Making a Swing Change
Efficient technique is only one of a number of components that will produce a desirable golf shot, but for a great number of us who play the game this technique will provide the limitation of our shot shape and patterns. Therefore from time to time we will consider a swing change to improve these limitations, but before we take on this task it is perhaps worth considering a few points.
Never has it been so easy to find out millions of bits of information about how to swing a club better by using the internet, this of course is not a bad thing at all (how else would you be reading this article) but an important question should be asked first – what technical change may apply to you? Try to set out the reasons for the change and understand how a change will benefit you. I would obviously say here that a PGA professional is best placed to help you set down the goal and understanding of the alteration but even if you are doing it yourself make sure you understand your objectives and what you are trying to improve. Don’t just do it because you heard or read about another player changing something like their backswing angle and they improved their shots, this may not apply to your swing.
When you have decided why and what you want to change, be realistic and commit to it. For the most part accept that we are battling with human brain/bodies habit processes and even though we may know exactly the movement we want to make – your existing habits are likely to fight this altering process. This also means for a time you will have to conscious of movements that will generally coordinate better when they are more in auto-pilot. So it is okay to make mistakes during this learning process in fact it is very important to make mistakes so we can learn and have a better understanding of the alteration. Also set a realistic time scale with commitment.
Set up constraints to show you that are reaching your alterations particularly in the beginning of the changing process. After a period of time I would also encourage people to hit balls without these constraints as well to make sure are not returning back to the old default when the constraints are not there.
Start off slowly – literally. Try to slow the whole swing down initially, this is one of the best ways to learn new patterns but be warned it is not as easy to do as it might seem both from both a physical and a mental discipline perspective.
I have had 100’s of conversations with different golf coaches over the years and a lot of them have similar processes when they give lessons. One of these is to mentally try to put themselves in the pupil’s body when they are swinging to get a sense of how their swing would feel. This feel and visualisation way of learning can be very effective for making changing yourself. I’m sure you have heard it said in sport “close your eyes and get a clear image”. Ideally this is not just a picture but has feel and even sound. Sometimes getting a sense of what the new changes should feel like can be the hardest stage but can often be the large piece of the jigsaw puzzle. This is where exaggeration can be used to get this sense of feeling you are looking for.
I have heard it said many times that “change can be tough” but I genuinely think it is very doable by all of us. Just make sure you are doing for the right reasons and understand the process you are going through – it’s worth it in the long term.