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Pressure Points

PRESSURE POINTS    

By Joe Thiel

pp1Since pressure points in the golf swing are paramount to great ball striking and in my opinion can not be refuted, each player must learn not only what and where they are located, but how to monitor these points starting first with the short game until they become habit. It just can’t be accomplished any other way. Had this in depth discussion at the US Senior Open in a practice round with Tom Watson as we shared our ideal pressure points together. Through years of teaching and experimentation with every imaginable thought of pressure points, I have come back time and again to these few.

For the Right handed player.

First and so very important is the right hand’s underside forefinger. In its neutral held position, one should attempt to feel the pressure and weight of the golf club in the crease of that underside second knuckle of the forefinger called the “trigger pad.” Student’s should try to feel the club load into that trigger pad on the backswing and on the forward transition slightly “tug” that trigger pad toward them all the way to impact. We use that feel in the full swing as well as it gives all students, especially those that learn the game primarily kinesthetically, an immediate perfect understanding of loading and unloading on the correct plane. It is a can’t miss sensation that secures “lag and plane” for the rest of every players life. **This is a must to be set and established as a routine fundamental right from the start of every players developing program as we train students ­­­­­­­­­­­­­not to attempt to hit that golf ball but to monitor all the lag pressure point components**.This is so very important but almost always missed by players. There is a bit of that sensation also in the right hands second knuckle of the middle finger as well and some students say they feel it here as much as the forefinger.

The second pressure point is the heel or the lifeline area of the right hand. Assuming your grip is correct you will feel the left hand thumb married to the right hand lifeline and during the back swing feel the left and right thumbs “load the club on plane.” In transition you should feel a slight soft push of that right hand heel, wrist and life line area against the left hand thumb toward the left wrist. This promotes the left and right wrist to cock a bit more on the downswing as the arms deliver the golf club.    

Many student’s tendency is to now jump right into some full swing shots to capture this feel but students need to catch this in these short shots first to develop it. My years of experience tell me that if you do this right and learn these miro feelings making them natural, will transfer right into your long game. That’s why the ½ dozen short game sessions because I personally want to see some sound habits formed first.  

I have felt that the teaching of pulling down with the last 3 fingers of the left hand that has been somewhat prominent the last 2 decades may have thrown people off especially since the arms need to be generating the forward motion much more then the hands. This attempt at pulling may have actually caused many players to push the handle toward the ground with the thumbs in the early stages of the forward swing causing some serious consequences. Some of these have been the left arm radius breakdowns, a premature straightening of the right arm, a jerk of the timing sequences, and the dreaded cast or club throwaway as it generally is referred to.

Another pressure point is the left hand second knuckle areas of middle and ring finger. The weight of the club loads into those fingers as well and students can start to feel the shaft load into the correct swing plane in the backswing and then pull toward them not down in the forward transition area as the arms again take the lead. Like all pressure points students tend to misinterpret what these fingers should be doing keeping so many possible really good players from being quite good.  

pp-1

(This video look of power and path leak coming outside and across to hit this pitch shot)

Suffice it to say that a constant equal grip pressure in both hands and a monitored feeling of special pressure points delivered with some decent tempo will go a long or a better word HUGE way toward helping your long game. Since most start learning the game in the full swing I believe the natural tendency is to push the shaft and club head to hit the ball. When we instruct in the short game lag and pressure point areas first, everyone’s game changes immediately as they finally understand how power is loaded, delivered by the arms with pressure points in tact, and instinctively released.

I have seen student’s entire game change in this area once they understood pressure points, how to load them and deliver them on plane with rhythm. I have taken so much time to video student after student before and right after teaching pressure points and put the two swings side by side. The difference is immediate. For the first time, decent plane and angles were achieved just with this little kinesthetic feeling and knowledge. Ball flight, path and distance also changed dramatically in launch monitor testing for every single person due to understanding the correct feeling of the club loading into that right hand index finger and the corresponding correct feeling of the reload into the fingers and palm once again.

A side note about these several pressure points so far is that back in the 1970’s our men’s club at the golf facility I was at had a night each summer they called the club throw. It was fun to watch these crazy guys get out there after their round of golf and throw old clubs at a target. Even with old video equipment one could see how much better their instinctive motion was tossing these clubs then their normal motion hitting a golf ball. As we took this a bit further through experimentation we found the mind actively seeking the target created great body movements and natural lag pressure which translated into picture type golf swings. The body’s brain naturally knew that the arms were definitely supposed to lead in the forward swing and that the old cast type push of incorrect hands would not work if they wanted to toss that club down the fairway. It worked time and time again and was an eye opening experience for many students when they saw this action on tape. The body just naturally reconfigured itself right toward instinctive behaviors and off the club went right toward the target. It was then the study of pressure points and the mind were born for me as a teacher and as a player.

The final pressure points discussion is the amount of squeeze one employs in the right and left hand thumbs. Thumbs on the shaft are support vehicles in which to load the backswing and additionally hopefully naturally carry that larger load to impact as the arms deliver the downswing. Unfortunately most use the thumb pads to push the hands and club head toward the ground again destroying path and power. The correct feeing should be a soft non pressured contact with the shaft in the underside knuckle area of the thumbs not the pad areas. This contact relationship with these knuckles and that feeling of the knuckles during the forward swing goes a long way toward angle retention. Many years ago the thumb area became a HUGE discovery for me as I have never to this day heard of it before. Players that struggle with angles, tension, and consistent contact “all” fall in love with this that first day of instruction in the short game. Every single player has huge improvements once we assist them with removing additional pressure in these thumb pads along with the feel and visuals associated with using the thumbs for plane instruction. (Later on plane.) The feel is simple, monitor a feeling of a soft 4 grip pressure during the entire chip stroke, feel the underside of the thumb knuckles put pressure against the handle and toward you on the downswing and see the results. They are pretty darn staggering.

Drills and Practice:

For your first drill try placing a bit of grass just inside that second knuckle of your right hand forefinger. Enough to feel the club as it loads a bit in these short shots into that knuckle.    

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(Img: I love this drill as it gives players for the first time a quantified way to feel the club load) Now note how the pressure on that knuckle and the grass under it feels if the club is loaded on a plane that points the handle correctly right at your golf ball. Note the different feeling and pressure at the grass knuckle combination if it is loaded flat around you or too far outside and away from you and not at the ball.

pp3
During the backswing use the grass as a         Even in the short chips and pitches you tool to load the club against on the correct  can feel the angle increase if you can swing plane.                                                       slightly tug that grass/knuckle up toward you in transition

Try also at the same time adding a bit of grass or divot right on top of your left hand thumb that pressures against the heel of your right hand as shown in the picture below.

pp4

(During the backswing feel that grass and (On the forward swing feel the heel portion thumb combination load on the correct of your right hand softly push against the swing plane) top knuckle of your left hand and a bit toward you creating a deeper angle of delivery.)

During your chipping practice, attempt to feel those pressure points moving more on the plane line on the backswing pointed right at the ball target line never really concerned about contact. \Monitor a consistent feel of the grass pulled from the right forefinger against the shaft up toward you and the grass pushed from the right hand pad against that left hand thumb toward the left wrist. Eventually do it all with a light soft grip pressure adding this to your everyday practice. Separate your practice using one pressure point only. After several minutes switch to another then another until you find the right combinations. The idea of course is for you to start to naturally uncover the feelings that have been there but were covered up for so long. They are there for sure, and it is our job to help, you find them. Tougher in a book then in person but a sure bet you will be able to feel it with smart practice.

Here again I like to introduce loading the second knuckle of right forefinger on the correct plane line. That inclined plane of that forefinger should also match both your thumbs as they load into the back swing as well.    

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(Matching right hand second knuckles and the left hand thumb all on the correct swing plane)

This is a great visual and a great feel that can so easily be monitored for plane instruction. It is so much easier then just using a laser or other device that works for a bit but doesn’t seem to translate. It is the feel that you’re after and using that feel daily will create the instinctive habits you’re looking for. From time to time try also lifting the right hand thumb completely off the grip but suspending it in the air right above the grip on plane. Switch thumbs and even sometimes try both thumbs off the club. Hitting chips and pitches like this is an eye-opening experience of how not to use the thumbs and to trust contact.    pp6

( I have had much success with this drill not only because it teaches better downswing angle penetration but also it influences everyone’s mental game teaching trust). Finally place a piece of divot on the underside thumb knuckles as far away from the pad of the thumbs as possible barely able to hold onto that grass. In this drill the pad portion of the thumbs can be slightly lifted off the grip but the knuckle portion softly on to hold the grass. This feeling of pressuring the thumbs a bit at the knuckle area only in transition to hold that grass will reacquaint your lag pressure senses that just needed to be uncovered.

A good number of students have said that monitoring the pressure of that left hand thumb knuckle was their breakthrough for constant contact and power from chips to the long game. “Talk about getting rid of the “yips.”

By the way have you ever seen a golf glove that is worn so badly in the thumb pad area that it is almost shredded? Now you can understand the reason is that players use these thumb pads to push the grip down toward the ground even sliding the thumb pads on the handle. This goes away with short practice using the underside of the knuckle of the thumb wisely.

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(Worn thumb pad on your glove is quite telling)

Next part of your daily short game practice program add as many shots as you have time developing grip pressure constants. Start by monitoring a consistent 3 and then a 4 all the way to your short game finish and so on until you find your money pressure. In the grip pressure practice try varying the focus limiting it to one area at a time such as areas of forefingers, thumbs, and even the right hand heel pad. Eventually simplify it and find out which area seems to correlate to best solid contact and consistency. Break down your practice session even more monitoring for several minutes the pressure points for swing plane on the back swing and then the forward swing. Use a mirror as an assistant coach to monitor the plane. Now start small and wait a few sessions before you jump into a full 7 iron shot. *** Be patient as the short game will teach you the long game if your patient*** which again is the reason for this book in the first place. After several short game sessions using these step by step details you will soon be able to advance all the way to your long game in every practice session. When you play the game you will have created habits that will dramatically affect your long game and you will have no need of mechanical thoughts in your full swing.

                                                               Joe Thiel PGA Master Golf Professional

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 22:04
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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.