Use the Force

By John Giatropoulos
Last Updated: 06/10/2016

In our previous article we talked about establishing "A Solid Foundation". If you read the article you know have a good understanding of how to address the ball, get yourself into an athletic position, how to determine ball location, and how to visualize the shot.

Now it's time to start actually swinging.

Remember Potential vs Kinetic Energy?

Imagine an un-stretched rubber band lying on the table. This rubber band has very low potential energy. But, as soon as you stretch it, it begins to have much more potential energy. When you stretch it and let it snap, you're converting the potential energy to kinetic energy, and creating power.

That's the same idea for your golf swing. We want to make our swing have the most potential energy so that when we make it snap (hit the ball) we can convert the potential to kinetic and knock the stuffing out of the ball. Right?

So how do we do it? Im not a rubber band, John.

Use the Force

I personally want to expend the least amount of energy to produce the maximum amount of power in my golf swing. Maybe I'm lazy or maybe I'm a genius. That's up for debate.

I don't work out much at all, sit at a desk all day writing programming code, and am 6 foot 1 inches tall and weigh 165 pounds soaking wet. But I have a swing speed of 122 miles per hour and average 301 off the tee with my driver all day.

I can do this because I am using all the forces of nature to help me increase my potential energy and convert that energy to the back of the ball when I swing the golf club. Im using gravity (my own body weight), centripetal force to create a massive arc in my backswing and leverage my height to really hit the ball. Let's talk about all of these forces.

Gravity (Body Weight)

Figure 1

A lot of instructors talk about weight transfer, and if they don't mention it at all, find a new instructor. It's that important. When you begin your golf swing you take the club away from the ball and rotate your torso and lower body away from the ball as well. Your weight shifts from 50/50 on both feet to 70/30 (more weight on your back foot). We do this so that when we shift our weight and body back towards the ball to hit it, we our applying all of our own body weight behind our swing.

When you throw a ball you don't stand still. You rear back and "put your body into it".  Watch a baseball player throw a ball into home plate from the outfield. They lean back on their trail foot and then their entire body falls forward, shifting their weight onto their front foot to throw the ball with maximum force.

So, when you address the golf ball and start taking the club back away from your target feel your weight transfer to your trail foot. Not ALL of your weight, but enough to where you are still balanced (70% of your weight). Feel your weight go into the inside of your trail foot.

To feel this even more, you can stick a tee under the inside of your trail foot, or a towel to FEEL yourself stepping on something. If you feel yourself rolling OFF the object, your probably shifting 80-90% of your weight and this will actually reduce some of the other forces we want to utilize in our swing.

Centripetal Force, Creating a "Wide Arc"

In medieval times there was a weapon that was super effective. It was a rock or a heavy weight tied to a string. The assailant would take the one end of the string and begin whipping it in a circle over and over and faster and faster until that rock tied to the end was moving super fast. The string that it is attached to begins to get extremely tight because the force of the rock pulling AWAY from the string is getting larger and larger the faster you whip it around.

This is called centripetal force. Now here is the cool part. The longer the string, the less energy you have to expend to get that rock spinning fast. A short string will take some serious energy to get the rock as fast as if the string were several feet long. One slow swing of the longer string and that rock is moving!

Now picture your golf club is the string, and the clubhead is the rock at the end of it. The longer the club, the farther the ball goes because you can generate more centripetal force. But you can increase this even more by creating a wider arc and extending your arms as well (or string).

Davis Love III does this very effectively. He takes the club back very low and as far away from his target and body as possible. Why? He's creating a longer string. The farther the clubhead is away from your body, the more force the clubhead will have when it comes in contact with the ball because it can move faster with less energy expended.

So, when you make your first move away from the golf ball, think "low and away" from your target. This will insure a wide arc, with maximum force.

I like to keep my lead arm fairly straight to make sure my "string" is as long as possible. Again, 165 pounds. 301 yard drives.

Figure 2
Figure 3

Leverage

So now we have shifted our weight to our trail foot, and created this magnificent wide arc during our takeaway. So what does leverage have to do with anything and what does it really mean?

This is my favorite force.

Figure 4

When you cut down a tree with an axe, or hit a baseball, you want to extend your arms and the axe towards spot you are chopping and lean your body away from the tree at the same time. This will impart the maximum force to the tree (or ball). You are using leverage.

Your body is the lever in this situation. You are centering your body, taking the axe away from the tree and then when you go to chop the tree you are still centered but using your body weight as a lever to lean AWAY from your target and extending your arms and the axe TOWARDS the tree. You are creating a massive force by pulling AWAY from your target and allowing your arms to extend TOWARDS it. That pulling away force is very powerful and is created by utilizing leverage.

Same for baseball, same for hockey, same for hammer-throw. That's a huge example of leverage. Those guys throwing hammers in the Olympics spin around in the SAME SPOT until that hammer reaches a velocity that they can barely hold onto it, and then let that thing fly. Body weight to make it spin, centripetal force, and leverage by leaning AWAY and extending their arms in a wide arc to release the hammer.

Shawn Riggans hits HR lr

Notice how the hitter is leaning BACK and creating leverage to hit the ball. In the golf swing we can use leverage in much the same way. When you take the club back to the top of your backswing, you've got a wide arc, weight transferred, and then on the downswing, you want to keep your body centered and stay behind the ball and create maximum leverage while you "chop the tree" and extend your arms towards the ball, just like the baseball player in the image.

Putting it all together

  1. Use your own body weight to your advantage. 70% of your weight on your trail foot during your backswing.
  2. Create a wide arc to maximize the centripetal force. Think "Low and Away" and create a "long string".
  3. Center your body and use leverage to stay behind the ball while extending your arms and club. "chop the tree".
Figure 5
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Figure 7
Figure 8

If you would like to have your own swing analyzed, check out the Use the Force Lesson Program. Upload a Face on view of your swing, and you can make sure you are "using the force". Cmon, I had to say it. Luke.

 

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