Relax for more power

Published 01/10/2010 07:40:00

Golfers often try to compensate for lack of distance by hitting the ball harder. Ironically, the harder they swing, the poorer the results. That's not surprising: The idea of swinging hard breeds tension, which causes the body to stiffen, resulting in less clubhead speed, not more. (In baseball or football, if you want to throw the ball as far as possible, you relax your arm.)


To hit longer shots, begin by thinking about swinging the clubhead faster, not harder. Try throwing a couple of golf balls underhand: The more relaxed and free you are, the faster you can move your arm and the farther you can toss the ball. Your body will have the freedom to swing the club as fast as possible only when it is free of tension.


Play Loose

Stiffness from the shoulders down -- in the forearms, wrists and hands -- prevents the proper release of the club through impact. Tension will cause you to drag the clubface through impact in an open position, blocking the shot to the right, instead of snapping it powerfully through, squaring the face and adding drawspin.


Shrug for a Bigger Turn

Your upper body also must be relaxed to allow for a full coil. At address, shrug your shoulders several times (making sure to keep your back straight). When the shoulders are relaxed and moving freely, make your swing: If tension had been a problem, you should now find it easier to make a full turn.


Unfreeze the Knees

Standing straight at the knees stops the leg muscles from moving freely, so they can't help generate power. If you flex slightly at the knees, putting "bounce" or "spring" in your stance, you'll be able to use the legs correctly -- to drive the lower body toward the target on the downswing.


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