I received an e-mail from a fellow golfer today asking for help in slowing down their back swing. This gentleman had been trying, without success, to say to himself “slow” and “stop” when at the top of his back swing. His assessment of the situation was that the speed of his back swing was creating bad shots.
This is one of the biggest myths in golf. (The other most popular myths are that you should always keep your head down and your wrists stiff.) A fast swing is only an issue if you cannot control the direction in which the club face is travelling. Each individual has their own tempo or rhythm which does not just apply to golf. How fast do you walk or talk?
Ask yourself what your normal speed is. If it is quite swift, then your natural swing tempo will be as well. You play golf from the platform of you the person; rather than trying to adapt your entire personality to your golf, you need to adapt your golf to your personality. You just have to learn to apply the club face to the ball accurately whilst you swing, at whatever speed your natural rhythm dictates.
Additionally, if your focus is placed upon the top of your back swing this necessarily implies that you are distracted away from where it should be – upon hitting the ball forwards in a particular direction. If you are thinking about the top of your back swing, or your wrist angle or anything else like that you cannot be focusing on the very thing which really matters; that of hitting the golf ball square at impact. This in fact creates a situation where you cannot see the wood for the trees. In golf the most important focus is committing to the shot in hand.
You may also be telling yourself to not do something, in which case this terminology will in fact make you do it more. If you are saying to yourself “Don’t swing too fast” you are effectively (unintentionally, I know) giving your mind a direct instruction to swing fast! You may well be saying don’t swing too fast, but your mind is seeing and expecting a fast swing. Your imagination is always stronger than your will power…whatever you are picturing will happen.
In reality the heart of the issue lies not in a need to slow down the back swing, but instead a refocusing upon what really matters is required; swinging the club in a way which allows the clubface to impact upon the ball and propel it forwards to a previously selected target. Your issue is far more likely to be caused by a misdirection of focus than a back swing which is too fast.
When you watch different golfers you will see that they all have different swing speeds; your task is merely to control the direction of your club face through impact.
Roseanna Leaton, specialist in golf hypnosis and author of the GolferWithin mind training system.