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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carl Rabito on Swaying

Some of you have told me you have problems with swaying, so you'll want to pay special attention to this video. Carl tells you the difference between a turn and a sway; he also gives you a way to check and see if you are reverse-pivoting.

The movement behind the ball that Carl shows here is a little bigger than what I make -- if I dangle my arm when I make my backswing, my hand falls to the inside of my back thigh. Still, it's a pretty good way to catch a poor shoulder turn.

I wanted to talk a little bit about sways because this is a real problem for people who aren't as flexible and for those who are trying to get a HUGE shoulder turn. Carl says that it's ok for your spine to lean a little away from the target at the top of your backswing. I don't want you to think you're leaning backward when you do this. Your entire spine is actually swiveling at your hip.

A quick example of a similar move may help you understand this. Hold your arm out in front of you, with your forearm and hand pointing straight up in the air. Now bend your wrist just a little, so your hand is at an angle to your forearm. (Just think of a bendy straw -- your arm is the long part, your hand is the short part, and your wrist is the bendy part.) Now just rotate your arm so your hand points in a different direction.

In the turn that Carl is teaching you to make, your spine rotates at your hips the way your hand rotates at your wrist. Some of you, especially if you aren't very flexible -- and that's not a crime, after all -- may find this move is much easier for you to make. If you do it while standing in front of a mirror, it may look a little odd at first... but as long as you keep your balance and feel stable when you turn, you should get used to it pretty quick.

You may wonder: If I can lean to the side that much, how do I know when I'm swaying? Swaying is a hip and leg problem. When you set up to hit the ball, your legs form sort of an 'A' shape -- your feet are usually just a little wider apart than your hips. When you sway, your hip moves away from the target until your back leg stops leaning and gets vertical -- you might say your stance goes from an 'A' shape to one like the bottom of a 'K'. If you move like Carl is showing, your shoulders may end up over your back foot... but your back hip won't.

Or, if you need a quick visual... at the top of your backswing you should look more like the first diagram below, not the second:
     \-------          CLUB      \-------
      \                ARMS       \
       \O              HEAD        \O
        \X           SHOULDERS      \X
          X                          X
           XX          HIPS          XX
          X   X                      X  X
         X      X      FEET          X    X
See how your shoulders and spine can lean a bit -- your head may even seem to be outside your feet -- but your legs still make an 'A' shape and your hips are still between your feet? That is still a stable position, and you haven't moved "off the ball" as much as it may look at first. But you don't want your entire right side (or left side if you're a lefty) to make a straight vertical line -- that's a sway. (And yes, I know my model here is a pinhead. ;-)

I hope this helps you players who are struggling with a sway. There's a good chance that you're just trying to stay too still over the ball. A little upper body movement is ok as long as your lower body stays in a stable position. If your lower body starts getting into the second position in the diagram above, you're going to start moving all over the place.


  1. ok - you talked me into it - heading over to the storage shed tomorrow to dig out the perfect connexion and try these exercises. Sounds like a mirror would be a big help.

    And just for the record - I don't have a problem swaying - I'm darn good at it ! (lol)

  2. I know sometimes I sound like I believe Carl is a miracle worker, but in that one lesson I had with him he corrected an over-the-top swing, gave me a huge increase in distance, eliminated a bad slice, taught me how to hit solid mid- and long irons, and taught me how to curve the ball either way when I wanted to. I think I can be forgiven for my enthusiasm, don't you?

    Perhaps you'll be thankful today that you learned how to stop swaying! ;-)

    Happy Thanksgiving!