Super Slow Motion Golf Training
On any given day in my role as a professional golf instructor at The Golf Academy in Raleigh, NC, I’m often asked what’s the best golf swing practice method or how to practice the golf swing. Basically people want to know how to get the most from a golf lesson and their golf swing training. Any attempt to answer these questions must take into account that there are all types of golf swings and golfers – no two alike – thus no two golf lessons are exactly alike either. Yet everybody has basically the same goal … “to get more consistent.” Oddly enough, I see plenty of consistency – the same consistent mistakes swing after swing but with inconsistent results.
Sound familiar? Well, assuming you already know what parts of the golf swing to work on and that you know what techniques are needed to fix those parts, there is a great way to apply any new learning to golf swing practice to achieve greater consistency and mastery of the correct golf swing motion. The key is super slow motion golf training.
But first, some background. It is not unusual to finish what I think is a great golf lesson only to watch in disappointment a few minutes later as my student is pulling the headcover off their driver to see how far they can hit it using their new swing with the longest, fastest club in the bag. Next, they will be dialing on their cell phone to make a tee time to go try the new lesson on the golf course.
Frankly, that’s not a very productive way to learn a brand new motor skill as complex as the golf swing. It’s really like taking the exam before bothering to study for it. Failure is inevitable. In fact most students have a hard time just executing a good practice swing correctly, much less a full speed swing with a live ball in play on the golf course with an audience watching.
Before getting caught in that trap, look at other disciplines like martial arts or boxing and how slow motion training is utilized in those sports. Martial arts practitioners are constantly training in slow motion perfecting their movements sometimes for years in preparation for the day they may need those skills in a contest or to defend themselves from an attacker. An actual fight simply speeds up all the movements that have been rehearsed in slow motion over time. Same moves, just faster execution in front of a live target, the opponent. Golf is really no different.
Former boxing champ, Sugar Ray Leonard, was one of the fastest of all time, but a little known secret of his was practicing away from the crowds utilizing super slow motion training to maintain perfect form with his punches and footwork. In the ring in front of thousands of people and a determined opponent, all he did was speed up the movement – it was already perfectly rehearsed thousands of times.
Now come back to our slow motion golf training example to practice the golf swing. Like the martial artist or boxer, we are learning a complex motor skill, trying to do it at a high rate of speed and trying to strike a specific target with precision. Can you imagine asking a new martial arts student fresh off the street to go spar full contact with a top black belt in order to learn how to fight. It would be impossible. The rookie would just be in survival mode and couldn’t possibly learn proper fighting technique while getting pummeled by the faster, better fighter. Frustration and lack of confidence would be the only accomplishment from that training method. Same thing for the golfer trying to learn a new technique at full speed in the heat of battle. It doesn’t work.
So what’s the point? Ideally as golfers we would assess the motion we want to make, preferably with professional guidance, then begin to do correct super slow motion golf training reps with no ball. Imagine taking a golf swing that lasts 30 seconds, or a minute and a half, or what about 10 minutes? There are actually golf pros out there making practice swings that take that long to complete. It’s so slow it’s like watching a sun dial. It looks more like Tai Chi with a golf club.
To practice this method at the driving range, I suggest reviewing the motion or specific changes you want to make in your mind, then executing several super slow motion golf swings. If you want to make this more realistic, go ahead and setup to a golf ball and as the club comes slowly down into the ball, just nudge the ball out of the way and continue slowly up into the followthrough. If you are not using a ball, the club should still come down slowly and brush the turf at a specific spot where the ball would normally be. Emphasize any key trouble spots or specific moves you need to improve on. After several of these super slow motion golf swings, go ahead and take several faster versions of the golf swing without a ball.
Now you are ready for live ball hitting. Get 4 golf balls ready and execute 4 shots in a row at regular game speed. Stop after the 4 shots, perform a couple of the super slow motion golf practice swings again with perfect form, then hit 4 more regular speed shots and so on. Repeat this pattern until you have hit at least 20 balls. (5 sets of 4 shots with both slow and fast practice swings in between sets)
It works best to start the 20-ball routine with a lofted club, and after 20 shots, change clubs or change swing thoughts. This method allows you to change clubs through the set while learning one key idea with different clubs, or you can stick with the same club but change swing thoughts after each group of 20 shots. The live shots are really a test while the true learning is taking place with the practice swings between sets.
The beauty of the super slow motion technique is it allows for perfect motion at a speed that is controllable. It can be self-diagnosed and it allows the brain enough time to begin imprinting the new pattern without the stress caused by speed and the expectation of the ball flight. These super-slow swings can be performed anywhere – at home, hotel room, office, golf course and practice range. All you need is a club and maybe a mirror and some free time. As you try new things in your swing, prove to yourself that you can make a perfect slow-motion swing before you try a fast one with a ball. You may find that slowing down actually gets you where you want to be faster.
Herman Williams, PGA