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Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Rory Pitches

Since we're going into the Ryder Cup on a course that requires a lot of short shots, how about a quick lesson on pitching from Rory McIlroy? Here's a face-on slo-mo:

And a down-the-line slo-mo:

Let me pick out a few tips you can learn from Rory's technique. I'll mix observations from both videos, since it's the same swing:
  • First, let me point out how relaxed Rory looks. He's not after power here, so his feet are no more than shoulder width apart. His knees are slightly flexed. His arms are just hanging down from his shoulders. (That last one's slightly negotiable. Some people -- especially those of the thicker persuasion -- prefer to have their hands a bit farther from their body. That's fine; the key is to be relaxed, not stiff.)
  • Rory uses a one-piece takeaway to swing the club back. Look, I know I beat this one to death, but since it shows up in the swing of virtually every successful player on every Tour, shouldn't that tell you something?
  • Rory's head and spine stay centered all the way back and all the way through. This is made easier because his hands only go about shoulder high on the backswing. Remember, this isn't a power swing, so the swing can be shorter.
  • Also, Rory's upper arms maintain contact with his chest all the way through the swing EXCEPT his trailing arm separates a bit at the top of the backswing (if your elbow bends and you swing to shoulder height, yours will too, then it drops back into position on the way down) AND his lead arm separates at the end of the finish when his lead elbow bends. You can keep those upper arms connected all the way through, but you'll flatten your swing so much that it won't work well out of the rough.
  • Finally, Rory stays balanced all the way through from start to finish. It's a full motion, but not a fast one. Make it rhythmic and you'll find it easier to stay balanced as well.
Pitching is more than just an important part of the game. It's also a good way to practice your fundamentals so your full swing is easier to make.

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