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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Shoulder Turn Is Important

Today I'm including a video from Michael Breed about how to get a better shoulder turn. It's pretty much self-explanatory, so I won't add much to what Breed says.

But I do want to talk about why shoulder turn is more important than you think... and it's NOT because it helps you get more distance.

Most instructors spend a great deal of time emphasizing the need to start your downswing with your lower body. I think this is a recipe for disaster and I can give you a number of reasons why:
  • It is physiologically impossible to get the club moving forward on your downswing without using your lower body. If you don't believe me, just try to swing the club while wearing sneakers on wet grass! The club will hit the ground well behind the ball because you can't use your legs.
  • You tend to exaggerate any movement that you focus on, especially when it's a movement that you do naturally. Since using your lower body is a natural move -- I know some of you disagree, so I'll come back to that in a minute -- "trying" to drive your lower body typically results in driving your hips too far forward, and that results in leaning backward, slanted planes and pushed shots.
  • Unless you practice it a lot, focusing on leg drive tends to throw your form and balance off. Bear in mind that the pros practice this every day, sometimes for hours, and they STILL can't always predict whether their bad shots will go left or right. If you aren't going to practice a lot, you're going to have the same problem but worse.
Okay, let me get back to that "lower body drive is natural" thing. The fact is that most of us do have a natural lower body drive when our arms and hands remain lower than our shoulders throughout the swing. Whether it's a baseball swing, a tennis stroke or a hockey shot, most of us automatically turn away from the ball and use our legs to make the swing.

But most of us, in making these swings, don't turn our shoulders fully. We don't turn enough for our backs face the target. That's because we don't need to. With our hands moving beneath shoulder level, this is a naturally powerful position for most of us. When we make that "level" swing movement we automatically shift our weight back and then forward to hit the ball.

That doesn't happen automatically once we swing our hands high above our shoulders. We don't make a full shoulder turn; instead, we have a tendency to just lift our hands. That's because it takes a lot more flexibility to reach up and back during a full golf swing than it does to simply reach back as we do when we make, say, a tennis stroke.

If we just get our shoulders fully coiled at the top of our backswings, then starting the downswing with our lower bodies is the most natural thing in the world. A full shoulder coil stretches the muscles of your torso, and that tension causes you to shift your weight back and then drive your legs forward to start your downswing.

That's why I want you to pay more attention to getting those shoulders fully coiled when you make your backswing -- if you do, driving your legs will happen naturally, which will in turn help you stay in balance and make better contact with the ball.

That's why shoulder turn is important. Of course, it will help you hit the ball farther as well... but that's just a bonus.

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