Golf is possibly the most technical sport in the world. We praise great golfers and idolise their wonderful technique. We blame our own poor technique for errant shots we hit.
But the aim of golf isn’t to have a pretty looking golf swing. The aim of golf is to hit a little white ball into a hole. It is far too easy to get bogged down with technical thoughts and forget the true purpose of golfing technique.
There is plenty of research to suggest that thinking too much about our technique is harmful. Thinking about our technique, not only reduces our performance, but it also affects our ability to perform under pressure.
With this in mind how do you improve your golf swing without getting too technical. In this article we will cover three ways to improve your technique without getting in to a rabbit hole of 1,000 technical thoughts. The three ideas below are all very simple, but effective.
#1 Use analogies to improve your golf swing
Analogies involve using something you may already be familiar with, or a simple idea to change something far more complex and technical.
A simple example is telling a new golfer, who plays tennis, to hit a forehand topspin shot when trying to play a draw shot. This simple notion encourages all the components needed to hit a draw.
Golf insider geek: This analogy encourages the shoulder extension and body motion required to create an in-to-out swing path. Good Tennis players begin a forehand topspin shot with the racket pointing down towards the ground and maintain this throughout the shot – mirroring a closed club face. This is how a draw shot should be executed – with a club face closed to the swing path before impact. Not by wildly flipping your hands over through impact.
Asking a beginner golfer to hold the golf club in their right hand and imagine they were holding a hammer gives them a great analogy for a good right hand grip. Asking them to then hammer the golf ball into the ground gives them an ideas for how to hinge their wrists during the swing.
As you become a better golfer analogies can still be useful. Many single figure golfers make a great set up and backswing, but see their body action and club face control break down through impact.
If this sounds like you – imagine holding a bucket of water with both hands and try throwing the water at your target as you move through. You’ll find this analogy creates a great body motion through impact. It also prevents your wrists and the club face rolling over (you’ll throw your water left of your target if you do).
Analogies are great for improving your golf swing
The use of analogies doesn’t stop with making swing changes. They have also been shown to help you perform better under pressure. So they are highly useful when trying to take your improved golf swing onto the golf course.
Creating your own analogies
Analogies work when:
- They encourage the right action.
- They make sense to the individual using them.
You can, and should, create your own analogies as you make swing changes. Spend a little time to think what the swing changes feel like, then boil the complex changes down into one simple analogy – this is your swing thought.
#2 Use constraints to improve your golf swing
Next up we have constraints-based approach to practice. Sorry for the geeky scientific term – I will explain it. However, using the term constraints will help you go read and learn a lot more if you so wish.
Essentially, a constraints-based approach suggests the golf swing you make is a result of three things interacting:
- Individual constraints (height, strength, previous experience)
- The task at hand (hitting a 7-iron, Driver, a short chip)
- The environment (playing surface (matt vs grass), lie of the golf ball, weather)
You will never have exactly the same set of constraints twice – hence why you will never exactly repeat the same golf swing twice. Adapting your practice constraints is a brilliant way to improve your golf swing without over-thinking your technique.
Below are some simple ideas for you.
Improve your strike using constraints-based practice
There is plenty of technical information on how to strike your irons shots better for beginners and how to strike shots like a pro. These articles give you the knowledge of what to do, but thinking about the intricacies of your weight-shift during your downswing is a terrible way to play golf.
Instead, read the information then go and put the ball in a bad lie. Or set yourself the task of seeing how low you can hit a mid-iron shot on the golf range.
Both of these simple constraints encourage you to shift your weight onto you front foot, keep your hands ahead of the club head at impact…and so on. Essentially all of this technical work can be changed by repeatedly practicing under certain constraints.
Golf insider coaching: This approach is not new or magical thinking. John Jacobs famously used to ask beginners to hit a ball over a rope he hung 5 yards in front of them and 3 feet off the ground. The result – they all topped it along the floor. He then asked his students to hit the ball under the rope. They all hit down on their iron shots and hit brilliant iron shots over the rope – no 57 swing thoughts needed here…
Improve your swing path with constraints
Placing a basket outside the golf ball is an excellent constraint to move from an out-to-in swing path to a more neutral one. Again this isn’t rocket science, but it is far easier than trying to manipulate your body and arm action during your down swing to create a more neutral swing path.
#3 Use ball flight to change your technique
Last up, on how to improve your technique without getting too technical is to focus on your ball flight. In reality this is still changing your task-constraints, but it is so important I felt it deserves its own home.
Improving your golf swing is all about becoming better at golf. This means controlling and adapting your ball flight.
If you struggle with a slice. Find a great pro, get some simple coaching, then use it to go to the range and try to hit draw shots. Start off by just trying to get the ball moving left-to-right through the air. Don’t worry about the start or finish direction. Then add in the next step of trying to start the ball right of your target.
Just like the previous two other ideas in this article, this simple way of practicing will make all of your technical changes you need without over-thinking the whole thing. This approach works equally well if you struggle with a hook, pull, push… Just aim to create the opposing ball flight. Start big and bold, then slowing refine the feeling to get the ball back to your target.
The list is endless. Heading to the range and working on ball flight will improve your golf swing technique, it just does it without over thinking things.
In summary, I’m not saying there is no place for technical thinking when you are improving your golf swing – there is. A golfer often has to firstly understand, then think about what they need to change and perform specific drills.
However, if you want to make effective swing changes, speed up your learning and have better success taking your new improved golf swing onto the golf course. I would suggest you add a blend of the ideas covered in this article, alongside your technical practice.
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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider
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