Golf’s most important swing improvement drill

I don’t care what anyone says, the following golf drill is more important than all others. As far as I’m concerned it ticks all boxes;

  • It’s a complete motion so you’re learning the swing rather than part of the swing. This is a key element ignored by many
  • It’s simple to do. If you saw the swing drills by this chap then you’ll know the difference between easy and hard (maybe impossible is a better word)
  • It works. Nothing more to be said

For some reason, in this internet and information crazy world this drill has been ignored. It’s hardly ever spoken about as being a legitimate exercise and it’s overlooked for lots of other fancy pants swing instruction.

If your golf swing is not working for you then my strongest recommendation is to forget about all the crap and focus on this with your full attention. A little bit here and there may be all you need to get yourself back in the ball park. 5 minutes a few times a week is probably all you need and it certainly will help if you can leave all the other stuff alone – at least for a wee while.

What am I talking about here?

Swinging the golf club.

This is the best practice you can do. And don’t think I’m being a smartarse. Well, maybe a little, but swinging the club is seriously the best drill you can do for your golf swing.

It cuts through all the garbage that golfers like to think about. “Swinging the club” (or something similar) has become my default mindset when the pressure is on. If I’m under the pump then I’ll remind myself to “swing the club”.

Same deal when I’m struggling and the ball isn’t going where I want. Almost always this is because I’m over thinking and have gotten away from playing the game. Oh yeah, should have mentioned this a bit earlier.

Playing the game and swinging the club are closely related. You can’t have one without the other.

An example

Take this example: Billy is on the first tee on Saturday morning. He plays off 13 but has been busy with work and family for the last few months and hasn’t managed to play that much. He did visit the driving range during the week, but hit the ball badly and had to rush off home before he got himself sorted. Added to the pressure is the fact he is playing with Martin. Nobody likes Martin because he’s over competitive and a bit of a prick. Everyone likes to beat Martin, if for nothing else it keeps him quiet.

What can Billy do here? Here are two likely situations:

Situation #1: Billy goes through the full gamut of swing ideas he can think of.

– swing slowly
– rhythm
– keep head still
– watch the ball
– hit with the hands
– etc

All of these seem likely solutions to finding something before hit off. Most wouldn’t question this kind of thing. But I reckon it fails because it doesn’t promote a free flowing motion. Billy will spend some time on the fairway (or practice net) prior to play and he’ll fill his mind up with a lot of technical thought. He’ll analyse and try and work out what he is doing right or wrong. He’ll also think about his score and get nervous about beating Martin.

But there is little chance of success here. If Billy hits the ball well in practice he’ll try and replicate that form on the 1st tee. Replicating any motion is impossible for humans. Have you ever tried to make a perfect replica of your signature? Go on, try it, but it is really hard.

Remembering or replication is a myth. We don’t perform that way. If you ever feel you’ve lost your swing, then the worse thing you can do is try and “remember” how to swing.

If Billy hits the ball badly prior to hitoff he’ll most likely be worse off. His mind will go into overdrive as he racks his brain for a solution. This is a never ending story and I’ve been calling it the golf instruction merry-go-round for years now. Poor form is met head on with more instruction. The thinking seems to be that the more information we can pump into our system the better we’ll do. But has this ever worked for you?

If you ever want to see the devastating effects of over instruction then disrupt playing children by giving them something technical to think about. It kills their flair, imagination and fun. And it’s the same with you but because you’re an adult you think you can bypass your childlikeness – but you can’t.

Situation #2: Here’s my recommendation for Billy and is a sort of pep talk he can have prior to play.

Ok old chap. You haven’t been playing that much and the practice fairway on Wednesday night was a bit of a disaster. But that’s not today. The game doesn’t change and I have all the skill and talent inside me to play well. I don’t need to spend hours and hours practising because I understand automatic. Skills don’t just disappear. So even though I haven’t been playing that much I’m going to go out today and play golf my way. I’m going to swing freely and I’m not going to let fear hold me back. My learning system is much smarter than me and if I keep out of its way, then the chances are I’ll play somewhere near my potential.

And don’t worry about Martin and all that other stuff. That’s just a distraction. If you want to play your best today focus on playing the game and the score will take care of itself.

How much better is this? It’s an attitude that breeds success and won’t hold you back.

All I’ll add here is this:

I’d get Billy to hit some warm up shots (preferably into a net because there’s less distraction) with full focus on feeling the club. He needs to let rip and not manipulate the club in any way. Feeling is important here because the more you can “feel” your swing, the more freely you’ll swing. You can’t “feel” your swing when you’re worrying about results or thinking technique. It’s just not possible, so forget about technique when you you’re in playing mode.

“Swing the club”
“Let rip”
“Swing like there’s no tomorrow”

Are great reminders to play the game and avoid distraction. Swinging the club is the most important thing you can do. It transcends all else. It’s more important than your routine, clubs and even state of mind. When you can keep “swinging the club” you’ll get closer to playing golf to your full potential. It’s also more fun because you’re not getting bogged down with lots of stupid instructions. Swinging the club allows you to play the game.

One last thing for you to consider

When tennis players are told to practice their ball toss in isolation, the height of the toss is different from when they actually make a serve with the objective of hitting the ball into the court. Does that make sense? Part practice isn’t overly effective because each part motion is dependent on the whole. When a tennis player is told to just toss the ball they have no intention of hitting the ball so the ball will be thrown higher. In effect, making isolation practice on the ball toss useless.

And it’s the same with your golf swing. Working on your backswing only isn’t that effective because you’re forgetting the real objective of the game. Learning exercises and drills need to replicate the full swing – they need to flow. And the best learning drill is to swing the club.

Runners run.
Tennis players serve.
A basketballer shoots.
A footballer kicks.
A cricketer throws.

And a golfer swings. (I don’t mind “hits” if that works for you)

No matter how much practice you do and what kind of drills you perform, never forget to swing the club. There’s no excuse and if you want to start right now grab a club and go swing for 5 minutes in the backyard. Swing that club and feel the motion from start to finish. It’s the best practice you can do.

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  • adam

    Reply Reply June 16, 2013

    The fact is that over time your swing will change according to what youre trying to achieve. If you want to hit the ball straight then you will instinctively change something in your swing to make that happen. It makes it quite easy when you have a purpose in mind but mind you its instinctive. I began hitting the ball straight when i had that in mind and allowed my grip to become more neutral. So it works.

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