Tell any golf instructor he can only teach students one drill for the rest of his career, and hell likely choose the feet-together drill.
Classic, simple and effective, the feet-together drill ingrains solid fundamentals like balance, rhythm and timing. It can be done anytime, anyplace, with or without hitting a golf ball.
The drills title is self-explanatory. Here's how to use it on the driving range:
1. Start with a wedge or short iron and take your
stance, placing the feet together or just inches
2. Hit several shots at half speed until youre making solid contact each time while maintaining your balance.
3. Speed your swing up to 75 percent, hitting several more shots with good balance and tempo.
4. Move on to the next club and repeat as needed, all the way up to the driver.
The drill also makes a great swing fix whenever things go awry during a practice session. If you're hitting poor shot after poor short, just spend a few minutes with your feet together to get back on track.
Likewise, make feet-together practice swings when your on-course game goes AWOL.
The Powerful Duo of Balance and Rhythm Can Change Your Golf Game
Golf is not a game of brute force. If you try to simply overpower the golf ball and force it around the course, you are surely going to be disappointed with the results. Raw power is not of much use on the golf course, unless it is combined properly with timing and tempo in order to create a smooth and repeatable swing. Many amateur golfers make the mistake of trying to use every muscle in their body to propel the club through the hitting area – a better approach is to master the balance and rhythm of your swing and let the club move naturally through the ball. You will feel like you are swinging softer, but the ball will go farther. When done correctly, the results can be nothing short of amazing.
The quickest way to tell a professional golfer apart from an amateur is to watch the balance that they have in their swing. Where most amateur players fall off balance regularly at one point or another throughout the swing, professional golfers almost always appear to be in total control. Even when they hit an occasional poor shot, they still manage to keep their swing under control and their balance on point. If there is a golf secret that most amateurs could stand to benefit from, it is that balance is the key to the swing. Even with great mechanics throughout the rest of the swing, you aren't going to get far without excellent balance.
The other half of this equation is rhythm. You can think of golf rhythm as the speed with which you move throughout the swing – not just at impact, but from the takeaway all the way through to the follow through. It is vital that you use a rhythm that is comfortable to you, and consistent from shot to shot. If your rhythm is constantly changing during a round of golf, you have very little chance of playing your best from the first tee to the last green. Many golfers believe rhythm is something you either have or you don't – but that isn't true at all. You can work on your rhythm just like you can work on any other part of your game. In fact, if you are a golfer that struggles with consistency, rhythm is one of the very first fundamentals that you should target for improvement.
It is easy to get caught up in the technical elements that make up a golf swing. You could spend countless hours reading books on swing theory that cover topics like swing plane, lag, shoulder turn, and much more. Those topics certainly have merit and can be helpful in improving your game, but they shouldn't dominate your thoughts. Focusing on basics like balance and rhythm is not only easier, but it is more effective as well. Put your effort into these two elements of the swing and watch your game quickly start to change for the better.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Three Ways to Lose Your Balance
Most golfers don't have much trouble starting out in a nicely balanced position. It is only after the swing begins that balance starts to become an issue for many players. Therefore, you need to locate exactly where in your swing you are losing your balance, so you can correct the problem right away. If you never figure out what it is that is causing your balance to get off track, you wont have an opportunity to make it right. Before you work on anything else within your swing technique, make sure you get the balance issue solved.
If you are struggling with poor balance in your golf swing, one of the following three mistakes could be causing the problem.
- Swinging too hard. This is the category that the vast majority of average golfers fall into. Most players try to swing as hard as they can in an effort to hit the ball as far as possible – and they lose their balance in the process. It should go without saying that this is a mistake you need to avoid. Not only will swinging too hard hurt your ability to stay balanced, you wont even gain the extra yards you are trying to find. Rather than swinging as hard as possible, focus on making quality contact with the ball through the use of balance and rhythm. When you stay balanced first and foremost, you will then be able to turn the club loose through the hitting area and maximize your distance without losing control of your ball flight.
- Sliding to the right. Another popular mistake, sliding to your right in the backswing will position your weight mostly onto your right foot – a terrible position to be in at the top of your swing. If you let your weight move right in the backswing, there will be very little hope of recovering your balance later on. Instead, you will be forced to slap at the ball using just your hands to move the club through impact. As a result, your shots will lack both distance and accuracy. Good balance starts the very moment that the club moves away from the ball, so don't allow your weight to drift to the right even for a split second. If it does, the rest of the swing is just about hopeless.
- Trying to help the ball into the air. The point above refers to moving your weight to the right in the backswing, but doing so in the downswing can be just as costly. Some golfers feel the need to help the ball into the air at impact – meaning they lean to the right away from the target and try to hit up through the shot. Avoid this temptation. Your clubs have loft to get the ball up into the air, so it is your job to just hit down through the shot and trust the club to do the rest. When you try to help the ball into the air, you lean back at impact and ruin all of the hard work you have done to keep your balance up until that point.
Quality ball striking on a consistent basis is something that is going to elude you until you are able to eliminate any spots of poor balance throughout your swing. If you find that you are making any of the three mistakes above, get right to work on making the necessary corrections to improve your balance throughout the swing.
Three Ways to Find Your Rhythm
Rhythm is one of the most difficult things to teach in all of golf. It isnt something that can be easily observed on video tape, like your grip or your posture. Instead, you have to feel a good rhythm in your swing, and the proper rhythm for one player will be different than the right rhythm for another. Rather than being told exactly how to create a good rhythm in your swing, you will likely need to work through a process of trial and error until you find one that works best for you. Investing practice time in finding your rhythm is an exercise that most golfers skip, but it can pay great dividends if you are willing to do the work.
Below are three drills that you can use during your practice sessions to help you settle on a rhythm that is just right for your game.
- Super slow swings. Since most golfers already swing too fast, the first way you can work on improving your rhythm is to hit some super-slow shots on the range. The drill is simple – hit balls just like you would normally, only you are going to be swinging at about 50% of normal speed. Try to maintain your regular technique and dont lose track of your fundamentals along the way. After you hit a few balls at around 50% speed, try increasing it to around 75%. Hit a few more, and then get back to full speed. The purpose of this drill is to help you understand the connection between the speed of your swing and the quality of your shots. Most likely, you will find that you can hit the ball nearly as far with your 75% swing as you can with your 100% swing. That information may encourage you to slow your swing down overall, which will only serve to improve your rhythm on the course. Use this drill frequently during your practice sessions or even to warm up before a round.
- Count out loud. Good rhythm in golf means that your swing remains a steady speed as you turn back and through. If there is a dramatic change in speed at one point during your swing, your rhythm will be poor and the quality of your ball striking will suffer. To help your swing be as smooth as possible, try hitting some practice shots on the range while counting out loud. Pick any club, and take your normal address position. As you start the takeaway, say the number one out loud. When you reach the top of your backswing, say two. At impact, say three. Finally, when you get to your full finished position, say four. This simple counting drill is a great way to even out your tempo and make sure there are no sudden movements in your swing.
- Hit short shots. This drill is similar to the first one, but it is focused on the distance of your shots instead of the speed of your swing. For this drill, pick any one of your short irons to use on the driving range. When you start to hit shots, the goal is simple – make a full swing, but hit the shots at least 20 yards shorter than normal. So, for example, if you hit your pitching wedge 120 yards with a regular swing, you will try to hit it less than 100 yards in the air for this drill. You still want to make solid contact, of course, so don't try to miss-hit the ball in order to lose distance. Rather, you will need to make a rhythmic swing that is less-aggressive than your typical motion. After several shots, go back to trying to hit your clubs the full distance, but remember the feeling of a smooth rhythm that you learned from this drill.
Rhythm probably hasn't been one of your top priorities during past visits to the driving range. If you are like most golfers, you have worked on a number of other aspects of your game while ignoring the need for a better tempo in your swing. To take a big step forward in the quality of your swing and your game as a whole, spend a large portion of your practice time working on the rhythm that you will use out on the course.
Maintaining Balance and Rhythm for 18 Holes
As a golfer, you already know that hitting good shots on the course is much more difficult than hitting them on the practice range. There is something about being out on the course – even if you are playing by yourself – that brings on the nerves and makes it harder to hit quality golf shots. To take the next step in your game, you will need to improve on your ability to translate success from the driving range out to the first tee and beyond.
Do you find that your game just doesn't seem to translate from the range to the course? Watch out for the following three mistakes.
- Getting in a rush. Many golfers start to hurry when they get on the course as compared to the driving range. On the range, there is no reason to hurry – no one is waiting behind you to play, and you can take your time prior to each swing. However, you might feel pressure on a crowded golf course to hit your shot and get out of the way. Don't let that pressure take you away from playing your game to the best of your ability. You don't want to be a slow player, but you don't have to rush for the benefit of others, either. Stay in your rhythm throughout the round and focus on your own game. As you get more rounds under your belt in the coming months and years, you should get better at blocking out distractions and focusing on the rhythm of your swing.
- Trying to hit the ball too far. This is an extremely common mistake. Countless golfers get out on the course and suddenly try to hit the ball as far as they possibly can. On the driving range, it is easier to just focus on your mechanics and not worry about distance. It is a different story when you are playing with your buddies and you want to be the long driver of the group – or at least, not the short hitter. To improve your game, forget about how far you hit the ball and worry only about hitting quality shots. Distance can help you a little bit on the course, but not nearly as much as accuracy and solid ball striking. Stick to your fundamentals and don't get caught up in a power hitting contest.
- High expectations. If you expect too much out of yourself when you walk to the first tee, you will feel pressure to perform great – and that pressure can harm your balance and rhythm. Before you start your next round, have an internal talk with yourself about what you expect to accomplish. Don't set unrealistic goals such as breaking par when you are a 15 handicap. Don't even expect to hit great shots all round long – golf is too hard to look for perfection. You should plan on hitting some bad shots along the way, and you should be ready to accept them and move on. Even the best golfers in the world hit plenty of bad shots. Relax, keep your expectations realistic, and play the best golf you can play by staying on balance and in rhythm.
Translating your range game out to the golf course is something that improves over time for most players. Once you are hitting good shots on a regular basis on the driving range, you will know that you are capable of getting the job done – which should be a nice boost to your confidence. Try not to get frustrated when you lose your balance or rhythm temporarily on the course. Instead, return to your fundamentals and get back on track as quickly as possible.
Balance and Rhythm in the Short Game
These are not concepts that are relegated only to the full swing – balance and rhythm are just as important in the short game. Short shots are just as reliant on solid contact as are full swings, so you want to put a premium on holding your balance and maintaining good rhythm. Players who struggle with rhythm in the short game will have trouble controlling their speed, which is the primary challenge on any shot played around the green.
To start with, you need to be in a good balanced position at address prior to hitting any short shot. Since there isn't much movement of the body when playing a chip shot or a putt, you don't need to worry much about losing your balance after the swing starts. So long as you are in a good position at address, your balance shouldn't be an issue. During your practice sessions, take an extra moment to check your balance on the putting green and in the chipping area. As long as your stance is comfortable and balanced, you should be ready to go.
While balance is pretty easy to sort out on short shots, rhythm is significantly more difficult. When hitting a short shot like a chip from the side of the green, the club may only move a few inches in either direction – making it difficult to develop any kind of rhythm or tempo. In order to have tempo when your swing is so small, you need to maintain a light grip pressure so you can feel the weight of the club head swing.
Prior to hitting any chip, pitch, or putt, check to make sure you are using a light grip pressure. The club should feel comfortable in your hands, and there should be no feeling of squeezing the handle of the club. A light grip pressure is a good idea for the full swing, but it is especially important when working on your short shots. Just making that one change to your technique can do a world of good for the rhythm that you have in the short game. Try hitting several practice putts and a few chips while focused only on maintaining your light grip pressure. This should give you a great sense of tempo in your technique, and you should notice that it is easier to make solid contact and control your speed.
Balance and rhythm are two of the top fundamentals in the game of golf. While there is plenty of room for individual style and technique in this great game, these are two points that no golfer can afford to overlook. When you play with poor balance or inconsistent rhythm, you are making the game harder than it needs to be. These two fundamentals are so important because they directly relate to the quality of your ball striking ability and the consistency of your game as a whole. Good balance makes it far easier to strike the ball cleanly, which is one of the main traits of a good golfer. When it comes to rhythm, holding a steady tempo throughout your swing – and throughout a round – enables you to hit the same ball flight over and over again, as well as making it easier to deal with pressure. Turn your attention to improving your game in these two areas and there should be a direct correlation to the numbers on your scorecard.