Something Missing In Modern Golf Swing Theory

The main difference between MCS and Modern Golf Swing theory, of course, is that the MCS swing theory has an over-riding principle when it comes the swing.

That principle is that a swing model must be mechanically-sound, or else it shouldn’t be used, let alone taught or encouraged.

That is an element sorely missing in Modern Golf Swing Theory, as coaches and players alike will freely admit many times that the model they use is harmful to the body.

That is unacceptable, or should be, if a coach or teacher is worth their salt.  To knowingly teach a harmful technique is malpractice, and I don’t know if it’s worse when the coach or teacher doesn’t even know that the technique is harmful, but that would be worse than malpractice, in my view.

So, Mike Divot linked me in a comment to an interesting article with regards to the baseball swing and training, and while I read it, I was saying, “If this is about training the baseball swing, I hope I read something about technique in this piece…”

And I wasn’t disappointed.  You can read the linked article if you wish (if you’re into baseball, especially) but my big “Aha!” moment was when I found the part on technique, and I was very pleased to find myself strenuously agreeing with it.

It’s from the Florida Baseball Ranch’s website, and I’ll give you a couple of paragraphs from the piece, which is titled:

How We Use External Focus and Feedback To Train Our Athletes (Part 1)

… the Bernstein Principle states, “the body will organize itself in accordance with the overall goal of the activity.”

It doesn’t say it will always find the “best” or the “safest” way to accomplish the goal. This is where the coach comes in.

The coach’s most important role is to ensure the athlete’s movements are within the boundaries of safety. After that, coaches/instructors who recognize efficient movement can use motor learning precepts to guide the athlete toward discovery of more appropriate patterns.

The underlining and bolding are mine, and I had a reaction, reading that, similar to this:

Now all joking aside, that is a beautiful concept, wouldn’t you agree, my friends?

Nikolai Bernstein, if you’re not aware of him, was a pioneer of sorts in figuring out proper motion, but that bolded text, which isn’t part of his principle, is what really jumped out at me when I read the FBR’s article on training the baseball swing.

Now, I wonder how many modern golf swing models out there would withstand that kind of test – “The coach’s most important role is to ensure the athlete’s movements are within the boundaries of safety”??

I wonder where Tiger Woods would be, if he’d had the benefit of that philosophy when he was looking to make swing changes:

In fact, I wonder where many of today’s players’ careers might have gone, if they’d also received the benefit of that philosophy.

Hind-sight will tell us, when the golf industry returns to a more mechanically-sound frame of mind following the inevitable demise of the modern swing school.

So, some of us are on the right track with regards to what constitutes an effective method of swinging a golf club.

The track is, you must protect the physical health of the swinger above all, before you even get to coaching or teaching a swing model.

Let’s hope the modern industry gets there as well, sooner than later!


6 thoughts on “Something Missing In Modern Golf Swing Theory

  1. Mike Divot

    Read the stuff on the FBR website(not just that one article) and then compare with the witchdoctory stuff promoted by Como and Foley, etc.

    The baseball people are so far ahead it’s not even funny.

    1. D Watts Post author

      It’s all sports, actually, MD – my lament for years has been that sports science is pretty much established, especially when it comes to simple motion.

      Golf is unique in that, when it comes to proper technique and simple motion, it has gone the other direction, in search of voodoo and junk science, and it’s only a matter of time before people figure this out, if they haven’t already.

      1. Laser

        “sports science”

        –Actually, I’ve seen no evidence of it. They can’t teach a .250 hitter to become a .300 hitter. They couldn’t teach Tim Tebow how to throw (even though he won an NCAA championship).

        With science, first you gather data–they haven’t done that. They you develop a hypothesis and test it–they haven’t done that either (or else they’d have discarded modern swing-theory).

        “Sports science” actually works like this: they take people who already GET IT at a fundamental level. Then, instructors work with these select few, and maybe a much smaller few benefit from a random suggestion.

        They recently had Kevin Kisner and his coach on golf channel. He says that he was helped…but the explanations were fuzzy at best. Something clicked…he mentioned a centered stance, so…

        1. D Watts Post author

          Agree and disagree:

          I come from a track & field background, which is why I know that there is such a thing as sports science – the amount of analysis that has gone into improving throwing, jumping and running techniques in the past century are amazing.

          I know that I personally could never have run a sub-11 second 100m without having joined a track club in high school, and without the benefit of the coaching I received with regards to training.

          They also use science in cricket, when they utilize high-speed photography and motion analysis to determine whether a bowler’s technique is legal or not:

          But this:

          With science, first you gather data–they haven’t done that. They you develop a hypothesis and test it–they haven’t done that either (or else they’d have discarded modern swing-theory).

          Can’t argue there!

          1. Laser

            100m…maybe a lot of it was in the set-up…like golf? How to set up in the starting blocks…maybe that could get you several 10ths right there? And, at least in track you didn’t have to do a lot of un-learning before you could see progress.

            1. D Watts Post author

              There was some blocks work, and the conditioning and strength training, technique drilling… a lot of good athletic performance in track & field is due to competent coaching, while athletic ability is still something you can’t buy.

              One of the most enjoyable periods of my life. I made it as far as I could have gone (the equivalent to state championships), got my butt handed to me at that level, and knew that being an Olympic sprinter wasn’t in the cards, however hard I worked.

              That was it for me, but it was nothing I would ever give back!

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