Laws, Principles, and Training Aids

A golf training aid’s true function is often overshadowed by marketing claims like, “The only product that really works! Improves distance and accuracy!” Or, “Lowers your score 3-5 strokes – guaranteed!” It is helpful to fit training aids into a framework that will allow you to better evaluate them and know when to use them during your instruction. Rather than thinking of a training aid as a full swing, short game or putting aid (which is too general to say much about the function of the product), you should consider using the Laws, Principles and Preferences model.* Here’s how.

Laws deal with the physical interactions between the ball and club. Laws are the physics of cause and effect that determine the outcome of the shot. Principles are the elements of the player’s setup and swing that directly influence the impact conditions. Preferences are player’s personal choices related to how a principle is applied.

Fortunately, from a swing mechanics standpoint, all shots boil down to distance and direction, so this task isn’t as daunting as you might suppose. But, just so you will have a guideline, I’ll give you one example of each principle and a product that can help teach that principle. This way, when you are looking at a player’s swing and you spot a principle that needs improvement, you can narrow down your training aid choices in a logical way.

Swing Center: Hand-in-hand with dynamic balance is controlling one’s swing center. Problems caused by upper-body motion or spine angle changes can be monitored with a simple mirror. Shown here is the 360 Mirror, which may be used upright or flat on the ground between the player’s feet and ball. Setup: With a feedback device, the player can check foot, hip and shoulder orientation. Something with perpendicular rods like the Practice Pod is also useful to make sure ball position stays the same with each club.
Swing Plane: Because swing plane determines the clubhead path, it influences direction. Ted Sheftic developed this Plane Trainer Basic, which provides a visual and physical guide for the player. The product may be used in front of the player or along the target line in a V configuration. Width of Arc: Players seeking more distance set up their attack on the ball with the hands high and away from their swing center. The Perfect Release must be kept taut at the top of the backswing to keep the swing arc wide.
Length of Arc: One unique feature of the Right Angle is the ability to limit the amount of the player’s arm bend to 1/4-, half-, and 3/4-length shots. This will limit the length of the arc of the swing and is good for distance control. Lever System: Levers increase the potential for distance but make timing more difficult. Most players try to keep a relatively straight leading arm, which can be monitored with a product like the Tac-Tic Elbow or the less-expensive Elbow Click.
Position: The relationship between the leading arm of the player and the clubface can easily be seen using a product like the Swingyde. Controlling position at the top of the swing helps control the face at impact and influences direction. Release: As power is transferred through impact, the player’s arms will extend and straighten. The ASSIST Swing Trainer gives the player’s hands a little kick through impact and pulls them to full extension as the player turns through toward the target.
Timing: If a player has a good swing sequence, he or she can produce maximum clubhead velocity at impact while also controlling the angle of the face. The popular SwingRite can quickly improve a player’s speed and timing. Connection: For the hands, arms, body, and legs to work together, they must be connected. Separation or disconnection causes power loss or timing issues. A ball between the arms like the Impact Ball keeps the arms and body in sync with each other.
Dynamic Balance: Rather than static balance, this refers to controlling the transfer of weight while swinging. Eyeline Golf’s Balance Rod magnifies a player’s movements, causing them to develop greater sensitivity of how their weight is moving during the swing. Impact: It all comes down to the moment of truth. The Impact Bag teaches this feeling, but don’t overlook a simple product like Impact Decals. Learning to make consistent contact with the ball is the only way to truly control distance and direction.

The products I have mentioned are related primarily to the full swing. A similar approach can be used for putting by using Dave Pelz’s seven building blocks of stroke mechanics as detailed in Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible (p.63). This approach will help you develop a game plan for your students that includes training aids that provide meaningful feedback for a specific purpose. The result will be “Longer drives! Straighter irons! 3-5 strokes off – guaranteed!”

About Golf Around the World:

Not many people know Golf Around the World started as a referral center for pros to get in touch with other pros about their teaching ideas. This ultimately led to the formation of our training aids company, which now offers over 350 items to help transform your words into swing changes. Publications like Golf Teaching Pro continue the tradition of spreading ideas teacher-to-teacher, which is why the magazine is so valuable.

Email your contact info to indicating your are a USGTF member, and he will reply with your login information so you will receive wholesale pricing at: You may also call us during the week (9-5 EDT) at 800-FOR-GARY.

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