Friday, 8 April 2016

Haendel's Golfing Rhythm

Automation needs a certain repeatable rhythm as every well working machine has its own rhythm. Great ballstrikers surely had their tricks to ensure a proper rhythm of the swing motion. The great Sam Snead, the owner of arguably the most rhythmic motion, used to swing to the waltz time. In one of his books he writes:

'NOT long ago I was watching a fellow trying to slam the cover off the ball on the practice tee. "Treat the ball a little more gently" I said. I grabbed his club and demonstrated. "swing to the waltz time --!"
"I know something about waltz time," the pupil declared. "Believe it or not, I'm a professional dancer!"
"You are? Well, stop swinging to a fast foxtrot like you've been doing, and swing to a waltz time instead!"
That tip changed his golf swing from terrible to pretty fair in five seconds.'

I, as 99,9% of golfing population though, do not possess the quality of Snead's beautiful motion; thus, the waltz time seems to be not well matched to a much more jerky swing. I have been looking to find a good music that could play a role of the rhythm for an average swing for quite a long time. It was difficult because I am a heavy metal man. However, as someone wise said once, from all modern light music styles heavy metal is the closest to classic music. Many heavy metal musicians foung inspiration in Bach, Vivaldi or Haendel. No odd that I personally like classic music as well and here is a good time to remind that the majority of my early YT vids are accompanied by great pearls composed by a genial Polish contemporary composer Mr. Zbigniew Preissner while the other are accompanied by some great classic music pearls. Recently, I have been re-discovering Georg F. Haendel and have found that one of his most recognizable pieces of music, i.e. Sarabande (from Suite in D minor, HWV 437) is perfect for my goal.

Before we will explain you why, let us present the first part of the sheet music:

As we can see, the main motive consists of two half-notes/quarter-rest/quarter-note/two half-notes. The first two half-notes should be played in our mind just after finishing the set-up phase but before the trigger compression phase. Why ? Because we are of the opinion that the rhythm must exist already before starting the motion so that it is effective. These notes give a clear indication for setting a correct tempo as well -- if the interval between these half-notes is relatively big our tempo will be slow later on and viceversa. It is a very useful thing when it comes to finding a good tempo dependently on a club or weather conditions.

The very motion starts with the trigger compression phase and the quarter-note corresponds to it. Take into account that the pause between the last of the two first half-notes and the quarter-note (the quarter-rest) must be obeyed, otherwise the rhythm will be destroyed. Also, it is a very important part since it creates the necessity to perform the trigger compression phase, which is still practically a lost art. Not coincidentally I chose Jordan Spieth as the model for today's golfers -- he obviously has not forgotten this art.
Now, between the quarter-note and the next two half-notes there is no pause which is perfect since these two half-notes symbolize backswing-transition and downswing-impact (or better said, getting into transition and impact). The quarter-note (trigger) should fluidly mix with the first of the two half notes (backswing-transition) as it is in reality. Lastly, the two half-notes are mirroring each other; it is very important to understand (and they help us to) that the time of backswing should be more or less equal to the time of the first part of the downswing (till the impact) only (and not till the finish). Hence the two half-notes are ideally put by the composer, so to speak.
Last but not least, it is a good moment to remind Tommy Armour's 'One-Two-Wait-Three' method that also matches Haendel's pattern here. Armour was of the opinion that the best and simplest tip to ensure a great timing of the swing motion is the pause at the top of the backswing -- hence the 'Wait' part that is being symbolized by the pause between two half-notes that is per se more enhanced than this between the quarter-note and the half-note (i.e. between trigger and the backswing phase).

When watching the below YT vid we encourage you to melt the notes into the motion of presented great swings:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A Word on Mac O'Grady

I am not personally very far from thinking that Mac O'Grady might be the best current researcher in the area of the golf swing motion, despite I never attend any of his clinics or never was in his close circles. My limited knowledge on his researches is being based on what may be found in the internet. Many smart and important people in golf consider him a guru and create sort of a cult status which is hard to deny taking into account O'Grady's indrawn and distrustful chartacter that many people, who were close to him, describe. His opinion that TGM is tragically flawed while concentrating mainly on studying anatomy surely helps me trust that his researches make some serious sense (remember -- geometry is just a servant to anatomy and physics, never vice versa). Somewhen in the middle of my researches, several years ago, I even wrote a mail to him so that he could discuss and criticize my work-- no odd I received no answer so far. In fact, I do not even know if he read my letter at all. Whatever...

As a keen observer of every great swing motion from the past, I also directed my eyes to Mac's swing some time ago. Perhaps both my readers as well as the very subject find it strange -- I pay my close attention to very few elements of his motion and never treat it holistically, so to speak. His swing played a role in my articles dedicated to the importance of the diagonal stance, low swing plane, toes action  and, foremost, the presetting of the protraction and depression in 'The Arms Situation' episode. Nevertheless, there are few elements in his swing that I do not like at all, however, it is not the right moment to speak about it.  He wanted the full swing motion to be 80% of Snead and 20% of Hogan but without saying openly what exactly does it mean in detail. I prefer to find common denominators in these motions (which might be regarded easily as the two best ever ones) instead looking for differences, but most probably O'Grady and I use different methodology or even have different goals for our work.

What exactly is the point I would like to touch in this article then ? The special trigger compression that rocks the whole motion more in the transverse plane instead in the sagittal and coronal ones only and that is very compatibile to famous O'Grady's obsession of the binocular vision importance. I personally applaud this obsession very much and am astonished that this aspect is being touched very seldom in relation to golf and one can feel it is underestimated or often ignored (similarily, in fact, to the eye dominance issues). I run lots of researches on eye dominance before and I am quite positive it is a vital aspect of the game that may be crucial for our game progress -- there are no obstacles in my mind to believe that caring about the depth of vision (that binocular vision contributes to) is also of some significant importance, primarily for weekend players.

As I read somewhere in the net, O'Grady calls his trigger compression "the bunny hop" which sort of underlines the action taking place in the transverse plane. In reality, it occurs in all three planes, however, in the view of the fact that all other trigger compression types do not include practically any transverse plane movements, it is practically simply unique. As you can see from three different angles, Mac triggers the motion via pushing the center of mass mainly into the ground but also slightly forward and targetwise and letting it rebound while creatiing a slight delay for the rest of the body -- the similarity to the classic trigger compression phase that happens only in two planes is obvious here. The difference -- and, simultaneously, the difficulty -- is that there is no possibility of benefitting from natural limitations of joints in legs compared to e.g. Snead or Hogan type trigger and, therefore, it should be run via the pelvic area, (the second rebound subphase, at least). The rear hip gaining momentum and tilting the pelvis anteriorily creating more lumbar spine extension (more lordosis) appears to be a very good method although full unconscious automatism is lacking.

The advantages of this type of trigger compression cannot be underestimated though. First, it enhances the proper weight shift during the backswing to the rear which is extremely useful for people who leave too much weight on the lead side without loading properly the rear one or transfer the weight to the lead side too early. Secondly, starting the movement in the transverse plane engages moving in this plane during the whole swing; it is very useful for those who have problems with executting the squatting element in the downswing and, consequently, benefitting from the parametric acceleration phenomenon not only through the lead shoulder joint moving up. Last but not least, this type of trigger -- since the turning element in the sagittal plane is minimized -- does not enhance any part of the body (including the head as well) to rotate excessively and, consequently, helps even a heavily LED person to keep both eyes on the ball all the motion despite the initial hear turn -- just as the great Jack Nicklaus (a heavily LED player) did during his famous 1986 win at Augusta which reminds me somehow of "the bunny hop"...and it is definitely worth watching over and over.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Skipping Stones in Troy. OTT from Inside Revisited.

Some good things are currently happening in the world of golf swing instruction. Finally, some of teaching pros started to understand the OTT from the inside concept and stopped to see the OTT phenomenon through the prism of total negation. If I am to choose a good example, I sincerely recommend watching Bradley Hughes's YouTube vid called "The Inside Approach".

Talking about something fine to watch, I am personally a fan of Wolfgang Petersen's great epic movie "Troy". I've seen the 'Director's Cut' version recently and am under big impression both of the director's skills as well as his wise decision to release it. Watching carefully all before unseen fragments of the movie and having always my eyes open for everything that refers to human body movements, I noticed almost immediately a scene that contains a certain way of using the sword which appears on the screen only once, however, that was so different from all sword techniques I was accustomed to before. It reminded perfectly the correct application of the OTT from Inside concept. I let myself make two GIFs from some fragments of the great movie found on YouTube.

If we watch the Achilles GIF carefully, we can note that Brad Pitt's rear side motion was correct. His rear humerus leads the elbow joint and the forearm with wrist follow. The sword flattens its plane beautifully. Of course Achilles uses only his rear dominant hand hence the flattening is so drastic. Golfers should use both arms, often promoting a non-dominant arm action, but a correct usage of the dominant sector is crucial, however, the flattening is much less visible. Here it is how it should look like when using both arms from an another angle:

Going further, the notion of 'skipping stones' was and still is very popular in the golf swing instruction. It is used to depict the correct move aimed at the much desired goal of flattening the downswing shaft plane. It also seemed to be helpful in achieving the correct motion of the rear elbow joint forward at the beginning of the downswing. The truth is somehow a bit different. The golf ball is not at the height of golfer's elbow, it lies much below on the ground.

The 'skipping stone' analogy, although the cascade of biomechanical events is correct -- the motion consists of shoulder going from extension to flexion and from its external to internal rotation, arm abduction to adduction, elbow flexion to extension and wrist radial deviation and extension to its flexion and ulnar deviation -- it appears to be rather ill-advised to the vast majority of golfers that holds a relatively heavy and long stick in their hands. It is against subconscious minds of these persons and, therefore, cannot be either mastered even during many training hours or cannot ever become natural. Lowering the arms alone will certainly be of no help either in the process of creation of the downswing coronal balance compression a.k.a. squatting. If the spirit of the "Troy" movie is still here in this article, it is almost like a Paris's last weak try of swinging his Trojan sword in his duel against Helen's husband, Menelaos.

The solution is to bring the OTT element that is so natural to almost everyone of us. What we already underlined several years ago, it is high time to take the curse off an average golfer. Let's put an end to frustrating golfers. Let's stop frighten them with slices. They do not need to get rid of the OTT element at all. Hogan and Snead had it and were far away from slicing. People, however, should understand that although OTT is one of the most subconscious-friendly motion for a golfer it is difficult to perform it correctly with a heavy and long tool. We do need to care for a proper sequencing. This difficulty comes from urge to use the hands as force leaders, so to speak. The move must be performed from the core out with a proper work of the shoulder joint that should be externally rotated and not retracted at transition and remain that way for quite a while in the downswing phase. Such a biokinetical scenario is the only one I know that guarantees the rear humerus and rear elbow joint moving properly at the beginning of the downswing automatically. Please refer to the "The Arms Situation" series of articles for details. Of course we must remember that there is no proper from the core out sequencing without a decent pivot that all great ballstrikers had.