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Saturday, December 29, 2012

What the Hell is Proprioception?

Doesn't that sound like an easy subject for a short holiday post? Actually, it is.

Proprioception is a ten-dollar word to describe your awareness of how your body is moving based on how the muscles feel. Here's a good example: Take a spoonful of food off your plate, then close your eyes and try to put it in your mouth. You probably won't have much trouble doing that. In fact, you can probably decide to stop your hand pretty close to halfway between the plate and your mouth without actually seeing where your hand stops.You've made this movement so much that you "just know" where your hand is, even though you're not watching it move with your eyes. That's proprioception at work.

Simple enough, isn't it? Proprioception is what allows you to keep your balance as well.

I've got a couple of short videos for you about it. One was done by Sean Foley for Golf Digest. Yeah, it's got some of the technical talk that Foley is famous for, but it's basically about how swinging barefoot can help you develop a better golf swing a la Sam Snead, who was famous for practicing that way. He even played some holes at the Masters that way one year.

This other video has examples of the kinds of exercises that can help you develop your balance using proprioception. As big as the word is, the exercises it describes are pretty simple.

Many of the drills I recommend on this blog -- especially the ones that don't require a club -- are basically proprioception drills. They help you focus on how your body moves during your swing, so you have a base of "movement knowledge" on which to build your swing skills.

And if nothing else, you now have a new word that you can use to impress your friends at those boring New Year's Eve parties on Monday night. ;-)

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