Using the ground to power your swing

Swing Myths ~ Ground Force Reactions

by Tadhg Harrington

5th November 2019

 Swing Myths examines some of the preconceived ideas foisted on a gullible golfing public by social media golf gurus. Voodoo magic for the ages!

Using the ground to power your swing?
“Latest buzzword doing the rounds.”

Swing Myths this week brings you the latest buzzword doing the golfing rounds, “using the ground” to power your swing (or as Matthew Wolff’s golf coach would say, “eating the dirt”). We have all seen the pictures of the Open Champion, Frankie Molinari, doing exaggerated squat movements on the practice ground in his downswing in an attempt to hardwire the movement patterns needed to create power in his swing from the ground up. You might have also noticed Justin Rose doing somewhat the same movement in his practice routine. Finally, if you watched the recent World Long Driving Championships, you would have been astounded at the winner’s pre-shot routine as he seemed to dance back and forth before hitting 400 yards plus drives! Kyle Berkshire was the man in question, and you can catch that dance here! 

“Deep Breath.”

And this is where we need to take a deep breath before even attempting what most golfers would find physically impossible to achieve. As an avid fan of ground force mechanics and something that I teach every day, it needs to be pointed out that “one size fits all” doesn’t exist in golf. Research at BodiTrak pressure mats and Athletic Motion Golf confirm the wide range of pressure shifts in golf swings and the significant differences between pros and amateurs.

Pictured above is LPGA superstar, Lexi Thompson.

“Three planes of motion.”

Lexi Thompson has a swing that is a combination of rotational and lateral movements through three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse) at the warp speed of the brain’s thought processes. Would I teach this impact position? Doubtful! Do I have any clients that are capable of reproducing this position? One. Good teachers should cater to the traits of the pupil they are teaching. The reality is that 99% of amateur golfers need excellent stability at impact and not jumping around to create power randomly! 

When golfers observe swing positions like Lexi above, they need to realize that she works out daily in a gym and has a team of coaches to perfect her swing, and finally, this is a snapshot in time. It doesn’t exist in real-time, and it is a futile exercise trying to recreate this position. 

“Static solution to a dynamic problem.”

You are merely bringing a static solution (picture above) to a dynamic problem (golf swing). This is a common mistake you will see repeated day in and day out at your local range. Golfers are looking at imaginary static positions in their golf swing. Millions of neurons fire each time you complete a golf swing. No two swings are EVER precisely alike (even if they seem to be to the naked eye.)

“Advent of technology.”

When I was growing up before the advent of technology, we were told to shift our weight to the trail foot in the backswing and then shift back again to the lead foot on your follow-through. We now know through technology that this is not quite true; the word weight has been replaced by the center of pressure. Stay centered and stand on one toe on your left foot; your center of pressure has now shifted significantly to your right foot. In any rotational sport, we need to move this center of pressure to move in the correct directions to create speed to power the swing. A good indicator for an amateur would be 80% of your pressure on your trail foot at the top of the backswing and the same on the follow-through. Yet again, contrast this to a top-class professional, and these numbers change significantly. 

“Whiplash effect.”

A professional who loads correctly to his trailside has already moved significantly to his lead side before the club has even reached the top of his backswing. This takes incredible strength and flexibility and is one of the reasons they are hitting the ball so far in the modern game. The whiplash effect created by two halves of the body going in different directions creates enormous forces.

“The worst piece of advice.”

The worst piece of advice I have heard is push up from the ground on your downswing, most players I see attempt this move hit the ball thin or top it. The reality is the ground (yes, I know it is an inanimate object) pushes the player back up because of pressure exerted on the lead foot through a range of dynamic movements in the backswing, transition, and downswing. The best piece of advice you will get today, admire the swings of your favorite pros but work with your coach on what you can physically do with your swing!

“Ben Hogan quote.”

“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing”Ben Hogan.

Thank you for taking the time to read! It is appreciated. Follow our Ryder Cup Captain at our dedicated Ryder Cup page and over at his website. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for my FREE monthly digital magazine. Finally, you also have a chance to win a dozen Titleist Pro V1’s each & every month. Tadhg.


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