Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Match your swing to your body type for maximum performance
The Leverage Swing
The Leverage players balanced and symmetrical body type is well-suited to whats commonly considered a Tour swing. At the top, youll notice his elbows are fairly even with each other while the front arm is across the shoulder line so that the club is ready to slide back down on the same plane it travelled in the backswing. The front arm will then retrace the backswing path on the way down, keeping the clubshaft on the same plane throughout the swing. At impact, the rotary nature of the motion produces a relatively quiet release of the club that utilizes the big muscles in the body rather than those in the hands and arms. This simple swing requires very little manipulation of the clubhead.
The Arc Swing
The typically tall, lanky Arc swinger (think Davis Love III) follows a swing path thats fairly steep and a bit over the plane angle established at setup as the club reaches the top of the swing. Notice how high the hands are as they rest above the shoulder line. This position creates a very long swing that generates power by gathering momentum over an elongated route to the ball. From the top, the Arc player delays his hip rotation and actually slides his hips laterally as he allows the club to loop to the inside, so that by the time the club is midway to the ball, its back on-plane and ready for impact. At impact, the Arc players front leg is straight and his body usually assumes a classic reverse-C position.
The Width Swing
The Width swinger needs to take the clubhead away from the ball slightly to the inside and then reaches a position at the top of the swing that looks quite low in comparison to the other swing types. Notice how his hands are well below his shoulder line—this is necessary due to an overall lack of flexibility in the torso. By the midway point in the swing, the club comes slightly over the top and becomes steeper in order to get back down onto the correct swing plane (opposite of the Arc swinger). At impact, the Width player has completely cleared his hips, which have started rotating from the very top of the swing. This is an explosive motion that can create a lot of power provided the timing is correct.
When it comes to developing a swing that works for you, its important to remember that, in reality, you cant escape your shape. Though its possible to increase flexibility and strength through physical training, of course, there are limits to what most players can do in terms of truly changing their body type. As a result, its absolutely critical to be realistic about what your body type is and what youre capable of physically. Its tempting to focus on a player or swing type thats aesthetically pleasing and then try to emulate that motion, but if that swing isnt suited to your particular physical characteristics, youre simply never going to achieve solid results with it.
The best way to discover which swing type is best for you is to do an analysis of your body, strength and flexibility levels. Its also sometimes helpful to watch Tour players who appear to have your similar body type and take note of their particular technique. Ask yourself if this player is taking the club back and through on the same path (Leverage swing) or if he or she is steepening in the backswing and flattening in the downswing (Arc swing) in a looping fashion. If the player is getting steeper in the downswing and coming over the top (Width swing), consider why he or she is using this motion. The more you understand about the different body types and the swings that are best-suited for each, the better equipped youll be to improve your own swing. For more on these swing types or to take the LAWs test, visit www.tjtomasi.com.
Dr. T.J. Tomasi is one of the most widely published instructors in the world and now teaches at Nantucket Golf Club. Dr. Jim Suttie has worked with pros like Fred Funk and Loren Roberts. John Callahan teaches at Brae Burn C.C.
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