Generating Clubhead Speed
ooo OK, I’d like to start this off by saying that when I was teaching the game, one of the first things I would do with a new student would be to talk with them. I wanted to know a few things about that student before we started. Among other things, I wanted to know what they wanted to get out of their lessons. The overwhelming response was that they wanted to “hit the ball farther”.
So in this article, I’m going to talk about generating clubhead speed which will translate into longer shots. The important thing to remember is – it’s ok to want to hit the ball farther, but you must still maintain accuracy.
Someone once told me “there are plenty of long hitters in the woods looking for balls”. What good is an extra 30 or 40 yards if you can’t control where it’s going. After teeing off, you’re better off 220 yds in the fairway than 260 yds in the woods. What I’m going to talk about here is how to generate more clubhead speed with less effort than you’re probably putting into your swing right now, thus allowing you to hit longer shots, but maintain your accuracy.
Many golfers try to swing the golf club using their arms. If they want to hit the ball farther, they try to swing the club harder. What you need to know is that swinging the club harder is NOT going to hit the ball farther. What will however is swinging it QUICKER. There is a difference. And the way to swing it quicker is by using your body to swing it.
In the last article, I talked about the importance of having the upper and lower body separated at the top of the back swing. For those of you that are old enough to remember those balsa wood airplanes with the rubber band you would wind up to make it fly, we’re trying to accomplish the same principle – you wind it up and you let it unwind. The more you wound it up, the farther it would fly. That’s what we’re trying to do with our body (as much as possible) on the backswing – wind it up or create torque.
So by separating your upper and lower body, once you get to the top of your backswing, the unwinding of your body will create your clubhead speed. We will talk a little more about this in a minute, but first, something you absolutely MUST try to do with every swing you take. Try to make sure that your belt buckle and the top of your right shoe (right handed players) are facing the target or left of the target at the end of your follow through and that your standing straight up and down with most, if not all of your weight on your left foot.
From the top of the backswing, we’re going to start the downswing by rotating the lower body and, while maintaining the 3 sides of the square I talked about in the last article, letting the right elbow drop to your side and keeping the clubhead behind you. Because the lower body was fairly quiet on the backswing and didn’t rotate as much as the upper body, it should lead the upper body through the ball.
When the right elbow reaches your right side, the right arm should start to straighten and the the club face should start rotating so it stays square (the club face must stay in the same position in relation to your chest throught the swing…see last article). If the timing of this move is done correctly, you will generate a tremendous amount of club head speed. At the moment of impact, your belt buckle should be about halfway or more to pointing at the target.
Remember…it must be done in conjunction with what I’ve talked about in previous articles. I have found that most golfers do make this move to some degree. The problem is that it’s not timed properly and often is missing other aspects of the swing that need to happen in order to hit long, straight, powerful shots.
Anybody that does just about any other athletic motion uses this move. Ever wonder why some of those tiny girls on the LPGA Tour hit it so far? Well now you know. Watch how far past the target they’re able to rotate their belt buckle, and they’re able to get the timing right. When done properly the club will feel like it’s being “whipped” through the hitting area instead of being swung to “hit” the ball. The quicker you’re able to turn and maintain the timing of everything, the QUICKER the club head will go through the hitting area.
Trust me, when you get the timing of this down, your clubhead will be traveling so much faster through the hitting area than any amount of speed you could generate trying to muscle it out there with your arms. And you will do it with almost no effort.
To get an idea of how this works, think about this: If you have any athletic ability at all, you apply this principle, without thinking about it, in most any throwing or hitting motion you perform. For example, let’s take a look at both a swinging motion and a throwing motion.
Think about swinging a baseball bat. If you were to try hitting a ball as far as you could, you wouldn’t get in your batting stance and start your swing without moving your lower body first. Why? Because without thinking about it, you know that you won’t generate any power if your lower body doesn’t move. When you make a powerful swing, observe where your belt buckle is when you would make contact. It should be facing anywhere from right field to center field.
Try throwing a ball as far as you possibly can. Observe your body position. Again, if you have any athletic ability, you’ll notice that when you put youself in a good position to make your best throw, your belt buckle will be facing at or close to, your target when your letting go of the ball.
Look at a right handed baseball pitcher throwing a pitch. At the top of his wind-up, his belt buckle is facing anywhere from third base to shortstop. When he actually let’s go of the ball, his belt buckle is facing the plate. He’s using his lower body to generate power.
The same principle applies to the golf swing. At the top of the backswing, your belt buckle should be facing just in back of the ball. At the moment of impact, your belt buckle should be facing at or almost at your target. Remember, it’s called a “golf swing”, not a “golf hit”.
Practice this when you can, get the timing down, and soon you’ll be generating a ton of clubhead speed with very little effort. Remember, it takes very little effort to turn your body. The effort comes in doing it with the right timing.
Think of it this way…your arms don’t swing the club, your body swings your arms and the club comes along for the ride as you move toward a finish position. It’s as if you had a piece of string with a bolt on one end, and you held the other end with your thumb and index finger and started spinning the bolt. The only thing doing any work is your hand, yet you’re able to get the bolt to move pretty fast.
Your hand is emulating your body, and the string and bolt would be your arms and golf club. Notice that no matter how fast you get that bolt to spin, as long as it is spinning, it will never get ahead of your hand. If it did, it would immediatly start to slow down because once it gets ahead of your hand, there is no more source of power to keep it spinning. The same principle applies to your golf swing.
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