To be a top performer in any sport, you need to be physically fit, coordinated, and have the ability to “be in the zone”. Players on the PGA have all of these essential elements because they work very hard on both their physical as well as mental conditioning.
At this time of year there are numerous sports to watch on TV. Three sports that come to mind are golf, hockey and baseball. All of these sports involve swinging a piece of equipment at a ball or puck and eventually at a target. In golf the target is the flag-stick, in hockey it’s the net and in baseball it’s the bleachers on the other side of the wall.
When swinging at a puck or a ball, the goal is to create speed and power at the point of contact. If you have ever hit a home run, scored a goal with a 'blistering' slap shot or had a hole in one with that perfect swing then you will know what I am talking about.
Finding your wheelhouse involves being in the perfect position at impact. In golf you must have your club-face square at impact and you need to generate maximum club head speed when you meet the ball. In golf, it’s not so much about hitting the ball, but more about having everything moving towards your target through impact. Your weight, your arms and your club head all need to be moving forward towards your target through impact.
There are a couple of drills that you can do to develop the feel of being 'in your wheelhouse'. The first drill involves swinging your club on a horizontal plane, much like a batter in baseball. When you swing your club back, make sure that you maintain full extension in your lead arm. You should also set the angle in your lead wrist, so that the shaft of your club is at a 90 degree angle to your lead arm. This will help you generate maximum club head speed through impact as you release the club through the ball. Pause slightly at the top of your back-swing, so that you can reverse and start to move everything forward towards your target. To generate club head speed forward, make sure to use both your legs and hip rotation to help release your club through impact. When swinging on this horizontal plane it will feel like swinging a bat across the plate. After you finish your swing your belt buckle should be pointing forward to centre field and all of your weight should be on your target foot.
Next, tip your body forward, so that your club and arms are at a 45 degree angle from your original horizontal plane. Repeat this swinging action, focusing again at your extension and the setting of your wrists. In this position your club will still be hovering and your club will not touch the ground when you swing it.
Finally, set up in your normal address position until your club rests on the ground. Repeat the back-swing motion and your forward swing motion, feeling both the club head speed and power that you are generating as your club head contacts the ground.
The final drill that you can do is practising this swing with an impact bag. The bag will not only give you the feel of what it should feel like when your club is in the impact position, but also the sound of impact as your club strikes the bag. A great drill that provides you with essential feedback.
When you are in your wheelhouse you will never see impact, you will simply feel and hear it!
Next Week: Learning Patience in Golf