The most common stumbling block to hitting the ball more consistently is movement within the golfswing. The higher the handicap, the more exaggerated the movement on improperly struck shots. To put movement into perspective, while movement of one - inch doesn't sound like a lot, when you consider that your ball is about 1.68 inches around and the hitting area on a 460cc driver is around 5 inches wide or around 3 inches for oversized irons, that one-inch of movement is a lot. There are two types of movement planes in a golf swing - toward/away from the ball and toward/away from the target. We'll show you how to fix both.
Toward/Away from the ball
The most obvious movement is when you move weight to your toes during the backswing and move too close to the ball or when you move weight to your heels during the backswing and move too far away from the ball. Both these moves have disastrous results like "whiffs", "sculls" or "worm burners" but afterward your aware of what happened and can correct on your next swing. The killer is the imperceptible movement. This move is so slight you can hardly feel it and results in either an over the top downswing move to get back to ball or a shank if you moved away from the ball. This is because a movement of your head (your body follows) of only 2 inches toward the ball will cause you to miss half the ball if you follow your intended (and correct) inside-out downswing path. Since your eyes and body know you're swing plane is off 2 inches and your brain wants to hit the ball on the clubface - your body automatically reroutes the downswing to get the clubface on the ball. Unfortunately, the only route is a path that travels outside-in since the desired inside-out path to the ball is blocked and would result in a miss if followed. But since you have enough basic hand-eye coordination and athletic talent to play the game, you body automatically reverts to the outside-in path in order to meet the intended objective of hitting the ball.
While the small movement is basically imperceptible, there are clues to let you know what is going on. They are;
Your front shoulder is striking your chin in the backswing.
Your shoulders are pointing down toward the ball at the top of your swing.
You feel all your weight on the balls of your feet or your heels
You never seem to hit the ball on the center of the clubface
You go from hitting grounders to the left to hitting shots low and left with a draw to hitting long left shots that feel wonderful off the clubface
You shank shots off the hosel or off the toe of the clubface when the swing feels really good
You feel yourself casting the club from the top but can't stop it.
You feel like your lifting or going up on your toes at impact.
Don't be misled by the many descriptions of the type of swing correction your body is doing - "over the top", "casting", "wood chopping" to say a few - this is not a problem caused by the way you begin your swing, it's a problem caused by imperceptible movement toward the ball in your swing.
The best news is that fixing movement is relatively easy. Start with a good base position by balancing your weight between the balls of your feet and your heels. If you played any type of sport the position you should be in is the "ready position". In this position you are so well balanced that a push in any direction will not knock you off you feet and you'll be able to react to any situation. Next, focus on the separation distance between your head and the golf ball. Keep this distant constant during the backswing. Do not dip down and keep your head level through the golfswing. That's it, but remember the key is to keep you head still during the swing. If your head moves the body will follow!
Toward/Away from the Target
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