If Someone Had Explained Leverage To Me…

dunaway top figure 7Everything in an athletic model of motion is designed to deliver optimal performance, this we know.

Broken down into micro, it’s all about leverage, and how best to produce said leverage in motion, whether it be throwing, running or swinging.

While preparing to get back out hitting balls in the next week or so (hopefully), I have been studying one thing & one thing only – the leverage created by the optimal top position at the termination of the back pivot, and what makes it optimal as opposed to just good or great.

Once you know that position and the motion that results from this top position as one begins the transition to the down swing, you can spot right away that optimal leverage comparing it to other down swing motions.

Take Mike Dunaway’s model – having worked on his model for approaching two years now, most of it offline due to other pursuits and of course the pandemic, I can assure you that you won’t see more or better leveraging of the golf club than how he did it.

It truly is the “judo throw” of down swings:

dunaway slide release

It doesn’t matter which of his swing iterations you watch, either.  In all of his motions, you see that great top position & the leverage he created with the simple action of the weight shift back to the leading foot.

MD stick man tracer

It’s my feeling at this time (which may of course change after I hit balls and study the video in the next weeks), that too much emphasis has been placed on the arms & hands in describing the down swing action.

I no longer like the term “throw release” for this reason. The action certainly is that, but the visual image doesn’t create any insight on the nature of the leverage versus any other swing.

In my eyes, the action begins and ends with the lower body action, which will produce all the other action required, provided you’ve built the correct setup, including the grip and ball position.

From there, if you’ll forgive my using a term I coined for the MCS Classic Golf Swing pivot action in the 2017 “E = MCS” swing video, you combine that leg & hip action with “One Major Move,” which is the trailing or right arm action in a right-handed swing.

On leverage, there is a very quick & basic way to gauge the effectiveness of an action when it comes to generating it.

  • What are the most powerful muscles in the body?
  • What are the longest levers in the body?
  • If leverage is produced by the rotation of the torso, as is also done with the judo throw, how best to “rotate the torso” to produce it?

Looking here, we know that there is an element of use of the hands and arms, where the thrower grasps the other person then “throws” him:

judo throw

However, as the White Gi grasps the Blue Gi, you see that nothing happens at all until the White Gi makes a step & turn with his legs, hips and body.

The arms simply hang onto the person, whereas it’s the hips & legs that rotate the torso to leverage the Blue Gi up, over and to the ground.

Because, the leg & hip muscles are the most powerful muscles in the body, the leg bones are the longest bones, and so the secret to leveraging the golf club is an open secret – you use the hips & legs to do it.

And that’s the problem – in all of the instruction and explanations you’ve heard regarding the MA/MD swing models… how much of it has been spent on the hip & leg action, and how much of it has been devoted to talk of the hands, pronation, supination, throwing et al?

Far too much hand talk, not near enough leg & hip talk, because that’s where the swing is occurring!

So, what I’ve been looking at are the components of:

  • Maximizing the hip & leg action,
  • Adding the action of the trailing arm & hand and
  • Combining the two into a simple action that does the job desired – swinging the golf club with maximum efficiency & leverage, therefor the maximum speed & power.

What I’m finding in swinging, for myself, is that there is actually no time to devote thought to the hand action in a swing, because it simply occurs to quickly to control or guide this.

What you want to focus on is the proper action of the hips & legs, which will drive the swing action.

Leverage is the key, and the hidden secret to the 3 Levers in this diagram:

the 3 levers

Is one I’ve already provided!  The Red Lever is powered/moved by the hip & leg action:

leverage the kettle bell

It is actually pointless to discuss the leading arm as a lever until it is understood what moves it, at which point you’re back to the hips & legs.

The Second or Yellow Lever does of course play a factor, as does the Third or Orange Lever.

But they are secondary, beside the primary lever which is the Red.

dunaway pivot

That brings us back to Dunaway’s “Figure 7” concept with the leading arm.

Full circle.

More to come.

11 thoughts on “If Someone Had Explained Leverage To Me…

  1. Jeff

    Couldn’t agree more. When I am swinging the best, if almost feels like I am standing on my leading foot “forever” and I have to whip the club around in an effort to keep up. The arms are very passive at first and then have to explode. I have trouble replicating it into a consistent feel, so I don’t do it as often as I like, but a huge part is staying relaxed in the arms.

    The “throwing” notion always had be activating my arms to early – for me, it is “wait for it” and then let it rip. Just watching the Dunaway action above you can see how long his upper body and arms are passive in the downswing. Staying relaxed on the backswing and the shift back to the lead foot is critical for me – i.e., tempo.

    1. D Watts Post author

      “Staying relaxed on the backswing and the shift back to the lead foot is critical for me…”

      Can’t say it any better than that, Jeff!

      1. Peter Covell

        Shifting back to the lead foot has been my biggest challenge. As one that fights “falling back” I welcome any drills or suggestions to get me to the lead foot. The other fault I have is being too armsy and tense in the upper body (lower body also). Have made some good progress from your videos and am still working from them. I really look forward to more on this topic. Thanks DJ.

        1. D Watts Post author

          Offhand I’d say that if you’re fighting a “falling back” issue, it’s got to do with 1 or both of 2 causes – either ball placement too far back of the leading foot, and/or improper weight distribution at setup, Peter.

          The falling back is a hand-eye reaction where your eyes tell you that you can’t make contact with the ball shifting the weight aggressively to the leading foot.

          Make sure of your spine tilt and weighting bias at setup & that your ball is positioned correctly according to the setup, I’d wager you will have better outcomes.

          Also, if you practice throwing a ball side-arm and let the trailing foot slide so that you are all the way into the lead foot, you’ll train the body to do the same on the downswing.

          Gave that drill to a teaching pro who tried it and he was off to the races after a few tosses 👍🏼

  2. Mark Cartner

    Like where you’re headed with this. Nicklaus said his legs were naturally his strongest feature and emphasized his lower body as a result.
    I was an all-state discus thrower in high school at the highest level while measuring only 5’11” 155lbs. I barely lifted weights and couldn’t bench my weight. But I had naturally strong, quick legs and supple hips. My upper body was basically just hanging on and along for the ride. (Although if I had seriously lifted weights and built upper body strength, I’d have been much better.)

    1. D Watts Post author

      You are sure to like where this is going, Mark, now that you’ve given up some pertinent personal info! 😁

      I’ve always thought that people who didn’t participate in any other sport than golf were sorely lacking the fundamentals of athletic motion principles.

      That you competed in track & field is priceless – there, you would have been schooled in proper athletic motion theory and not hocus pocus swing ideas pulled out of you know where.

      Where I’m going will make a lot of sense to those who’ve been trained in sports other than golf.

      And for those who haven’t, pull up a chair because this is just the start of things!

      1. Mark

        Sadly, the ol’ hips ain’t so supple anymore. 😉
        But yes, back in the day we didn’t focus on one sport like the kids today. We changed sports with the seasons. Cross pollination is a good thing I think. Plus it was just plain fun!

        1. D Watts Post author

          Good news is you don’t have to do the splits my man 😂

          If you can stand with feet shoulder width apart & can turn your feet 45 degrees out, and if you can walk with free motion in your hips, they’re supple enough.

  3. David

    Great analysis DJ!! This dovetails perfectly with the “One major move” of years gone by. If concentrating on arms, hands, etc the swing is already over. Allowing them to follow the pivot makes it work. All the best.

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