Balance: A Golfer’s Greatest Asset & Biggest ChallengePosted by Ben Witter on: May 4, 2011
Author Ben Witter is a PGA Professional and Trick Shot Artist. Learn more about Ben.
Look at a golfer from 300 yards away and watch him take a swing.
You won’t be able to see his ball flight.
You won’t be able to see his path, plane or angle of attack.
You won’t be able to see the grip position, face angle or impact position.
However, generally, you can still assess a golfer’s ability, using the single most recognizable attribute visible from this macro view: BALANCE.
There is no greater indicator of overall playing ability or golfing prowess than the way a player is able to swing in balanced position.
In nearly every example, the greater the appearance of balance, the more capable the player is of making a consistent, solid and accurate strike of a golf ball.
Balance, then, is one of a golfer’s greatest assets. But, it is also one of his most considerable challenges.
To harness its potential and avoid its pitfalls, we must first understand the concept of balance.
Balance can be quantified into two basic categories:
- Static balance – the ability to remain stable when the body is at rest
- Dynamic balance – the ability to remain stable when the body is in motion
Functional balance, then, is our ability to maintain both static and dynamic balance in a specific series of movements, such as those in a golf swing.
Balance is affected by a variety of physiological factors. It is the ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support. A properly functioning balance system allows humans to:
- See clearly while moving
- Identify orientation with respect to gravity
- Determine direction and speed of movement
- Identify orientation with respect to speed of movement
- Make automatic and subconscious postural adjustments to maintain posture and stability in any plane of movement
Improving the physiology of balance can produce tangible results in the golf game. Because much of balance is assisted by vision – as it provides a reference with which to gauge our movements compared with things around us – one of the greatest ways to improve static and dynamic balance is to challenge our central nervous system by removing sight from the equation.
If you stand with your eyes closed and swing with your eyes closed, you’ll quickly understand how challenging balance becomes. You’ll also begin to improve your balance by doing this simple drill.
Improvement of general balance properties will begin to improve specific balance properties, leading to unparalleled strides in specific movements, such as the golf swing.
Golfing out of balance may be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Excess grip tension/improper grip position
- Improper posture at address
- Inappropriate rhythm to the swing
- Ill fitting equipment
- The hit reflex
- Improper alignment
Stay tuned for a follow up article in which I’ll analyze each factor from this list, exploring the causes and cures for each.
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