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Hinge vs. Bend

Dee here!
http://golffitnessguys.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/photo-2.JPG

You know, I’ve been at this fitness thing for close to 20 years now. It’s all I’ve ever done. And over that time period, I truly believe I am seeing a slow progression of the loss of normal human movement.

You see, a majority of you are slowly (and some quickly) loosing the ablity to move to the point where it affects how you live and play!

Here’s why that’s important… I’ve been screening and testing clients for more than 12 years, and in that time, one of the big things I’ve learned from those screenings is that people have progressively lost the ability to hinge at the hips.

The hips are a very big joint and are a source of a huge amount of power, stability and mobility. BUT (no pun intended!), 95% of you have no power, little stability and have lost mobility in the hip area, and leads to the presence of :

  • Back pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • An inability to touch your toes
  • Poor address posture at set up
  • Hip pain
  • An increase incidence of hip replacements

You know, one of the biggest reason’s these occur is the seated work place. I’d bet that a great majority of you reading this right now are at work sitting in a chair, right?

In fact, I bet you right this second; your posture looks close to the picture below… does it? The funny part is that I’d guess that practically all of you probably sat up at the same time!

Take a look at the picture. Can you see how Tyler’s entire back is rounded? We consider that a “bending” of the back, (and call it a “C-posture”). “C” posture will decrease your ability to rotate your thorax (upper body) and make it difficult to use your core and glutes correctly to create power.

So why is this important?

As the “body guy,” I see my clients struggle with correct set up or address posture, and it’s typically because they’ve been told to “stick your butt out” by an instructor. So what happens over time is you get into your address posture by simply arching your lower back, and NOT hinging at your hips. This “stick you butt our posture” is officially called “S- Posture” and, like it says above, can lead to back pain and short pathetic drives off the tee.

So we don’t want pic #1 which is more of a “C-posture” or pic #2, which is an “S-posture,” but what we DO want is pic #3 below, which is a nice hip-hinged set up position.

The best way to get into that position is to take a club and horizontally drive it into your pelvis! See what happens?

Your butt goes back, and upper body “folds” over the club while maintaining a rigid (or straight) spine, thus hinging at the hips! You’ll also notice that Tyler’s knees are soft and shins vertical. They’re this way because the weight of his lower body moved backwards and the weight of my upper body counter acted that by moving forwards, thus automatically softening my knees.

Try it!

Once you get this, we are willing to say that some of you are going to get a better turn in your back swing and follow through; some are going to hit It farther and many of you with back pain may not struggle with it anymore… that’s how important a proper hip hinge is.

So give it a try and remember to hit ‘em long,

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Tyler here talking about the current trend of making your golf swing have a “centered pivot”

I’m sure that by the time that I click “publish” for this blog post, another system will be in place promoting a centered pivot.  It’s the current trend in golf swing theory and in case you haven’t heard, it’s a good way to go.

I’m not going to say that it’s the only way, but it is a method that is having more success.  There are lots of different examples of golfers trying to keep the golf swing centered.  These include:

-Mac O’Grady and MORAD

- Jim Hardy’s One Plane swing style

- Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer’s Stack and Tilt

- Sean Foley is the most recent example.

3D research over the last decade at the Titleist Performance Institute has confirmed that a lot of tour golfers keep their body fairly stable as they swing.  The upper body (called the thorax) center only moves an average of a half inch away from the target in the backswing.  The pelvis moves an average of .6 inches away from the target.   Open up a word document or look at a ruler and notice how small half an inch is?

Now, take into consideration that it is common for me to see players having more than 2 inches of lateral movement away from the target.  It’s scary, but 3 or 4 inches for the pelvis is not uncommon.

There are a variety of factors as to why people shift to their right.  Some can be physical (flexibility and stability), but I think more common than not, it’s a result of the concept of “loading” into the right side.  Most of the long held fundamentals in golf are based on feelings, myths, and folklore.  3D is adding objectivity to the equation and the results are very interesting.

So, if you are going to try to keep your pivots more centered here are a few things that you have to watch out for.

Trying to keep your back leg flexed can be a big problem and result in golfers swaying off the ball instead of turning.  This is especially common if you have tightness in your hips (yes, that probably means you).  So as you turn back, letting your trail leg straighten can help prevent you from swaying.

As far as the upper body goes, the biggest issue that I see is a flat shoulder plane.  When the side bend numbers of the spine are less than 30, you are going to lose your posture and typically drift behind the ball.  If you’re not sure what I mean by side bend.  Stand up.  Without turning your body, slide your left hand down your side until it almost touches your left knee.  This is side bend, and if you don’t do this in the backswing, then you are typically going to shift off the ball.

There are other factors, but these are definitely a few common mental barriers that I see in trying to develop a more stable pivot.

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THE most important thing a junior golfer needs to do to be the best golfer they can be!

Junior golfers (and parents of juniors), now that the season is over, I want to speak to all of you about why you should spend the next five months (for the girls), and the next six months for the boys, playing other sports and working on your fitness.

First I want to give you an idea of what I think the golf industry thinks of you junior golfers and how it isn’t very “kid” friendly, by showing you an email from a question I answered about junior golf….

Question-

“What is one of the most important junior golfers should concentrate on?”

Answer-

“You see, if you want to be a successful junior golfer, you need to be a good athlete FIRST!

I know that is not the norm in the golf industry as so many golf pros and golf facility’s provide “junior golf instruction” clinics all year long. But here’s the fault with that…it focuses solely on instruction and not on “teaching the body how to move!”

This is a dreadful mistake! Yes, Johnny or Suzy might be playing well compared to everyone else at 10 years old, but if I start working with a 10 year old, by the time they get into high school, my player will be kicking the pants off Johnny or Suzy, because my player will have learned the “Fundamental Movement Skills” required for optimal athletic movement!

It’s like building a house, first you must build a strong foundation in order to build strong floors, strong walls and a strong roof. You can’t just jump in to building a roof with a weak foundation cause eventually that roof will begin to warp, bend and fail because it didn’t have adequate support to begin with.

So to as with the body. Build a strong athletic foundation, then build sports skills on top of it, if you do this, you will be a successful athlete no matter the sport you choose to play!”

In the golf industry, fitness is finally getting to be recognized as an integral part of the success of any golfer, and it should be a crucial part of your success, no matter your age!

So here’s the honest truth, if you don’t start to work on your fitness as a young kid, you will never play golf (or any other sport) to your capability! Yup, it’s a hard truth, but guess what? That truth works for any sport and honestly, most any other topic related to life as well, right?

Think about it, if you want to do well in school, what is a foundational piece of your education that will create success? Let’s use reading. If you aren’t a good reader, then you will struggle in school and have a difficult achieving your full potential as a student. Why is that? Simple, reading is fundamental or foundational to the success of your education!

What I am saying is that fitness for golf is no different than reading is for success in education. Both are extremely important and both are required to build strong foundations upon which to build more skills on top of, and both are important to start developing at the youngest age possible.

So my suggestion this winter is to focus on a good exercise program that is designed for your age group.

For example, if your 8-12 years old, I would say for you to be playing at least 3 other sports and activities! You need this great foundation for the success of your athletic foundation!

If your 12-16 years old, you’ll want to find a qualified junior coach (look on mytpi.com and look in your city for a “Junior certified” coach. They will create a strong program for you that will focus on speed, skills, stability, flexibility and teach you how to properly lift weights.

If you’re older the 16+ then you should be weight training! Our “Golf Drive Secrets” program would be a perfect start for you!

So get started now so you can be a better athlete the next time your season starts!

Dee and Tyler

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Hello avid golfers!

Dee here to talk about something that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot around the clubhouse, on the course and even on tour, ad that’s how nutrition can help you play your best.

You see, Tyler and I talk with all our clients about their dietary habits on and off the course (which is why we created our “On and Off Course Nutrition Program), because we believe that what you put in your mouth is what you get out in the form of performance. Whether it’s mental, or physical performance, both apply in creating an optimal environment in which to cultivate the ability to play and live your best.

One thing Tyler and I do know and speak frequently about is the topic of limiting or eliminating “gluten” from your diet.

If you haven’t heard of Gluten, it is the protein from grains that many people are either sensitive or allergic to without even knowing it.

In fact, lately, we’ve heard a lot about how eliminating gluten from professional tennis player, Novak Djokovic’s diet and how it helped him have one of the best season’s in tennis history.

He started 2011 full of confidence and surprised everyone by not losing a single match for 5 months. In addition to only losing 5 more times during the remainder of the year, he won 3 of the 4 most important tournaments and finished the season with one of tennis’ most prestigious accomplishments; the year end number 1 ranking!

See how crucial dietary habits can be in your success in life and sport?

Relief from the detrimental effects of gluten sensitivity may very well explain the perceived improvements in wellbeing experienced by Djokovic. However, I think other factors may be involved as well, and this applies to anyone following a gluten free diet, not just elite athletes.

Consuming processed foods on a regular basis can have a detrimental effect on wellbeing. A major basis for this is the significant amount of refined carbohydrates in most processed foods, much of which are derived from grains that contain gluten. Wheat flour is an extremely common example. Because it’s mostly processed foods that contain gluten, the need to follow a gluten free diet makes it much easier, almost by necessity, to embrace healthier eating habits based primarily on whole foods. However, the increasing availability of gluten free varieties of processed foods is making this benefit less inherent.

Anyone who replaces processed foods with nutrient dense whole foods is bound to experience significant improvements in wellbeing.

For those who are sensitive to gluten and use this approach to eliminate it from their diet, the benefits they experience from doing so will likely be much greater than if they were to simply replace processed foods with their gluten free counterparts. In other words, the improvements that many people attribute to a gluten free diet, assuming it’s based primarily on whole foods, are in many cases also attributable to the general benefits of a more nutritious and well- rounded diet.

So, Tyler and I challenge you to take a gluten-free “break” to see how it will affect your performance in your game and in life.

For the next three weeks, eliminate all grains and fiber from your diet. That means no bread, pasta, “products in a box,” cereals, pizza, and the like! Anything you might think that has flour of any kind in it, don’t eat it!

Oh, and another way to find out if it has gluten in it is to read the ingredients… you’ll see it on there if it has it and if you see flour in the ingredients, then don’t eat it!

Yes, it will not be fun the first week, but hang tough till the end! Be sure to pay attention to how your body feels, how your thinking gets better, how your energy increase, and whatever else you experience.

And please, when your done, put a comment on this post to encourage others!

Play well and we hope this will help you live and play better!

Dee and Tyler

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Hello avid golfers!

Dee here to talk about something that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot around the clubhouse, on the course and even on tour, ad that’s how nutrition can help you play your best.

You see, Tyler and I talk with all our clients about their dietary habits on and off the course (which is why we created our “On and Off Course Nutrition Program), because we believe that what you put in your mouth is what you get out in the form of performance. Whether it’s mental, or physical performance, both apply in creating an optimal environment in which to cultivate the ability to play and live your best.

One thing Tyler and I do know and speak frequently about is the topic of limiting or eliminating “gluten” from your diet.

If you haven’t heard of Gluten, it is the protein from grains that many people are either sensitive or allergic to without even knowing it.

In fact, lately, we’ve heard a lot about how eliminating gluten from professional tennis player, Novak Djokovic’s diet and how it helped him have one of the best season’s in tennis history.

He started 2011 full of confidence and surprised everyone by not losing a single match for 5 months. In addition to only losing 5 more times during the remainder of the year, he won 3 of the 4 most important tournaments and finished the season with one of tennis’ most prestigious accomplishments; the year end number 1 ranking!

See how crucial dietary habits can be in your success in life and sport?

Relief from the detrimental effects of gluten sensitivity may very well explain the perceived improvements in wellbeing experienced by Djokovic. However, I think other factors may be involved as well, and this applies to anyone following a gluten free diet, not just elite athletes.

Consuming processed foods on a regular basis can have a detrimental effect on wellbeing. A major basis for this is the significant amount of refined carbohydrates in most processed foods, much of which are derived from grains that contain gluten. Wheat flour is an extremely common example. Because it’s mostly processed foods that contain gluten, the need to follow a gluten free diet makes it much easier, almost by necessity, to embrace healthier eating habits based primarily on whole foods. However, the increasing availability of gluten free varieties of processed foods is making this benefit less inherent.

Anyone who replaces processed foods with nutrient dense whole foods is bound to experience significant improvements in wellbeing.

For those who are sensitive to gluten and use this approach to eliminate it from their diet, the benefits they experience from doing so will likely be much greater than if they were to simply replace processed foods with their gluten free counterparts. In other words, the improvements that many people attribute to a gluten free diet, assuming it’s based primarily on whole foods, are in many cases also attributable to the general benefits of a more nutritious and well- rounded diet.

So, Tyler and I challenge you to take a gluten-free “break” to see how it will affect your performance in your game and in life.

For the next three weeks, eliminate all grains and fiber from your diet. That means no bread, pasta, “products in a box,” cereals, pizza, and the like! Anything you might think that has flour of any kind in it, don’t eat it!

Oh, and another way to find out if it has gluten in it is to read the ingredients… you’ll see it on there if it has it and if you see flour in the ingredients, then don’t eat it!

Yes, it will not be fun the first week, but hang tough till the end! Be sure to pay attention to how your body feels, how your thinking gets better, how your energy increase, and whatever else you experience.

And please, when your done, put a comment on this post to encourage others!

Play well and we hope this will help you live and play better!

Dee and Tyler

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Tyler here with a quick story about one of my clients this offseason.

I had a client this winter that was just starting to get back into the swing of things and was referred to me for a 3D evaluation.  So I strapped him up with the sensors and collected my data.  He is a solid golfer (10 HCP or so) and had a decent sequence but showed some signs of a cast move.  If you looked on video, it wasn’t prominent, but on the 3D it showed up pretty clearly.  BTW, a K-Vest can’t show it, so if you want to see how your arms and hands are working, the most common system that you’ll find is the 8 or 12 sensor systems by Advanced Motion Measurement (AMM)

One of the things that I try to address when dealing with a cast is the rate of trail arm extension (straightening).  The golfing machine refers to this as the #1 power accumulator and learning to delay its rate of extension is critical to using the body on the downswing.  Basically, most golfers straighten their trail arm too soon in the downswing.  This can cause the body to stop rotating and to lift up.  Stopping the rotation allows the clubface to square without bowing the left wrist, and lifting up causes the golfer to straight the trail arm fully without hitting the ground.

Anyway, this golfer had that, and I gave him a drill and a challenge on how to work with it.  Basically, it would teach him use his body to bring the club to as close to impact as possible before letting the arm extend.

Well, he called 2 days later and left a voice-mail to tell me how his golf lesson with his club pro went the day before.  The week before, he was on the launch monitor and was topping out his swing speed at 95 MPH.  After our 3D session and 1 day of practice, he was topping out his swing speed at 105.  That 10 MPH increase in clubhead speed could result in upwards of 30 more yards off the tee!  He was happy about the distance, but I was happier about one other little nugget.

You see, this gentleman had suffered from elbow pain in his left arm and wore a tendonitis brace anytime that he played.  A few weeks after our session, I saw him at the golf course without his brace.  I went over to check on what the deal was with the no elbow support. He told me that he forgot it, but because he was using his body more and his arms less on the downswing, his wrist wasn’t bugging him, so he decided to hit a bucket without the forearm brace and see how it went.

25 more yards and a pain free golfer after 90 minutes?  Sounds like another small victory for the power of 3D diagnostics and the beauty of learning to use your body to play golf.

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Tyler here with a though on learning golf.

I must admit that I don’t get as many beginning golfers as I used to when I worked at Clubgolf.  I specialize in 3D services, and it’s not usually the cheapest way to get in the game.  But I helped design programs for beginners, and I have a very strong belief about what should be addressed first.  Recently, a facebook friend of mine, Andy Gordon brought up the topic and most instructors who commented seem to be in agreement.  The most important part of the golf swing is the first piece you should work on.  And what part of the swing is that?

IMPACT!

As Stephen Covey suggested when taking on life, “begin with the end in mind.”  I think that this is a good strategy for learning movements as well.  When I played tennis, the first thing I learned after grip was contact point.  After working on that for a while, we then approached other subtleties of the takeaway, transition and follow through.

I have seen half a dozen golf classes, and lots of golf books that say you need to work on takeaway, then backswing, then downswing and follow through, because that’s the order that occurs in chronological order.  Unfortunately, that’s not how the brain should work in a movement.  If the body is moving athletically, as opposed to just moving through positions in a stop action style, then the preparation movements will reflect what the person wants to do during the explosive part.

I played a lot of basketball growing up, and at 5’10, I could dunk a volleyball.  Basically, I was pretty good at jumping.  Well, even if I was slightly out of position, because my body knew how to jump, I would find a way to get airborne.  Teaching a golfer backswing first, is like teaching a basketball player the proper way to squat down “hoping” that they will have a “better chance” of producing an explosive jump.

Why hope, when you can train it?

Impact is the most important position in the golf swing, and the downswing is the most important phase.  I would wager that 80% – 90% of my lessons deal with how to get a golfer to use his body better on the downswing and produce a better impact position.  If you’re struggling with your game, and not sure what to do next, you should probably take a look at the most important part of your swing.  Once you are striping the ball, THEN you can worry about having a perfectly on plane take-a-way.

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Tyler here with a question.  How did you PERFORM this year?

I was getting ready to do a 3D the other day, and another golf pro, Peter Norwood, showed me an interesting set of statistics.  If you didn’t already know, that’s what us golf instructors do in the winter time, we study all kinds of crazy things involving golf, fitness, nutrition.  You name it, and we’ll usually look at it.  Anyway, Peter was showing me some interesting numbers from this past 2011 season.  The statistic is called “par 3,par 4, or par 5 performance”.  Basically, it’s a statistic that looks at the scoring for the entire year on just the par 3’s, the par 4’s, or the par 5’s.  I intuitively knew from my playing days that golfers do better on the par 5’s but sometimes, it somewhat disturbing to see the actual data.

Par 3’s

In 2011, there were 4 players who had a combined total under par when playing par 3’s….that’s right, 4.  Jason Day was (-21) for the year, Luke Donald and David Toms were (-7) and Jim Furyk was (-6).  No one else was better than par for the entire year.

Par 4’s

In 2011, there were a total of 10 players who had a combined total under par for the par 4’s.  Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald led the way ranging from (-17) to (-29) and then Nick Watney, David Toms, Aaron Baddeley, Ben Crane and Brandt Snedeker were all less than (-10) for the year.

Par 5’s

In 2011, there were a total of…I don’t really know.  You see, the list on the PGATour.com statistics page only goes to the top 186 players.  And Justin Hicks who was last on the page was (-29) for the year.  The worse performer on the par 5’s scored the same as the best performer on the par 4’s. By the way, the leader for the year was Webb Simpson who was (-152)…or had a stroke average on par 5’s of 4.48.  If he played 2 par 5’s in a day, his average was a birdie for at least one of them.  That’s pretty darn good.

Interpreting the results

It’s interesting to see where tour players make their money.  It’s on the par 5’s.  That’s clear as day.  There are really 3 skills that you need in order to play well on the par 5’s.  They are:

-        Driving ability

-        A skilled wedge game

-        A sniper on the greens

Yes, hitting irons solid helps a golfer shoot par on the par 3’s and 4’s, but that’s more of like having a good defense.  The consistent approach to scoring low is to have a good tee ball, knock it close with a wedge and make the putts you should.  If you are having any trouble with one of these three critical areas, don’t hesitate to contact us or try our programs on Driving and Putting.

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Tyler here with a brief tale about my new project of learning to dance.

This year I decided that I wanted to take up social dancing. So I started attending a few classes from different instructors and at different locations.  I didn’t tell them that I was sort of a secret shopper, but I kept notes from each class, not just on the moves, but on how well the class was organized.  I’m not going to throw any instructor or any style under the bus, but I do want to highlight what I thought made a great class versus one that was just ok.    I know a handful of golf instructors are going more toward group style learning, so if you are put in the same situation, here are some things to look for.

Progressions and Plans – The Rolfer Jeffery Maitland once told me that all a client really wants to know is three things:

  • What do I have to do first?
  • What do I have to do next?
  • How will I know when I’m done?

The best instructors that I have worked with have done a great job of putting things in context.  They will typically say things like, “here is what we are learning today, here is where it fits into the scope of dance, here is how you can build off of it, and here is how advanced users use this move”.  Understanding where we are going with a move can help the brain build its program more efficiently.

In golf, this is probably more important.  Golfers need to understand the learning process.  If I change this one thing, how will it affect my ball flight?  What new misses are I expected to develop?  When I see those misses, what should I try to change and what should I be sure not to change?  If you don’t know what you’re doing now, what you need to do next, and when you’ll hopefully be done, then keep asking questions until they tell them.

Homework – You would be surprised how often the classes do not assign homework.  There is a reason that schools use it as a staple of their curriculum.  Without practice, you won’t be able to get in the reps and build the program as easy.  So make sure that your coach assigns you homework that is slightly challenging to your current level.

Common Errors – The brain works like a difference computer.  You know that this is A, because it’s not B.  As you build a bigger library of references, it makes it easier to form comparisons.  It’s good to talk about common places where this movement will go wrong.  It can be very helpful to do a drill correctly, and then do another repetition in which you do a drill poorly.  By having the examples of good and bad, your brain can start to organize the information about how this new better move is different.

Time of Engagement – I commonly see one big problem that can manifest itself in a couple ways.  In general, this is weighing the balance of how much information before practice and then how much practice before refining the information.  The good classes that I have attended would have one underlying goal and keep revisiting the goal throughout the class.  They will work on the extreme basics of it and then let us practice for 5 minutes or so.  Then they will add on refinement pieces and we will practice again.  They typically repeat this process for the duration of the class.  The opposite strategy is the one where the instructor lays on everything he or she knows about the movement at the onset and then we try and practice it all at once.  Learning happens in layers and it’s best when the teaching reflects that pattern.   In golf, this means trying a movement, like the grip for a while before the teacher refines.  I typically see lots of golf instruction go bad because the instructor keeps trying to refine the skill after a single swing.  It’s the classic, “what did I do that time” scenario.

For the brain, this style of coaching is similar to trying to learn every branch of math all at once.  Do your practice in arithmetic before you move on to algebra.

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A quick video about the state of the national golf training.  Enjoy!

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