Anthony Kim: A Complete Swing Analysis

A two time winner on the PGA Tour, Anthony Kim represents one of the many young, rising talents who has made people sit up and take notice every time he tees it up at an event.  He earned his card through qualifying school in 2007, and made quite the splash during his rookie season notching four top ten finishes.  When examining AK’s statistics from his injury riddled 2009 season, his ball striking numbers were quite fascinating given the much discussed “simplistic” nature of his swing.
Driving Distance:  16th
Driving Accuracy: 175th
Total Driving: 103rd
Greens in Regulation: 164th
Let’s take a look from an RST perspective of both the positives and negatives of Kim’s golf swing.

Looking from the face on view, we can immediately notice that Kim’s stance is much wider than 2 inches outside of neutral joint alignment.  This places him in an anatomically inefficient position, which is going to force him to move laterally during the backswing.


From the down the line view, we can see Kim could use more hinge from the hip.  Take notice of the line drawn from his posterior to the ground.  The lack of space from this line to the back of his heels is a clear tell he needs more hinge from the hips.  When examining his weight distribution, the back of Kim’s knees are not directly over the center of his ankle joints, which informs us that his weight is on the balls of his feet at address which will place unwanted rotational stress on the left knee during the downswing.  Finally, the elbows are extended outside of the shoulders, which indicates a slight reaching for the ball.  The farther we extend our arms, the more the weight is shifted to the balls of our feet.  To briefly summarize, Kim is not grounded and anchored correctly at address which places the body in an anatomically incorrect position.

As Kim starts his takeaway, he makes an excellent shoulder turn away from the ball.  There is no evidence of arm swing, and as he finishes Move 1, his arms are straight and remain directly in front of his sternum.  In addition to a wonderful shoulder turn, I want to highlight the lack of hip rotation.  Kim executes Move 1 by turning his shoulders 45 degrees and the hip turn is almost 0 degrees, exactly the way RST defines Move 1.



Although Kim executes Move 1 very well, his excessively wide stance forces him to have an exaggerated lateral shift to the right.  We have talked at great length in the past of why lateral movement is undesirable in the golf swing, and if you would like to read more please refer to “Why Can’t I Stay Centered” blog.

As with many players that I encounter on a daily basis, AK starts to get in some trouble during Move 2.  Once the shoulders turn 45 degrees, we need to employ some shoulder elevation to keep the club in front of our chest, keep the club on plane, and prevent the arms from working too far around the body.  AK fails in this critical area.  Take note of his hand position in the following picture.  The arms have nowhere to go when they remain pinned to the body in such a manner.  The club subsequently now works too far around and behind the chest as he arrives at the top of his swing.  In addition, take note of how Kim’s back foot has rolled to the outside.  He has failed to roll the ankles in slightly at address, and once the weight moves to the outside portion of the right foot during the backswing, this makes it much more difficult to transfer the weight efficiently back to the left in the downswing.



From my multiple film study of Kim’s swing, I found a very interesting trend.  There were some balance inconsistencies in a number of swings I examined.  For example, on certain swings I noticed the left heel spinning out indicating the weight had been transferred onto the ball of the left foot in the downswing.


In another example, Kim fell backwards slightly indicating his weight was still trapped on his right side.


The penultimate issue that I see causing the downswing problems reverts back to the arms being trapped behind the body due to the lack of shoulder elevation.  This paired with the wide stance and the weight shifting to the outside portion of his right foot certainly will cause weight transfer issues even for a golfer with tremendous talent.  Kim displays tendencies to push from his right side in the downswing to compensate for the lateral shift exhibited in the backswing, note the right foot is quite active.  This pushing move, in addition to Kim’s aggressive hip rotation will accentuate the arms getting stuck behind him on the way into impact and may help explain his 2009 ball striking statistics.


Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 4 (Move 3-The Downswing)

The downswing is probably the most misunderstood and misinterpreted move by amateur golfers in the golf swing.  It must be understood that the downswing is largely an uncoiling motion or a reaction to a proper backswing.  The key point that must be illustrated is that the forces of movement in the downswing originate from the hips in a weight shift and pulling with the left oblique, NEVER from the upper body, shoulders, arms, etc.
The proper sequence of the downswing is as follows:
1.  Plant the weight firmly by pushing the left heel into the ground.
2.  Pull from the left oblique, which in turn will rotate the left hip behind you.
3.  Pull with the left lat to pull the arms back in front of the torso.
4.  Optional – fire the right arm by extending from the right elbow.

The result of this chain of events occurring in sequence and being performed from the proper origin is rotational force; the body moves away from the target and the arms and club moves towards the target.  A separation between the hips and the upper torso in the downswing is maximized when the sequence of movements are performed correctly.  Highest ball speeds are produced by those producing the maximal rotational separation between the upper torso and pelvis.

As we begin to examine Stricker’s downswing, it should be noted that Stricker finished 9th on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole, and he hit over 2/3 of both fairways and greens this season.  He has proven himself to be an excellent ball striker, as he does a fantastic job of getting that club on plane on the way down, which is a true testament to both his tremendous athletic ability and work ethic.  Examining his swing from a purely anatomical and biomechanical perspective, however, we will see how the average golfer would likely struggle to recreate Stricker’s move without ample time to practice and improve the timing due to some of the inefficiencies that exist. The first image below is our Rotary Swing Model Chuck Quinton.

When comparing the face on view at impact for our model and Stricker, you can see from the yellow line that Stricker was unable to make a complete shift into his left side which leaves his left hip short of neutral joint alignment.  This has occurred because Striker failed to roll his ankles in slightly at address, which allowed the weight to get trapped on the outside of his right foot during Move 2.  A second cause is Stricker’s need to actively use his arms in his downswing because of his previously discussed push from the left side during Move 1 which allowed his arms to work too deep in his backswing.

This series of photos from down the line illustrates how the lack of proper weight shift has affected Stricker’s hip rotation as compared to our model.  The arrow pointing to the right heel shows how our model has efficiently transferred the majority of his weight into the left heel, and is pulling with that left oblique which allows for the right heel to passively rise off of the ground.


Stricker demonstrates a much flatter right foot at impact indicating there is still a significant amount of weight left on his right side.

This move can lead to a variety of results, most notably, the hands and arms outracing the body rotation which usually leads to pulls and hooks.  In addition, maximum rotational separation between the upper torso and the pelvis cannot be achieved, resulting in a loss of power.

Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 3 (Move 2-Back to Target)

Move 2 is the completion of the backswing, and specifically, the shoulder turn.  To briefly summarize what occurs in Move 2:

1.    Shoulder blade glide continues turning the shoulders another 45 degrees for a full 90 degree     turn.
2.    The shoulder blade glide pulls the hips to turn approximately 45 degrees.
3.    Arms elevate, hinging from the shoulders (Shoulder Elevation).
4.    The right arm hinges at the elbow (Right Elbow Flexion).
5.    External rotation of the right humerus occurs.



The effects of Stricker’s Setup and Move 1 become more clearly defined in Move 2.



By this point in the backswing, the Rotary Swing Model advocates that an efficient right shoulder blade glide will have turned the shoulders almost a full 90 degrees and the hips approximately 45 degrees.  This is demonstrated by Chuck Quinton on the left, as the yellow arrow illustrates the position of the right shoulder.  Notice how Chuck’s right shoulder is not apparent in the photo, while Stricker’s right shoulder is clearly visible, indicating the inefficient turn due to the arms dominating the backswing.  The orange arrow further highlights this point as Stricker’s left shoulder has “shrugged” and is disconnected from the core muscles of his body.  The blue arrow illuminates that Stricker’s left arm is above his right, further indicating his arm driven turn.


When examining Stricker from down the line at the same point in his swing, we must pay attention to the circled area.  Stricker’s hands are noticeably behind his sternum, his right elbow is securely glued to his side, and the left forearm is over-pronated.  Once again, Stricker’s push from the left side has caused the club to work too deep, too around, and too flat at this point in his backswing.  He has failed to perform proper shoulder elevation which is responsible for creating some vertical movement of the club to keep the club on plane.


Here we can see the full results of Stricker’s complete backswing.  The orange arrow illustrates the arms being too deep and slightly behind the torso.  The red arrow highlights the loss of right knee flexion, which can lead to weight transfer issues in the downswing.  Finally, the yellow line was placed on the front of Stricker’s head at address, and it is quite clear how much he moves toward the ball on the backswing.  This tipping forward onto the balls of the feet is inevitable for Stricker, because his body must attempt to counterbalance the forces that he created by pushing the club to the inside.



This final image serves to illustrate the effects of Stricker failing to roll his ankles in slightly at address.  The black arrow on Stricker’s right foot shows how his weight has rolled to the outside portion of the ball of the foot.  Notice the white arrow on Chuck that shows that foot securely planted on the ground.

The culmination of Steve Stricker’s slight flaws: push from the left, out of the box, lack of shoulder elevation, loss of the flex in the right knee, and weight distributed over the outside portion of the right foot all contribute to make a proper weight transfer more difficult, even for an elite golfer.  This shall be examined in detail in our next installment, Move 3-The Downswing.

Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 2 (The Takeaway)

Before I begin to discuss Stricker’s Move 1, it is necessary to briefly summarize how Rotary swing classifies the correct sequence for the Takeaway.
1.    Golfer in proper posture, in the box with the lat muscles engaged.
2.    Hips shift 1 inch right transferring approximately 80% of the weight into the right heel (right hip almost to the point of being directly over the right ankle.)
3.    Right shoulder blade glide (pulling the right shoulder) focusing on moving the scapula two inches in and slightly down toward the spine.
4.    Torso turns 45 degrees.
5.    Hips turn 0 degrees.
6.    Arms remain passive, straight, and directly in line with the sternum.

Given our understanding of the forces of rotary motion (please see the blog “Why Can’t I Stay Centered?”), we know a pulling motion is an action that moves an object toward center, while a push is a force moving an object away from center.  It becomes quite clear that we must invoke a pulling motion in order to efficiently turn the torso in a fashion that keeps us centered during the backswing.  This move also serves as a spine stabilizer during the backswing, in turn, protecting the spine during this phase of the swing.  Any origin of movement that comes from the left side of the body is a push, and Stricker’s Move 1 is a prime example of its effects.

Stricker initiates his swing with a forward press of the hands.  The club is subsequently started back by a pushing motion from his left side.  His left arm pushes across his chest which immediately causes a disconnection from his core rotation.

He is now at the mercy of his arms to turn his shoulders, which can be observed by looking at the figure above.  Notice the difference in shoulder turn between Chuck and Stricker as the club is parallel to the ground.  It is quite clear that the arms have been forced significantly behind Stricker’s sternum by this point.  As a result, the right arm is no longer straight, but instead has been forced to bend.  In addition, the left wrist has begun to pronate, as can be observed by the circles.

Pay particular attention to the logo on Chuck’s glove as compared to Stricker’s glove.  The culmination of these movements results in the club getting inside, the hands and arms working too deep, and the club being moved on a flat plane.

A Shift in the Right Direction

I am extremely proud to be working with Hooters Tour Professional Kris Lim.  Kris is an extraordinary young man, whose desire to excel is only exceeded by his desire to understand the fundamentals of the golf swing.  Kris did not come to the Rotary Swing Golf Academy looking for quick fixes to improve his game immediately; he came to us seeking answers to questions that were not able to be provided to him through “traditional” instruction.  He was tired of hearing that his swing looked great; he wanted results.  Kris is a prime example of the type of change that is possible through intellectual understanding and kinesthetic awareness that comes as a product of structured practice that focuses on the anatomical absolutes.

In previous forum posts, I provided some examples of how we first began a little over a month ago.  We started by addressing Kris’s Setup and perfecting Move 1 (The Takeaway).  As these elements improved, we introduced proper shoulder elevation to keep the club working on a proper plane throughout the backswing.  Today is November 23, and it was time for some serious business…Move 3 (The Downswing).  Kris is a prime example of a golfer who would rotate his hips without ever making a proper weight shift into the left heel.  The results of this dastardly movement can be illustrated from the picture below.

On the left side is a trace of Kris’s swing path.  The red line represents his backswing, and the yellow line represents his downswing.  It becomes quite clear Kris was over the top which resulted in many “wiped” shots that would weakly balloon and fade.  On the right side, you can plainly see Kris’s failure to shift that left hip which left him well short of Neutral Joint Alignment.  Kris’s weight is now trapped on his right side which results in the excessive axis tilt and his head backing way up as he comes into impact.  He never covers the golf ball effectively, and fails to compress or flight the shot the way he desires.  Due to his improper origin of movement, the more he would try to cover the ball, the more fat shots he would hit.

Now let’s examine footage from the lesson on November 23.  On the left, you can see a significant improvement in Kris’s swing path.  The red line represents his backswing, and the yellow line represents his downswing once again, but take note the orientation of the lines are dramatically different.  Due to the backswing improvements, Kris takes the club on a much better plane, and is capable of keeping the club in front of his body.  A proper weight shift, planting the left heel and pulling from the left oblique allows the club to shallow slightly and attack the ball from the inside (note the yellow downswing line is underneath the red backswing line).  On the right half of the picture, you can see Kris’s head has not backed up nearly as much, and the axis tilt is improved.  Kris’s left hip has shifted toward the target before he unwinds the hips which allows him to get into NJA at impact.

I want to mention at no time during this lesson did we talk about swing plane or what the club was doing; we focused solely on proper origin of movement in the downswing.  The golf swing needs to be based on a pull-pull relationship in order to abide by the laws of physics of rotary motion.  Kris serves as an excellent model of what can be achieved by focusing on how the human body is designed to work.  While we have lots of work left to do, Kris is finally traveling on the road to success.  RST provides the road map for this journey…want to follow along?

Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 1 (Setup)

Steve Stricker’s ascent to the 3rd in the Official World Golf Rankings is an inspirational story to all of us in the golfing world who are striving to improve our games.  Stricker joined the PGA Tour back in 1994 and achieved early success in his fledgling career.  In 1996, he won two tournaments and compiled 7 top ten finishes.  He finished the year 4th on the PGA Tour money list and appeared poised for greatness.  As quite often happens in this fickle game, Stricker had nothing but lean times to follow, however, as he would proceed to struggle mightily and eventually lose his card in 2004.  Determined to rededicate himself to resurrecting his career, Steve persevered, and tirelessly worked at retooling his swing.  Relying solely on sponsor’s exemptions in 2006, Stricker managed 7 top ten finishes and was voted PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year.  I can speak from personal experience in stating that his story is proof nice guys don’t have to finish last.  I had the pleasure of talking with him on the practice tee at Westchester Country Club in 2007, several days before his fantastic victory at The Barclay’s, the first leg of the inaugural Fed Ex Cup Playoffs.  He is a soft spoken, humble man and undoubtedly one of the nicest professional golfers I have had the good fortune to meet in my career.

Stricker’s golf swing has certainly been the buzz throughout the major golf media these days, and many have analyzed his swing attempting to explain his second coming.  This is the perfect opportunity for us to examine Stricker’s fundamentals and discuss in greater detail how he measures up to the Rotary Swing Model.  We will be breaking down Steve’s swing into five parts:  Setup, Move 1, Move 2, Move 3, and Move 4.

We shall first examine Stricker from a down the line view.  In this image, it appears Stricker is hitting a hybrid club on what we can assume to be a short par 4.  We have talked at great length about the importance of a proper Setup and how the goal for the Setup is to ensure that our bodies are anchored to the ground in such a way that will provide a stable, centered engine for our golf swing, and that the proper muscles are engaged for correct posture, stability, and power.  As we examine Stricker at address, it becomes quite clear that a number of improvements could be employed.

1.  Improper Hinge from the Hips.
Chuck Quinton and Alison Thietje have gone to great lengths to describe in detail how the body is designed to function.  Rotary Swing commonly refers to these fundamentals as the anatomical absolutes.  These are not opinions or preferences but are facts about the design of the human body.  One of these anatomical absolutes is that the body is designed to bear its weight directly over the ankle joint in order to be balanced.  We want to accomplish the same when setting up to a golf ball.  Stricker’s weight is not properly distributed at address.  He displays an improper hinge from the hips, which causes his upper torso to be positioned very upright.  This can be observed by the blue line drawn from his posterior to the ground.  The lack of space from this line to the back of his heels indicates more hinge is necessary.  Proper hinging from the hips ensures that we will not introduce any excessive curvature of the spine during Setup.  This brings us to our next area of contention.

2.  Rounded Shoulders (Excessive Curvature of the Thoracic Spine)
We want the spine to remain in neutral joint alignment throughout the entire golf swing for obvious health and safety reasons.  Stricker, because of the improper hinge from the hips, has now allowed his thoracic spine to slump or round.  The result of this excessive thoracic bending is becoming disconnected from the core muscles of the body.  Stricker has effectively gotten out of “the box,” put himself into “the rectangle.”  The effects of this will be very eloquently illustrated when we examine Stricker’s Move 1 in the next installment.

3.  Extended Arms
The arms should remain tension free at Setup.  When this is performed correctly, the shoulder and elbow will be in neutral joint alignment.  The arms should hang naturally underneath the shoulders with the elbows directly beneath the shoulders.  The hands will hang naturally underneath the chin.  In Stricker’s case, improper hinge from the hips and the rounding of the shoulders have put him into a position of extending his arms, which can be observed by the red and black lines.  The extended arms and disconnection from the core will greatly affect Stricker’s origin of movement as he starts his swing.

4.  Excessive Knee Flex
Stricker displays an excessive flexion of the knees.  This can plainly be observed by the yellow line drawn up through the center of the ankle joint.  The back of the knee joint should rest on this line, but it is quite evident that this is not the case.  The body is designed to bear its weight over the center of the ankle joint in order to be balanced.  We want to accomplish much the same when setting up to the golf ball.  Excessive knee flex forces the weight of the body to be positioned over the balls of the feet which does not allow for the effective use of the body’s anatomical design.  Once again, this element of Stricker’s Setup leads to some balance issues that become more clearly defined in his backswing.

5.  Ankles Not Properly Rolled Inward
Looking at the face on view of Stricker now, he has failed to roll his ankles in slightly which has been highlighted.  This important Setup feature serves to stabilize lateral hip movement in addition to ensuring that the right foot does not roll outward as we load into the right side on the backswing.  This action makes a proper weight shift in the downswing more difficult to perform with maximum efficiency.

In summary, Stricker’s combination of Setup flaws does not put him in an anatomically correct address position.  His main faults are the following: he is effectively disengaged from his core, and his weight is on the balls of his feet.  These faults and their effects will become more apparent as he starts his backswing and will be covered in great detail in the next installment, Steve Stricker:  Move 1(The Takeaway).

Why Can’t I Stay Centered?

I am entering my seventh month as a certified RST instructor, and the number one issue that I see plaguing my students is the ability to minimize head movement and stay centered during the swing.  While it may seem benign enough, I can tell you this problem destroys speed, power, and efficiency of the golf swing.

Examining the golf swing from a purely scientific perspective, we can all agree that the swing is circular.  It stands to reason that we can summon upon our tedious days in physics class to further understand the laws of motion that govern our golf swing.  Who knew our college general education requirement could help us hit more greens in regulation?  The diagram below illustrates the forces at work during circular motion.

The Rotary Swing is based upon creating centripetal force.  Centripetal force can be defined as the component of force acting on a body in curvilinear motion that is directed toward the center of curvature or axis of rotation.  Using the diagram above, we can plainly see that the origin of movement is the figure rotating in the center of the circle.  The figure rotates in order to swing the ball on the end of the string in a circular fashion.  The faster the central figure rotates, the faster the ball will travel at the end of the string.

What would happen to the speed and path of the ball if the central figure moved several inches to the left or right during this rotation?  Would the ball on the end of the string accelerate at a greater rate?  You don’t need a Ph.D. to recognize that once the fixed origin of movement is moved, the resulting path of the ball is disturbed by the added lateral movement.  This is exactly what happens to a golfer that exhibits excessive lateral head movement as the swing begins.  The origin of movement has been disturbed, negatively affecting the speed, power, and efficiency of the resulting swing.

Hope I did my college professor from American University proud with my contrite explanation of circular motion, but now the question becomes, how do I stop this from happening in my swing?  This is what we golfers really care about; no offense Mr. Newton.

First, check your stance width.  Remember that advice you received about your stance being shoulder width apart?  Let’s think about that for one moment.  As Chuck Quinton so eloquently stated to me, “The last time I checked, my legs and feet were attached to my hips, not my shoulders.  Why would the width of my shoulders have anything to do with how wide I want to stand?”  Rather than using the shoulders, the Rotary Swing provides an exact measurement for each golfer to find the appropriate stance width to maximize the swing base and prevent excessive lateral head movement: you must have the center of each ankle joint two inches outside of neutral joint alignment.  In other words, the center of your ankle joint at Setup will be positioned two inches outside the center of your hip joint on each side.  Any wider than this, it becomes very difficult to prevent lateral head movement during your backswing and will interrupt the creation of rotary motion.

Second, in order to create a truly rotary motion, make a full shoulder turn, and minimize lateral head movement, the golfer MUST pull the right shoulder (for right-handed golfers) behind his head to create the desired backswing.  To most golfers, this will feel quite alien in nature, as almost all golfers start the swing either with the hands, arms, or left side.  Any such movement to start the backswing forces the golfer away from center and now has the golfer moving in a linear fashion.  The head and upper body are forced to follow the motion, and the result is a swing sapped of power.

RST’s goal is to create movement that rotates around the spine while staying centered.  If you have been scratching your head asking that perplexing question, “Why can’t I stay centered?” I just provided you with two possible answers.  Check that stance; work on pulling that right shoulder behind you to start your swing, and pay attention in physics class!

Learning Proper Weight Shift…from a Frisbee?

Rotary Swing students must have a firm understanding of one of the key goals of the swing model, to utilize a proper right to left weight shift (for righties) just as we would in any other throwing or hitting sport.  Most amateur golfers underestimate the importance of this simple yet critical step in the golf swing.  You could have the best takeaway in the world, but if you are hitting the ball off your back foot, you are doomed to struggle.

A great way to gain a deeper understanding of proper weight shift would to be to grab a Frisbee and head into your backyard.

When we examine my fine Frisbee form, you can see the kinetic sequence as it evolves.  I begin by twisting my torso opposite the direction of the throw.  The rotation of my torso turning pulls my hips around as my weight transfers into my rear ankle joint.  My weight now shifts into my front heel as the front foot plants.  Once planted, my hips begin to rotate causing my upper body to lag behind.  I continue my pivot, and my right arm begins to extend and the disk is propelled out of my hand as the shoulders and arm are pulled through with maximum power, speed, and extension.  Does this chain of events look familiar to anyone?  We can learn many lessons from a simple Frisbee toss, but the take home message that you can apply to your golf swing is simply this, in order to maximize your efficiency, you need to learn to utilize a proper weight shift.  My power was produced by loading into my trailing side, and transferring my weight back to the leading side.  My first move down was to transfer my weight into my front heel and unwind my hips.  At no time did I attempt to use my small muscles in my arms and shoulders to propel the disk forward.  It would not work well with a Frisbee, and its works even less efficiently with a golf club in your hands.

The Secret to Your Success…

I have been playing the game for 27 years, and I have the calluses to prove it.  Back in my amateur days, I was fortunate enough to live on a golf course, and I had the time to spend hours on the range perfecting my swing.  I would rise at the crack of dawn and head over to the practice tee armed with a roll of medical tape, a handful of cigars, and a gallon of iced tea…not exactly the breakfast of champions, I admit.  I would pound balls with the efficiency of a manufacturing plant assembly line, whacking a shot and raking in the next nugget.  If Ben Hogan was correct and the answers were in the dirt, I was ready to dig to China.  As time wore on, I could develop a ball flight that pleased me for the session, so off to lunch I would go.  After a turkey club on wheat toast, no mayo of course (I have to make up for the cigars somehow) and an icy beverage, I was ready to go back to the gold mine.  Another couple of hours would pass, and the afternoon play on the course would slow, so I would head out for a quick 18.  2 ½ hours later I would come in for another sandwich, maybe another cigar if I had any left, and back to the range to toil some more.  Dusk would be upon me, and the assistant professional would go through his nightly ritual of shooing me away; all in all, a great day.  My hands were tender, my back was sore, but a small price to pay for excellence in my humble opinion.

Does anyone else see the flaw in my master plan?  What exactly was I doing?  I had goals for each session, and I displayed the dedication necessary to master this game.  I wonder if this scenario sounds familiar to anyone.  Well if it does, I can tell you from personal experience, STOP WASTING YOUR TIME!

The fatal flaw in my master plan to achieving excellence was the brain simply does not learn at 100 miles per hour.  Effective change in a movement patterns does not occur by beating balls like a semi-automatic weapon.  In essence, all I was doing was improving my timing, not improving my swing.  Believe me, my plan was not one for true improvement.  I thought I was mining for gold in that practice tee dirt…all I was unearthing was pyrite.

The key to understanding an effective plan for golfing success is becoming educated on how exactly the brain learns.  Neuromuscular Reeducation is the definition given to any form of athletic training, rehabilitation program, or bodily movement that requires muscles and nerves to relearn a certain behavior or specific sequence of movements. It is important for us to fully understand how our muscles and nerves eventually learn and develop the neural networks and motor pathways necessary to perform the task effectively.  As a new movement is introduced, the body begins to develop a broad kinesthetic sense (sensation of muscle movements through nerves) necessary to facilitate the movement (Dr. Larry van Such). As the first movement is perfected, the next segment is stacked on top of that movement.   This forces the muscles and nerves to increase their kinesthetic ability or awareness to adapt to the new movement.  The process is repeated and ultimately the muscles and nerves become perfectly coordinated, together producing the desired effect.  Every day one practices, the muscles are constantly refining the pathways necessary to master these movements.  This makes them appear effortless and without any conscious thought.  When one masters a new motor skill, the athlete transitions from active effort to automatic ability.  Essentially, the new movement pattern becomes hardwired into the brain.  This is known as implicit or procedural memory.

The Rotary Swing model takes this fundamental fact about human learning into account and has developed a hierarchy for learning the golf swing. The hierarchy is as follows:
1.    How the Brain Learns
2.    Setup
3.     Weight Transfer
4.    Takeaway (Move 1)
5.    Back to Target (Move 2)
6.    Downswing (Move 3)
7.    Follow Through (Move 4)

Chuck Quinton and Alison Thietje have developed a plan in which the golfer learns each fundamental and then stacks another one on top of it.  It makes no sense for us to worry about the downswing if we cannot even set up correctly to the golf ball.  Once we observe a breakdown in a step, we will remove a piece and go back to perfect that step.  Once the Setup has been mastered, the next step is stacking the Weight Transfer.  If at any time there is a breakdown in one of the fundamentals of the Setup, we must remove any instruction about the Weight Transfer, and readdress the Setup.  This follows the process of neuromuscular reeducation.  This process should be continued throughout the course of building a sound golf swing.  While this process may not necessarily be viewed as fun, it is necessary to impart real change in motor patterns rather than allowing ourselves to expect to make any lasting change in our golf swings with a “quick fix” or improved timing.  As Chuck always says, “There are no quick fixes in the golf swing, only temporary ones.”

Missing “The How”

“If I stop learning today, I will be teaching badly tomorrow.” (Unknown) Good advice from a relative unknown wouldn’t you say?  OK.  Vegas is not in my future, maybe I better leave the humor to the professionals.  

When I began to pursue my dream of teaching the game that my grandfather forced me to love so much as a youngster, I wanted to understand everything I could about the swing.  I realized that my self- taught point and shoot method probably would not be all that successful for any perspective students.  I began my research.  I watched video tapes, read books, observed lessons, and tried a multitude of swing theories for myself.  I took copious notes on what I liked, and jotted down even more quips about the things that didn’t work at all.  Volumes later, I felt I had a pretty successful manual in place for teaching the game…or did I?

One thing I will state as clearly as possible, to my own credit, I have no ego.  I have never been one to trumpet my way as the only way, or even the correct way for that matter.  I had a very good success rate with students, and there were very few occasions that I felt they walked away from their time spent with me, and were not improved in some fashion.  I did, however, feel that my skills were lacking, not from an analytical or intellectual standpoint, but something was just missing.  I could not place my finger on the pulse of the problem, but I would think about it constantly.  This fact may speak volumes about my ongoing insomnia, but that is a discussion for another blog someday soon.

I attempted to broaden my horizons by reading books about how people learn, and let me tell you, for a guy who went through college, graduate school, and a stint in medical school with an undiagnosed reading disability, this was no small task!  At the end of the day, I was still searching for the missing pieces…until Rotary Swing.

Most teachers are knowledgeable. Good teachers are intelligent. Great teachers are patient. Exceptional teachers are students themselves.” (Dale Dubin. M.D.)

I was knowledgeable, I was intelligent, and I was patient; so what was still missing?  Meeting Chuck Quinton and Alison Thietje gave my elusive question a definitive answer; I was missing “The How.”  I lacked the key kinesthetic knowledge to explain to my students how to swing the club.  There are a number of ways to turn your shoulders, but only one correct way to initiate the movement, remain centered, and create centripetal force.  Rotary Swing, unlike my swing model, was not based on opinions and preferences, but it was based on medical and scientific facts about how the body is designed to move.  This made everything crystal clear in my eyes; it does not matter if you can manipulate the club haphazardly into a series of “correct” positions if the origin of movement is wrong.  You are destined to fail more often than you are destined to succeed.

The process of discovery for me has been a six month journey that I have enjoyed every step of the way.  I continue to learn something new every single day I encounter a student, whether it be online or in person.  I will make certain that never changes because being a Rotary Swing Instructor is not just about being a knowledgeable, a good, or a great teacher; it is about being a student myself, and striving to be an exceptional teacher.