Jayne Storey’s Chi-Motion GOLF is based on simple, timeless principles which are proven to enhance your game and help you perform your best on the golf course.
In this feature she explores why “slow motion” practice was of benefit to golf genius, Ben Hogan and how you can use it to groove your own ‘signature swing’.
The Tai Chi approach used in Chi-Motion GOLF is echoed in the practice method of Ben Hogan, who famously used a slow motion swing to develop what is arguably the most archetypal swing of them all, one which has been extensively written about and emulated more than any other.
To get a picture of Tai Chi in your mind, just recall those images you’ve seen of groups of people in the park in Beijing, wearing what appear to be white, silk pyjamas and moving almost imperceptibly in slow motion.
This practice of moving slowly is adopted throughout the East, where even an everyday activity such as walking is slowed right down to become a method of meditation in Buddhist monasteries.
So, how can this approach improve your game and where did Ben Hogan get the idea of moving slowly from?Hogan practically invented the notion of practice in golf and his level of dedication (which is as legendary as his actual swing) resulted in Tiger Woods saying that Hogan was able to understand his swing probably more than most players will ever understand theirs.
Hogan performed a slow motion practice swing precisely because by slowing down he was able to feel, sense and become aware of what was working and what wasn’t in his swing – even to the point of jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to practice in front of the wardrobe mirror as a sudden inspiration took hold, before heading out onto the range early the next day to groove his new level of understanding.
As with most Eastern techniques that were once thought of as a bit left-field, moving in slow motion has now been proven by Neuroscience to have specific benefits due to its particular effect on the brain and the mind~body connection, such that the neural connections associated with movement are known to get stronger, as more detailed and refined information becomes available to the brain to build the movement map.
As well as Tai Chi, the Feldenkrais method and more recently Z-Health also employ the use of slow, mindful movement as a primary means to develop coordination. Champion athletes from many sports use the slow movement approach in training sessions, notably Jonny Wilkinson in rugby and Monica Seles in tennis.
By slowing down you can sense differences in muscular effort, which in turn increases your brain’s ability to correct any postural and movement imbalances.
Your proprioceptive map - the physical areas of your brain responsible for sensing and controlling movement, develop stronger neural linkages in response to slow motion activity and the resulting sensory feedback that occurs. It is the original ‘deep practice’. Seen in this light, the term ‘grooving’ your swing really should be taken literally.
Understand your swing by performing it slowly will help you groove a swing that is as consistent as your own signature. Constant repetition of the 1.8 seconds that make up a typical golf swing offers neither the time nor the space for you to develop the qualities of attention and awareness that are essential to improvement. Slow, gentle movement can make your internal swing map that much clearer.
Tai Chi-style Slow Motion Swing Drill
- Set-up to the ball and take a few deep breaths into your centre.
- Swing as slowly as possible staying relaxed throughout the motion, breathing normally.
- Take at least 30 seconds to complete your swing, without resisting the slowness or anticipating the finish.
- Time yourself using the stopwatch function on your mobile. 30 seconds is much longer than you think! Typically students when they first attempt this drill, slow down to around a 10 second swing…but what’s required is Tai Chi-style slowness.
- Fully engage with the balance and rhythm of your swing, paying particular attention to your lower-body (feet and legs) and how they initiate movement (rather than it coming from your arms).
- Feel how your upper-body (waist, shoulders and arms) responds to your lower-body when you maintain good posture yet relax, as opposed to deliberately moving through various positions with a mind full of swing thoughts.
- When you can comfortably take 30 seconds to perform your swing, whilst maintaining your attention and keeping your balance - try it with your eyes closed! This will really test your 3D proprioception map!