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Tiger's Bad Back and Slowed Clubhead Speed

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Tiger Woods has gone through several swing changes in the recent years. In this video, i'll show you a critical change that could be contributing to his loss of clubhead speed as well as put him into a possible position of injury. I'll also show you an effective drill on how to use the shoulders in the downswing and put speed in the most important spot...impact.

Video Practice Points
  • You want the shoulders to rotate around the spine during the entire swing
  • Increasing the tilt in the shoulders after impact can put lots of compression on the lower spine
  • Keep the shoulders passive and allow the torso to pull the shoulders back to square at impact. 
  • Release the golf club and allow the club to pull you up into your finish position

There's a fact out there that says 80% of tour players will sustain an injury while playing golf that'll keep them out of golf for eight weeks or more, 80. I'm gonna be focusing in on Tiger Woods' golf swing from 2014 to 2007. I'm gonna show you some of the distinct differences, in part one, that could be attributing to some of his injuries. In part two, I'm gonna be showing you how to put speed back in the right area and keep the golf ball on the golf course. Let's go ahead and get started.

                Okay. So over the last several years, we've seen Tiger Woods' golf swing really change and evolve with different instructors that he's worked with. I wanna spend some time with you guys showing you the differences between 2007, where he was averaging 121 miles an hour, to where he's at at 2014, averaging 115 miles an hour, and also been a lot more susceptible to injuries. There is one very critical move that he's been working on now that could be the root of all the problems. I wanna go ahead and point that out and then in the second part of the video, I'm gonna show you guys a great drill that's gonna help you learn how to use your shoulders effectively in your downswing, and your downswing sequence, and get you to release the golf club at the proper time and that's at impact.

                Let's go ahead and get started. I'm gonna go ahead and get both players back down to the address position. You're gonna see here, the only difference at the address position is that now in 2014, he's got just a fraction more spine angle. You can see that he's tilted a little bit more from the hips, where in 2007, he's just a fraction more vertical. All right, so there's not really a bunch of drastic changes about the way he rotates his body. He actually loads up and rotates really beautifully. He gets the club much longer and then the hands much higher in 2007. Where now, you can see here in 2014, the right elbow is much lower than the relationship to the chest and the club has traveled not nearly as far as it did in 2007. Now, this is not the main factor in the reason why he's losing speed because you can still have a low elevation point, much like a Jason Day, and still make a ton of club head speed.

                It's this next move that could be the real big issue that he's gonna be running into. Tiger has been always known for his ability to be able to squat and leverage the ground through the hitting area. As I start to work the hands back down into the hitting area, you're gonna see that he is still squatting down. What I want you to do is pay very close attention to this move right here. Watch the left shoulder. You can see how it works vertically. So see that left shoulder working vertically? Now he's got thrust coming from out of the ground, and now he's having to try to increase his spine angle. And then in turn, he's also increasing the tilt to his shoulder plane. The reason why he's doing this is because Tiger Woods has openly said over the last few years that he wants to eliminate the left side of the golf course.

                We're perfectly okay with that mentality. That's a great mentality, just to have a one-directional miss. However, we don't what to make a change in a golf swing that's gonna be possibly detrimental to the body. We wanna be able to protect and preserve. We wanna be able to move as efficiently as possible throughout the golf swing. That way, we can play golf for many years to come. There are great players right now, like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, they're not making any sort of drastic move like this to have a one-directional miss. They both are actually swinging the golf club beautifully, effectively, and efficiently throughout the move, and really kinda putting themselves in position where they're gonna be around for a long period of time.

                Now, what I want you to notice here ... Okay. I'm gonna go ahead and show you real quickly again so you can see that, as he's steepening the shoulder plane here, he's gonna have to hang onto his release quite a bit in order to keep the golf ball on the golf course. Now, if he were to release the golf club with this particular move, he would probably lose the golf ball left of the world. All right? You can see, like I said, he's having to hang. He's steepening the shoulder plane, hangs onto the release, which, when you hang onto the release, you're actually slowing the club head down and it's designed to be rotating. When you slow the club head down, guess what? Your speed drops. Again, I'll show you again. Through the hitting area, that left shoulder works up. I'm gonna show you now, in 2007, as he gets down to the hitting area ... Now watch this left shoulder work more laterally and around the spine. He's not having to increase that overall amount of tilt. You can see there's not nearly as much side-bend as he has over here. Okay?

                When you start to put upward force, or, I'm sorry. You're trying to leverage the ground and you're putting all that thrust from the lower body, that upward thrust, and then you're having to kind of counteract that move with bending from the spine and then tilting your shoulders, you're gonna put a lot of compression on the lower part of the spine. In turn, because you're putting compression on the spine there and hanging onto the club head, you're slowing things down. This is probably the primary reason why Tiger has been more susceptible to injury at this point, especially in the back area, is because of the fact that he's got so much of that upward thrust and he's trying to counteract things by holding or increasing spine through the hitting area and then increasing the tilt to his shoulders and then, in turn, having to hang onto the club face to keep it on the golf course.

                All right. In part two of this video, I'm gonna show you a great drill for those of you guys that have always been known as shoulder spinners. I'm gonna show you a good drill to help you get speed in the correct spot, and that's at impact. Let's go ahead and take a look at video two.

                Okay, so now that we've dived into part one of this video, talking a little bit about the concerns with Tiger's new golf swing and his delayed release and his steepening of his shoulder plane, I wanna go ahead and give you guys a drill that's gonna help you understand what the shoulders are supposed to be doing and the hitting area in post-impact, so not only you can put speed in the right spot but you can also protect and preserve your body throughout the golf swing. That's really the name of the game at this point is making sure that, biomechanically, we move correctly throughout the entire move so you can play for a long time and you can also play as efficient as possible. Now, one thing I want you guys to understand about the shoulders is that the shoulders are really supposed to be rotating perpendicular to your axis.

                From an address position, if we were to just focus on rotating around the axis and not trying to do anything drastic but really protecting the critical parts of the lower back, we're not over-rotating the spine. We're just rotating the shoulders, the same kind of thing happens in the downward move. But one thing that is kind of often overlooked is that, what are the shoulders supposed to be doing? Well, the shoulders are really just reacting to the left side of the body, or your lead side of the body, the torso rotation that you're creating. From a down-the-line perspective, and I'll show you guys face-on here in a second, when I get seated to the left side and I'm starting to use my left obliques to pull that hip away from the target, you can notice that that's signaling, or that's creating some torso rotation, which is in turn, rotating my shoulders. I'm not having to spin the shoulders wide open. This is a great video for you shoulder spinners. I'm gonna show you a drill here in just a minute on what you can do to kind of slow things down in your downswing sequence and make sure you're releasing the club at the proper time.

                All right, so if you haven't really fine-tuned your release, this is one of those videos that you need to get out of right away. I want you to go work on your release before we start to work on this stuff. The idea is, is that we want the shoulders to stay very passive, very relaxed. I told you I'd show you from a face-on perspective, so when we get over to our trail side here and we shift left and I get into that left side, I feel my weight hit that left heel, I'm pulling that left oblique to move that hip away from the target. That's also creating torso rotation. As a chain reaction, now the shoulders have moved into that square position where we just go ahead and release the snot out of it and we're at max speed. That's what we want. We want max speed in the hitting area. We want it at impact. We don't want it out here, we don't want it up here. We want it at impact, all right?

                A good drill for you guys to try out around the house is put an impact bag but put it back in your stance. Put it more towards the trail foot here. What you're gonna do is you're gonna go ahead and load to the top. You're gonna shit left. As soon as you feel that weight hit the left heel, you can go ahead and release it. All right? I want you to think left heel, pull the left hip away, release. So left hip or lead hip, lead heel, pull that lead hip away, and release. Don't try to drag things through. What you're gonna be looking for as a checkpoint, is that your shoulders are gonna feel like they're a fraction closed. With that ball position a little bit further back, they're gonna be just a fraction closed at this point.

                Once you drill that enough and you start to get things a little bit slowed down with the shoulder line, then go ahead and move the position of the bag more towards the middle of the stance here. You're still doing the same thing. As soon as you shift to that lead side, then go ahead and release. All right? So now you're releasing at the proper time. You notice that the shoulder line is nice and square in the hitting area, which is absolutely pivotal. Next step would be to have the ball position in the normal. With the driver, we tend to have the ball position a little bit more forward. We have a little bit wider of a base, so I'm gonna have this bag a little bit more forward here. Same kind of thing. As soon as I feel that weight hit that left heel and I feel that left oblique starting to pull that hip away from the target, I'm releasing the golf club because that torso rotation's moving the hands and arms back out front. We're not having to create a lot of massive or violent move from the right shoulder.

                Then the final piece to this is I want you to set the bag up about six to eight inches out in front of you here, out in front of your lead foot. Okay? What we're gonna be looking for at this point, we're gonna keep everything the same, but now when we impact the bag, I want you to notice that the auditory feedback has kind of toned-down because the speed was here at impact. You should be able to notice a big difference in the sound from where it is at impact to where it is out here in front of me. What you're looking for is, after you impact the bag with it six to eight inches out in front of you, you don't want your shoulder line to be open more than 45 degrees, or your chest to be open more than 45 degrees. You want things to be rotating naturally after the release and not being steepened up to where you're hung back on your right side but you wanna make sure that things are rotating post-impact, after you've extended the club through the hitting area.

                You never wanna be with that club six to eight inches out in front, or that bag six to eight inches in front of you, wanna be wide open to where your chest is facing down the target line. All right. This drill's gonna teach you how to slow the shoulders down. It's gonna teach you how to use the lead side of your body to create a chain reaction of events, and it's gonna teach you how to release the golf club at the proper time and that's at impact. Get out there, protect your body, put speed in the right spot, and play some great golf.


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-Dr. Jeffrey Broker, Assoc. Prof. in Biomechanics at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Former Senior Biomechanist for U.S. Olympics Committee

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