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This article contines the discussion about the fourth Concept Golf swing principle, relaxation. This principle and the weight transfer principle are completely intertwined. If the shoulders are relaxed, weight transfer must take place. And if weight transfer takes place, the shoulders can be totally relaxed.
Incorporating Relaxation into Your Swing
How do you incorporate this shoulder relaxation into your swing? Start with the 7- iron and hit some seventy-five yard shots with your body moving through weight transfer and your shoulders relaxed. This will be a pleasant experience. Gradually make the swing bigger and quicker, but never force the distance. Let the greater distance come as a result of relaxation and movement. The distance will come, and you will be surprised at how effortlessly you swing to create the distance.
The only way to consistently hit the ball on the sweet spot, with the clubface aimed at the target, is through complete shoulder relaxation. If you try to make the club hit the ball on the sweet spot and make the clubface point at the target, you will hit poor shots. You can no more direct the clubface to the ball than you can direct the baseball to the catcher's glove. Give up this notion of control; it certainly doesn't apply to the golf swing or to the playing of the game. Trying to control every aspect of your swing is like trying to control a handful of mercury. To be most effective, aim at the target and swing - then watch the ball go to the target.
One of the important by-products of relaxing your shoulders is that your hands will be leading the club head at impact and into the finish. Your hands must be in this position for good ball striking. The club head never passes the hands in any good golf shot. The "hands-ahead-of-the club-head" effect is not something that can be produced by control, physical effort or restriction. This effect can only be the result of complete shoulder relaxation.
Each of the five Concept Golf swing principles is very important. The concept of relaxation seems to be a challenge for some golfers, but it is a necessity and you can do it. One of the ways to have a better understanding of this concept is to make an overhand throwing motion as if you are throwing a baseball. Notice how relaxed your shoulder must be as you throw the ball. This little exercise is a good way to get a better idea of the complete shoulder relaxation that is necessary in your shoulders for throwing a ball and for the golf swing.
Tension is the result of an incorrect concept of the swing and game. It is frequently caused by trying to force distance. Tension is also the effect of fear and self-imposed pressure. Did you ever watch the Tour Players play the last few holes in a tournament they were leading? What are they doing?
Fuzzy Zoeller is talking continuously. Some are whistling. Others are doing whatever they do to relax under this kind of self-imposed pressure. The point is that they know they must stay relaxed if they are to maintain peak performance and not allow mental tension to create physical tension.
Here is an idea to help with the mental part of this very important relaxation concept: Keep the shot and the game in the proper perspective. Stand over every shot and, just before you start your backswing, say to yourself, "So what, big deal. This is a game and I am having fun." Talk yourself out of the idea that this is the most important shot of your life. If your self-talk is, "Please, stay out of the water," you're creating tension. Lighten up and give yourself a chance to succeed! Get the attitude that you're a disinterested observer, nothing more. Relax your thoughts and watch your shoulders relax.
A True Story
Relaxation is an important principle. Here's a true story that further highlights its value.
Some time ago, I was playing golf in Hilton Head with a friend and student, Tommy Arnold. As we warmed up, I watched Tommy hit a few shots. When we had played the previous day, Tommy had hit several tee shots far to the right. He was concerned and I wanted to help him find a solution.
I could see him really working over every shot. I noticed his face was all screwed up as he got ready to make the swing. He looked like he had just gotten a bad financial report and was sucking on a lemon.
I asked him if I might make a suggestion and he said, "Of course." I told him to relax his face until his lips "fell off" during his swing preparation. I'm sure he thought I was going to tell him how to reposition his hands or some other mechanical adjustment to keep from hitting it to the right.
As he relaxed his face and his lips "slid to the ground," his swing smoothed out and his ball striking improved greatly. He thought the lesson was a bit strange, but he liked the improvements to his game. You can't be sad and sing a happy song. Neither can you have a relaxed face and a tense body. Tension was causing his arms to be tight as he swung through the ball, and this made his shots go to the right.
As I teach golfers this principle, they often give an involuntary exclamation of joy and amazement after their first good golf shot. The swing was so effortless, and the ball went so far, that they couldn't help making a little whistle or a wow. Very cool!
Another by-product of shoulder relaxation is overcoming the biggest power leak in the golf swing. When the arms start down before the legs and body reverse their direction, the potential power of the body is gone. Try throwing a ball without moving the body and see how much power you have. Shoulder relaxation makes the arms wait for the body to move, and this causes the arms to be dragged through the ball with the greatest possible speed.