Obsession with symmetry

Golfers can be obsessed with symmetry. They have to stand square to the target, turn their hips ninety degrees, shoulders 45 degrees and have the club parallel at the top. Finally, they work hard at having the club face square at impact and then finish facing the target. This is all nice and pretty, and for the most part form many of the fundamentals of the golf swing.

But…

I doubt they will help you play any better. This kind of thinking is playing safe. Playing safe, in my opinion, is the worst thing you can do. Your swing becomes tight and over controlled. You think too much and don’t let your golf swing flow. Playing safe might not get you into any trouble with your golf pro or your golfing mates (they’ll think you’re doing the right thing), but you’ll let yourself down time after time.

I made my biggest breakthroughs in golf when I started to forget about symmetry and started to swing the club in a way that felt good to me. I let myself break a few rules and started to explore new possibilities. Boy did it feel good!

I opened my stance a little and strengthened my grip. Result? An extra 10-20 metres in my drive. My swing found a new freedom by breaking rules – not by sticking to them.

Scientific research later proved that my swing had mechanical advantages over other golfers. I had the shortest back swing, the least amount of shoulder turn and no torque or strain on my spine. The best part was that I had the most club head speed. Even the sports scientists were impressed! Their thinking had been influenced by traditional golf instruction…and didn’t believe the results until they saw me swing the club 😉

My swing would not have evolved if I had kept following traditional advice. I spent years working on a perfect (symmetrical) back swing, swing plane and downswing. Nothing worked consistently. The paradox is that once I gave up on this mission I made giant steps with my game.

I can hear golfers shouting, “Surely you must have a square club face at impact!”. Even this is not true. In a perfect world your club face will be open when the club face strikes the ball. The ball sticks to the club face for a fraction of a second and hopefully at separation the club face is pointing to the target. You don’t have the time (or skill) to think about this anymore than you do to keep the club square. So stop thinking about it and forget about being symmetrical!

Let go and allow your golf swing to go where it wants to. There is no right and wrong. Stop being safe. It’s like being a kid again 🙂

Talk soon.

Good golfing,

Cameron Strachan

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3 Comments

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply January 30, 2008

    Brilliant website love the comments, I reduced my handicap from 18 to 9 in a year then have stagnated and gone out to 11 mainly from to much instruction I am currently on the a journey of reducing it again based pretty much on the philosophy of your website.

    I have included some quotes from Bruce Lee with comments about golf from myself that fits your philosophy hope you enjoy.

    BL:Styles tend to not only separate men – because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won’t create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it’s a process of continuing growth.

    The game of golf requires you to hit the ball into the hole in the least amount of shots. How can you express yourself totally and completely in attempting to hit the ball into the hole?

    That is the way to develop your personal and most effective technique and consequently the most effective way to win the game.

    Golf technique and teaching methods do not have to cling to certain styles, patterns or molds. You are free to use your body, club and the ball in any way you like in order to achieve your goal.

    Its how many strokes not how many correctly executed swings you performed.

    BL:Beware of a method you will be conditioned according to the prescribed system. Many will probably end up as a prisoner of a systematized drill.

    Typically, golf technique is taught as certain procedures and drills. The end result is that most people end up conditioned as prisoners of this limited teaching method.

    BL:I believe in having a few pupils at one time as it requires a constant alert observation of each individual in order to establish a direct relationship. A good teacher can never be fixed in a routine… each moment requires a sensitive mind that is constantly changing and constantly adapting.
    A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student’s vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately.
    Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND ACHIEVE!!!

    Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being “wholly” and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.

    This applies 100% to golf too.

    BL:The danger of training with the heavy bag is that it doesn’t react to one’s attack and sometimes there is a tendency to thoughtlessness. One will punch the bag carelessly, and would be vulnerable in a real situation if this became a habit.

    The danger of training at the driving range is that you tend to forget about the target and there is a tendency of thoughtlessness. One will hit the ball carelessly and would be vulnerable in a real situation if this became a habit.

    BL:Too much horsing around with unrealistic stances and classic forms and rituals is just too artificial and mechanical, and doesn’t really prepare the student for actual combat. A guy could get clobbered while getting into this classical mess. Classical methods like these, which I consider a form of paralysis, only solidify and constrain what was once fluid. Their practitioners are merely blindly rehearsing routines and stunts that will lead nowhere.

    Could this apply to golf coaching and golf technique too?

    BL:I believe that the only way to teach anyone proper self-defence is to approach each individual personally. Each one of us is different and each one of us should be taught the correct form. By correct form I mean the most useful techniques the person is inclined toward. Find his ability and then develop these techniques.

    I don’t think it is important whether a side kick is performed with the heel higher than the toes, as long as the fundamental principle is not violated. Most classical martial arts training is a mere imitative repetition – a product – and individuality is lost.

    The only way to teach anyone proper golf is to approach each individual personally. It’s not important whether a golfer has a perfect plane etc as long as the fundamental principles are not violated.

    Most classical golf technique is a mere imitative repetition and individuality is lost.

    BL:The techniques, though they play an important role in the early stage, should not be too restrictive, complex or mechanical. If we cling to them, we will become bound by their limitation. Remember, you are expressing the technique, and not doing Technique number two, Stance three, Section four?
    Practice all movements slow and fast, soft and hard; the effectiveness of Jeet Kune-Do depends on split-second timing and reflexive action, which can be achieved only through repetitious practice.
    When performing the movements, always use your imagination. Picture your adversary attacking, and use Jeet Kune-Do techniques in response to this imagined attack. As these techniques become more innate, new meaning will begin to emerge and better techniques can be formulated.

    Practice golf swings slow and fast with many repetitions. Always use your imagination and picture the shot with a target as if on the course.

    BL:A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.
    Forget about winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life. Do not be concerned with escaping safely – lay your life before him.

    A good round is not determined by one shot. Learn to endure the bad shot. Do not be concerned with winning safely.

    Bruce Lee has gone through his journey of learning martial arts technique discovered, that the best and most effective technique has no form. It is merely a result of the current circumstances.

    While learning the fundamentals is important, it is also important to let go of the limitations of and form and use the hands, body and feet to achieve the most effective outcome.

    I believe that the approach in learning and golf teaching needs to be same. There are infinite ways of playing shots and infinite ways of hitting the ball.

    Therefore, there must also be infinite ways of movements based on biomechanical fundamentals and not on finite ways of so-called proper form.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply February 2, 2008

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your comments. Something profound for golfers in your words.

    Hope you manage to get the handicap back down to where it belongs.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Good golfing,

    Cameron

  • Rachelle Leah

    Reply Reply February 10, 2008

    Hey!…Man i just love your blog, keep the cool posts about Obsession with symmetry coming…

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