Some thoughts on the journey that began in ’05 and the issue of technique – I’ve been reflecting on the journey this past week and I have to say, I think I’ve done more with my golf swing theory work in the last year than I did in the preceding 15.
Further to that, I would say I’ve done more solid theory work in the last 6 weeks than in the preceding year – it’s almost like an exponential process where, to get that last 10% of the way from 90% to 100%, one has to really open up one’s mind that nothing in that previous 90% is written in stone.
Take the grip issue, for example – once you get how the grip works with the rest of the body’s setup, everything unrolls much like a tightly packed carpet, revealing so much more of the pattern therein.
That’s all mumbo-jumbo, likely, what I’m saying – however, it’s ironic that I watched the Mike Dunaway/Austin “Peace River” video two or three years ago as I was getting into my own version of the shift-and-post type of swing action, and declared that everything Dunaway said was correct, as was his other video “Escape Force.”
I was at 90% then and was still struggling on how to get myself to completely emulate the model I had presented in “E = MCS.”
So, I just find it funny that, when I watched the “Peace River” video this week, I was shaking my head at everything in it.
In the space of a couple of years, I’ve gone from, “Looks good, nothing wrong with the method here,” to “what on earth is going on in this video?!?”
Those of you who have the video, there are two things if you go back and watch it, that I’ll mention right here, in addition to the fact that the two Mikes had different swing mechanics and grip & setup while they presented a swing and setup that neither of them really employed.
Those two things were:
- The declaration that the setup works in a way that keeps the head still during the pivot, when we all know and can see clearly that MD’s head moves on the back pivot and,
- The admonition when adopting the “kicked-in” right leg to complete the setup and grip, to keep both the shoulders and the hips square to the target line, yet one can see very clearly that when Dunaway kicked-in and took his grip, his hips were nowhere near square to the target line.
I don’t know why I never clued in to these obvious defects in the presentation, but that’s what I’m talking about – going from 90% upwards to or approaching 100% understanding on something, you actually find things that you completely overlooked even at 90% of it.
6 Sessions Were Nearly All It Took
I’ve had exactly 6 range sessions this season, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll have the Classic model theory & swing action down within the next one or two. We’ll see how close I am to the mark when I get there.
I think a good deal of the progress has come simply from doing the work in one’s head rather than trying to dig it out of the dirt – that takes forever and it doesn’t mean that what you get at the end will be optimal – think Ben Hogan and Moe Norman, two swingers who “owned” their individual Mechanically-Correct Swing yet were not optimal or even approaching it.
Now, take these two unique swing actions that no one else has ever been able to emulate (because of course, they were personally tailored to the specific swing flaws and idiosyncrasies each swinger brought to his work to resolve), and one might ask, “Why on earth would DJ’s so-called ‘optimal’ swing model be any easier to learn and implement?”
And there, dear WAX Nation citizen, is the question I have been waiting to be asked, but haven’t, so I’ll ask and answer it myself.
Before Dick Fosbury, there were any number of ways people ran up to and jumped over a high jump bar – and yet now, how many people do you see not performing the high jump with the technique that Fosbury pioneered?
After grade school, I’d wager from high school all the way to Olympic athlete, you’ll find none whatsoever.
Because, no matter how gifted a jumper, there is no beating the Fosbury technique for high jump, so no one bothers to even try to jump another way – rather, it’s, “Am I old enough now to learn the Fosbury?”
Continuing the thread, how many standard basketball free-throw techniques are there?
One. And if you can shoot free-throws with the standard (and optimal) free-throw technique, you will find shooting free-throws ridiculously easy. I actually go ballistic when I watch the Raptors play and any of the players miss their free-throws.
They’re playing the game for a living, how hard is a free-throw to make??
90% accuracy should be the floor, not the ceiling.
Quick anecdote – my first year trying out for the basketball team in my sophomore year, I barely made the squad because I’d never actually played organized b-ball before. I made the team strictly on athletic ability.
However, I spent that winter sneaking into the school gym before school hours and working on my dribbling, shooting and free-throws – ten in a row were the minimum if working on free-throws.
Fast-forward to a game later that school year, where I sat in my customary place on the pine bench when, during the 4th quarter, a kerfuffle broke out on the court.
When all of the dust cleared and the two teams were separated, my team was awarded 5 technical free-throws after all of the ejections and fouls were tabulated.
For some reason (likely because half the team had been ejected, now that I recall), our coach looked down the bench and said, “Watts – go take the free-throws.”
I still remember walking from the bench across the gymnasium floor to the opposite end of the basketball court (away game with a hostile crowd, I will add) with every eye on me. I don’t actually remember feeling nerves, because at that point I was likely on auto-pilot and wouldn’t have heard a cannon being shot in the bleachers.
When the ref handed me the ball, I took a breath, dribbled four times while getting into the standard free-throw stance, spun the ball in my hands and netted the first shot purely.
I made all five (quite the story about it going round the school next day), and it was nothing more than putting myself in the school gym early morning and grooving those shots, one after the other.
I can still do it, if you grab me and put me on the line, as I proved to myself a few years back when I took the kids to the park and someone had a basketball:
That free-throw up above in the gif. is exactly how I shot my free throws at fifteen when I was taught proper form, and how I’d shoot them today. Give me a couple to warm up and get the distance feel back, and it’s on.
That, my friends, is the power of optimal technique – it’s the way the body moves and should move, and it’s far easier to learn the optimal technique of any athletic movement or action from someone who knows it than it is to try to figure out for oneself or find different, funky ways to do it.
Slammin’ Sammy Snead
That is why I will always hold Sam Snead in such high regard, because he was self-taught (learned his golf swing taking tree limbs and smacking stones around in the pastures as a boy), and his technique was nearly flawless when compared to many who had the benefit of lessons and instruction.
To get that close without someone actually telling him how to swing – phenomenal.
So, this is the whole thing about, if it takes or took me 15 plus years to figure out the optimal golf swing mechanics – had I had someone standing over me who knew and could perform that optimal technique, it probably would have taken about as much time to learn as it took Jack Nicklaus to learn his very good swing from Jack Grout at the age of ten, which is not very long.
I’ll be going for Session 7 in not too long a time (I’ve taken the past week to thoroughly digest what I’ve figured out about the grip and how it changes the stance/swing if not optimal, and how I needed to adjust my setup), and we’ll see how many more if any it takes for the Classic Golf Swing model to be declared done and dusted and move on to the Post-Modern!