Balance Your Checkbook and Golf SwingWritten by Sean Cochran
We all search for it. Balance in our daily lives. Balance while riding a bike. Politicians are always debating a balanced budget in Washington, and most of us could use a little balance in our checkbooks. Balance is a term used in golf quite often as well. It’s a “buzzword” and almost a cliché when it comes to golf swing. I am sure you have heard numerous times from swing coaches that “you have to stay balanced when swinging your club.” Others phrases that I hear when we talk about golf and balance are following: “When it comes to a sand shot, dig your feet into stand so you can stay balanced,” “If ball is on an uphill lie and above your feet, make sure you swing through ball, and stayed balanced,” and “Stay balanced when hitting driver and get to finish position in perfect balance.” The list could go on and on, and I am sure all of you could probably add to short list above.
Two questions always arise in my mind when I hear word balance in association with golf: 1) what does balance exactly mean, and 2) how do I create balance in my golf swing? I am guessing quite a few of you have these same questions, or similar ones, when you talk about subject of balance in relation to golf swing.
I am going to answer both of these questions. We will first define balance and its relation to golf swing. Secondly, we will discuss how you develop balance capacities of your body in relation to golf swing. So without further ado let’s get started.
What is Balance?
This is a really great question and perfect way to begin. So let’s hear it! What is definition of balance? Think about it for a minute and then write down a couple of your answers. I understand that this is not easiest question to answer (trust me, I have asked it plenty of times), and it is okay if you are not able to create a good working definition of balance (that’s part of what we are going to do with this article). Okay, time is up, what did you write down?
Well, let me tell you some of replies I have received for this question and we will take if from there. Here are just a few that I hear: “head over your belly button between your feet,” “swinging a club on correct path,” “knowing where your body is in space,” and “kinesthetic awareness.” All of these answers are somewhat correct, but none of them gives us a good sound understanding of what balance really means.
The definition of balance is simply ability to control your body during movement. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? It really is when you think about it, but let’s break this definition down so we understand it completely. Starting with first portion of definition: “the ability to control” means what? Well, it is probably easiest to imagine what “out of control” looks like. Take mental image of a racecar crashing into wall. We could describe car as out of control. Now take flip side of this, and what would this car look like if it were in control? It would probably zoom around track without hitting anything. The body is same; if your body is out of control it will, in a sense, crash or fall over. If body is in control, then it performs whatever movement you are asking of it without “crashing.” Take example of a toddler running. Sometimes they get going so quickly that they get out of control and fall over. Other times they stay in control and are able to run.
Moving onto second part of definition: “your body.” Pretty easy concept to understand, don’t you think? Your body includes your torso, head, arms, legs, and anything attached to arms or legs, like a golf club. Up to this point we can put together first two parts of definition and summarize it as: body (including your arms, legs, torso, head, and golf club) must be under control. Let us add final part of definition into mix to complete our understanding.
The final piece of definition is: “during movement.” This simply means anything your body is doing. It can be walking, running, throwing a baseball, or, in our world, swinging a golf club. Swinging a golf club is “our movement” when discussing this definition. We are now at point to put whole definition together. Let us use example of a golf swing to create connection we are looking for in terms of definition.
Becoming an Ageless GolferWritten by Sean Cochran
It happens to all of us, even though we do not want to admit it. The reality is we all get older. Some of you may already know what I am talking about, and others may have yet to experience phenomenon of aging. Those of you who are reading this article and are no longer “spring chickens” get my drift. Even if you are one of lucky ones, still young, let me fill you in on what happens as body gets a few miles on it.
Probably biggest thing that we all dislike when we creep into our thirties and forties is extra poundage (i.e. weight) we tend to put on. (It is also a lot harder to take off when we get older.) Unfortunately, because our metabolism slows down, we are unable to pound down a burger, fries, and a couple of cokes without bathroom scale hitting “tilt” a few days later. In my mind, that probably is most difficult adjustment we have to make: an adjustment in our nutrition intake as we age.
The second most noticeable difference as we age, especially for more active individual, is it becomes a little more difficult to get out of bed. The back is a little sore, knees are a little creaky, and, if you workout, soreness does not go away as quickly. This is a result of a few things that happen to our bodies when we get older. Number one is we lose a percentage of our muscle mass on a yearly basis. After age of 25 (don’t quote me on specifics, but I believe) about 1% of your muscle mass is lost per year. Makes sense now why we get a little sorer and getting out of bed is more difficult. We simply do not have as much muscle to do work.
I could go on and on with depressing facts of aging, but let us look at just one more before moving on. As you get older you become less flexible. It takes you a lot longer to “limber up” for any sporting activity: golf, tennis, or a pick up game of basketball. Less flexibility predisposes you to experience more difficulty with certain movements: touching your toes, rotating during a golf swing, or even reaching down to pick something up off ground. Why does this occur? Our bodies, as a result of wear and tear, become more “tight” and “wound up” as we get older.
So there you have it! Some of great things to look forward to as you get older (kidding of course). So if you’re in your twenties and you’re reading this article, “enjoy it while it lasts,” because road gets a little more difficult to travel as you get older. But, if you’re beyond your twenties, I am sure you can relate to general results of aging in relation to your golf game. Quite simply, extra pounds decrease your stamina (and may affect your swing plane). Less muscle equals less distance off tee, and decreased flexibility tends to make turn in golf swing much harder to perform. An unfortunate situation, but good news is that we can slow down aging process and limit effects of aging on your golf game.
Slowing Down Aging Process for Golf Swing
I have given you a little “carrot of information” that we can slow down aging process. How do we do it? It is actually quite simple and only requires a little time out of each day (15-20 minutes) and a little discipline. Sounds pretty easy when you think of all benefits you stand to gain. What we are going to do is provide you some answers on how to slow down aging process. Remember we can’t stop aging process, but we can sure slow it down. The benefits of slowing down aging process are evident when you see guys in their 50’s winning tour events. It just takes a little time, some knowledge, and discipline. If you are saying, “I don’t have time,” let me ask you one question: How would you like to feel 10 years younger right now and hit ball farther then you did in your twenties? I imagine answer to both of those questions would be a resounding yes!
Let us start with first topic that we described when you get older, additional pounds. Unfortunately, as you age your metabolism slows down. For those of you who are unfamiliar with word metabolism, think of it as your own internal furnace. It is rate at which you burn fuel (food is fuel to human body). When we are younger we tend have faster metabolisms, and as we get older they slow down. (I know it is a bummer.) Well, let me tell you, there are activities to speed that metabolism back up. The way to do it is by performing some fitness activities. If you are active and participate in some type of structured activity your body will burn more fuel and elevate its metabolism during this time. In addition, if these activities are resistance-training activities (i.e. weights, tubing, light dumbbells, body weight), then over time you will build some muscle. The great thing about that is more muscle you have higher your metabolism will be all time (translation: you will burn more fuel all day and night). A secondary benefit of such activities will be greater stamina on course. So rather than “spraying your shots” around on back nine because you’re tired, you can have pinpoint accuracy going into 18th.