Balance is the Key to Great Ball Striking
Before driving ranges, most pros shagged their own balls. They would hit balls from one end of a field, walk to the other end, and hit them back.
Pros needed endurance and accuracy. An unintended benefit was that they’d focus on most of their shots so they didn’t have to go all over hell’s half-acre picking up balls.
From the ages of 14 to 19, Moe Norman shagged more than one million golf balls, most of them in a 225- yard field at Rockway Golf Club in Kitchener, Ontario. The field at Rockway helped forged one of the most powerful and accurate golf swings in the history of the game.
Forty years later, Moe didn’t talk about working hard at Rockway. He talked about effortlessness, ease, and simplicity; about learning to move his body in perfect sequence – in perfect balance.
“My swing balances me,” he would say.
All great ballstrikers swing in balance. Whether we look at a figure skater, quarterback, skateboarder or golfer, all high-performance athletes make complex movements look easy because they move in perfect balance.
Golfers who cannot swing in balance significantly reduce their chances to hit the ball solidly, accurately and consistently. The overwhelming majority of golfers swing the club from outside to inside the target line, while better players tend to swing excessively from the inside.
In both scenarios, the club is out of position and the body moves to counteract the forces at work in the swing, making it difficult to stay in balance. This verifies Moe’s explanation that his swing balanced him.
Moe talked about making the body stable. With stability, the student has a much better chance of moving in balance. Drills that encourage stabilizing the body and proper spine movement will promote proper club movement.
Anything that affects the movement of the spine affects the balance of the body. This includes distance from ball and the position of the ball relative to the lead shoulder, which is a function of stance width. To create an optimum position of the body for balance, the ball must be positioned correctly in order to simplify the body’s ability to balance during the strike.
Since balance is related to how the feet work and balance the body throughout the swing, the best drills for working on balance help you learn connection to the ground.
Great ballstrikers synchronize their upper and lower bodies in a way that allows the hips to turn into the backswing as the shoulders turn. Then, during the transition, the lower body starts the downswing move as the club “drops” on plane. The lower upper body/lower body relationship establishes the stability of the lower body as the upper body produces speed.
Feet on the Ground Drill
Striking golf balls with both feet on the ground from the backswing through release helps train students to stabilize their lower bodies. Ensure that students turn their hips while keeping their feet on the ground, and that the right hip turns inward in the downswing as the lead knee remains flexed. This drill keeps the spine in position throughout the golf swing.
Leverage Bag Drills
A leverage bag is a great training aid to help students move into impact with the upper and lower body moving correctly in sequence. The leverage bag helps teach stability throughout the swing. Note: at impact, the hips are open and feet are flat on the ground.
Todd Graves is the founder of the Graves Golf Academy, with teaching locations in Orlando, Florida, and Edmond, Oklahoma. Visit www.moenormangolf.com for more information. Tim O’Connor is president of O’Connor Golf Communications in Guelph, Ontario. For more information, visit www.oconnorgolf.ca