Do You Know Where You Are?
Balance is one of the least understood components of fitness. Balance is about being aware of where your body is and then being able to control and stabilize it. And when you add movement into the equation -- like you do when you swing a golf club -- you're really upping the challenge. Without good balance, the 50 mph that your club head is moving during your takeaway will be enough to pull you out of position on your backswing. Once you've lost that posture, it's anyone's guess where your clubface will be at impact.
If your 50 mph takeaway was enough to play with your equilibrium, imagine what your 100 mph downswing is going to do. Now, you've subconsciously stopped caring about hitting the ball at all; your main concern is not falling over. As a result, two things happen. Your legs shift from "golf mode" into "preservation mode" and instead of your hips driving through the ball, they lock up and tighten as if you were standing on a boat in choppy water. You're now swinging almost entirely with your arms. The other thing that happens is that you decelerate your swing in order to be able to control it. Combined, these two things will greatly reduce your power and distance.
Without good balance, you've got an inaccurate, slowed-down, arms-y swing.
Most people think they either have good balance or they don't. The truth is that it's just like anything else in life -- you get better at it by working on it. Not a lot of people think about working on their balance when they hit the gym, but if you stopped in at Joey D Golf HQ in Jupiter, you'd see PGA Tour pros, top amateurs, and recreational players working on their balance every day. Good balance is part of the Golf Body.
Balance is a combination of three things:
1. Your vision
2. A series of small canals and tubes in your inner ear that act like an internal gyroscope
3. And your body's own "software" that lets you understand how all of your body's parts relate to one another.
As we age, vision and the workings of our inner ear diminish. For that reason, balance training is a necessary part of golf fitness. It'll ensure that your game continues to improve by constantly letting you "upgrade" your body's software.
Fortunately, balance training is also some of the easiest training that can be done. At home -- or on the course -- simulate the various parts of your swing -- takeaway, impact through follow-through, your entire swing -- while standing on one foot. See how stable you can be. Make sure you try it on both your left and right feet. Use a club, because it'll let you best mimic your actual swing. Don't actually hit a ball, though -- especially if you're inside your house.
An added bonus is that the drills and exercises that improve your balance will also help strengthen and stabilize your hips. And the stronger and more stable your hips are, the more power and consistency you'll have shot after shot. But -- hey -- that's a blog for another day.
As far as balance goes, if you're not working on improving your balance, you're not working on improving your game.
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