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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Bent Trailing Elbow Drill, Part 1

In Sunday's post about HaNa Jang's swing I promised you a drill to help you learn how players like Jang, Cristie Kerr and Inbee Park -- as well as most other tour players, male or female -- create a lot of clubhead speed at impact. However, players like Jang, Kerr and Park are more accurate than most because of how they make this move.

In today's post I'm going to give you a drill that will help you get the bottom part correct. Next week I'll show you how to add the top part of the downswing. Why am I dividing it up like this? Because this is a different way of thinking about how the club moves during your swing, and it's easier if you take it one small part at a time.

Over four years ago I did a post that included this Ben Hogan video. We're going to adapt part of this drill to help you understand the motion of your arms, hands and club at impact. What we're interested in is the first 28 seconds of this video, the part where Hogan keeps his elbows very close to his side. Here, take a look:

We're going to do this drill a bit differently.
  • First, the key part of our drill is how you move your trailing arm. With your trailing elbow kept close to your side, after you take your address position I want you to take the club back by bending your trailing elbow upward 90° so your hands are in front of your trailing hip and your trailing forearm points straight out away from you AND the club shaft is parallel to the floor. I don't want you to turn your body during your 'backswing'. Keep your shoulders in the square position they are at address and keep your lead arm straight. That means I want you to get in the basic position shown in the Jang photo below. Yes, we are exaggerating this move for a reason.

HaNa Jang entering impact zone

Now this isn't a one-piece takeaway, and the club shaft won't be parallel to your target line. In fact, the shaft will angle out away from you, almost like an over-the-top swing plane. We aren't worried about that because, in an actual swing, your shoulders wouldn't be completely square because your body would be turning. We'll take care of that when we add the second drill next week.
  • When you bend your trailing elbow, the upper part of your lead arm is going to ROLL up your chest a little. Many of you think you rotate your forearms during your swing, but the rotation actually happens at your shoulder. This is vital to getting accuracy when you strike the ball because, when you make your downswing, your lead shoulder will roll down the same amount it rolled up on your backswing. Again, I'll show you how that works in the second drill but it's easier to learn it with this smaller drill.
  • Finally, when you "swing" back down to the impact position, your lead arm will rotate back to its original position and you'll automatically get a little forward weight shift. Don't worry that it looks like an out-to-in swing; like I said, we'll take care of that with the second drill. The important thing is that you learn the feel of your trailing elbow straightening out at impact while it stays close to your side during the downswing.
One very important thing you should learn from this drill is that a large amount of what you've been trying to do during your swing should actually happen automatically. For example, the movement we call a 'release' is actually caused by just bending and straightening your elbows at the right time during your swing.

And yes, I know it feels weird. That's because we've taken this small movement out of the complete motion the full swing makes and exaggerated it to learn how it works. But after we add the second drill and you get comfortable with the full swing, you'll find you can open your stance a little, add a little body motion and get a very nice chipping motion with this. But that will come later

For now, just spend some time doing this little drill and getting used to the feel. It's small enough that you may be able to do it inside. With all the bad weather going around, that's a good thing. And remember, you're learning a new way to think about how your swing works.

Do not underestimate the importance of how you think about your swing. How you THINK about your swing determines how it FEELS, and how it feels determines the MECHANICS of your swing. You'll understand what I mean once we get it all together.