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Sway is a backswing issue in which the lower body moves laterally away from the target. Two major characteristics of the sway are:
- Weight goes to outside of the right foot
- Pelvis moves to away from the target in the backswing
A sway almost guarantees timing and contact issues, especially if the golfer gets his weight or pressure to the outside of the foot. The shift to the outside of the foot can mess up the mechanics of the lower body during transition and cause a host of contact issues.
Types of sways
There are a couple times when a golfer typically sways.
One is during takeaway. This is usually a timing thing and doesn't cause a major issue unless the weight moves to the outside of the foot and stays there, or if the pattern exists in the short game.
The second type of sway typically happens later during the backswing when the arms and wrists set for transition. There are two ways that this happens. One is with a reverse spine angle as the arms go to set. This pattern tends to load for an early extension on the downswing. The second pattern is the spine staying neutral, but the hip shifting to the right and “tipping” the spine to the left, this pattern is usually then accompanied by an over the top move to start the downswing. While the second sway is bad for performance, the reverse spine version is especially dangerous for the back and doesn't last over time without some battle with low back pain.
The sway is one of the easier patterns to fix once you become aware, but if you find a sway that doesn't go away after a month or two of practice, then it is most likely tied to your power source, and the downswing needs to be trained before you will ever correct the sway long term.
Tags: Sway, Concept
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In this concept video, we're going to take a look at the sway pattern.
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Now the sway pattern is typically defined as lateral movement of the pelvis, but the sway
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can also be thought of where pressure is in your trail foot.
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So if I was to make a normal backswing, the tour average is that my pelvis is going to shift
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about a half inch away from the target, which part of that is just because of if I'm
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rotating into my right side, which the majority of golfers do, then what you'll see
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is the pelvis is going to shift just slightly or about half an inch in order to load into
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If we're looking at the pressure and how it relates to the trail foot, what you'll tend
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to see is the pressure of a good golfer is not going to get outside kind of the midline
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or even the big toe of that trail foot.
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So as an example, right now I'm pushing through the inside of my foot if I was to go like
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this, now I would be pushing on the outside of the foot.
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A better sway is when I tend to shift my hip, but my foot and my pressure still says on
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the inside of the foot, where an amateur or higher handicap sway is typically going to have
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both the hip as well as the foot, um, worked towards the outside there.
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The sway pattern is not necessarily that problematic for the driver, but it can cause
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major contact and flat spot issues when working on your iron play.
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There are two times during the backswing, they will typically see this sway.
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So the first would be during the take away, which I call an early sway, and the second
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would be during setting the risk or what I would call a late sway.
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Of the two, a late sway is typically more problematic than an early sway.
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And early sway is more or less going to be a little bit of a rhythm movement.
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And as I'm rotating back, I'm going to shift.
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Now it typically is indicating that I'm not using my adductors and my lower abs.
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It typically means that I'm using more of the outside of my hip, more my knee and more
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my mid back in order to pull the club away.
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But as long as I don't have my pressure go to the outside of the foot and it's just kind
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of shifting in kind of like so, it can be more of a timing
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movement and not necessarily a major problem.
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You'll see examples in the analysis video of a few torporos who tend to have this pattern.
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The second one would be the late sway, which would be not during this early part, but
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during the setting phase kind of like so.
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And that tends to be a little bit more problematic.
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If I'm swaying during the setting phase, it's revealing what my body wants to do during
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So typically what's going to happen is if I want to create rotational speed kind of like
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so, then it makes sense for me to be braced up against this right leg and have something
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for then push off in the general direction of the target.
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However, if I'm going to use my arms and basically pull straight down kind of like so,
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then it actually makes a little bit more sense for me to sway and have my arm more vertical
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kind of like that.
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So a late sway is typically revealing my power source and how I'm going to use more of
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an upper body dominated or a left-let dominated movement during transition.
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So if you have this late sway and you work on it for, let's say, three, four, six
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weeks and you don't make dramatic improvement, put it on the back burner and then work on
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the downswing sequencing and often when you go back to the sway it will be much easier
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When you do ultimately take away the sway, what will typically happen is the swing will
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feel shorter, it will feel more compact and it will feel like it took a lot less time
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And that's largely because this little kind of wasted space up at the top to load that
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left-let takes a fair amount of distance kind of in the brain where if I was to just rotate
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and load it's going to feel like I've, it's going to feel like I've stopped my swing at
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a different part.
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Basically if I sway and I have this big arm movement, I'm going to tend to feel the restriction
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up in the shoulder which is closer to the club.
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If I load and kind of re-to-way kind of like so, I'm going to tend to feel like the restriction
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that stops my backswing instead of being the shoulder is going to be more my trunk,
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my core or even my hips.
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So because that's closer to the ground, it's going to happen possibly quicker and your
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swing will feel like it's a little bit shorter.
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A lot of golfers who struggle with the sway pattern tend to have success in other sports
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where this lateral movement and subtle lateral movement is actually encouraged.
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Things like tennis, things like baseball, things like soccer, where I'm kind of moving
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everything on my feet kind of like so, where in golf it's a lot more balanced or
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oriented and I want to stay kind of a little bit more on the inside of my feet.
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It tends to feel for those golfers like it's more restricted.
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But with practice, with some balance work and with some training because this is a backswing
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issue, it's one that you will typically have a lot of success with fixing and because
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it's related to iron consistency, it's going to be very rewarding when you take away
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your sway and you start hitting more and more greens with greater frequency.