Monday, 4 December 2017

Scapular Plane Humerus Takeaway

Movement of the arm into elevation, which has to happen during the backswing phase, can have significant implications for the stability of the whole upper body and is being based on the coordinated movement of scapulae and humera. The most important thing is that scapulae do not lie completely straight against your back but they are angled slightly forward, approximately 30 degrees anterior (forward) to the frontal plane.  This is the Scapular Plane at which the arm elevation should occur so that dusrupting the overall stability is avoided.

As read on, "shoulder abduction in the scapular plane, often referred to as scaption, positions the greater tuberosity of the humerus under the highest point of the acromion and helps to prevent bony impingement, regardless of the amount of rotation of the glenohumeral joint. This can be verified by performing abduction in the scapular plane, with the upper extremity positioned in internal rotation, in neutral, or in external rotation. Scapular plane abduction is more natural than abduction in the pure frontal plane. The humeral head fits better against the glenoid fossa, and the ligaments and muscles (in particular, the supraspinatus) are more optimally aligned to promote proper shoulder mechanics". Scapular muscles are in best position to work with scaption angle.

The Scapular Plane Humerus Takeaway is just humeral abduction alongside the angle created during set-up which should correspond to the scapular plane. Extension and external rotation parts happen unintentionally later on in the backswing phase because it is no other option left. When being at address the flexion part is already done because the torso is not perpendicular but slanted in relation to the ground while humerus is sort of perpendicular to it. Watch the following pics to understand the idea better -- at setup it looks like this...: we rotate the pic...:

...and, finally, we can see the scaption angle as if in the anatomical position:

That is why it is absolutely enough to perform pure abduction movement with the rear humerus to be on the scapular plane which means elevation in the transverse plane since there is no possibility to abduct the humerus without elevating it. We do not need to worry about anything, just transfer the energy gathered by shoulder girdle trigger compression and move our rear humerus away from the body.  We wish to underline here the shoulder joints protraction element that is a must (please refer to "The Arms Situation' article on our site).
Yes, it is that simple. The turning body will take care of the rest. It is a pity that there are not many swings recorded from that angle but luckily we could find Sergio Garcia's one below; imagine how great the Scapular Angle Humerus Takeaway concept can turn to be:

Additionally, it is to be pointed out that scaption angle can be present not only during the backswing with rear humerus but also during the follow through with lead one provided the turn of the body is decent. It is another argument for those who agree to Stewart Maiden and claim that the body pivot is the most important thing, there is no other way...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Mastering Slap-Hinge Release. Part 3.

Let us proceed to describe how to automate the set-up phase so that it matches to the slap-hinge release type. In the part 2. we underlined that it is crucial to stand as close to the ball as possible and  to perform correctly the primary spine side tilt.

We shall start with a normal set-up procedure of the diagonal stance, however, with less lead foot flare and more rear foot flare angles (in order to help pivoting body in the backswing phase and obtain deeper backswing and also to force the lead side be firm a tad earlier) but still with rear knee joint preset that accompanies the SPC concept swing. The look is a bit less closed because of changing of the angle of both foot flares, nevertheless, the stance still has its diagonality.

The handle should be moved more targetwise, almost at impact fix position or between impact fix and mid-body hands at setup because of extra primary side tilt at address. Hands should be as close as possible to te body with arms both flexed in elbows. The antithetic waggle that helps vividly in obtaining primary axis tilt and setting the weight a bit onto the lead side also help with bringing handle forward to the point the lead arm is straight; then lowering the handle while bringing the lead shoulder into depression stamps the process and makes knees bend the proper amount.

Primary spine tilt should be obtained in the thoracic part of the spine so that the sholulders were not unnaturally slanted. It means that a slight modification is necessary in relation to the procedure described in the Arms Situation episode. The lead shoulder is in depression, but the rear one in elevation. Both shoulders of course are in protraction. Primary spine tilt is, therefore, mainly in thoracic part of the spine. The head should be slightly bent laterally antitargetwise.

The start of the entire motion happens through the trigger compression, however, since this kind of motion is more upper torso oriented, the trigger moves the upper torso to begin the upswing in a circular manner forward and helps to use gained inertia to perform the fanning rear humerus takeaway at the scaption angle (we shall revert to it in detail in the next article). The backswing subdues entirely to the SPC concept, the transition phase as well, hips act totally automatically (we do not think about them at all), then we use upper torso rotational power in a slightly slanted way because of the secondary axis tilt obtanined by hip slide and, finally, pouring rear hand power. The elbow plane is being achieved a bit later than in a classic EEP procedure for obvious reasons. The angles should be preserved till the end of the upper torso powering stage.

Last but not least, there is a good visual in the famous old Mr.Hogan's beach video when the master poses in slow motion -- not thinking about hip action neither slide nor turn at all and both shoulder power and pouring rear hand stages are underlined !

For those who like to speak about feels the best image is the liquid metal flowing down sensation. As stated, the transition phase contains of unawareness of hips automatic action as per SPC concept,
then first part of the downswing is just upper torso power and the liquid metal flowing towards the rear shoulder, followed by the second part of the downswing and liquid metal flowing to the rear hand just before impact.

Tommy Armour described how easy it might be: "[...] by becoming acutely conscious of the necessity of a right-hand whip when the club is getting close to the ball, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your shoulders, hips and footwork are naturally disposed to co-ordinate with the hand action".

We recommend this type of swing to older and body-handicapped golfers as well as beginners who cannot sacrifice as many hours as they want for training and are prone to hit hard with their rear dominant arms:

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Mastering Slap-Hinge Release. Part 2.

First, we must be aware that properly executed slap-hinge release is not equal to a faulty scooping action when the hands are being left behind the ball. They are correctly positioned ahead of the ball just like in any of great push release shots. Great Tommy Armour explained it as follows: "If you'll pause to consider, you will realize that if your hands are behind the ball at impact, you can only scoop the ball up. But if your hands are in front, you've got to smash the ball with lightning speed". The difference between slap-hinge and push release lies in wrist action in accordance with a very simple rule -- the more hand action the less is the ability to hold angles in the natural way. Moreover, the angular velocity of body pivot is not that high any more, thus, some wrist action must simply happen before the swivel of forearms happens naturally in the follow through phase. That is why, despite the opinion of some bad instruction of today, it is nothing wrong in the lead wrist slight dorsal flexion (and the rear hand palmar flexion) after the ball has been hit. This is famous Wild Bill Mehlhorn (whom very Ben Hogan regarded as the best tee-to-green player he ever saw) and his impact action in a pure slap-hinge manner:

We can also observe this kind of action in other greats of yesteryear such as Harry Vardon or Bob Jones (interesingly the latter uses the slap-hinge release from sand (!) which somehow disqualifies arguments about problems with finding low point correctly consistently):

Since slap-hinge release is being based on the rear hand boost and the lead hand dorsal response to it  the ball trajectory is prone to be a pull, especially when body pivot is weaker but still correctly executed from the ground up and core out as per SPC Concept. My own case confirmed it easily. Therefore, we need to be more careful about full implementing the subconscious-friendly OTT move that characterized so many great ballstrikers. We need now to turbo the impact conditions with rear hand action without worrying about ball going left as well as without holding angles post-impact. See this beautiful drawing from the best book of Sam Snead which shows how he imagine pouring the  rear hand power into the ball:

It is worth mentioning here that Henry Cotton, whom we quoted in the part 1., was convinced that the rear hand, starting from a certain point in the late downswing, moves faster than the lead one and the proof was an extra blurriness on the photo (see: Forgotten Great Theorists series and the Henry Cotton episode).

In view of all the above, it is absolutely required to take into account the following measures:
- to stand as close to the ball as possible (it promotes downswing inside approach);
- to perform correctly spine side tilts, both primary and secondary (it also promotes downswing inside approach).
We shall tell how the above can be easily automated during setup in the part 3.

Lastly, in case of not so effective body pivots, often the clubface can be left open at impact resulting in push shots, especially with longer clubs. We are of the opinion that it is better to train how to pivot correctly, but we are aware that age and illness can spoil such plans. Dumb instruction, in such cases, promotes crossover (roll) release, the worst of all three release types because of disastrous timing issues. The truth is, however, that we can adapt slap-hinge release here easily as well but with the following simple add-ons:
- grip harder with your rear hand, especially by three first fingers (it promotes late but sure closing of the face, Johnny Miller used this thought while wanting to play a draw);
- wind the rear forearm in a pronating manner up to the target in the Abe Mitchell's style;
- if someone is a feel player, Jackie Burke says about concentrating on accelerating the clubhead, not the whole arm, as a soultion for a too open clubface at impact.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Mastering Slap-Hinge Release. Part 1.

When growing older (and being far from having a perfect body shape) it is more and more tough to use the push release that must be accompanied by excellent body pivot. The entire season of 2017 I was struggling to obtain desirable effect with my current swing. It is still very reliable and repeatable, however, both distances achieved as well as tendency to leave the clubface open at impact (mainly with longer clubs) forced me to reshape my swing to be based on less dynamic pivot and slap-hinge release type. Last several rounds were promising enough for me to start working on this subject and trying to make slap-hinge release swing motion less prone to timing (automate it, so to speak).

Let me write first a few words about the three releases. I did mention this release type in the "OTT from Inside" article illustrating it with a great sequence of Wild Bill Mehlhorn, however it was just an iceberg's top.
It's enough to classify them depending on what happens with the clubface in the impact zone. We humans are being built the way that there are no many possibilities left. In fact, there are only three pure models (and as usually, when there are pure models almost always a mixture of them must be taken into account):

1. wrists themselves are rotating at the impact zone causing the clubhead turn in a horizontal plane - the clubhead is being delivered open to the swing arc at the beginning of the impact zone and is leaving the impact zone closed to the arc. The ball "feels" it is forced to be horizontally spun. Loft is not changing during impact. The crossover release.

 2. wrists themselves are uncocking/unhinging at the impact zone causing a clubhead turn in a vertical plane - the clubhead is being delivered square to the arc and leaving it square to the arc as well. The ball "feels" it is forced to be vertically spun. Loft is changing during impact. The slap-hinge release.

3. wrists themselves are doing literally nothing in the impact zone - the clubhead is being delivered square to the arc and is leaving it square; the ball "feels" nothing odd apart from being hit according to the swing plane. Neither extra horizontal or vertical spin is being added nor loft is changing during impact. The push release.

(last but not least - a remark: forearms must roll somewhere during the swing (so-called "swivel") because this is the way we are built. The crucial part in distinguishing a crossover release from the two other releases is to observe when it is happening. The support of the body turn, depending on the release, is also very important.)

In view of the above, it is not hard to conclude that the push release type is less timing-dependent of all three and that's why the best ballstrikers in the history used this release type (with some notable exceptions such as already mentioned Bill Mehlhorn, Sir Henry Cotton or even late post-accident Hogan). The slap-hinge release,  although being more timing-prone, is a much better option for an average hacker than disastrous crossover release that would require an incredible timing sense and lots of training hours.

Now, let me quote Sir Henry Cotton (above), genius golf theorist and excellent playing pro, who sacrificed more time to research types of release than probably all others combined. He noticed as follows (calling the slap-hinge action 'flicking'):

'The wrists can work in many ways: they can help to combine a push with the flick, or a roll with the flick. It is difficult to define exactly the part they play in the golf swing and to separate their action for analysis, but from observation I should say that they work best when they combine with arms and body to form a smooth action.'

'Players who use a minimum of wrist-work -- those who push the ball with a stiff-armed action -- can be well advised to acquire a flick of the wrists; this can be done by hitting the ball with less follow-through during practice. "Hitting and stopping" -- pupils of the "cotton School" will know this expression.
Those who whip the ball, and use therefore only a wrist-flick, can build their game by cultivating an arm swing -- a push, in fact. I have found during teaching that players go into these two classes and few combine immediately the flick and the push to the best advantage to get the maximum results from their physical attributes.'

'To bring the club-face square to the ball at impact, and at the required speed, is the aim of every player, and we go to the trouble of learning a system in order to effect this. At present the only way to get sufficient power into a full shot is to use a turning and flicking action. The square face "all the way back and through" extends in general only to putts and short runs-up. There are players who grip the  club with the left hand on the top of the shaft, showing four knuckles, but they only shut the face of the club because of the grip, and not because left wrist is holding the face square to the ball all the way, as it were. This would, however, happen in an extended hinged left-wrist action all the way to the top.'

'I am sure that a gradual squaring up of the face on the way down is safer than a quick unwinding hit, and so, as I have advised before, a combination hit and push is preferable. Most succesful players use the hingeing of the left wrist more than they imagine.'

'Players who use a snap turn of the wrists usually hit a long ball as they are late hitters, but they are apt to misjudge this turn when under pressure. I prefer to see a player use some proportion of push in his shots when he has to produce winners.'

We shall start to depict some discoveries we made in the next article soon.