Being tense over and during a golf shot is a common fault with many players and can come from a combination of factors.
The first check point when trying to locate the cause of tension during the swing is grip pressure. The hands are a golfer’s only direct connection with the golf club and therefore, must be relaxed. If the grip pressure is too high, the tension will rise from the hands up into the arms and beyond. You should be holding the club as though you were holding a small bird, lightly enough not to hurt it but tight enough not to let it fly away. Other thoughts, such as relaxing the forearms, can work quite well but there are other reasons why tension might begin to infect the grip. If the grips a golfer uses are too thin they will tend to hold on a little tighter for added security, thicker grips can help alleviate this problem. Shiny and smooth grips on the golf club are also a problem because a player swinging a club at upwards of 100mph with a slippy grip will hold on as tight as possible. Shiny or smooth grips should be replaced.
Famed teaching professional Butch Harmon advocates that on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lightest and 10 being the tightest, players should look to grip the club between 5 and 7, never lighter because they risk losing control and never tighter as is causes problems with wrist hinge and release.
Another cause of tension in the golf swing is nervousness over a particular shot or indecision. Both these things can cause tension to rip through a golfer causing a great deal of poor shots to occur. One way to stop this is to improve the mental approach before and during a shot.
Before hitting the shot, a golfer should deploy a sound and workable pre-shot routine. A pre-shot routine is a mental process which players complete before hitting the ball. It’s something all the best players do and it allows them to go into any shot with a clear mind and confident manner. Here is a basic pre-shot routine you can practice and work into your game.
1. Begin the pre-shot routine from behind the ball and assess all the different elements which could affect the shot such as lie, wind direction, weather conditions, obstacles to overcome, current position in match, for example.
2. After the different elements have been weighed up, select the club to be used and the type of shot you want to play, it’s vital to commit to the shot you want to play.
3. Stand behind the line of the shot and imagine the ball traveling towards your target, really try and see it fly through the air. Imagining a great shot is a way for your brain to tell the body what to do.
4. Take a few practice swings imaging the ball flying towards the target.
5. Set up to the ball after aligning yourself to the target and let the shot go.
Being confident, precise and thorough with a pre-shot routine and the amount of tension felt before a shot will be greatly diminished.