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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Learn to Turn

Many weekend players have a problem hitting the ball solidly. What do we mean by "hitting it solid"? Simply that we hit the ball in the same spot on the clubface time after time. When we do, the ball travels as far and as accurately as it can, given the swing we put on the ball.

However, several different problems can cause inconsistent contact; excess body tilt is a common one. I've mentioned some ways of dealing with this one before, such as trying to feel as if you start your upper and lower body turning at the same time. But many drills have been created because different people respond better to different approaches. Today we're going to look at a couple of different drills that attack the body tilt problem.

First, Michael Breed has one:



This "ostrich drill" is probably familiar to you, and it's a useful way to learn what "staying steady" over the ball feels like. As you can see, Breed is focusing on keeping the center of your chest steady over the ball. (Not unlike some of the Stack and Tilt drills, eh?) Many of you will find that this centering drill will give you a feeling that you can draw on during your swing.

But what if you can't? What if pivoting on two hip joints totally destroys the feeling you discovered using this one-foot drill? What if you tend to dip your shoulders when you swing from your regular stance, but not when using the ostrich drill? In that case, you need a second drill to help you transfer the feel of the ostrich drill to your regular stance.

I have no video for this one, but I doubt you'll need one. Simply take your normal setup position but lift both arms to shoulder level and point them out to your sides, so they and your shoulders form one straight line. (Remember when you were a child and pretended you were an airplane? Same idea, but your knees and hips are flexed... so you can "take off.") Then, keeping your arms and shoulders in that straight line, coil your shoulders in a backswing move until that line is perpendicular to your setup position, then "swing" through until that line is again perpendicular to your setup except that you're facing the other way.

In other words, you're duplicating your backswing and downswing motion... except that your arms are extended like a propeller. Do this movement very slowly at first; you can pick up the speed as you get used to it. And if you still find it difficult to keep your arms straight, you can hold a broomstick across your shoulders to help.

What does this drill do? For one thing, it helps you visualize turning your shoulders in a plane. You'll find it more difficult to lean your spine sideways with your arms extended this way, plus it will be harder to tilt your shoulders forward on the "downswing." It will help you feel a level coiling and uncoiling motion.

Combining these two drills will help you learn the various feels involved in making a level turn on two legs while staying centered. And those feels will help you hit the ball more solidly with your normal swing.

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