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.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Using the Wall Slap Drill to Improve Your Aim

Another repost combo: The first is the post I originally did the day after the Tommy Fleetwood post (which I reposted yesterday) and includes my wall slap drill. The second comes from way back in 2011, a post that goes into more detail about how the wrists move during a swing.

Please note that the first repost include a GC link that no longer works -- that's alright since I just included it to show where the quote that follows it came from -- and also note that the 2011 repost simply refers to righthanders since it was written to answer a question specifically from a rightie. If you're a leftie, just remember to 'switch hands' in the instructions. I've also added some notes at the end of this post.

A few days back, Jean Luc left a comment on an older post called Inbee Park's Pause. The material in that post had helped him -- he had been having trouble with pushed shots -- but he was looking for some help to eliminate some of the wrist rolling the new movement caused for him. He had seen a new book by Jim Hardy called The Release: Golf's Moment of Truth and was fascinated by one of Hardy's approaches to the release. He wondered if I had any ideas on whether it would work.

I don't usually use my comment responses as the basis of new blog posts but, given Jean Luc's positive response to this one, I felt it might help some of you. Jean Luc says the drill I included in this comment felt a lot like the drill in yesterday's Tommy Fleetwood post, but this one is specifically designed to minimize wrist rotation. The comment also explains why I haven't included many tips from Jim Hardy in my blog, although he's clearly been able to help a lot of golfers.

And at the end, I'll add some thoughts so you can use this drill to learn a draw or a fade.

Here, I'll just let the comment itself explain everything:

Jean Luc, I haven't read Hardy's book. And when I found info on the web about the two releases he talks about in the book (at, it seemed a bit contradictory to me -- for example, I'd say the LOP motion is a swinging motion, not a leverage motion, while the RIT motion can be either, depending on your hand and arm action. With no more explanation than I found there, it's hard for me to make hard and fast statements about what Hardy's doing.

That said, let's see if I can give you some help with what you want to do.

Hardy is somewhat controversial among swing geeks because, although much of his material is very helpful, he makes statements that clearly contradict fact. For example, in this GC video:


he says that Hogan's swing is a one-plane swing. But in Five Lessons Hogan himself says:
On the downswing plane, a golfer swings on a slightly different plane than the backswing. THE PLANE FOR THE DOWNSWING IS LESS STEEPLY INCLINED AND IS ORIENTED WITH THE BALL QUITE DIFFERENTLY FROM THE BACKSWING PLANE. The golfer gets on this second plane -- without thinking he is changing planes -- when he turns his hips back to the left at the start of the downswing. (p87)
Hogan says his swing is a two-plane swing in three consecutive sentences, yet Hardy says it's a one-plane swing. So I'm hesitant to get too involved with his theories in this answer.

But I can tell you that what you picked up from my stuff is a two-plane swing. That's why you can finally create a bit of a looping motion. It's a more natural, more relaxed way to unwind rapidly on your downswing.

But you don't have to use a roll release (or a throw release, for that matter) to use the loop move and still square the clubface at impact. Let me suggest a feel drill for you:
  1. Take your address position without a club. Set the palm of your trail hand square to your target line. An easy way to do this is to set up next to a corner wall in your house, so you can lay your palm flat against the wall. Your trail wrist should be cocked backward just a bit, as if you had just slapped the wall. That should feel pretty normal to you.
  2. Now take your lead hand and grasp your trail wrist, as if it was the grip of the club. Your trail wrist is still slightly cocked.
  3. Now "swing" back to the top of your backswing. Don't try to rotate your wrists. With your shoulders turned 90 degrees, your palm will be aimed maybe another 45 degrees farther. Again, this should feel pretty natural.
  4. Now just "swing" down and, keeping your grip on your trail wrist, slap the wall with your trail hand. (Okay, it won't be much of a slap, but that's the motion.) You won't feel any rotation in your wrists, but you'll have to turn your body all the way through. Jimmy Ballard would call this "releasing your body." And again, it's the natural way to swing. It has the added bonus of creating a natural weight shift when you do it.
Experiment with that for a while, then start trying to make a similar move in your backyard with a club. That'll feel a little awkward at first because of the weight of the club. Just do it slowly until it starts feeling comfortable, then speed it up.

And let me know how it goes. I'm betting that you'll start to get the motion you're looking for. Just remember: You don't have to "throw" the club to get that release. The speed you'll learn to develop with the clubhead will create that motion all on its own.

That "slapping motion" I mentioned in the comment comes when the palm of your hand hits flat against the wall on your downswing. But this helps you learn to square your palm at impact, and therefore to square your clubface at impact. And as I said, you won't have to rotate your forearms to reach the top of swing position or on the way down.

Now, if you want to learn to hit a fade or slice with this move, it's simply a matter of changing your foot position.
  • For a fade, OPEN your stance slightly when you set up next to the wall. Now you'll get a slight out-to-in move, but your palm will still aim straight ahead when it hits the wall, giving you a slightly open clubface at impact.
  • Likewise, for a draw, CLOSE your stance slightly when you set up next to the wall. Now you'll get a slight in-to-out move, but your palm will still aim straight ahead when it hits the wall, giving you a slightly closed clubface at impact.
Just alter your foot line and then follow the drill instructions as I described them earlier, and you should develop a pretty consistent draw or fade.

Hopefully this will give all of you yet another option for learning how to shape shots the way you want... and you can thank Jean Luc for it. ;-)

Now let's take the Wayback Machine all the way to 2011, very early in this blog's history, to a post specifically about wrist action...

When Rocco appeared with Jimmy Ballard on Golf Channel's 12 Nights at the Academy series, he said he didn't feel his wrists cock at all during his swing although they clearly do. If that statement surprises you, then you don't quite understand how the wrists work during a golf swing. And when teachers talk about "setting the wrists at the top," that often just adds to the confusion. Your swing works best when "setting your wrists" is not an action but a reaction.

That's what I want to look at in today's post -- the reaction your wrists should have during your golf swing.

One thing you need to understand is that sometimes we use a conscious drill to teach an unconscious move. In this case, the drill isn't what you want to learn; rather, you focus on the reactions the drill causes in your swing. A good example is the "early cock" drill I gave Dexter. Cocking his wrists early counteracts the excess forearm rotation he had -- rotation that causes him to "lay off" the club when it should stay on plane.

By using an early cock --  which is a conscious move, one that I have to think about -- I learn what it feels like when my forearms don't rotate. (Which, ironically, is what would happen normally if I didn't interfere!)  I used to have that problem, and Carl used the early cock drill to teach me correct forearm movement. I no longer use an early wrist cock because I don't twist my forearms anymore. It's important to understand what a drill is trying to teach you if you want to get the most good from it!

So, since we've already talked about forearm rotation, let's look specifically at wrist cocking. Wrists can cock in two directions. The one we think about first is sideways, thumb toward forearm, which is what we normally refer to as "cocking." But the low wrist also cocks backwards, and this move helps you square the clubface. The forward "uncock" of that wrist is what causes the "flip" mentioned in my look at John Cook's swing. We'll talk about it first.

You can best compare this backward cock to the way your hand moves during a slap. Isn't it convenient that I have this rough diagram of a slapping motion? Just follow the numbers to follow the sequence, and you can even slap a wall hard enough to make some noise as long as you don't hurt yourself:

How your wrist moves during a slap

Now here are a couple of observations about this motion that you SHOULD make if you really pay attention:
  • The harder you slap, the more accurate this diagram becomes. At a very slow speed (say, the speed of a short putt) you probably won't notice much wrist cock at all. But as you speed up to a waist-high pitch shot (I don't want you to break your hand on a wall imitating a full swing!), the wrist cock happens as you change direction. This is because your wrist and forearm are relaxed. That's part of what happens at the top of your backswing -- the weight of the club moving in the "backswing direction" helps cock your wrists when you change to the "downswing direction."
  • Your wrist and forearm are just as relaxed at high speed as at low speed! You may have never thought about this, but it's true. In fact, to get the soundest noise, you have to stay relaxed! If you try to help the move along and consciously cock and uncock your wrist, it simply doesn't work well. It's exactly the same in your golf swing; if you tense up, you slow things down. To get maximum swing speed, you have to just let your wrists act without conscious interference from you.

How your wrist moves during a slapDo you remember my post about Walter Hagen's swing? I pointed out that, in the second video on that post, he set up with his iron shafts leaning forward -- the shaft formed a straight line with his left forearm. When he does this, his right wrist takes position 1 in my slapping diagram. Many other players use this setup as well.

Why? Because it presets both wrists so they get to the position we want at the top of the swing. In the diagram at left, the left wrist (the flat one) is actually turned a bit so the 'V' between the thumb and forefinger points toward the right shoulder. At the top of the backswing, this position allows the right wrist to cock back (like a slap).

Now, when this happens at the top, some players will feel this as a slapping action. Others will feel as if the elbow "sets" because the elbow bends and moves to create this angle. How you feel it isn't the issue; I just want you to be aware that it happens. If you look at the top position of most players (check some of the YouTube videos if you don't believe me), you'll see this flat right wrist / backcocked left wrist position.

Which brings us to that flip at the bottom. Since slapping is such a natural move to us, we naturally try to do it when we make a golf swing. The problem comes when we do it at the wrong time during the swing. And we do it often! We just have different names for it, depending on where we do it.

A classic example is casting, which I've written about before. When you cast, you "slap the wall" at the start of your downswing, somewhere around shoulder level. It's not unusual for people to straighten their bent elbow at the same time, which is where the "casting" label came from. (I included an illustration of that in the casting post.) But straightening an elbow is much easier to see than the slap movement. You can make a weak slap just by straightening your wrist at the wrong time. Suddenly all your speed is gone and you may not have even noticed that you did it. What happened? You tightened up your forearm and wrist, which messed up your timing.

An unconscious move got derailed by a conscious attempt to control it.

Some people "slap the tabletop," right around waist high. These people often get caught up trying to "hold the angle" longer. But if you try that slapping exercise from earlier in this post, you already know that you can't get a good slap if you tighten your muscles.

And then there's the people who "flip." They are so close! For them, the ball is the wall, and their hand slaps the wall. They slapped properly, but their "wall" is in the wrong place!

So how do we fix it? Simple -- we move the wall!

Here's your drill: Set up (no club) perpendicular to a wall. I want the outside of your foot (left foot for righties, right foot for lefties) about 4 inches from the wall. Now I want you to practice slapping the wall with your low hand (right hand for righties, left hand for lefties). Just take your golf setup, turn back to about waist high, then swing around and slap the wall with your low hand. Please understand that I don't want you to slide forward toward the wall. I want you to turn your shoulders and hips more fully through the shot. Your belt buckle should be pointing toward the wall when you slap it.

Let me repeat that: You have to turn through the shot more in order to slap the wall with your palm. That's probably why you're flipping the club -- you stop your turn too soon. This drill, which you can do inside when you can't go to the course, will help you learn to turn through your shot better.

To take it to the course, set up normally with your ball in its normal position... but try to "hit the wall" with your hands before the clubhead hits the ball. I don't care if you can actually do it or not; what I want is for you to turn through the shot with relaxed wrists. If you do, you will create the proper amount of "lag" as a byproduct. The idea here is to stop interfering with a proper move that should happen unconsciously, and we do this by focusing on a move we do make consciously.

Additional notes on 12/30/19:

The diagram showing the six positions with your trail hand swinging back and setting the wrist should actually have Position #6 farther past the ball. If you look back at Annabel Rolley's extension drill you'll recognize where that position should be, since the wrist has straightened (or extended) fully through impact. The Setup Position diagram just below in that same post is closer to how both hands look at impact.

In the past I've also posted a couple of videos from GC that demonstrated the wrist action I described but the demonstrations only used one hand rather than both hands, which I think is the strength of the wall slap drill. I want to give you the links to those posts in case you'd like to see those videos... and some of those posts link to other posts, if you'd like to explore this motion in even more detail.
  • Trent Wearner on the Art of Swatting Flies: A 2017 post demonstrating the flyswatter motion using one hand and a club. Obviously you need room to swing the club for this drill -- you can use the Wall Slap Drill indoors -- and it only uses one hand instead of two, but it's still useful to help learn the feel.
  • The Art of Swatting Flies, Part 2: A follow-up to the Wearner post that used a video of the 'Carlton Dance' in the bunker. The 'Carlton Dance' is simply a practical application of the eternally useful L-to-L drill.
  • Martin Hall on Improving Your Impact Without a Club: I posted this originally in 2018. Martin did a drill similar to Wearner's but used a chair instead of a club. That means you can use it indoors but it still only uses one hand.
  • Hitting VS Swinging: I posted this in 2017 and specifically linked the two posts I reposted today. It tries to explain the difference between hitting and swinging, and helps you identify which technique may work best for you. Yes, although I recommend swinging, I realize that many of you may play better with a hitting action. You should use the best one for you, not just do what everybody else tells you to do. Take responsibility for your own game -- you'll enjoy it more that way!
Learning how to 'swat' the ball is, in my opinion, a key to gaining directional control over your shots. Tomorrow, for the final post of 2019, I'll give you a new post that should explain how proper wrist action can help you accurately feel where the ball is going to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment