Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Golf Swing: Body Response

What does Body Response mean in golf?

It is an alternative approach to the body's role during a golf swing. It is the effect the moving club causes to the body rather than the conscious control of the body action or any restriction during the swing. 

We respond like this in our daily lives but do not think much about it. 

For example, you toss a ball and your body does all sorts of things including your back heel coming up. All without any conscious control of the body action. 

You simply tossed the ball with your arm and everything else responded. 

Unfortunately this is different than the typical approach to making a golf swing. 

Most players try controlling their body action instead of controlling their club action while they play or practice. 

Remember, the club strikes the ball not you. 

Do you see the difference? 

Have you fallen victim and struggled with trying to perform all the body actions, in an order during the short duration of the golf swing?

I have. And you might be familiar with this funny but painfully true cartoon:

Manuel says in Learning Golf with Manuel written by John Hayes "you don't use the body to swing the club; it simply responds to your intent to use your arms to produce the forward swing."

Allowing your body to respond is a liberating approach to perform a golf swing and enjoy the game. 

It is effective and relative to the individual.  Golfers, as individuals, all have different body types and abilities. By responding, each player can benefit from the body action that fits that player. No two respond alike but their clubs can move similarly. 

Manuel demonstrated body response in an interesting way in an instructional seminar:

He asked a student to stand, turn his back and not allow him to push him off balance as he pushed on his back. Each time Manuel pushed, the student resisted and lost his balance.

Next, Manuel reversed the roles. The student pushed on Manuel's back and had a different result. Instead of resisting he responded to the push and simply bent over at the waist. The student wasn't able to push him off balance and we all learned "that's body response."

He transitioned this example into golf with the following quote:
"When the club requires you to go, you go."
So, as you initiate the back swing with your hands, you go and as you initiate the forward swing with the arms, you go.

This can easily carry into your game if you conceive the motion of the club and the action of the body as all one. Synchronized motion, 
"The back foot is the key to keeping the body and club synchronized."
Just like the ball toss example above, the back heel should be allowed to come up during the forward swing. Not in a forced way but in a direct response. It is the body's normal way.

As a player recently stated: "it seems so much simpler than bump hips  drop hands turn etc..."  The reply, yes, yes it is.

The list of body action directions is endless but thankfully it can be as simple as this player has discovered. Responsive action eliminates the need for conscious body control of a swing that lasts less than a second. 

Another example is the hips. Manuel has noted they do three things,  "they slide, tilt and turn." And as Manuel asks in Hayes' book, "Do the hips tilt more with during the swing with the Driver or with the swing of the sand iron?" Obviously, they would tilt more with the more vertical swing of the sand iron and turn more with the more horizontal swing of the driver. "Now you will need to be pretty smart to figure out the percentage difference in sliding, tilting and turning of the hips for all the different clubs," Only body response can manage these differences, they can not be consciously controlled.

The irony is that the more you respond the more your body will appear to be doing all the things you thought should be done consciously, including the hips. 

You see it all the time in juniors, like the one above, who swing and respond to the motion. It's pleasure to watch, the unity of motion and appearance of effortless power. It can be that simple. It's the normal way in our daily lives and it can be that way in our game too. 

All for a better game,