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Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Up with Yani?

Yani tees it up again today at the Safeway Classic (GC starts broadcasting at 6:30pm ET)... and I can't help but wonder how she's going to do. She's fired her second caddy (I understand Na Yeon Choi has already hired him) and now she's going to try again. What in the world has happened to that can't-miss swing?

I've been trying to figure it out myself. Here are a couple of vids -- it's hard to find two that are far enough apart timewise but are shot at roughly the same angles. This is the best I've found so far. The first one was uploaded on 15 Feb 2011:

The second was uploaded on 04 June 2012:

And here are some stills I took from the two of them that are pretty similar. It's hard to stop them in exactly the same spot! In the first still you can see the shaft is parallel to the ground; in the second, the shaft points toward the ball (that blob isn't the head of the club, but a reflection off the shaft -- the head is just contacting the ball in the video); and in the third, you could see the streak of the driver head at it approached the ball (it's just a few inches behind the ball), so it should be roughly the same position as the second one:

2100/2012 comparison of Yani's swing

Clearly this isn't enough to say for sure what's happening, but something is definitely off. You'll notice I categorized this post under "weight shift." Let's compare the first two stills to the last one. Here's what it looks like to me:

In the third still Yani's hands appear to be in the same position as the first still... but her feet are in the same position as the second still! What exactly does that mean?

I think she's trying to hit the ball so hard that she's sliding her hips toward the target more than usual. As a result, she leans back a bit more on the way down -- that's why her hands are farther back -- and she's slinging the clubhead past her hands instead of letting her hands get to the ball first. That's changing the path of her club as she hits the ball, so she compensates by flipping her hands. She's still getting most of her distance, but she's lost her accuracy.

It also looks like her left hip is a bit further forward in the third still than it is in either of the other two. That could be a slight difference in the camera angle, but it would make sense if I'm right about her sliding her hips.

If you watch the top of her backswing carefully in the videos, it also looks to me like her downswing plane is now above her backswing plane -- in the first video, the two look to be about the same. Michael Breed and some of the other instructors would say it's a little over-the-top. I wouldn't say that, since she isn't going up when she makes that move. Her hands are moving down (not up) when they come outward, and she's not doing it a lot. That hip slide actually overrides the "outwardness" of her swing; her swing path actually drops down too much inside instead of moving way outside.

How could she fix this? Not being her teacher, I don't know what her natural tendencies are. But it looks to me like she just needs to "firm up" her lower body. Look at this footage from the CVS Charity Classic back in June. There's a slo-mo later in the video:

I can't find an older video with a face-on view like this, but her hips seem to be moving a lot more in this video than in the first video above. When I compare the movement of her right knee in the two earlier videos, it looks like it's moving more as well.

Anyway, that's what it looks like to me. I have trouble believing she and Gary Gilchrist won't figure this out soon. But when your swing gets a little "loose," it can take some time to figure out how to "tighten it up" without getting too mechanical. If it was me, I'd probably try to feel as if I was starting the downswing with my upper and lower body at the same time, since her lower body seems to be getting ahead of things. And the image I'd probably use is one of my favorites -- I'd imagine I was throwing a Frisbee™, since I know I make a smooth weight shift when I do that.

For what it's worth, that's my diagnosis. Not that Yani reads my blog...!

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