Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Arms Situation -- the Most Important Missing Puzzle Added. Part 3. The Bridge.

In "The Arms Situation" section, we learnt that scapular protraction and depression in the shoulder area helps vividly in automating the upper body and arms movement thanks to introducing necessary stabilization. There is, however, another interesting element that this time links the trigger compression and the virtues described in the above section. Furthermore, adapting the element can help in obtaining desired clubhead angle at impact already practically before start of the backswing. I decided to call the element The Bridge. In the view of Cary Middlecoff's opinion that one can read later on in this article, this element can be probably the last puzzle in the Hogan's secret, that made him get rid of the chronic hook and without what Hogan couldn't have said "the stronger I hit the better it went".

Let us start here with the address setup with both scapulae protracted and depressed creating the compact look of tightly unified arms. As we know from the Sagittal Plane Compression concept, the motion should start with the trigger compression phase aimed at rocking the swing up and building momentum that is being passed from the ground up and the core out later to further parts of the body within the frame of the chain of the unintentional events. This phase, known in popular golf language as the forward press, can have variety of forms starting from a simple rear knee targetwise movement and ending at an anticlockwise circular motion of the whole body. Recently, when watching post-secret and, especially, post-accident Hogan while preparing material for the vid 'Secret', I have noticed that the master often (I repeat and underline: often which means not always -- we shall revert to it later on) added a not very well visible but, as it appears, a crucial move that accompanies his head preset clockwise rotation (typical for LED persons), namely, a combination of a rear humerus external rotation with a slight rear arm extension.


It looks as the distance between both shoulder joints even decreases and feels as the contraction of rear tricep both pushes the humerus forward while slightly rotating it externally. Please remember that shoulder area external rotation occurs always in the takeaway/backswing phase, thus, its earlier presence assists vividly further in the process, the more it does not affect rear shoulder protraction that was established already during the setup phase. As far as the rear arm extension part goes, it is responsible for creating width in the backswing as well as prevents the lead arm from collapsing (the so-called backswing extensor action known in many golf schools).

The most intriguing part (as for Hogan and his quest to eliminate dreadly hook) lies in impact on clubface angle that The Bridge move exerts. Forcing rear humerus to rotate externally presets automatically the clubface open from the very first part of the swing. Moreover, taking into account that protraction (mainly thanks to the combination with depression) preset at address can last the whole motion until impact (thanks to a proper activation of the famous serratus anterior muscle) we can easily see that it is tougher to close the clubface too much at impact. I have observed that it is a great tool to decide how closed clubface we want at impact and, therefore, to decide about a desired shot shape. I have also observed that the left side of the course is being practically eliminated (not coincidentally it is what Hogan wanted), especially, when we apply stronger pivot.

Creme de la creme of the whole story is, perhaps the first succesful attempt to depict what Hogan was jealous of Jimmy Bruen, the 1938 Walker Cup wonder. There is a lesser known interview with Mike Austin who mentioned that Hogan, while recovering after the fatal car accident, dreamt about ability to eliminate the left side of the course as James Bruen had been doing. It appears that the Irishman used exactly the same Bridge move that Hogan implemented later on into his post-accident swing, with even more pronounced clubhead face fanning open.



Was it the real secret ? I cannot tell but sure it could have been an important part of the secret. Nevertheless, it is worth stressing that old Mr.Hogan, on the famous beach vid, shows that the Bridge move was an integral conscious part of the swing. Otherwise, he would not have performed it during that show for sure and his trigger compression move was simplier and affected only lower half of the body.

Last but not least, what has also struck me lately are Cary Middlecoff's words about Hogan that I have found in his great book titled "The Golf Swing". He wrote: "According to my memory, it was in 1950, after the accident, that he began showing us the kind of precision golf that set him apart. [...] I kept thinking that he was a far better tee-to-green golfer than I remembered from our many rounds together in 1948. It was in 1950 that he began to take on the miracle-man aura." If Doc was right, it is post-accident Hogan that we should pay attention to, not just post-secret. Just to add, reverting to our current topic, watching rare available post-secret pre-accident footages we will not observe The Bridge move...nevertheless, it would have been impossible for Hogan to invent this particular move without previous discoveries about scapular protraction and depression that, among others, differ his pre-secret motion from the post-secret one.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Melting Two Hands into One. Rear Hand Joins the Puzzle.

In the previous article, we described the most efficient way of obtaining the stablest possible lead hand grip. We also mentioned that adding the rear hand is somehow automatic because it is forced by the way the lead hand has ben put (thanks to matching some lego pieces such as the lifeline ditch of the rear hand matching the lead thumb or rear pinky finger matching the joint of the lead index finger in the overlapping process). However, we said nothing about details of rear hand grasp mechanics.

Analyzing carefully both the anatomy of the hand we should concentrate on the three fingers of the rear hand -- the thumb, the index and the middle fingers as these three fingers are created to work together. The ring and pinky fingers' role is much smaller here. Golf instruction sometimes is of the opinion that two fingers -- the middle and the ring one should work together and be the essence of the rear hand grip -- but we do not agree to this idea for obvious reasons described above. We also do not agree to Ben Hogan who said that the thumb and the index fingers are the main wreckers of the game, unless we add the second part to the sentence, namely "...if they are being used poorly". On the other hand, Julius Boros's book "Swing Easy, Hit Hard" contains a very interesting advice of locking the rear hand grip with exactly these three fingers that are of our interest. It is to be pointed out that the five fingers are controlled by two different major nerve systems. The median nerve activates the index finger, the middle finger and the thumb. The pinky finger and the ring finger are connected to the ulnar nerve. These fingers, which are controlled by two separate nerve systems, simply must represent different functions and be responsible for different tasks.


The three fingers should work together and guarantee both the stability as well as give some room for precision work. Fingers react very quickly and our subconscious mind has no problems in influencing them if necessary during the motion and these three working together are a perfect executioner of orders, so to speak. Do not be afraid to hold the handle firmly by these three fingers, they will do their job perfectly; this structure will even help to make the rear hand grip more stable because of already engaged muscles and ligaments.

Ben Hogan said the hands should be the clamps on the grip. The clamps should keep the object as well as possible and as tight as possible -- not in the sense of pressure but in the sense of space.The lead hand index finger (that naturally is distant from other three fingers because of anatomical facts described in the previous article) should be moved on the grip back to the middle finger by joining rear hand which should tighten the lead hand fingers as much as possible. It will make the lead hand index finger's proximal inter-phalangeal joint raise excessively which is good anyhow since we expect the rear hand pinky finger to wrap around this joint so that the firm and secure overally grip is being formed -- and it is easier task to do correctly if the joint is raised. It is to be underlined  here that the tighter in space the clamps are the better it is for activating the wrists to perform their role optimally -- adding a "flick" Sir Henry Cotton talked about, so to speak. Clubs' grips should be placed in the closest part of the finger to the palm, called the proximal phalanx (between the metacarpophalangeal and the proximal inter-phalangeal joint), of the middle and ring fingers of the rear hand, and from here the process of tightening in the space should take place and, finally, the rear hand should wrap around the thumb of the lead hand and the club's grip.

Last but certainly not least, recommended using of the two last fingers of the lead hand and the three remaining ones of the rear hand can create a great mental image of one melted hand on the grip. It is a great feeling to be able to imagine this while preparing to start the motion. When we have such a perfect grip both hands work excellently bringing a very stable but, simultaneously, living release. Watch the below animation and pay attention to the author's hands and wrists...:

...and compare it, with a due proportion, of course, to the best release ever (a perfect combination of the push and the slap-hinge in Cotton terms) of the post-secret Hogan, the most accurate ballstriker ever, not mentioning Moe Norman:

What can be added to this material -- interestingly, a word or two about one of the best ballstriker on today's Tour and his grip. Everyone knows that Jim Furyk uses a double overlap grip with not only pinky but also ring finger on top of fingers of his lead hand. In view of the fact that the ring finger is a border between the median and ulnar nerve systems, it can be used as a pair to the middle finger as well as to the pinky one. This kind of grip is, from this point of view, equally logical to the standard overlap grip. Some would say that it has some advantages, as e.g. limiting the impact of the rear hand or helps to form a proper biokinetic overlap grip for people with smaller hands/shorter fingers or simply with weak hands. The feeling of clamps on the grip is vividly present here.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Tale of a Left-Handed Knight and a Lady with Fan

The title of the article seems to intrigue a lot but the article narrates a very practical tale concerning the lead hand grip. Not coincidentally, the lead hand grip is being regarded by all great golf theorists as the preludium to a proper connection between a golfer and a golf club. For obvious reasons (apart from reverse type grips) the connection between the lead hand and the club is being primarily established and, afterwards then, the rear hand joins the jigsaw. The point is that any error in placing the lead hand on the grip can jeopardize the value of the whole grip and, in consequence, can ruin the intended motion. Therefore, assuming that adding the rear hand is somehow automatic because it is forced by the way the lead hand has ben put (thanks to matching some lego pieces such as the lifeline ditch of the rear hand matching the lead thumb or rear pinky finger matching the joint of the lead index finger in the overlapping process) it is crucial to find automatism in creating the lead hand grip.

Let us begin with presenting very briefly some important facts about human hand anatomy and the mechanism of grasping. First of all, let us have a look how the human hand is being built so that it could act not only as a strongest possible grasping mechanism but also a precision instrument allowing fingers to work together beautifully. It is to be pointed out primarily that one of five fingers, called the thumb, is oriented differently than other four fingers so that the grasping process was easy to perform in a very efficient way. When looking at the four remaining fingers we can see that although they are supposed to work together, the base of the index finger does not correspond to the bases of other three fingers (it does not form a straight line). It is because the index finger is supposed to work with the thumb for precision jobs as e.g. pinching small objects. This anatomical fact is, by the way, responsible for creating the so-called trigger finger on the grip (with the middle joint raised a bit more than other fingers) while grasping an round object in line with the base line of the three remaining fingers (middle, ring and pinky ones). Lastly, there is some coupling between the index and middle fingers, and they are designed to work together as an opposition to the thumb.

According to the grasp taxonomy (by Cutkosky and Howe), we divide grasp types into two main groups: power (where emphasis is on stability and security) and precision (where emphasis is on sensitivity and dexterity). For obvious reasons our lead hand grip belongs to the first large group by definition -- it must not change during the motion. Going further with the taxonomy, we encounter prismatic grasp types (when fingers surround objects) and, finally, five detailed grasp types starting from the most powerful and largest size of grasped objects: heavy wrap (for large and for small diameters), medium wrap, adducted thumb and light tool. The specifics of the lead hand grip is to use the meaty part of the hand as the base against which fingers wrap a golf club; also, biggest golf authorities unanimously underline the need of strong and stable work of last two (or sometimes three) fingers, i.e. pinky and ring (sometimes middle) one. We are of the opinion that, taking into account what we already know about this peculiar coupling between the index and the middle fingers, it is better to think about only last two fingers in this context.

How to guarantee the safest and most stable lead hand grip then -- we would need two phases of the grasping action. The first one, called "the left-handed knight phase", consists in grasping the club the way one would grasp a heavy sword (or similar tool), i.e. with the palm and all four fingers wrapping the handle together with the thumb wrapping it in opposition. In the grasp taxonomy, it would be the small diameter heavy wrap grasp type. The best is to grasp the club at our lead side (not in front of us) since the neutral relation between the palm and the grip is being maintained and lift the club to the position where the shaft is parallel to the ground (since the wrist is in the neutral position without both ulnar and radial deviation influence). A bonus benefit is that we can take a look at the clubhead in front of us and see if its face is in neutral position perpendicular to the ground (of course, we may want to have the face slightly closed or open, depending on our priorities). We obtain a very powerful and stable grasp ready to move relatively heavy objects easily and securely.

The second phase that we call "the lady with fan" serves to return to the grasp that lets us play golf. We cannot just change anything but deviate the wrist ulnarily since the RoM is too small (up to 30 degrees) -- we need to change the position of fingers. We need to go from the heavy wrap type through the medium wrap to the adducted thumb one. But how to do it without destroying what we have just gained thanks to the first phase and loosening the whole structure ? The answer is -- to make a motion similar to the motion used while wanting to open a hand fan with left hand only -- fast drop towards the ground using the ulnar deviation feature of the lead wrist. A golf club is heavy enough (also because it is long enough) to cause our fingers to relocate staring from the index finger) with the help of gravity. The best part is that it is enough to relocate the index finger (more, because of the base not in line with the rest of fingers) and the middle finger (less, because it is in line with other two fingers) while the last two fingers, i.e. the ring and pinky ones, remain intact as they were in the heavy wrap type. Of course, the gap between the thumb and the palm decreases to the necessary minimum.


We have just obtained the most powerful and secure possible grasp of the last two fingers -- in fact, it is so tight that the friction appears to be huge and sometimes needs some adaptation period (usually a few days) because of some moderate pain allocated mainly on the meaty part of he palm the club is being pressed to. When our hand becomes accustomed to that kind of friction and pressure, nothing will feel odd. The increased stability of the lead hand grip is unbelievable and it is hard to think that we could grasp the golf club in an orthodox way before, especially when we try to compare both methods or, especially, when one has problems with putting and maintaining necessary squeeze with last two fingers of the lead hand. Last but not least, this procedure ensures obtaining a very square-to-the-arc position of the clubface -- it looks a bit closed but it is perfectly perpendicular to the baseline at address.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Macro Procedure. Example (Tiger Woods).

Let us start the macro analysis of Tiger Woods according to steps mentioned in the introduction. Disclaimer -- I am just an amator theorist and the idea of this analysis is being made from a purely subjective my own point of view as well as I do not expect nothing (except may be expressing some verbal/written gratitude in case it helps someone). My state of knowledge about Tiger Woods's state of health or his laterality is not big enough to be able to call it as something more than just theoretical speculations from my part based on observations. I will publish no photos to illustrate what I am talking about on purpose so that everyone has chances to draw one's own conclusions and put oneself in a role of a macroscale theorist.

It is to be pointed out that we have choosen Woods as the subject if this sample analysis not only because he is currently the most famous golfer, but also because his lead knee injury is being widely known. This makes it possible to sacrifice a few words to the initial stage of the macro analysis which forces us somehow to follow the ancient rule primum non nocere and to take very seriously into account a subject's state of health. In Tiger's case, we need to take into account serious problems with his left knee (the more he appears to be a LLD person which makes the whole issue tougher). Macro analysis must not simply take into account all scenarios (no matter how technically superior they are) that could physically burden this area of the body. We shall revert to it later on in the course of the analysis.

Now, the general goal must be determined. We are not sure what is Tiger Woods's opinion on what he needs most to achieve what he dreams of -- more distance or more accuracy -- however, we assume the latter. Why ? First of all, because he is not short at all by means of Tour standards; secondly, because we think that it is lack of accuracy and repeatability hurts his tee-to-green game the most. Therefore, we can go further at once to the stage of determining his dominant eye, hand and leg.

Relying on my experience only, it would be tough to find correct answer with certainity as regards the subject's eyedness. Tiger Woods behaves as a RED person during the backswing (his head does not turn sufficiently) and as LED one during the downswing/follow through (his head does not follow the body). Of course, either he can be ambidextrous or one of the situations is being choosen deliberately or forced. Much more probable scenario is to assume he is a LED person who e.g. wants to retain a peripheral vision during all the motion. It is also because he behave as a typical LED person  at impact and during the early stage of the follow through phase. According to the info that is to be found in the net it confirms that he is a LED person. Thus, we have the first  critical biokinetical error that we are going to describe in the conclusion part.
When talking about Woods's handedness the situation is easier since we have lots of proofs he is a RHD person taken from observing his everyday's life behaviour. It is to be confirmed also when observing his swing motion. No deep inside clubhead takeaway which is even rather on outside part, downswing plane over the backswing one (especially visible in the later phase) and visible slap of the right hand without a sign of the handle dragging. This area does not include serious biokinetical errors, yet still it could look better if there are no errors in other areas. We shall revert to it as well.
Even easier situation occurs while determining Tiger's footedness. It is clear as the day that his lead leg is "the bouncing leg" (mind you, this is the main criterium). His lead knee sufferred a lot during his carrer and, I am afraid, still suffers judging on slapping and jumping action he performs currently. This is the area that requires most dramatic change aimed at relieving stresses in this area. Unfortunately, we cannot count at all at creating more room for a rotational action in an ill joint which would be an instant cure but in rare cases and in strong healthy joints.

Now, it is the time for introducing the macro coaching based on the above data. The first things to be noticed are lack of any diagonality of the stance, lack of a good antithetic waggle and, finally, lack of trigger compression phase in the motion that would start a subconscious-guided cascade of biomechanical events. Instead, Woods performs rather poor handsy a bit too-outside takeaway that carries signs of a too active lead side in initiating the takeaway (what is strange a bit concerning his handedness). Next, he performs a backswing that is antithesis for an advantageous LED person backswing (think -- Hogan, Snead or young Nicklaus) -- not only he is not deep enough with his hips, shoulders and eyes/head, again, his lead side appears to be too active now in resisting the turn (observing his lead knee not bending inside a lick and his lead foot not rolling inside a lick). The result of all the above is unability to achieve great sequentiality of the motion both from the ground up as well as from the core out resulting in his inability to reach the EEP phase; this, in consequence, throws his rear elbow too much to the front, rear arm straighten too soon (to prevent an outside approach to the ball) and body pivot stall caused by overactive arms/hands that somehow have to save the shot and brings lots of timing issues into play. Instead, he should perform a more OTT motion from a deep backswing resulting with achieving the elbow plane earlier and subduing the motion to a much more effective pivot -- diagonal stance and natural LED person backswing would help tremendously here (and not only here). Not mentioning that the OTT move and playing with the downswing arc over the backswing one is natural for a human and not putting so much stress on the spine. There will be much more room for performing a subconscious-friendly powering of the swing motion, especially for a RHD person. Flared lead foot will ensure not only better overall body rotation without creating so big torques in Tiger's knee joint. He should also experiment with toes of his lead foot so that the jumping/snapping action is reduced and let his lead knee be in a lesser danger.
That is all for the beginning and it is the absolute must in my opinion. Not only it should make the whole motion more timing-proof and subconscious-friendly but also the overall look will resemble more of old masters of ballstriking. Of course a correct diagnosis would require confirming the data as well as personal consultation(s) enabling to tune up the analysis and help to the subject.

Finally, there is a time for checking if Tiger Woods's motion contains all 5 common denominators for the great ballstrikers, as follows:
(1) -- pivot guided motion from both the ground up as well as from the core out without stalling of the pivot in the wide impact zone -- not quite, but close enough to achieve it thanks to some macro adjustments described above;
(2) -- balance in the coronal plane maintained without a sign of early extension -- yes, practically we can agree it is the area not requiring interventions (thanks to the adjustments it will be really optimal);
(3) -- transverse plane compression after transition with a muscular effort to use ground forces (both vertically as well as horizontally oriented) as well as possible -- definitely OK, even appears exaggerated;
(4) -- plane shift to the elbow plane as early as possible resulting in rear humerus being supported by the pivoting body and rear forearm supporting the shaft -- not quite, but close enough to achieve it thanks to some macro adjustments described above;
(5) -- as small as possible rate of clubface closure in the wide impact zone -- not quite, but close enough to achieve it thanks to some macro adjustments described above.

Please forgive me being so critical and harsh on the best golfer of today, but the measure must be different than in case of an ordinary amateur. Hence these brutal conclusions. However, if Tiger Woods happens to read this he should think about it, the more, personally I am not even his fan (far from it but I can appreciate his greatness as a golfer) and what I am doing now is not something I earn money for a living from -- thus, it is as objective as it can be. If he wants to win more and fulfill his great goals he should take into account such a macro perspective of biokinetics. I simply find it disturbing that a player of such an enormous talent (that such e.g. Hogan would have dreamt of) and possibilities (that players of yesteryear were surely deprived from) is totally lost with some lights in the tunnel that are more than just another fatamorgana offered to him.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Macro Procedure. Introduction.

Actually, there is a good question that has recently emerged -- namely, when and how to use macroscale biokinetic knowledge in the process of teaching the golf swing to someone. In fact, it does not matter whose swing we take into account, a rookie golfer's or Tiger Woods's one (we shall return to this prominent name later on) -- the procedure has to be exactly the same. The sad fact, that today's golf instruction is so ineffective and that more and more golfers stop playing due to their frustration has its roots in lack of understanding of the macroscale importance.

It is to be pointed out that the macro approach must always govern the micro one in the sense the latter has to move in the frames of the first one which determines the fact that one needs to run macro studies on the very beginning of the swing golf analysis. There is one very important issue, however, that must initiate the whole procedure -- namely, subject's state of health in general. It should be examined what eventual biomechanic limitations one's organism has and what is the origin of them. No further steps can be taken if there is a suspicion of being dangerous and harmful for a subject's organism or a suspicion of deepening the gap between one's actual state of health and the norm. This is beyond any dispute. But let us start describing the procedure on the example of a healthy human.

First, the general idea of the main goal ought to be determined. Although the most desired goal is to gain automatism, it is of crucial importance to get to know what is most important for a subject -- to gain consistency or distance. The answer "both of them" is idiotic and does not bring anything serious; it must be either the first or the other, since the methodologies and procedures of teaching are vastly different. Of course, in case of a rookie or badly educated golfer we shall achieve both goals working only on one of them but let us talk about higher skilled adepts. Consider two golfers -- a tour player who wants to score better vs. a ReMax contender who wants to be more competitive. Both would appreciate implementing automatism -- the first to be able to hit fairways and greens automatically the other to hit as long as possible driver shots auotomatically -- both letting their subconscious mind take care of everything having already left all conscious thoughts in the setup phase. However, the means to a goal are different, i.e. some procedures that are excluded might not only appear to be allowed but sometimes even desirable. My researches were always aimed at gaining automatism of repeatability and consistency, even at the cost of losing some distance here and there. Therefore, I can invite everyone interested to a lecture of my articles on this site as well as watching my visual material in the form of quite a few short films published by means of YouTube. If, on the other hand, someone wants to add distance it is worth to find a good specialist in this matter both in tuning the motion from the biomechanical point of view with a pretty good medical knowledge as well as in body fitting.

Secondly, we need to determine a subject's eyedness, handedness and footedness as it will give us some clues as regards one's anatomical preferences and expected biomechanical behaviour. That will force some variations both in set up as well as in the action -- vide my articles dedicated to the subject of laterality. Some of them are more likely to appear and less likely to be rooted out as they seem to be linked tightly to one's subconscious mind. The rule of thumb is not to change anything by force, but  to try to adapt it the way it is both acceptable and subconscious-friendly. Unfortunately, golf swing instruction, in the course of all these decades, left lots of myths and blind holes, some harmlessly ridiculous and some plainly dangerous. 

Thirdly, the procedure can enter the phase of the main macro coaching that is aimed at automating the motion. It is of utmost importance to work on a one established trajectory without attempting to work on shot shaping. Ben Hogan was famous to work on having one universal trajectory for all clubs in the bag. We do exactly the same with the same pre-swing procedures and, consequently, with the same basic swing motion. A subject should achieve at least partial automatism thanks to building the setup-dependent subconscious-friendly motion. Some of elements are indisputable and non-negotiable as e.g. diagonal stance (with various amount of diagonality used individually), biokinetical grip (with individual approach to the rear hand position in relation to the lead one) or trigger compression aimed at starting the motion sequentially from the ground up and from the core out etc. -- while some are just optional, or better said, it is more freedom of choice of the execution of such element,  as e.g. antithetic waggle or lead foot toe work, etc.

Finally, having benefitted with all boons of the macro procedures a subject is ready for a coaching in the microscale that deals with fine tunings of the full swing, of one's short game and putting, mental training and also course play wisdoms. It is the time to use some useful tools like Trackman, putting labs or pressure mats, etc. The crucial point is that no matter how brilliant a microscale instructor is he is not allowed to omit the macro recommendations unless he/she wants problems for his/her students. Unfortunately, the vast majority of instructors do not pay any (or too little) attention to macroscale studies. Therefore, they are simply bound for making mistakes (somewhen huge ones) that their students pay for. The biggest price is always paid when a student is deprived of possibility to play his/her peak golf -- no matter if we talk about a hacker who cannot break 90 or a tour pro who cannot win tournaments. Let us see it through the prism of one of the greatest golfers that ever lived.

Tiger Woods in quest for breaking three legendary records -- Nicklaus's 18 majors, Snead's 82 wins on the Tour and Hogan's status of being the best ballstriker in history -- has undegone quite a few changes in his swing motion. I will not deal with microscale details here and criticize his coaches because I am not a microscale instructor and my knowledge is inadequate in this field. However, I am competent enough to state that all of them appeared to be indolent as regards macro procedures and, therefore, arguably most talented golfer ever is being stuck while the clock ticks louder and louder in his ears. He has some mechanical swing flaws, he is still unable to perform a decent (not mentioning a great) tee to green game, especially with his driver, he must bear his contusions that his staff was neither able to prevent nor able to replace his swing with motions that both relieves the possibility of deepening the problems and create possibilities for him to be a great ballstriker. All because he never underwent macro procedures. I claim that without them he will never be able to fulfill his goals (however, most probably he will be able to tie or surpass Snead's record somehow being so close to it).  In the next article I will do a sample hypothetical macro analysis of Woods just to show how much was left to do in his case.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Secret in toes. Part 2.

The "secret" is very simple though it require some deeper knowledge in anatomy and physics. When a golfer wants to power the motion and literally jumps off his shoes it is a result of subconscious atavistic action of releasing the primary ground forces, i.e. vertically oriented ones. He uses only "the tibial power" transmitted to his lead foot via the big toe (plus the other two closest to it) and medial arch spring. The action relocates the mass dynamically directly from the big toe to the outside of the foot. We can see jumping action and lead knee early extension as a result (of course also the opposite problem exists -- i.e. keeping the lead knee flexed too long resulting in a pivot stall but this is quite another story).

The cure would concentrate instead on engaging the lateral part of the foot and two last toes and keeping both arches in not elevated position starting from the medial to lateral one. We can observe a sort of a common denominator of the greatest ballstrikers who use all toes and splashing both arches into the ground in the downswing phase. Moreover, I have recently observed simultaneously with formulating the thesis that the lead foot of some of the best ballstrikers in the history of golf appears to relocate its position (moving a bit to the North, or more precisely said, a little bit North-West-- because of the flare angle --  assuming we are facing North while standing over the ball) while attempting to subconsciously release both arches sequentially and activate the two last ones to release the lateral arch. It is of utmost importance.

How to automate this action ? It was not easy to find a reliable answer. After a big dose of watching the motions of these of the great ballstrikers who had this lead foot forward move I suddenly noticed that some of them seemed to extend their big toe somewhen in the backswing phase. I experimented quite a lot and it can be stated beyond any doubt that our subconscious mind never lets the toes be in extension after replanting the lead foot on transition no matter which toe it is. We need simply to get rid of the big toe while letting the rest of toes work properly helping to work both arches of the foot. Recent studies on lower leg muscles show that the abductor hallucis muscle -- which is responsible for big toe abduction -- plays crucial role in elevating the medial arch of the foot. It means that when we try to separate the big toe from the rest of toes as much as possible we elevate the medial arch at the same time. Moreover, big toe abduction goes hand in hand with its flexion and viceversa -- while we extend the big toe (moving it up) it is much easier to adduct it, i.e. to move to the middle of the foot and put it on the other toes.

Moreover, the whole action of the lead foot big toe aimed at limiting the elevation of the medial arch is luckily very compatibile with pronation of the lead foot that accompanies its correct motion during the backswing ending with rolling the foot on the inner edge and letting the outside of the lead heel contact with the ground if necessary. The replanting brings inevitably all the toes (to an extent except the big toe that also tends to flex and press on the second toe even while being elevated) into flexion when all of them press the ground that is what we desire actually. We succeed in limiting the role of the big toe and "tibial jumping" power and, simultaneously, achieved a pefect base necessary for such a dynamic action of such a relatively small base the foot is.
After releasing the kinetic chain, of course the lead foot can move freely as a result of releasing forces and performing different actions just from ordinary light version of foot supination up to losing entire contact with the ground (common with hard swinging golfers) depending on various factors.

Last but not least, it is really worth to experiment with toes; famous golf pros did this and although they sometimes drew a bit different conclusions leading to different actions from a pure anatomical point of view (e.g. Snead's all toes of both feet in extension, Hogan's and O'Grady's lead foot toes put into extension once, Miller's extending the lead foot toes in fast cycles just before trigger, Elkington's curling lead foot big toe at setup -- just to name a few) they surely did not regret paying attention to this subject.

Watch this vid and observe carefully lead foot actions performed by true greats of yesteryear -- enjoy actions that one cannot barely see any more on the Tour nowadays:

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Secret in Toes. Part 1.

During the idle season recently, I have discovered another very important thing. I was wrong when giving up the training -- one cannot find all things while lying in bed; one needs digging in the dirt. The great Jackie Burke Jr. said wisely once that "knowledge must progress to remain knowledge". By the way, Happy Birthday, Mr.Burke ! It happens that my wife Anna shares the same day of birth (29th January) with the 1956 Masters' winner, hence my wishes.

This discovery refers to the unexploited by me so far area of transverse plane stabilization during the motion affecting the overall balance and stabilization of the arc in the transverse plane. As we know from previous articles, one of the crucial aspects of the motion of the best ballstrikers was compression after transition with a muscular effort to use ground forces (both vertically as well as horizontally oriented) as well as possible with a very well balanced motion. The reason is obvious -- it brings partial automatism as usually when physics is being involved into human anatomy subconsciously. Great ballstrikers do not maintain the transverse plane axis stable but compress and expand in this plane which, in common words, we can describe as squatting and jumping. Vertically oriented ground forces are responsible for these changes.

The problem arises when we realize that these processes are hardly controllable since one cannot benefit neither from torques nor natural body limitations (of course apart from the phase when legs ands spine are totally extended till the limit at the end of the jumping action). Knee flexion amount cannot be preset at setup either, instead it is choosen and goes subconsciously arbitrarily till the end of the motion. People struggle not only with setting a good posture but also with timing of transverse plane axis changes -- some people e.g. relieve the  knee flexion (in a subconscious attempt of  power the motion) too early or too late.  Same with releasing the spine flexions, but this is I guess of secondary importance because it relies on what happens below when we believe in a motion built from the  ground up. In order to solve some mysteries and help to automate the motion also in this area we need first to look into the most important of all sciences in biomechanics, i.e. into the human anatomy.

The area responsible for squatting is being enframed in the subpelvic part of the body. Let us concentrate, however, on the region below knees. Human shin, in the hard structure, consist of two bones (tibia and fibula) -- opposite to many four-legged animals that have only one bone in the shin. The difference lies in the range of motion required for every possible useful movement. A man needs more possibilities since he is a two-legged creature that relies a lot on shear forces and horizontally oriented ground forces. It is important to know now that the stronger bone, tibia, is almost entirely destinated for servicing the vertically oriented forces (i.e. "animal " bone) while tibula is a complimentary bone allowing for putting horizontally oriented motions into use. Of course a full explanation would require talking a lot on muscular and ligamental system that is not necessary on our level as for now.

Reverting to the main topic of the article -- the idea is not to let the tibia action dominate everything in the golf swing motion because otherwise we will be totally dependent on timing. If the base for both bones that is being used in contacting the ground was relatively small and located around the bones ending only, not much could be done. Luckily, the base has a form of our feet that are much more versatile instrument. Leonardo da Vinci described human feet as a miracle of nature, precisely "a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art". Human feet act as tripods with three arches helping to absorb shocks, move and keeping the body mass in balance in dynamic actions.

 In a golf swing motion, where the weight goes from side to side and not from back to forth (like in walking or running), two crucial areas are medial arch and lateral arch. Not coincidentally the first one corresponds to tibia and the latter to fibula. As we can easily observe, the first three toes and especially the big toe (Roman legionnaires are being told to cut off big toes of prisonners so that they could not escape), serve for tibia oriented "animal" jumping procedure in that the biggest medial arch acts like a spring, while the last two toes activates tibular regions and act as a balancing part.

One of the finest ballstrikers that have ever lived, George Knudson, says in his book that it took him a year and half to find a recipee for such a well-balanced motion as the very Ben Hogan had. Thanks to these articles you will need no more than five minutes to check if you need help in this area and to make necessary changes that will help in case you need it. Opposite to the vast majority of today's totally ineffective golf swing instruction, Knudson was aware of the fact that it is the legs that carry the arms and hands. He admired Hogan being so stable over the ball and throughout the entire motion despite he gave it everything he had -- as Knudson wrote in the book. Now, I cannot promise my discovery is identical to Knudson's (but I am pretty sure it is at least similar) yet I can guarantee that the required effect is identical. Mr. George wouldn't have wasted so much time in case he had studied medicine and physics, especially this of human feet.