Tension In Your Golf Swing?
It's often said that you shouldn't have any tension in your
swing. This isn't true. You need tension, the thing you don't
need is strength. There's a big difference between the two,
and if you can't distinguish between them, it may be stopping
you from reaching your potential.
To get the feeling of both tension and strength, simply stand
up and hang your arms at your side. To feel tension, extend
your arms downward to the ground as far as they go. As you
do this, you will feel tension in your arms because they are
stretched to their longest point. Now to feel strength, make
two fists and squeeze as hard as you can. These are two totally
different feelings that have two totally different affects
on your swing.
This feeling of strength is what most inexperienced players
feel when they hit the ball and they mistake it for tension.
They get this feeling because they're trying to hit the ball
so hard that their arm muscles lock up. This feeling of strength
is deceiving though because it also gives the person the feeling
of power. If this feeling of strength is removed, the inexperienced
player then thinks that they are not going hit the ball as
far so, they immediately they tighten up again.
This feeling of strength in your arms will do two things to
destroy your swing:
1. It will narrow your swing arc because the feeling of strength
makes your arm muscles contract or buckle through and past
impact. The narrower your swing arc, the slower the club will
2. It will inhibit the hinging and re-hinging of your wrists
also resulting in a slower clubhead speed. The harder you
hit, the tighter your wrists will be, which will also slow
the club down.
So how is the clubhead speed increased if you feel tension?
1. To achieve the tension I am talking about, you must allow
the arms to be stretched out to their fullest through and
past impact. To stretch them out means your muscles cannot
be turned on. You have to keep them loose. To understand the
increase in arc width, imagine that your golf swing is like
picking up a weight and swinging it in a circle on a piece
of string. The weight represents your club, the string is
your arms, and your body is your hand that is twirling it.
As the weight swings, the piece of string will get tense.
This is because the weight is stretching it to its longest
point. This maximizes its arc. It's this wide arc that allows
the weight to swing its fastest. Remember, feeling strength
in your arms pulls the clubhead closer to you because it contracts
your arm muscles. If your arm muscles contract, it would be
like the piece of string getting shorter as you spin the weight
not longer. The shorter the piece of string, the slower it
2. Loosening up the arms, and keeping the muscles turn off,
will also loosen up your wrists. To understand how the wrist
hinge will help to create clubhead speed, imagine opening
a door with rusty hinges and one with well oiled hinges. Obviously,
the well oiled hinges will allow the door swing open and closed
faster. If your wrists were "well oiled" it would result in
more clubhead speed as well. To get the feeling of wrists
that are too tight (rusty hinges), try clenching your fists
again. This time pay attention to your wrists and how locked
up they become when you feel strength in your arms. So allowing
the arms to stretch out through and past impact not only maximizes
the arc width, but it also loosens your wrists.
Now that you know how detrimental strength is to your swing
as opposed to tension, take a look at a few areas where you
are likely to feel it:
1. The first area is your grip. Your grip pressure at set
up should be 2 out of 10 where 10 is the tightest.
2. In your set up you should feel like your arms are just
hanging and there is no strength in them. If you don't start
with them stretched out how are they going to stretch out
through and past impact?
3. The takeaway is the next area to check. If you take the
club away fast, you are turning on your arm muscles. You should
take the club away slow and smooth to avoid this arm strength.
To feel this, just flip the club upside down so you are gripping
the club where the clubhead is (flipping the club this way
makes it really light). Now as you take a few practice swings,
you can immediately tell if your arms are tightening. Make
sure you take the club back slow enough that you don't feel
your arms turn on then apply this same feeling to your actual
takeaway (once you flip the club around to the correct position).
4. The next area is just as you are going to start your downswing.
Remember, human nature is telling you to hit the ball hard.
If you follow you instincts, you are guaranteed to feel strength
in your arms. So from now on, don't think about hitting anything.
A great way to achieve this is to imagine you have a magic
marker taped to your clubhead and there's a huge piece of
paper you are swinging against. Your objective is to draw
the widest circle you can on the piece of paper as you swing
down and through past impact. If you can think of this image
you will definitely increase the width of your arc and feel
the tension in your arms from the club pulling them out.
5. The final area is just before contact. People feel they
have to give the shot just that little extra help to get it
in the air. In doing so, they also turn on their arms. Remember
to keep the image of the weight swinging on a piece of string
in your mind as you swing your club. The weight swings freely
around an axis pulling the string to its longest point. Your
club should be allowed to swing freely around your body so
it too, is allowed to swing to its widest point. You don't
have to help the ball get in the air.
The next time you go to the practice range, try to get this
new feeling of tension that I have described. If you're doing
it properly, you can tell because you will probably hit the
ground behind the ball a few times. Don't avoid these fat
shots. If you try to avoid them, you will do so by tightening
your arms again. Just keep hitting shots (even if the club
hits the ground behind the ball). Within 20 balls, you'll
get used to your new, wider swing arc and start to hit some
of the most solid shots of your life!
Until next time,
Paul Wilson teaches how to copy the perfect golf swing
of the Iron Byron swing machine. For more information please
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