw the circle around their head from face on and see where they would go relative to that circle. If you go back and watch great players throughout time, certainly some guys stay right in that circle. Some guys move off the circle a little bit more. I prefer a swing model where if you draw the circle around their head they remain relatively stable or a centered pivot.
So let’s talk about how to do that.
You have to realize that when you’re watching video, you see things two dimensionally and in reality, the movement pattern is three-dimensional. Andy Plumber and Mike Bennett from Stack and Tilt really popularized some of the terms and the three dimensional movements during the backswing. When you make a backswing in reality you turn to the right, there’s some amount of rotation, you are tilting to the left, and then you are extending.
If you start normal – or centered at set up – and you make a movement to the right or your head moves outside of that “circle,” you have too much forward flexion. That is, you are bent over too much from the top as you turn. You don’t have enough of the extension piece and typically not enough side bend. When you move off the ball, it’s typically forward flex. And a lot of times you guys and gals will pair that up with a very flat shoulder turn. The forward flexion is the part we have to get rid of.
One of the best drills that I have seen is to put a club across your shoulders. If I were to take my normal setup and I put the club across my shoulders when I make a backswing, I want to have the club point basically on the ball target line. This is more so for the left side bend part than the movement, but you’ll start to feel how that side bend goes in with your extension.
Maybe the best drill I’ve ever seen for keeping a steady head and eliminating the movement off the ball came from George Gankas. The sun’s got to be out for this shadow drill to work. Stand so the sun casts your shadow in front of you. Take a normal setup. You put a golf ball just below top of your head in the shadow. I put it right in the middle, meaning there’s an equal distance of the shadow to the left and an equal distance to the right. Now, when I make a pivot and I go up to the top, I want to keep that ball basically in the same spot as I go. So for me, that’s right in the middle. But for you, you might feel a drastic difference. You definitely can’t B.S. this drill.
Now, let’s go over some feels you can use. There is no right or wrong feel. Whatever produces the movement for you – If it produces what we want, then that’s good. If you’re someone who moves off the ball too much, the first thing that I would tell you to feel is more chest towards the sky. Some people like to feel a little bit more of a right shoulder, up and back. So, if I move off the ball, my right shoulder doesn’t really. If I stay more centered, I can feel my right shoulder going up and behind me right off the bat. There’s no movement to the right. Right shoulder goes up and back for me. I feel the chest go up towards the sky no matter what I do, so that’s my main feel, but right shoulder, up and back as a secondary way to do this.
If you move off the ball, typically your left shoulder is traveling to the right too much and usually too flat when you go back. So my right shoulder goes up and back. My left shoulder goes down and forward. But I’m saying if you move off the ball, you probably have too much of the forward motion, so you want to have a sensation to add the left side. Then like your left shoulder’s going almost down more down towards your left shoe.
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