joethiellogo2012

Articles

Secret To Speed

If there’s one thing a seasoned golf instructor can do, it’s spot a solid setup, even from 50 yards away. One look is all it takes for an experienced teacher to recognize athleticism and balance. The reason why? Any instructor worth his or her salt will stress the fundamentals of a solid setup if solid results are what the student seeks.


A proper setup requires a number of things. I’m sure you’ve been taught them all. Over my many years of teaching, however, I’ve learned that there are only four that truly matter. These magical setup elements are comprised of four different angles. If you can learn and attain these four angles at address, you’ll positively affect your contact and shotmaking skills.
The four angles are: Spine bend, spine tilt, hip bend and knee flex. Each angle plays an equal and important role in helping you create an athletic and balanced address position and enables you to swing the club with precision and power. You’ll also find that if you focus on the four angles, the remaining setup elements take care of themselves.


1. Spine Bend

Your body’s forward bend toward the ball is crucial. More important, however, is the amount of bend. Most amateurs bend over far too much; my recommendation is to err on the tall side. If a number must be assigned to the amount of forward bend, I’d use 25 degrees from vertical. This will vary between taller and shorter players but, nevertheless, it’s a decent average.
When you’re bent forward correctly (left), your shoulders, knees and feet should line up vertically. I call this being “stacked.” Too much forward bend will typically put your shoulders too far forward and not stacked up well over your knees. During the swing, our subconscious mind senses the bend is too drastic and will intuitively protect the body—whether we like it or not—and decrease the amount of bend. In other words, stand up. A too-deep bend places so much strain on the lower back region that the auto response is to rectify that and stand out of posture. Furthermore, an improper forward bend restricts the turn, which by itself can destroy the desired path and power delivery system into the forwardswing and beyond.


2. Spine Tilt
The second critical angle is the one your spine makes from vertical as it leans slightly right at address (for right-handed players). A slight tilt of the spine to the right presets your upper body in the desired backswing position, eliminating the need to move off the ball as you bring the club to the top.
It’s important to grasp that a spine tilt to the right isn’t a spine bend to the right. Our spines are very flexible, and it’s common for golfers to bend the upper half to the right and leave the lower half behind. This is not spine tilt. If you incorporate improper spine tilt into your address position, you can expect the full gamut of poor swing errors, including standing up, stranding your weight on your right side on the downswing, losing left-arm extension through impact, hitting behind the ball and many more.
Plus, think of the injuries that one can create with a poor, unhealthy bend and, of course, all of the compensations that are required to make decent contact. This can cause a lot of spine shearing and dangerous results and undue strain on the lower back.


3. Hip Bend

The third critical angle, hip bend, is closely related to spine bend. In fact, hip bend establishes the relative amount of spine bend. The hip bend angle must be set correctly at address and maintained throughout the swing. The common error is to bend from the stomach and not from the pelvic area, a mistake that places too much pressure and strain on the lower body delivery system.
Improper bending from the pelvic region is a pet peeve of mine since it forces the hips to overreact on the downswing. When you bend from the stomach and not the hips, the hips won’t function in their usual role, which is to help stabilize the lower body during the swing. Instead, they’re given too much freedom to move and often will scoot toward the target on the forwardswing. This immediately causes a variety of swing problems, not the least of which is a loss of power angles and path on the downswing. It doesn’t matter who you are, with improper pelvic flex, you’ll have to compensate somewhere in the swing to create decent contact.


4. Knee Flex

The last critical angle is knee flex. The bend at the knees is more important than you might think. The key is to realize that the knee flex you establish at address should be retained during the course of the backswing and into a portion of the forwardswing.
The desired amount of knee bend should again favor slight over drastic. The reason for this is simple: The greater the amount of knee bend at address, the more the knees will have to “unflex” to create a posted left leg at impact. The move from deep to tall is tough even for the most coordinated of players. Similarly tough is the task of holding a deep knee flex throughout the downswing. From a deep-knee bend start, most golfers will wildly move the knees. Contrast this scenario to what you see on TV. Today’s great players employ simple knee and hip movements so it becomes much easier to return to impact consistently.


Don’t fall into the trap that says strong leg and knee action in the swing creates power and leverage. Sure, we use the lower body, but only to assist our upper body to deliver the clubhead into the back of the golf ball on the proper path. In my opinion, standing taller is better, and learning how to coordinate a taller body is a much simpler task than one that is bent, cramped and flexed at address.


Practicing The Four Angles
To practice a postured, well-balanced start position, begin with a fully erect standing position, then bend your knees—slightly. Next, place your forefingers in your hip joint and find the crease where your hip and pelvis intersect. This is called the inguinal ligament area (I also refer to it as the pelvic triangle). With your forefingers still in place, bend forward from the inguinal ligament area. Feel your pelvis bending, not your stomach. As you do, refrain from rounding the upper back. Bend forward approximately 25 degrees, making sure to keep your spine intact. If you find this position uncomfortable, it’s a sign that you’ve been bending incorrectly for quite some time.


Next, tilt your spine slightly to the right (for right-handers). Remember, tilt your entire spine, not just the upper half. As you tilt, feel your weight move toward the balls of your feet. You also should feel balanced. A helpful drill for checking balance is to rock back and forth without changing any of the angles until you find a centered, balanced position. I check my students’ balance by gently pushing them from all directions to see if I can move them out of their setup positions. If they’re balanced, they’ll remain rock-solid, whether they’re seven or 75 years old.


Practice this new posture without a club daily for a few minutes. I recommend checking yourself in a mirror on occasion. It takes a commitment for a week or two to capture this taller and properly tilted position, but once you capture it, you’ll find it much easier to maintain during the swing compared to one that features deep knees, too much hip bend and a rounded back. When hitting shots from your new posture, start small. Begin with 40-yard wedge shots and move incrementally into full swings, then into your longer irons and woods. Within a short time, you’ll be hitting shots with the power and precision previously reserved for the world’s best players.

Elbow Room

Elbow Room

Generate a more productive swing by correctly moving the right elbow

Contrary to popular belief, the arms and elbows, from address to the top of the backswing, travel only a short distance. This is a reality few recreational players grasp. Most choose to believe that the arms and elbows travel a very great distance, and this is what provides power in the golf swing. These golfers are drastically misinformed. Power isn’t generated by swinging the arms and elbows out and away from your body. In fact, just the opposite is true. Read on to learn why and how to develop a more compact, more efficient and more productive swing.

Compact Hinge
A key concept to understand is that the arms, which are positioned in front of the chest at address, must remain in front of the chest throughout the swing. Keeping your arms and elbows in front of you begins with being able to execute a proper right elbow hinge. Most amateurs are guilty of hinging the elbow backward, an error that moves the right forearm under the swing plane, eventually trapping it behind the right hip on the forwardswing.

The right elbow should hinge up, not back. Maintain your arms’ position in front of your chest and also keep your right forearm on the plane of your swing. Your shoulder turn brings the club behind your head, not your arms.

You can practice the correct elbow hinge with any club. Following the takeaway, focus on folding the right elbow up, not out behind you. Your swing should feel much more vertical than before. More importantly, it should feel shorter. That’s a good thing since, whether you believe it or not, a good backswing is only 18 inches long. From setup to the top, your right elbow should move just about a foot and a half, from the center of your torso to just outside the right hip.

Despite its smaller-than-expected length, a “true” backswing fuels a simpler swing, is loaded with big-time power and makes it much easier to return to impact without hindrances or compensations.

A proper right elbow hinge is paramount to creating a fundamentally solid backswing. But it’s only a small piece to a bigger puzzle. The secret to better golf is to get rightly related at the top—a requirement that involves the establishment of four key angles, all of which are 90 degrees.

90/90/90/90 Drill
The first 90-degree angle is created by the right elbow. As you fold the elbow up (not behind, remember), it should hinge to 90 degrees. This 90-degree fold is measured from the right bicep to the right forearm. The other three 90-degree angles are made between 1) the right tricep and the right side of your torso; 2) your clubshaft and your right forearm; and 3) your shoulder line and the target line. Establishing these four angles adds extension and coil while keeping the backswing relatively short, compact and simple.

Stand up where you are and assume your standard address position. With your left hand resting on your hip, bring your right arm up and fold it 90 degrees right in front of you. That’s one 90-degree angle. Now, check that your right tricep makes a right angle with your torso. That’s 90-degree angle number two. Next, hinge the right elbow so that if you were holding a golf club in that hand, the shaft would make a right angle to your right forearm. That’s angle number three.

The last step in the drill is to simply rotate your shoulders 90 degrees or as much as your flexibility will allow. As you execute this turn, don’t allow your folded right elbow to move away from its set position. The right elbow should move only as far as it’s moved by your shoulder turn. Note how simple this all feels. This is being rightly related to your turn with your arms and elbows, and something you should strive for if you’re serious about improving.



Next, incorporate both arms at the preset position and turn again. Do this in front of a mirror and take a good look at what a full, loaded golf swing truly looks like. Quickly check that your hands lie just above the right shoulder and that your left arm is even with your right shoulder. More important, notice how your arms and elbows are situated only a small distance from where they were at address. Like I said, 18 inches is all it takes. For further proof, watch any professional the next time a tournament airs on TV. The modern greats never take their hands past 11:00, and nearly all of them keep their arms in front of their chest.

Now, try the same drill with a golf club. In practice, your goal is to find the simplest move from setup to the top that relocates your arms and elbows rightly in front of you.

Moving On
If you can get correctly set at the top, all that’s left to do is to return your right elbow and forearm intact to your right leg on the downswing. The key here is to refrain from folding the elbow backward. Return your right elbow and arm to your right leg by maintaining your elbow fold and following the same route they took on the way to the top. As you reach impact, let everything unfold. You should find that, at impact, your hands, arms and elbows are in a much more forward position than where they were at address, which delofts the clubface and produces strong, boring trajectory shots. You should also find that your right elbow isn’t nearly as trapped as it may have been before because of the correct forwardswing movements. If so, you’ve eliminated a major flaw from your swing.

I’ve always felt that, once understood, the correct hinging and movement of the right elbow will accelerate improvement more than any other facet of the golf swing. Over the next few weeks, perform the 90/90/90/90 exercise and use the new motions on the range. Start small, with half-wedge swings, then progress to full swings, then to your mid- and long-irons. Suddenly, you’re only 18 inches from glory.

Got Angle?
A correct folding of the right elbow is evidenced by four key right angles: 1) between your right tricep and your torso; 2) between the right tricep and right forearm; 3) between your right arm and the clubshaft; and 4) between your shoulder line and the target line. If you can create these four angles, you’ll successfully create a more compact swing and correctly maintain your arms in front of your body throughout.

Syncronizing (timing) Movement

Timing is perceived as such an elusive thing in golf. The word is used in a poor context nearly all the time when single digit handicap players score poorly. I just couldn’t seem to get my timing under control nearly all day out there, quip player after player. Being this elusive makes players very streaky to say the least but my opinion is that many portions of the golf swing are still misunderstood and that is after years and years of material created and available on swing fundamentals. One of the major sources of this timing frustration is that most do not know what a full swing really is and therefore how on earth to create it. Not knowing this foundational basic makes every sense of timing more then elusive, and causes so many decelerated moves that it is no wonder even with new equipment and lightening fast golf balls most still can’t hit the ball much farther. Most would assume a full swing to them is one in which the golf club reaches parallel and for those flexible enough beyond. This fallacy and well intentioned thought is incorrect and I want to help you understand what is full and how to deliver that full swing to impact in right “”synchronized”” order. “ These “synchronized techniques” are what I spend the majority of the long game swing time on with all students that I have taught long enough to have the basic swing foundation….. Synchronizing the body’s turn and the arm swing to the top makes the swing a lot easier to maintain and time. Learning how to swing your arms in front of you to the top directed by your upper body’s turn makes things a whole lot easier to manage. Your full shoulder turn should find at its completion the arms and hands near the 11:00 position of a clock. Based on your body structure and size this could also be only at 10:00 or between the two. The wrists cocking can be easily accomplished without thought provided your grip pressure and tension levels are reasonable. This top fully loaded position needs to be synchronized by your turn and arrive nearly at the same time. Most find this full swing to be much shorter then they previously thought it needed to be but the big ticket here is the synchronization of the arms, hands, shaft, and the shoulder turn. KEY: To achieve this meshing of the turn, arms, hands and club, your practice should start in simpler terms and then finally graduate to your “new full swing.” So start out by making ½ golf swings in your practice session where the arms and hands stay in direct correlation to the turn. This should find the cocking nearly already complete with the shaft standing straight up in the air and arms at 9:00. The shaft should have no drop, flip, or collapse in it but remains fully cocked and solid without tension. This all, synchronized by the turn and arrival times precise. Once achieved continue to turn closer to your full turn until finally your comfortable with a simple 90 degrees in your turn, (based on your flexibility) and your arms/hands arriving at your full backswing position. KEY: Establishing proper path travel of your arms, hands, and shaft in the backswing in relation to your turning upper body obviously is important. Most still do not understand this simple concept and when they get the correct feel of how the arms. hands stay in front of the turn it feels “extremely outside” to them. Remember it still holds true in this game and many others as well that feel and truth are more often then not quite different. Nearly every lesson I revideo several times the correct positions so student and teacher develop more of a trust as to really what is right. This revideo of correct arms in front of the turn accelerates the learning process dramatically and I would advise each of you reading this to also do the same for yourself or with your instructor. So arms, elbows, and hands move in synchronized fashion, traveling on their inclined plane yet in front of that turn arriving to the top in front of the chest turn. Drills: Quick turn and stops at the top in perfect arrival synchronized fashion until the top of the swing is complete, then translate this to swinging the same without pause feeling that synchronization. The forward swing: Our goal in this entire swing really is arrival to impact in a fashion that uses every part of the body in its most powerful delivery positions. This includes the lower body in all aspects, the upper body, and hands, arms and shaft. This synchronized impact position does not have to be broken down in tons of instruction but can be achieved with what I call “dry drills.” That is at home and office without even a club. Start this by finding the correct impact power position. This is weight into tall left leg and hip well turned toward the target holding original lower body posture. To find this position place your butt lightly against a wall to start with turning into impact feeling the left hip still touching the wall and the right knee and foot internally rotated toward the left. T his may feel uncomfortable but the more you practice this feel the simpler it will become as you learn the necessary stretch. The chest and shoulders in this prescribed impact near the same position as the start save some spring lift in the left shoulder. The arms and hands moving to their new forward position in a straight line down the left leg. This straight line includes a flattening of the left wrist as well and again everything lining up in front of that left leg in a straight line. Start out with a simple short almost chipping length of swing moving the entire body in a synchronized back swing and thru swing to impact position. Stop dead at impact. Repeat constantly until you can feel these arrival times and then increase the size until you can do this all the way to the top. Capture your new feelings and then add a club to this practice again stopping at impact. Using an impact bag of some sort is also a great idea to feel the strength of the impact position. An interesting side bar is that even the beginner and average player swing much differently when using an impact bag then they do in real time with a golf ball. Another side bar here is videoing students throwing a golf club verses hitting a golf ball. For 20 years we have been taping students doing both and for every single player the differences are dramatic. The reason of course is the movements against a bag and tossing a club need to be instinctive and reactionary as we perform the tasks. Automatically we move right into nearly a flawless position, (exactly what we are looking for in the swing), with automatic power angles and path. Showing folks this has been a huge acceleration game improvement tool for our schools. Next, start small and progress hitting a few graduating shots focusing on timing to impact and lining up the arms, hands, shaft, and entire body in that strong left side power position. Use mirrors to assist you with your visual understanding as well.

Teacher In Your Bag

This special golf club has the unique ability to teach you the simple swing fundamentals for the new player and also help the strong player recapture their slumping swing.


Since the sand wedge is a shorter club, use it to establish rhythm. The head is heavier than the other irons and this alone makes it difficult to swing hard and jerky. In my teaching I like the student to understand the leading edge of the wedge stays connected to the body's movement throughout the swing from address through impact. As you turn, the arms, hands, body and leading edge all travel in unison.


With this understanding, your only job then becomes proper movement of your body. Assume a balanced address position and cross your arms, shoulder to shoulder. Make simulated swings into the right side, back to impact, then through to the finish position.


With this movement, start making 1/2 and 3/4 wedge shots. Learn to feel the club moving in exact coordination with your body. After hitting several small wedge shots, move into a few 8-iron shots. Resist the desire to snap at the ball, but focus on the connection movement with perfect timing as with the wedge.

Elbow Room: Generate a more productive swing by correctly moving the right elbow

Elbow Room

Generate a more productive swing by correctly moving the right elbow

Contrary to popular belief, the arms and elbows, from address to the top of the backswing, travel only a short distance. This is a reality few recreational players grasp. Most choose to believe that the arms and elbows travel a very great distance, and this is what provides power in the golf swing. These golfers are drastically misinformed. Power isn’t generated by swinging the arms and elbows out and away from your body. In fact, just the opposite is true. Read on to learn why and how to develop a more compact, more efficient and more productive swing.

Compact Hinge
A key concept to understand is that the arms, which are positioned in front of the chest at address, must remain in front of the chest throughout the swing. Keeping your arms and elbows in front of you begins with being able to execute a proper right elbow hinge. Most amateurs are guilty of hinging the elbow backward, an error that moves the right forearm under the swing plane, eventually trapping it behind the right hip on the forwardswing.

The right elbow should hinge up, not back. Maintain your arms’ position in front of your chest and also keep your right forearm on the plane of your swing. Your shoulder turn brings the club behind your head, not your arms.

You can practice the correct elbow hinge with any club. Following the takeaway, focus on folding the right elbow up, not out behind you. Your swing should feel much more vertical than before. More importantly, it should feel shorter. That’s a good thing since, whether you believe it or not, a good backswing is only 18 inches long. From setup to the top, your right elbow should move just about a foot and a half, from the center of your torso to just outside the right hip.

Despite its smaller-than-expected length, a “true” backswing fuels a simpler swing, is loaded with big-time power and makes it much easier to return to impact without hindrances or compensations.

A proper right elbow hinge is paramount to creating a fundamentally solid backswing. But it’s only a small piece to a bigger puzzle. The secret to better golf is to get rightly related at the top—a requirement that involves the establishment of four key angles, all of which are 90 degrees.

90/90/90/90 Drill
The first 90-degree angle is created by the right elbow. As you fold the elbow up (not behind, remember), it should hinge to 90 degrees. This 90-degree fold is measured from the right bicep to the right forearm. The other three 90-degree angles are made between 1) the right tricep and the right side of your torso; 2) your clubshaft and your right forearm; and 3) your shoulder line and the target line. Establishing these four angles adds extension and coil while keeping the backswing relatively short, compact and simple.

Stand up where you are and assume your standard address position. With your left hand resting on your hip, bring your right arm up and fold it 90 degrees right in front of you. That’s one 90-degree angle. Now, check that your right tricep makes a right angle with your torso. That’s 90-degree angle number two. Next, hinge the right elbow so that if you were holding a golf club in that hand, the shaft would make a right angle to your right forearm. That’s angle number three.

The last step in the drill is to simply rotate your shoulders 90 degrees or as much as your flexibility will allow. As you execute this turn, don’t allow your folded right elbow to move away from its set position. The right elbow should move only as far as it’s moved by your shoulder turn. Note how simple this all feels. This is being rightly related to your turn with your arms and elbows, and something you should strive for if you’re serious about improving.



Next, incorporate both arms at the preset position and turn again. Do this in front of a mirror and take a good look at what a full, loaded golf swing truly looks like. Quickly check that your hands lie just above the right shoulder and that your left arm is even with your right shoulder. More important, notice how your arms and elbows are situated only a small distance from where they were at address. Like I said, 18 inches is all it takes. For further proof, watch any professional the next time a tournament airs on TV. The modern greats never take their hands past 11:00, and nearly all of them keep their arms in front of their chest.

Now, try the same drill with a golf club. In practice, your goal is to find the simplest move from setup to the top that relocates your arms and elbows rightly in front of you.

Moving On
If you can get correctly set at the top, all that’s left to do is to return your right elbow and forearm intact to your right leg on the downswing. The key here is to refrain from folding the elbow backward. Return your right elbow and arm to your right leg by maintaining your elbow fold and following the same route they took on the way to the top. As you reach impact, let everything unfold. You should find that, at impact, your hands, arms and elbows are in a much more forward position than where they were at address, which delofts the clubface and produces strong, boring trajectory shots. You should also find that your right elbow isn’t nearly as trapped as it may have been before because of the correct forwardswing movements. If so, you’ve eliminated a major flaw from your swing.

I’ve always felt that, once understood, the correct hinging and movement of the right elbow will accelerate improvement more than any other facet of the golf swing. Over the next few weeks, perform the 90/90/90/90 exercise and use the new motions on the range. Start small, with half-wedge swings, then progress to full swings, then to your mid- and long-irons. Suddenly, you’re only 18 inches from glory.

Got Angle?
A correct folding of the right elbow is evidenced by four key right angles: 1) between your right tricep and your torso; 2) between the right tricep and right forearm; 3) between your right arm and the clubshaft; and 4) between your shoulder line and the target line. If you can create these four angles, you’ll successfully create a more compact swing and correctly maintain your arms in front of your body throughout.

A MASTER TEACHER'S SECRETS TO ACCELERATED GOLF PERFORMANCE

book-cam-image From one who is considered among the nation’s top teachers comes A Master Teacher’s Secrets To Accelerated Golf Performance, an informative and practical guide to achieving success in golf.

 

Read More...

Joe Article In China Golf

china-mag-small-icon Newest Joe Instruction Article in Chinese.

 

Read More...

Olympia Golf Schools

Palm Dessert Golf School

About Joe

Joe Thiel has spent 40 years helping others learn and enjoy the game of golf.He is one of only a few golf professionals in the U.S. who has earned the prestigious PGA Master Professional designation. The local PGA region has honored him as the PGA Teacher of the Year three times - in 1993, 1995, and 1997. He was also inducted into the Mercer County Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the 'Millennium Who's Who in America.' Golf Magazine has also honored Joe with the title of Top 100 Teachers in America for many years and Golf Driving Range Magazine has also honored him as one of the top 50 Teachers in America. More About Joe.