Chi-Power Golf Part 15 - Developing Whole Body Power
As those of you who’ve been reading my articles over the past couple of years will know, chi-power golf presents a radical alternative to the traditional methods offered for improving your golf game – that is, reducing your handicap, getting round the course in fewer shots each time you play and above all, keeping your swing smooth when anxiety kicks-in.
Aside from simplifying the often-times complicated golf-psychology route to improvement, by suggesting you think as little as possible around the course, chi-power GOLF offers a different take on improving biomechanical efficiency, based as it is on the ancient mind-body art of Tai Chi. So although it’s not the ‘’traditional’ way it is the original way to develop mind-body unity and maintain superior performance under pressure.
I’m going to stick my neck out again in this article and suggest that if you’ve been struggling to hit the ball as far as you think you should, having played the game for so many years – the Tai Chi way offered here can help you develop more power, and with it, the ability to hit the ball further than you do now.
That’s quite a radical statement but I stand by it for the following reasons. Tai Chi (a soft-style form of kung-fu) teaches balance, leverage and most importantly how to develop leg strength and generate power from the ground upwards.
You see, the more energy you have going into the ground (ground-force) the more energy you have available to power through the ball. And this energy is available to you once you understand how to set up with good structure, balance and above all, relaxation.
Time after time when I visit the range to coach a client I see rows of golfers all concentrating on upper body technique – i.e. on what their head, shoulders and wrists are doing – without being balanced or connected to the ground! Simply repeating the golf swing over and over again, without developing its core components (balance - rooting - leverage - torque - spinal flexibility) will not help you hit the ball further.
Swinging the golf club Tai Chi-style will help you – because you’ll learn to stay ‘rooted’ in your feet, relaxed and balanced during your set-up, and produce explosive power from the ground upwards.
Many golfers warm-up by swinging two clubs for extra weight, believing this will help them gain distance but it’s actually the worst thing you can do as it activates the body’s slow twitch fibres rather than fast twitch fibres needed for explosive power, and actually slows down the swing. Plus, it might get your arms and shoulders warmed-up nicely but it does nothing to develop your ground-force energy.
Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of them all, maintained that “golf is played with the feet”, meaning that the power in the golf swing comes from the ground upwards, and indeed he was famous for leaving his footprints in the ground after his swing!
Fans of Ben Hogan (who virtually invented practise in golf) will be delighted to know he honed his swing by performing it in slow motion, Tai Chi-style – and if you Google Tai Chi Golf and follow the link that says “Ben Hogan – Golf Legend and Tai Chi Master” you’ll see him doing just that!
What Hogan worked out for himself by swinging the club so slowly, was that power is generated by what we now know as a proximal-to-distal pattern of movement, that is “a sequence of maintained tension” starting with the body’s biggest muscles (legs) and those closest to the core, with those muscles and body-parts further away, like the arms and wrists, simply responding to what the bigger muscles are doing.
This is Tai Chi wisdom in a nut-shell, so the next time you play, warm-up properly using the exercises shown in Issue 102, then perform these Tai Chi Loosening drills – all before taking your first few practise swings. As with all chi-power GOLF drills, stay focused on your breathing before and during the movement, to keep your mind quiet and allow yourself to really feel what’s going on…after all swing feelings are much better for your game than swing thoughts as you need to get out of your head and into the ground to play your best golf.
T’ai Chi Loosening Exercises
Great to use on the practise range as a way to warm-up before playing. Practise each for a few minutes, in the following sequence: 1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width wide and simply turn from your waist (not your hips), allowing the movement of the arms to be generated by the motion of the waist, which in turn is initiated by a slight downward pressure into one of your feet.
2. Separate the feet more and deliberately shift your weight from one foot to the other, keeping the hips fairly neutral but allowing the waist to turn freely and propel the arms. If you do this correctly, you’ll feel a slight ‘lag’ as the upper body receives instruction from the lower body to move and does so sequentially rather than at the same time.
3. With your feet slightly wider you can now turn fully from one side to the other, lifting your rear heel off the floor and turning the hips through, along with the waist.
Now you’re warmed-up, loosened-up and you’ve worked your legs and lower body so they can initiate the chain-reaction needed