How To Develop More Club Head Speed!

On the heels of the World Series, I’d like to offer a basic observation from baseball you can apply to your game to develop more club head speed to hit longer golf shots. It’s all about how to efficiently produce and deliver speed in the golf swing. One of the things I hear a lot is, “I’m trying to take my hands out of the swing.” To me that’s just plain crazy talk. Your swing is made up of the hands, arms and body working together to provide maximum speed. Imagine if a pitcher tried to take his hand out of the throw? The information just doesn’t make sense.

I was made aware of this lesson years ago from my mentor Mike LaBauve. Mike recalled when watching a Major League Baseball game, how he noticed the third baseman and left fielder go out before the start of an inning playing catch as the left fielder was moving backward toward the left-field wall. The thing which was so impressive was that the left fielder, “while walking backward,” was zipping the ball with authority into the third baseman’s mitt. It  was a great reminder that throwing is about creating snap with your hand. As the inning progressed, a ball made its way to the left-field wall. As the player gathered it up, he wound up his body, swung his arm and launched a rocket all the way to home plate. My point being that you hold the ball and throw the ball with your hand. The body and arm swing add to the mix for maximum velocity. It’s a story I’ve always remembered and over the years have infused into my own teaching.

In golf, you hold the club with your hands. That means your hands are the primary mover of the shaft, controller of the face and source of “snap” in your swing. Just like the baseball player, feeling the hands create speed is essential to creating maximum zip, especially for the middle to higher handicap golfer. To start developing more speed in your swing try the following exercises:

To create maximum snap, your hands need to become activators of movement.

HANDS = ACTIVATORS

To create maximum snap, your hands need to become activators of movement. Many golfers stifle hand action by assuming too much of a palm-based connection to the club. Just like a pitcher would hold the ball mostly in their fingers, a golfer must be sure to do the same. To feel a more finger-based connection, try taking your grip by grasping the shaft only. Holding an extremely narrow object versus the thicker grip portion of the club will immediately cradle the shaft with more of a finger-based connection. Once you have the feeling, slide your hands back up to the grip maintaining the same look and positioning.

As your hands are set, make sure your hold is secure, while promoting ease of movement and flexibility within your wrists. Hinge the club vertically up and down in front of you a number of times, followed by some circles from the same position where you imagine swinging the club head around the numbers of a big clock. This combination of elements will prime your hands for positive action.

ARMS = ACCELERATORS

To feel more arm acceleration, flip your club upside down and hold the shaft near the club head. Stand on one foot (left foot, right-handed golfer) with your back toe (right foot) gently touching down for balance about 12 inches from your left heel. This setup takes the body out of the swing, forcing you to rely more on your arms for speed. Make a controlled back swing and then accelerate the shaft through with your arms as fast as possible. With the club feeling very light you should really be able to start generating some speed. With each successive pass, add more hands to the action, gradually increasing the loudness of the “whoosh” you produce through impact. Do three sets of 10 swings, each time trying to increase speed and volume of the whoosh.

BODY = HORSEPOWER

With the hands and arms embracing their roles, it’s time to add some oomph with the body. A great way to feel an athletic sequence is with a simple stepping drill. Just like a baseball player winds up and then strides to create a powerful throw, you can learn to feel the same movement in your golf swing. With your ball on a medium height tee, assume your setup position. Take your left foot from its normal position and slide it up against your right instep. Swing your arms and turn your body to wind up your back swing. As you reach the top, step confidently to the target, planting your foot in its original position. Unwind your hips and snap the club head through with the same feeling you produced in the previous exercise. With your speed elements clicking on all cylinders you should notice an immediate jump in distance.

There’s a Zen saying: “To know one thing means to know its relationship to all things.” Infuse a little baseball into your golf swing and you’ll start sending those drives over the fence.

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