When your swing works, it can feel so simple and immensely satisfying. When it doesn’t, it feels like each part of your body is doing its own thing in conflict with every other part. You might begin to wonder if you’ll ever be capable of doing it again.
So why the difference? What works so well one moment and not the next?
It only takes a tiny amount of inappropriate activity in one seemingly insignificant muscle to upset your rhythm and fluff the shot. Unfortunately, the majority of us simply don’t have the degree of sensitivity or self-awareness to notice the small differences from one shot to the next.
Let’s look at one of the many variables that can affect the outcome of your swing.
Do you stiffen your neck just before you swing? Do you know? If you have the habit of tightening your grip on the club handle, this can also cause your neck and jaw muscles to tighten. It’s probably not on your list of things to do, but I see many golfers doing it in preparation. Does it matter?
If you unknowingly tighten your neck or clench your jaw just before you swing, it changes the dynamics of your swing. I say ‘unknowingly’ because you may be employing any number of unnecessary actions when you move and yet be completely unaware of them.
On Monday you may tighten slightly with no noticeable effect on the shot, whereas on Tuesday you may do it a fraction more and see the ball go wayward. If you’re not aware that you’re doing this in the first place, it becomes an unknown variable in your technique and leads to an inconsistency with no obvious cause. More importantly, if you don’t know you’re doing it, you can’t control it.
In fact, it's a very common habit in golfers to tighten their necks before attempting to swing. Habits will get in the way of improving your golf and often, the harder you try, the more the perfect golf swing will elude you.
So why not add it the following simple technique to your check list before you start. It only takes a second and could make all the difference.
Soften your jaw, relax your face and let this ‘trickle down’ through your body.
Roy Palmer is the author of ‘Golf Sense: Practical Tips on How to get into The Zone’. He’s a teacher of the Alexander Technique and runs courses for golfers to improve both their mental and physical game.
Also see: Five Reasons Why Golfers Should Learn The Alexander Technique