Modern golf courses aren’t getting any shorter – even from the ladies tees. To add pop to your full shots, you need to store up power in the big muscles of your torso and unleash it into the ball of the ball. You should feel that energy as muscle tension in your back and shoulders during the swing. Practicing shoulder turn drills will teach you to harness the power potential in your upper body.
With a little imagination, visualizing your shoulder movement is as easy as watching time fly. Picture yourself standing on the face of a giant clock addressing a golf ball teed up at 12. Your left shoulder points at the nine and the your right shoulder points at three. On your backswing, pivot your upper body until your left shoulder points at 12 o’clock. Returning to the ball, your shoulders unwind gradually so when the club makes contact, your left shoulder points close to eight. In the follow through, your right shoulder should point at 12 o’clock and your left at six.
Sometimes it’s easier to work on body motion when you take your club and arms out of the equation. Pretend you are setting up to an imaginary ball with an imaginary club. Cross your arms over chest so your right hand touches your left shoulder and your left hand touches your right shoulder. Make a backswing turn, pivoting your upper body until your left shoulder is underneath your chin. On your downswing, feel like your shoulders resist turning back as you unwind from your lower body up. Practice this drill in front of a mirror so you can visualize the proper pivot.
Many swings start to fall apart in the first few feet of the takeaway because golfers don’t keep their arm swing connected to their shoulder turn. The arms should work with the shoulders, not against the shoulders or independent from the shoulders. To feel connection, set up to a ball with your driver. Pull the club up through your hands until the butt of the grip hits just below your sternum, the club head is a few feet above the ground and you are gripping just about halfway down the shaft. From that position, practice turning away from the ball without disconnecting the grip from your body. That’s how a connected shoulder turn and arm swing should begin.
Medicine Ball Drill
Your body automatically engages the bigger muscles in your upper body when they have to move a heavy load. One way to get your shoulders moving properly is to swing something heavy, like a 3 to 5-pound medicine ball. Start in a golf address position holding a ball instead of a club. Try swinging the ball back, focusing on using your shoulders to move the ball. On the downswing, focus on allowing your lower body to unwind your shoulders and build speed through impact. You can even throw the ball – making sure you don’t hit anyone or anything – to feel the energy unload when you let go.
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David Raudenbush has more than 20 years of experience as a literacy teacher, staff developer and literacy coach. He has written for newspapers, magazines and online publications, and served as the editor of "Golfstyles New Jersey Magazine." Raudenbush holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in education.