ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cristie and Inbee's Swings... The Physical Side 2

Before I go on to today's topic -- the downcock at the top of Cristie and Inbee's swings -- I want to add a bit more to what I wrote yesterday. It may help some of you catch on to this quicker.

While the movements I wrote about yesterday are actually very natural movements, some of you may have run into the problem that Bobby Jones observed (and that I wrote about in this post) -- namely, that you may have unintentionally interfered with your natural movements while trying to learn the game, and now the natural movements don't feel so natural anymore. Learning to get out of your own way again can be frustrating.

Unlike a lot of modern swings which are based on angles and positions, this Hammer Swing is based more on feel and movement. (Again, that's why some TV commentators have trouble understanding how it works.) You really don't have to learn any positions -- but if you're looking for one, the closest I've been able to come is shown in this photo, which I put in yesterday's post:

Cristie and Inbee entering the impact zone

The important "position," if you can call it that, is the relationship of your hands and trailing elbow as you enter the hitting zone, which I wrote about at length yesterday. This is what happens during the move that helps you keep your wrist cock long enough to create a lot of clubhead speed at impact.

The irony here is that it's the same position you get into during a short game shot. It's just that you aren't swinging fast during your short game! And since you aren't swinging so fast, it's easier for you to be relaxed. If you're having trouble, it's tightness that's giving you fits -- you're too tight during your full swing.

So, for those of you who found that getting into this position was a little awkward when you made a full swing, try practicing it with a pitch shot. Just swing from waist high to waist high at a comfortable speed. As you start down, your trail elbow will be separated just a little from your side, then you'll just let it drop into the "position" in the above photo and keep swinging through to waist high for your finish.

Once you feel comfortable with that, lengthen the swing to shoulder height, keeping that relaxed feeling. Gradually speed up the swing while staying relaxed until you can swing quickly and smoothly. And then, when you're comfortable with that, stretch it out to a full swing and go through the same routine. It's just a matter of learning to swing relaxed rather than tight. You aren't lifting weights here, so you don't have to create "grunt" power.

NOW let's talk about the downcocking move. Please understand that this is a very personal move -- your natural tendencies play a huge part in how you do it. You don't just say "I want to make this move the way Inbee does" because her move may not be the way you instinctively do it. As a result, my instructions may sound a bit... well, sketchy. But there's more than enough here to help you find the way you do it best.

So let's get on with it.

I don't know if you've been watching the Australian Open but if you have, you might have seen long hitter Lincoln Tighe use this downcock move during Saturday's round. He had a very restricted backswing -- no longer than the photo position Cristie and Inbee are in at the start of this post -- and he used a version of the downcock to create more clubhead speed. (And he used it very effectively too!) This is a very versatile technique once you understand it.

The downcocking move can be fast or slow, long or short, with or without a pause, in any length backswing. It's this versatility that makes it hard for some players to understand. Way back when I started this blog I did a post showing the basics of the move using a flyswatter. I'm going to use that diagram again -- I'll put it just below this paragraph so you don't have to keep going back to the old post -- to help me explain how you use it and how the variations look.

Flyswatter diagram

In this diagram I showed a large downcock, as evidenced by the flyswatter "shaft" getting nearly parallel to the ground in Figure 3, because it was both easier to illustrate and more common when using a flyswatter. But regardless of how big or small the downcock is, there are two things that always happen:
  • The hand moves slightly in the direction the backswing was moving. That's the cock.
  • The elbow moves slightly downward just after the hand starts moving. That's the down.
The combination of these two moves creates a slight downward arc that moves in the direction of the backswing and lets the club continue to cock the wrist as the arm starts the downswing. That's what happens between Figures 3 and 4, as you can see by comparing the positions of those two images in Figure 4. Simple, eh?

Obviously it's a bit more complicated in a golf swing because both hands are holding the flyswatt--uh, I mean the club, and the lead elbow isn't bent. Otherwise we wouldn't need to talk about it -- it wouldn't be any different than swinging a tennis racket. But even when we take both hands and arms into account, it's really not as different as you might think. Why?

Because, as Inbee demonstrates, neither the cock nor the down has to be very large at all. The arms and hands work as a unit, and the moves may feel more like a flexing than a bending:
  • The wrist cock may be no bigger than a wiggle.
  • Your straight lead elbow doesn't have to bend; it only needs to give a little as you start down.
  • And while you may think a pause would happen before the downcock, it may actually happen briefly BETWEEN the cock and the down.
Because a swing like this is mostly a matter of feel and movement, there are no set positions to hit at certain points of the swing. You'll have to experiment to find out what works best for you, but here are some general guidelines that will help:
  • The bigger you make the wrist cock, the slower it will be. Likewise, small wrist cocks tend to be fast wrist motions.
  • It works exactly the opposite with the elbow drop. A big drop is usually a faster drop, a small drop generally happens slower.
  • Small wrist cocks generally work best with big drops, while big wrist cocks tend to work best with small drops. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but think about it for a minute. A small wrist cock would be lost too quickly if you dropped your hands slowly. And a big cock/big drop combo would probably throw you off-plane and off-balance.
  • Likewise, if your downcock move includes a brief pause, the pause is most likely to come IN-BETWEEN the cock and the down if you use a large wrist cock. The larger your wrist cock, the more time you'll need to "gather yourself at the top" and make a smooth change of direction. Small wrist cocks may not include a pause at all but, if they do, the pause will most likely come BEFORE the initial cocking action.
Remember, these are only guidelines to help you find your way more quickly. You may discover that your swing works better with that big cock/big drop combo. If so, go for it. Just make sure you try the more likely combos first. It may save you some time and frustration.

And remember that you can go back to the original post and watch both Cristie and Inbee's swings -- and find videos of Stricker's swing as well -- if you need to see the swing in action to get a feel for the rhythm. Each player uses a slightly different method for the downcock, so you'll get to see a variety.

An important thing to remember is that the length of your golf swing doesn't determine what your downcocking move looks like. Take mine for instance. No matter how long or short my swing is on any particular day, and no matter how flexible I may be when making my shoulder turn, I ALWAYS end up using a big slow downcocking motion. That's what's natural to me. If I try to make a short quick one like Inbee, it feels wrong and I simply can't make it work consistently.

The idea here is to make your swing feel as natural and easy to repeat as possible. And if for some reason you can't find a downcocking move that works for you, just stick with the regular Hammer Swing. Once you start hitting that ball consistently on the sweet spot, which that swing will help you do, you'll get more distance from your swing than you might expect.

And that should be enough to get you all going. If you have specific questions, just post them in the comments below or send me an email. I'll try to give you a helpful answer.

Just remember: this is YOUR swing. Take ownership of it and it will serve you well.

1 comment: