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Graeme McDowell - Body Release

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In this new video, I'll explain what the term "body release" means in the golf swing and how it can cause you to lose tons of clubhead speed.

Video Practice Points
  • Don't spin your body from the top of the swing down. 
  • Stall the body and release the club. 

We  are here with this week's tour analysis with Graeme McDowell who just picked up his big victory at the OHL Classic in a three way playoff. Congratulations to Graeme. This week we are going to be focusing in what a body release is and how it could ultimately affect your club head speed and also potentially put your back in a position to where you could be setting yourself up for injury. If you've been battling some back pain or even possibly leaking some club head speed, you want to pay close attention to today's review. Let's go ahead and get started.

                Okay, guys. As I said in the opener, we are going to be focusing in on a body release this week. We're going to be defining what that means, and we're going to be talking about some of the ins and outs to it. Graeme is a very, very consistent and very accurate driver of the golf ball. He's always up in the top 15 year in and year out as far as accuracy is concerned, but he's not really up there in the speed department. He's generally right around between 107 and 109 miles an hour, which is a little bit on the slower side for the PGA Tour.

                But if you're going to sacrifice the speed and you're going to hit a lot of fairways that's a good trade off because in turn you're out there winning golf tournaments, you're putting it in a position to where you can make lots of putts. We're going to be talking a little bit about what the body release means, what some of those things can actually do as far as throwing the club head down and the positions that it can actually be putting your back in that could deteriorate over time.

                Let's just focus on a face on view here. I'm going to load up a down the line video of another player here so you guys can see the differences between a body release and a body that actually stalls and the club is releasing a little bit sooner. Looking at it from a face on perspective, you're going to see Graeme get into his takeaway here nice and wide, typical tour player like takeaway. Good rotation of his body here.

                You can see that he's made a good full turn, good load in that right leg and then he's going to start his downswing with a very athletic move of sitting into his lead side. Very textbook like move into the lead side here. Now you can see that his lead arm, again, this is the checkpoint here that we like to talk about as being parallel to the ground while he gets his left side over into neutral. You can see that that's a very, very good strong move. Helps with the kinetic chain here. As he starts to work down further into the hitting area, you're going to see that he does have an extreme amount of lag.

                This is where he's typically noted for having the club face a little bit on the shut side. That's the reason why he's going to delay the release and rotate his body a little bit harder. But you can notice at this particular junction of the golf swing he's created a ton of tilt to his shoulders, which in turn can start to compress the lower part of your vertebrae. Now, there's a reason why he tilts. Tilting your spine is actually going to help shallow the swing plane.

                If you were to go to the top of your swing and pause and then just lean back, you would notice that the shaft plane starts to flatten out quite a bit. Now, when you're rotating very hard, now that can cause things to move out away from you so you have a version of the club head starting to want to work out to in and then you balance it back off with secondary access tilt. You can see how there's a cause and effect, and then there's a balance and an imbalance.

                The move where he's rotating his body a little bit harder, he's going to also have to lean back to help keep things shallowed out, keep things moving down the target line. Let me show you that, actually, from a down the line perspective here so you get a good, clear understanding what I'm talking about. Here's a plane line up from the hosel of the golf club to the base of the elbow. Gets the club a little bit vertical here. Club stays outside his hands. He moves it up into the vertical plane. Really good spot at the top, typically what we would called dead on plane here.

                Then in the downward move he's going to start to rotate his entire body pretty hard, and then this is where he starts to lean his spine back. You can see that the leaning back of the spine gets the club head on top of this plane line. If he didn't have that tilt to his spine, you would see that this club head would stay way above this plane line. Okay, so you can see here that he tilts and he's rotating pretty hard, and then down in the hitting area this is where he starts to delay his release quite a bit.

                Let me show you a little bit more from the face on perspective here. You're going to see the shoulder plane continuing to steepen here down into impact. You can see that he's got quite a bit of tilt to the shoulders here, where normally we do want some secondary access tilt, but the amount of tilt right here is quite a bit. The reason being, like I said, is because he's known for being a little bit more of a body releaser. He's, in turn, keeping the club face where he's delaying his release and relying on his body to help get the club face back to square so he doesn't have the club rotating at an excessive rate.

                What I want to do now is I want to take another look at it versus another player here so you can see typically where the release happens for those players that have a little bit more club head speed. Let's go ahead and take a look at that now. Okay, guys. Here we are. I've loaded up a video of Adam Scott here on the left hand side of the screen. I know that there's a little bit of a size difference, a little bit of height difference and a little weight difference, but Adam's up around the 119, 120 department in club head speed.

                I actually wanted to use a video of Justin Thomas, but I couldn't get a good video with the right frames per second to be able to show you the differences in position. So just bear with me on the little bit of a change here. I just want to show you the differences where Adam starts his release a little bit sooner and doesn't rely on his body to spin very hard through the hitting area. Allows the club to do a lot of the work at the bottom part of the arc here.

                Let's go ahead and load him up to the top of the swing. You can see Adam gets a little bit longer up there. G-Mac is in a little bit of a shorter position. Let's go ahead and make that move left, so where his hips and knees get back to square. You can see that his hands are right about the center of the chest. Maybe one more frame here will get us into a good spot. Lead arm's parallel to the ground just like I showed you before.

                That makes a very good size move here as well. Lead arm about parallel to the ground. You see the club is in a very similar position here. What you aren't going to probably be able to see as well from this particular angle is that G-Mac has actually unwound his upper body quite a bit more, where Adam has got a little bit more rotation left to his shoulder line. Let's go ahead and look now for these next couple positions. You're going to see a little bit of a difference here as Adam gets his hands right about his trail thigh area. Trail thigh area here.

                You can see that the club head itself on G-Mac is starting to get a little bit more out in front of him. All right, this is where a lot of people start to talk about it being a little bit on the shut side. This is the reason why he's going to have to delay his release. But I want you to pay really close attention to one glaring difference here, okay? Is the amount of space between his forearms and his elbows. You see where Adam's space is starting to close up here.

                Now let's watch Adam start to work down into the hitting area here. You see that space starting to close up. He's starting to fire and release this club so he's going to be at max speed right here at the bottom of the arc. He's released that lever, that lag that we talk so much about. That's a huge source of power and club head speed in your golf swing, is being able to release that angle. I showed you from a face on perspective how much lag Graeme was pulling down into the hitting area. Because of that, it's not very easy to get rid of it in time, so you're going to rely on the body to rotate much harder.

                Now let's look at the difference here as G-Mac starts to get down into impact. Let me get through a perfect kind of frames here. You can still see at impact he's got a much bigger difference between the forearms than Adam does. Now, because he's delayed his release, he's going to rely on his body to rotate a little bit harder and he's going to create a little bit more tilt. You can actually see a little bit more tilt to the spine here, where Adam's a little bit more upright.

                Now we'll watch as G-Mac starts to release the golf club. You can see the forearms starting to come together almost in the particular position Adam's in, so you can see it's a little bit late and that he's at full extension and that he's relying on the tilt to help him hold the club out in front of his body. Now he's got a lot of side bend here, which is something we talk about in Five Minutes to a Perfect Release. We talk about that side bend and we teach you how to actually create it but, in turn, when you're starting to practice that side bend we understand that that's an uncomfortable position but we come up and out of that position so quickly in the golf swing you never feel it.

                Obviously, we want to do our best to eliminate any sort of potential harm to the body, so you're going to see a little bit of a difference here with Adam. You're going to see not as much side bend with the club extending. See how there's not as much tilt to the shoulders, where G-Mac's have almost gone completely vertical. Adam's shoulders have got less tilt to them. That's what you would typically see from a body releaser of the golf club. In turn, because you haven't released the golf club, you haven't released that lever in the proper timing, now you're kind of relying on the idea that the club head's going to more rotating at the same rate as your body through the hitting area, which is not necessarily as efficient. That's what we talk about in a lot of the release videos on the website.

                The point of this video is not to obviously bash G-Mac. We just wanted to talk to you a little bit about the potential loss of club head speed by delaying your release and trying to get too much lag. I know that's one of those areas that a lot of people want to have all this lag, but it's not going to do you any good unless you know how to get rid of it. That's really the point of today's review. Again, it's one of those things that it can be a double-edged sword, and I want you guys to have a really good release and I want you to be able to protect your body and play this game for years to come.

                If you haven't seen Five Minutes to a Perfect Release, definitely check that out. If you haven't seen Fixing Your Release, check that video out. There's also the Left Hand Release Drills. All these videos are going to be over to the right hand side of the video player on the website. You'll be able to watch those videos. It's a great way to start to refine your release. Also, the impact series that we just put out, that compounds on some of the stuff that we talk about and can also give you some good checkpoints for some of those faults that you may have been struggling with. Okay, guys. Check out those videos. Let's work on our release, especially for those of you that are stuck inside this winter. Great time to start working on getting good control of the club face, making sure that you get into a good impact position and then have a well-trained release for a lot of speed. Let's get out there and play some great golf.

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