Chi-Power Golf Part 10 - Training techniques to improve your sense of balance and rotation
This article is the first in a series of features looking at how the T’ai Chibased drills of chi-power golf can improve your swing biomechanics. To start with, we’ll take a look at some exercises to improve your rotation and timing, and further on in the series we’ll show you how to improve your ground-force energy (i.e. to get power in your legs, increase the flexibility in your spine and shoulders, use the navel area to getmore power behind the ball) and we’ll also re-visit the cornerstone of the chi-power golf approach to themental game…Zen Meditation.
First of all, though, I’d like to share my thoughts about the best ways for you to improve your swing and also how tomaintain the swing you’ve got, when you’re under pressure out on the golf course.
To help, I’d like to use the late, great Bruce Lee as an example of someone who knew how to systematically train formore powerful punching – the closest thing to the golf swing in terms of staying ‘rooted’ in the legs, issuing explosive power through the waist, hitting through the target and so on.
Instead of simply punching the bag again and again in his training sessions (the way many golfers just hit endless balls on the practise range), Bruce Lee used to deconstruct his punching by sometimes training for power, sometimes for speed, sometimes for technique and so on.
Doing the same with your golf swing – endlessly repeating such a complex and involved action that’s over in 1.9 seconds – will not help you gain power, rooting, flexibility, timing and so on. What you need to do is deconstruct your swing and find ways to train your legs for balance and power, train your upper body for flexibility, train your spine to withstand increasing amounts of torque and train your mind to stay calm and neutral under pressure.
With chi-power golf you can do just this, so let’smake a start first of all by helping you achievemore rotation and better timing in your swing, by using some T’ai Chi drills that develop… well, rotation and timing.
1. Rolling the Tiger’s Head
Objective of the exercise: Using the navel as the pivot-point of rotation is the key to using whole-body power as it transfers the energy from the legs and waist into the upper body, arms, hands and club-head. To aid your practise, you can imagine a golf ball sitting two thirds of the way behind the navel and just in front of the spine (an energy centre known as the T’an Tien). As the golf ball rotates, so your arms and hands rotate, naturally turning over when the reach the midway point.
Image 1: Start with your hands at your left side,making a fist with your left hand by your hip (thumb facing outwards) and holding your right fist with the closed palmdownwards (thumb facing your chest).
Image 2: Moving fromthe T’an Tien/navel area, roll your hands to the midway point as shown. By focusing on the inner golf ball and rotating around this point, you’ll find the hands naturally turn over when they reach your centre-line (fromyour nose to navel, right down the centre of your body).
Image 3: Continue the circular rotation until your hands formamirror image of the start position on the opposite side. Repeat 8 times each side, breathing in as you set your hands to start and breathing out as you rotate and roll the Tiger’s head.
Exercise 2: Cow Gazes at the Moon
Objective of the exercise: In this drill you are shifting the weight fromthe centre (where your weight distribution is 50/50 on either foot) to one side, then back to the centre and to the other side. We want the energy to come fromthe ground upwards, so pay attention to your feet, shifting the weight into the foot first, then turning the waist and finally the hands. Focusing and feeling the drill in this way will help your upper body respond to what your lower body is doing.
Image 1: Imagine you are holding a large beach ball just underneath waist height. Keep your arms rounded, your chest empty and set your shoulders down. Breathe in.
Image 2: As you breathe out, shift your weight to your left foot, turn your waist and carry the beach ball to your left side, turning your palms to face away from you at the last moment. Breathe in again as you bring your arms/beach ball back to the centre. The movement is meant to represent a cow’s head turning back to look at the moon, but imagining carrying a beach ball works just as well!
Image 3: Breathe out as you shift your weight to your right side and perform a mirror image of the first movement. Breathe out as you return to the centre/start position. Repeat 8 times on each side.
Exercise 3: Opening the Spiral
Objective of the exercise: In this drill you want to find your vertical line, which goes fromthe tailbone to the crown of your head andmaintain this line as you pivot around the spine. As for the other two drills, imagine a golf ball sits behind your navel and in front of your spine and use this image to help your rotation of the waist, without getting your hips or knees too involved in themovement.
Image 1: Imagine you are holding a large beach ball at shoulder height. Keep your chest empty and set your shoulders and elbows down. You want to feel relaxed and comfortable in the posture before you start moving. Pay attention to your feet and hold the posture for a moment, imagining all the tension from your upper body moving down into your legs and feet and out into the ground. Breathe in.
Image 2: Breathe out as you rotate to your left around the spine, opening the arms while pressing your rear palmto the ground and your front palmto the sky. Keep your legs quiet, and try not to get your knees involved. Relax your upper body and move fromyour waist.
Image 3: Breathe in as you bring your arms back to the start position. Rotating from your centrepoint will help ensure both hands arrive back at the start position at the same time. Breathe out and repeat the movement on your right hand side. Perform 8 repetitions on either side.