Good Tips and Bad
Good Tips and Bad
By Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research
Of course, as a teacher, I recommend that you take lessons from a qualified teaching professional, but most golfers do not. It’s estimated that only about 10% of the ~ 26 million golfers in the US take lessons. Thus, much of the information a golfer acquires comes from other golfers, which in many cases is like taking business advice from someone you met in bankruptcy court. This begs the question “is there any way to evaluate the validity of a swing tip offered up by your buddy?” The answer is that there are certain characteristics of a good tip that you can evaluate in order to make a good choice.
1) The closer the tip is to impact, the more difficult it will be to implement on time. Thus, the best tips occur at address and during the backswing; i.e., while the club is quiet or moving slowly. The rule, stated another way, is to be suspicious of any tip that takes place during the high-velocity downswing – e.g. you might be able to physically rotate your forearms, but not at the correct time, so the clubface is out of position at impact.
2) When you’re coiled properly, all you have to do next is NOTHING. Avoid a tip that tells you to change your motion while you’re doing it, for example, “fire the right knee towards the target.” Anytime you ask your body to stop one motion and start another, you run the risk of mistiming.
3) Be careful to make a distinction between internal and external tips. This rule of thumb revolves around the difference between focusing your attention on an internal process, like moving your arm or leg, versus focusing on something external to the body, such as moving your club inside-out or striking the inside quadrant of the ball. In general, research shows that it is better to rely on swing thoughts that involve the ball, the club, or the target versus those that ask you to move a body part such as the hands or the shoulders.
4) Please note that there is an important distinction when rating swing tips that guide you while you are playing and those that are used on the lesson tee – some travel back-and-forth while some do not. For example, if you’re having difficulty squaring the face at impact because your forearms aren’t releasing properly, then using the swing tip “roll your forearms through impact” is an appropriate teaching stratagem. To learn the move you can experiment with how much and when to begin the roll, then adjust over multiple trials in a benign environment with no penalty for failure. Then you practice your new move until it becomes automatic, a sign that you no longer have to think consciously about it while you play.
Unfortunately, many golfers try to play the game the way they learned it, so it is very difficult for them to leave their training tips and moves on the driving range. A key to good golf (and good teaching) is to know the difference between practice swing keys and playing swing keys so that you never make the mistake of using an active practice swing key while you play.
Takeaway: Swing keys are like medicine – they are used to make you better, but if misused, then they can make you worse.
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