Champion Tip 8

Balance Drill   Tip Number 8

Baseball Swing with Rip Swing (warm up) Purpose To Practice a full hip turn and learn to swing with speed while staying in balance. Turn (the hips). Rip it!  Make a series of continuous back and forth baseball swings with your arms at chest height while rotating your hips all the way back and all the way through—180 degrees of rotation. Once you have a comfortable rhythm, make a “rip” swing every second or third swing.

Short Description Baseball Rip Swing: The second balance drill is the Baseball Rip Swing. Stand upright with your spine straight up and down (don’t lean forward or take a golf stance). Hold your club chest-high, parallel to the ground, and straight out in front of you with your arms fully extended. Swing back and forth in a rhythm. Your goal is to get your belt buckle to rotate all the way to the target on your forward swing, then 180 degrees away from your target on the back swing. Work your feet so that you are pointing alternate toes at the ground at the end of the swing. Once you establish a rhythm, take a “rip” swing every 2 or 3 swings, always staying in balance (a rip swing means swing as fast as you can). Listen for the “whoosh” sound and move the whoosh as far in front of you as possible. Learn to swing as fast as you can. Detailed Description Baseball Rip Swing This drill is deceptively simple. You are simply making a series of continuous back and forth baseball swings chest high while rotating your hips all the way back and all the way forward through 180 degrees of rotation. Yet most of my students are significantly out of balance by the 3rd swing. What is more, most students have never even tried to see how fast they can swing, so the rip swing can easily throw them off balance. Step 1 Baseball Rip Swing Stand Upright Start this drill by taking a normal width to slightly wider than normal stance. Stand so your spine is completely upright and vertical. Do not lean forward or take a golf stance. You are making a baseball swing, not a golf swing. Plus, you are going to be swinging as fast as you can, so you want to hold your back and your spine in as neutral a position as possible to avoid injury. If this drill gives you any discomfort, discontinue it immediately (Note: if any of the drills give you discomfort, discontinue them immediately). Swing Chest High Hold your club (I usually use a driver) chest-high, parallel to the ground, and straight out in front of you with your arms fully extended. Your weight should be centred over the middle of your feet and you should be athletically balanced. Begin swinging back and forth around your spine in a continuous rhythm. Your arms will fold appropriately as you swing back, and then they should fully extend just past the point where you would make contact with the ball if you were in a golf position. On your follow through your arms will fold and wrap around your body. Turn Your Belt Buckle 180 Degrees As you swing your goal is to get your belt buckle to turn backward 90 degrees away from your address position backward and then forward past your address position. This means that as you swing your belt buckle will turn completely through 180 degrees of rotation. This is far more rotation than you will be aiming for in your regular driver swing, so again this is not intended to be your new move. But we are going to be looking for more hip turn than you are probably used to doing now, and the signal you are sending to your body is that it is good to turn the hips, particularly on the backswing. Point Your Toes To practice this drill effectively your feet should roll up so your left toe is pointed to the ground on the backswing, and then your right toe will end up pointed at the ground on the forward swing. The foot pointing to the ground will have virtually no weight on it. The sole of your left shoe should be completely facing the target (on the backswing), and the shoelaces of your right shoe should be completely facing the target on your follow through. You might also try thinking of first swinging right handed then swinging left handed to help you make the turn back. Most students have no problem with pointing the right toe to the ground on the forward swing. But nearly all students initially have trouble making the complete turn to the back and pointing the left toe to the ground with no weight on the left foot. The first couple of times you try this drill take a look at your left foot on your backswing. Very few students are able to get their foot completely turned so the sole of the shoe is facing the target. Most students only get half way, and their belt buckle doesn’t turn completely away from the target. Their left foot will be turned half to three quarters of the way to the top, and there will still be weight on the left foot. The backswing is where you need to work the hardest to get all the way around, so pay the most attention to your left foot on the backswing and make sure it is turning all the way up. Release Left Leg Tension One of the main reasons students have such difficulty with the turn back is that they typically retain more tension in their left leg than they realize. This drill requires that you let go of all the tension in your left leg as you make your backswing. Pay attention to your left leg as you make this swing. When you finally get the motion correct and the left toe is pointed at the ground, you will probably find that you had to let go of some muscle tension in your left leg. More than likely the muscle group you relaxed will be the same muscle group where you hold tension in your normal swing, particularly under competitive pressure. I find that I tend to hold tension in my hamstring area. When I keep my right leg hamstring muscle relaxed my whole leg relaxes and I am able to make a tension-free swing. But everybody is different. Some students hold tension in their left quads, some in their calf muscles, some in their ankles, and some in their toes. I encourage you to experiment with your awareness as you perform this drill so that you can find your tension spot. What muscle group do you relax to make the baseball swing? Side Note—Release Left Leg Tension When You Are Under Pressure An interesting side note is that when we get under pressure this tension spot in the leg tends to tighten even more without our being aware of it. This extra tension prevents a fluid, athletic swing because it inadvertently restricts your backswing. We often attribute a poor drive to a mechanical issue when the real cause was a little bit of extra tension in the left leg. The next time you are playing and you are in a pressure situation; focus on this tension area in your left leg just prior to swinging. Relax that tension spot and then make your swing. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results. Swing In Balance Once you are able to make a complete, 180 degree rotation, with the toes alternately pointing to the ground and the belt buckle turned completely away from the target and then completely toward the target, focus on your balance. You should be making these swings in a continuous motion back and forth without having to take extra steps or without having to stop and reset your balance every few swings. Your weight should be centred over your feet as you swing. Here again if you have any difficulty maintaining your balance with this drill, it is probably symptomatic of a similar balance issue in your normal swing. Pay attention to what is pulling you off balance, and where it occurs in the swing. Keep your hands relatively light on the club (grip pressure around 3 or 4 on a scale of 10) and teach yourself to swing in balance. Rip It! Once you can make this baseball swing with an easy, rhythmic back and forth motion and still remain in good balance, it is time to add speed. This is the “Rip it” part of “grip it and rip it.” Once you have established a few rhythmic swings, add a “rip” swing every second or third swing. Swing as fast as you can. Stay in balance. You want to hear your club “whoosh” as it zings through the air. This is your speed training. Have some fun and let it loose! Once you have made your rip swing, fall back into your easy rhythmic swings for a couple of swings, then rip it again. Keep repeating this sequence. Try to move the whoosh sound as far out in front of you toward the target as possible when you make your rip swing. Again, the key is to stay in balance. The Rip Sequence Several interesting things happen when you make your rip swing, and I have seen it happen very consistently with students. As students THE 5 KEYS T O DISTANCE 45 make their backswing and get ready for their rip swing, they almost invariably start their forward swing by planting their left heel first and then initiating a weight shift to the left side while rotating their hips. Their arms naturally stay back in a lag position. The hip rotation carries the shoulders around, and the shoulders carry the club into position with lag. The club releases naturally and with significantly more speed through the impact zone. This sequence, in this order, is exactly what you want to achieve in your full downswing. What is interesting is that so many students follow this sequence naturally when they do this drill, yet they do exactly the opposite when hitting a golf ball. They initiate the downswing with the club, which swings the arms, which swings the shoulders, which may or may not result in a hip turn and weight shift. You want your body to swing the club, not the club to swing your body. Pay attention to the sequential motion and the order in which your body parts complete the swing as you make your rip swing: First the feet and legs, then the weight shift and hip turn, then the core, then the shoulders, then the arms, and finally the club. Feel your feet plant first. Feel your hips turn toward the target as you make your weight shift. Notice how this motion carries your shoulders and thus the club into position. Pay attention to the way you can generate significant swing speed even with relaxed hands and arms as long as your core is doing all the work. Adding More Training Elements To The Baseball Rip Swing As you are making the baseball rip swings you can add a few elements when you are comfortable. Add these elements only after you have mastered the basic drill. Variation 1 Baseball Rip Swing: Straight Left Arm When you make the backswing component of the rip swing, focus on keeping your left arm straight throughout the backswing and much  of the forward swing. Allow your wrists to hinge at the top and the club to swing around behind you on the backswing. As you make your forward swing, keep your left arm straight and your left elbow locked until after the club has passed the impact position, when your left arm should bend and fold around your body naturally. Keeping your left arm straight on the backswing is a good habit. It also forces your shoulders to make a more complete rotation. If you keep your left arm straight while practicing this drill you will develop a better feel for core rotation and having your body swing the club instead of having the club swing your body. A straight left arm also helps with club head extension and swing arc width, which will pay off in more club head speed and, therefore, distance. Variation 2 Baseball Rip Swing: Tucked Right Arm The next element you can add is to keep your right elbow bent and your right arm tucked against your body as long as possible. On the backswing bend your right elbow and tuck your right arm against your body as normal. When you start your forward swing motion, keep your right arm bent and tucked against your body until you have completely turned to face the target. In other words, keep the club back and keep your right arm from straightening out as long as possible. Then release the club. This variation can help significantly with learning how to hold lag and moving the whoosh farther forward in the swing. I will often advise students to learn how to make this motion by resting their club on their shoulder at the top of the backswing (both your arms will need to bend to do this drill variation). Then, as the student makes their forward swing, they keep the club attached to the shoulder until their body has turned completely toward the target. The club should remain in the exact same spot on the shoulder. Only after they have completed their turn should they then release the club and swing out toward the target. This tuck position promotes a very late release, and gives you the feeling of having your body complete its turn before the club head releases. You can’t do this drill with a straight left arm, so don’t worry about that part. The exercise here is to hold the club head release for as long as possible to get the sensation of holding lag and a late release. This drill really reinforces the concept of timing as well. Variation 3 Baseball Rip Swing: “Whoosh” Swing the next element you can add to the Baseball Rip swing is the “Whoosh” drill. Flip your driver around so you are holding the shaft just above the club head. Take your normal grip on the shaft and make the same Baseball Rip swing. Because the grip end is so much lighter you will be able to generate significantly more speed than when you are swinging the club head, and the shaft should make a “whoosh” sound. Pay attention to where the “whoosh” begins. You want the club to whoosh out in front of you body, toward the target. If the whoosh is behind you then you are casting or releasing early. If the whoosh is in the impact area in front of you then you are releasing too early—more than likely because you are stopping your hip rotation at impact. Learn to swing so that the whoosh happens in front of you. This drill variation is great self-training for holding lag longer because your body will naturally figure out how to hold the club back if you are concentrating on moving the whoosh to the front. Side Note—Practice the Baseball Rip Swing anywhere you can practice the Baseball Rip drill at the golf course, on the range, or at home. If you practice this drill for just 2 to 4 minutes every day for a week you will begin to see a marked improvement in your swing speed. This is also another of those drills that I use when I get to the course to play and there is no warm up facility or no time to hit practice balls. I have found that just a few minutes of the Baseball Rip drill is as effective as 20 minutes of hitting balls on the range.

Most of these tips a direct quotations from the 5 Keys to distance course.

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