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Get Into Overdrive
Stuart Smith

Do a 'Freddie' pre-swing

He always possessed one of the game's most languid swings, and in his prime Fred Couples (aka 'Boom Boom') was also one of the longest drivers of the ball with his LA-easy style. And Freddie is a great believer in the importance of stretching the shoulders before stepping up to the ball.

You can always spot him a mile away on the course, raising his arms high up above his head, really loosening up the rotator muscles in the shoulders, ready to make a full backswing turn. So, as you prepare to drive, do a 'Freddie'.

Take hold of your driver, as I am doing here, and raise your hands high above your head, holding that position for 30 seconds or so. Feel the stretch in your rotator cuffs. Doing this regularly during a round will get your shoulders ready to make a full and athletic turn.

It will also give you a sense of standing up nice and tall, which is another plus for maximising the width of your arc in the swing.

 

Turn, and get 'loaded' on to your right side.

From the set-up, I want you to focus on exaggerating the backswing moves. Make as full a hip-and-shoulder turn as you can, allowing your head to ease to the right as you turn your back on your target. From the set-up position, where your weight is evenly split, feel it shift across as you use that right knee as a brace, winding and 'loading' into the right side. This exercise is great for players who have a tendency to hang back on the left side with a hint of a reverse-pivot.

It forces you to rotate into your right side. You will notice here that my left heel is pulled slightly up off the ground, while the left knee works in towards the ball - no problem. In fact, you may find that this type of leg action leg helps you transfer your weight, as it does for me.

Let me stress, this exercise rewards you with a big turn but not an overswing. The ideal combination is a full shoulder/upper body turn with a compact arm swing. Look at big hitters today like Els or Tiger. Over a stable leg action they combine a fantastic turn with a relatively short arm swing - and that's the key.

The Power Move: Let it all fall 'in sync.'

What I want you to do is get into the habit of stretching, checking your set-up position and making this full turn. Then comes the second - and crucial - stage of this exercise: from the top, I want you to feel the unit of your hands, arms, shoulders and club fall as one unit to get the downswing underway. No other movement is necessary. The left arm rides down and across the chest, while the wrists retain the full cocking that you achieved in the course of making your backswing. So, from the top, all you do is 're-rotate'.

You have maximised your torsion, and you simply drop it all back into this power slot before unwinding your body (i.e. rotating your 'core') through the ball. In so doing you initiate a chain reaction: the left knee pulls away from the right as you squat or sit down into the downswing and the arms fall into the classic delivery position. That's the d#ynamic of a good swing. You simply rotate your upper body over the stability of the knees, and allow the arms to swing and be driven by the centrifugal forces you create.

Full 'release' maximises your speed on the ball

The gist of this article is basically that one good move leads to another, and that improving and maintaining the suppleness in your shoulders massively assists you in making the full turn and 'coil' that maximises your clubhead speed. Here's one final thought that I guarantee will further help you to enjoy 'releasing' the clubhead freely.

Always visualise your release as being a few feet beyond the ball, not at the ball. This is especially important with the driver and the long irons. The key is to focus on this long extension of the right arm through the ball, the right hand overtaking the left as you commit yourself to releasing the clubhead towards your target. As you freewheel, feel that you hit against a strong and positive left side, and that you catch the ball as the club begins its ascent. That will give you a great trajectory off the tee, and maximum distance.

Working on the ideas that I have presented in this article will help you to develop the athletic moves you need to make to drive the ball with confidence. You will appreciate the controlling role played by the shoulders, the timing that is so critical at the start of the downswing, and a sense of building acceleration gradually in time to put the heat on the ball at impact. All of this should lead you to the full and balanced follow-through position you see here (right) - a natural conclusion to a naturally dynamic swing.

A classic drill for width and rotation

You've read this a thousand times before, but how often do you take your driver and make practice swings (or hit a few shots) with your feet close together? Probably not often enough. You should, because this exercise is one of the best there is. Because your base is so narrow, you cannot slide your left hip into the shot. Instead you are forced to rotate your body, and with the arms swinging in response you develop great shape, rhythm and width.This is basically a great trunk rotation exercise, and one that will eliminate a slice.

 



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