Improve Your Golf Swing: One of the Best Training Aids Is Your Mirror
Golf tips for using the mirror as a golf training aid for swing improvement
It is time to get ready for the 2011 golf season and if you live in cold areas of the world, well, that is no excuse.
The time to start is now, so, get off the couch and get a head start on a better swing and game. You only need a 5, 6 or 7 iron, a full length mirror and a little patience. Actually, this infatuation I have with the mirror all started in 1983 when I set about rebuilding my own golf swing after being away from the golf profession for over 7 years. As I left the driving range I was helping build one day, (shortly after re entering the golf business), the teaching mirror being delivered. Something clicked for me.
I went straight home, took a 7 iron, went into our walk in closet, set the club in the hitting position, and BINGO! When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I realised those 7 years had caused me to lose my sense of feel for the correct set up position. I was able to see what had changed with my grip, stance, head position, spine, weight distribution…EVERYTHING!
I had been working my swing motion from an incorrect set up position and the mirror gave me the feedback I needed to make the changes and get back to where I needed to be. You all know the old adage; “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, not after that day! Nope. That was the day my life and relationship with my clients changed forever.
Anyway, from that day forward, I started every day in front of the mirror before leaving the house to teach. My rebuilding efforts, hitting over 140,000 range balls in roughly a year and a half were, in large part, successful due to the time spent in front the mirror.What follows, has been shared, in one form or another, with clients around the world for over 27 years.
I am going to share the specifics of how to use the mirror as an effective golf training aid and while it will take two rather lengthy articles from me and some work on your part, I know it can help you on your way to a better golf swing and game. Here we go. The mirror is a way to re-enforce proper basics which may have gotten out of whack over time. The basics are the place to start if you want to improve your golf swing
Oh, and that business golf you expect to use in 2011? By starting in front of a mirror to improve that swing, you are sure to help snag those ‘golf course deals’. When using the mirror, don’t look into the mirror until you have completed the specific task you want to check, like your grip. The visual feedback gleaned will tell you if your grip, posture, weight distribution, arm positioning and alignment has changed from what it should be.
Now, taking that 5, 6 or 7 iron, grip the club and take your stance in the set up position. Do not look in the mirror.
With regards the grip:
Once set up, take a look at your hands and how they are positioned on the golf club. Now look at your grip in the mirror. Check to be sure your grip is correct. Both ‘Vs’ generated between the thumb and index fingers are pointed at or towards the right or TRAIL ear, or mid way between that TRAIL ear and shoulder, (right shoulder for right hand golfers and left for left hand players). If adjustment is needed, relax your hands on the grip of the club and move your hands into the proper position.
Look back down at your hands as you make adjustments, then look in the mirror to let your system ‘take it in’. There is a good chance any correction you have to make is going to feel uncomfortable. When you look in the mirror, you are going to see that what you corrected does not look nearly as bad as it might initially feel! This is the feedback your system needs to confirm your brain is tricking you.
You need to see any changes you make externally. Otherwise, you may unintentionally go back to the old position, ‘overcook’, or exaggerate a position change you have made, making matters worse. This too can happen when you stop using the mirror for re-enforcement of your ‘set up mechanics’, as I call them.
Now, it is time to check your arm and shoulder positions.
This requires two mirror views. Head on, facing the mirror and off the left or LEAD side. First, look into the mirror at how your shoulders are positioned. You might notice they are parallel to the ground. If so, relax your right or TRAIL shoulder as well as your neck muscles. This will cause the TRAIL shoulder to relax and wind up lower to the ground than the LEAD shoulder.
In other words, you want your shoulders to be ‘tilted’ in relationship to the ground and parallel to each other and the target line. You can also achieve this by feeling as if your TRAIL arm is literally ‘hanging’ from your neck muscles and shoulder socket. This may cause you to feel as if the grip of the club is simply ‘resting’ in the fingers of the right or TRAIL hand. GREAT, that is what we want!
Before you set up to the mirror off of your LEAD side, it helps if you first create a couple of lines on the floor to check your alignment to the target line. Two strips of tape or two golf shafts work well. Heck, a couple of yard sticks will work. Anyway, one line should represent the target or ball line, and the other your feet line. Both need to be parallel to each other and running perpendicular into the mirror.
Now, set up in the address position so your LEAD side only is pointing, looking or facing the mirror. You first need to see the relationship between your LEAD arm and the TRAIL arm. Do this by turning or cocking your head and looking into the mirror. You should see that your LEAD arm is ‘above’ or ‘higher’ than your TRAIL arm which should appear in the mirror to be ‘under’ your LEAD arm.
Again, looking in the mirror, your TRAIL FOREARM should be visible UNDER the LEAD arm. If not, try to further relax the shoulder, elbow and wrist of the TRAIL arm. Again, this will feel as if the TRAIL arm is literally hanging from the neck while the grip of the club will feel as if it is resting in the middle two fingers of the TRAIL hand.
Now, checking your shoulders, you should not be able to see any part of your TRAIL shoulder as you look in the mirror off the LEAD side.
If you do, keep working the TRAIL shoulder and neck muscles until you are able to make it disappear from view WITHOUT turning or twisting your upper torso. If you do ‘turn’ your body, so you can’t see your TRAIL shoulder you may wind up with your shoulder plane literally across or closed to the target line. Oh, and being able to see the TRAIL shoulder in the mirror off the LEAD side means your shoulders are actually open to the target line. That is enough for any golfer to absorb in a reading. Work on what has been discussed here.
In the next article I’m going to finish up with Alignment and move into How to Check and Correct Posture which can seem like a daunting task. Also we will talk about checking your Weight Distribution. In closing, you are probably going to spend 2-4 minutes the first couple trips to the mirror. That is the bad news. The good news is that after a few repetitions the time frame will dramatically decrease to somewhere around 15-20 seconds for the ENTIRE SET UP ROUTINE! I will explain in the next article.
Now, focus on making 2011 your best year ever on the golf course!
About the Author
Steve Riggs is a retired golf teaching professional of over 30 years working with countless clients in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Now retired, Steve is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and regular contributor to Par Excellence Magazine, New England Golf Monthly magazine and mynegm.com. Steve is the host/producer of a weekly Radio/Internet golf program, THE myNEGM LESSON TEE which airs Wednesdays 10:05-11am ET. Listen live at WNRI 1380 AM radio or online at: mynegm.com and www.wnri.com . The show is followed around the country and Canada in it's second year on air
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