Balance Your Checkbook And Golf Swing

By: Sean Cochran

We all search for it. Balance in our daily lives. Balance whileriding a bike. Politicians are always debating a balanced budgetin Washington, and most of us could use a little balance in ourcheckbooks. Balance is a term used in golf quite often as well.It's a "buzzword" and almost a cliché when it comes to the golfswing. I am sure you have heard numerous times from swingcoaches that "you have to stay balanced when swinging yourclub." Others phrases that I hear when we talk about golf andbalance are the following: "When it comes to a sand shot, digyour feet into the stand so you can stay balanced," "If the ballis on an uphill lie and above your feet, make sure you swingthrough the ball, and stayed balanced," and "Stay balanced whenhitting the driver and get to the finish position in perfectbalance." The list could go on and on, and I am sure all of youcould probably add to the short list above.

Two questions always arise in my mind when I hear the wordbalance in association with golf: 1) what does balance exactlymean, and 2) how do I create balance in my golf swing? I amguessing quite a few of you have these same questions, orsimilar ones, when you talk about the subject of balance inrelation to the golf swing.

I am going to answer both of these questions. We will firstdefine balance and its relation to the golf swing. Secondly, wewill discuss how you develop the balance capacities of your bodyin relation to the golf swing. So without further ado let's getstarted.

What is Balance?

This is a really great question and the perfect way to begin. Solet's hear it! What is the definition of balance? Think about itfor a minute and then write down a couple of your answers. Iunderstand that this is not the easiest question to answer(trust me, I have asked it plenty of times), and it is okay ifyou are not able to create a good working definition of balance(that's part of what we are going to do with this article).Okay, time is up, what did you write down?

Well, let me tell you some of the replies I have received forthis question and we will take if from there. Here are just afew that I hear: "head over your belly button between yourfeet," "swinging a club on the correct path," "knowing whereyour body is in space," and "kinesthetic awareness." All ofthese answers are somewhat correct, but none of them gives us agood sound understanding of what balance really means.

The definition of balance is simply the ability to control yourbody during movement. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? Itreally is when you think about it, but let's break thisdefinition down so we understand it completely. Starting withthe first portion of the definition: "the ability to control"means what? Well, it is probably easiest to imagine what "out ofcontrol" looks like. Take the mental image of a racecar crashinginto the wall. We could describe the car as out of control. Nowtake the flip side of this, and what would this car look like ifit were in control? It would probably zoom around the trackwithout hitting anything. The body is the same; if your body isout of control it will, in a sense, crash or fall over. If thebody is in control, then it performs whatever movement you areasking of it without "crashing." Take the example of a toddlerrunning. Sometimes they get going so quickly that they get outof control and fall over. Other times they stay in control andare able to run.

Moving onto the second part of the definition: "your body."Pretty easy concept to understand, don't you think? Your bodyincludes your torso, head, arms, legs, and anything attached tothe arms or legs, like a golf club. Up to this point we can puttogether the first two parts of the definition and summarize itas: the body (including your arms, legs, torso, head, and golfclub) must be under control. Let us add the final part of thedefinition into the mix to complete our understanding.

The final piece of the definition is: "during movement." Thissimply means anything your body is doing. It can be walking,running, throwing a baseball, or, in our world, swinging a golfclub. Swinging a golf club is "our movement" when discussingthis definition. We are now at the point to put the wholedefinition together. Let us use the example of a golf swing tocreate the connection we are looking for in terms of thedefinition.

Balance is the ability of your body (i.e. nerves, muscles, andskeleton) to swing a golf club effectively and efficiently onthe correct path without changing the position of your body insuch a way that it is detrimental to the swing and its outcome(i.e. contact with the ball). Pretty simple definition when youbreak it down, and from now on when your swing coach says, "Youhave to stay balanced," you know what he is talking about.

Developing Balance in Our Golf Swing

Okay, we now know the definition of balance and its relationshipto the golf swing. Now, for the second question of this article:"how do we develop balance in relationship to our golf swing?"This next section will answer this question for you. I wouldalso bet that the answer is not as obvious as it appears.

I will first say that developing balance in your swing is acombination of a couple of factors. The first and probably mostobvious factor is mechanics. The golf swing is a biomechanicalmovement that requires the body to take the club through aspecified swing path in a certain sequence and timing. The bodymust learn the biomechanical movement of a golf swing to becomeefficient with the movement. As your body becomes aware of themovement, more efficient with the movement, and has a better"feel" for the movement, the concept of balance in your swingwill improve. So the first part of developing balance in yourswing is linked to the mechanics of the swing and becoming moreefficient with these mechanics. This all funnels down to twothings: 1) proper instruction about the swing, and 2) practice.Practice, practice, and more practice is necessary to createbetter balance in your swing.

The second factor has to do with a term that many of you haveprobably heard before. That term is "muscle memory." Realizethat within your body the skeleton is controlled by yourmuscles, muscles are controlled by nerves, and the nerves aretold what to do by your brain. The messages sent to your musclesthrough your nerves by the brain create movement (i.e. musclesworking to make the body move). These movements can either beefficient or inefficient. Inefficient movements by the muscularsystem tend to be "sloppy" and "unrefined." Efficient movementsare just the opposite. Efficient movements by your muscularsystem are refined and technical. Improvement in balance is aresult of the latter (i.e. efficient muscular movement).Efficient muscular movement is developed through training themuscles and nerves of your body to become more efficient. Thisis not done through typical exercises like bench press or legpress, but through stabilization and balance exercises.

As golfers we have our priorities. Let's get some balance in ourgolf swing by training our bodies, getting proper instruction,and certainly a lot of practice. Once we've got balance there,then we'll start talking about balancing our checkbook orhelping Washington balance the federal budget

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