“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” -Issac Newton
Newton’s third law is basic physics and known, at least in part, to most people, having probably heard it somewhere along the way in school.
Where it’s about to get fun, is that golf is simple physics too. (“HA” you say.)
No, seriously. When you hit down on the ball it goes up. When you swing out to the right, the ball goes left. When you chili-dip it the ball sits there and laughs at you. Equal and opposite reactions.
Today, we’re going to apply some Newton to the golf swing and then talk about how to train the physics to be better in the swing.
If you follow the game at all, you’ve likely heard the phrase “Ground Force Reactions”. This is the golf pro’s way of making this game sound more difficult, and making the pro seem a whole lot smarter. What they’re really talking about is Newton: when you do something you get the opposite reaction.
If you push into the ground, the ground will “push” back. If you push into the ground hard enough, you will leave it with a jump. To get to your lead side, you must push off your trail side, etc. etc.
Let’s talk about those two: pushing into the ground, and getting off our trail side. I’ve found these to be the major difference between high level players and severely amateur players.
To generate power, we have to be able to push into the ground. To generate consistent contact, we have to get off our trail side. Fortunately these two things are highly related and complement each other.
First, an example: Justin Thomas.
Justin highlights what happens in the feet to generate power. You’ll see from the top of the backswing that he immediately loads into the ground (the squat looking motion), then proceeds to drive up, almost leaving the ground with both feet (in a video you would see that the left foot actually will separate from earth.)
As he pushes into the ground, the ground pushes back and he goes vertical with the left leg, which pulls the left hip around, engaging the left glute (a very strong muscle), giving him the power that he demonstrates regularly. For a guy who measures his weight in toothpicks, he consistently outdrives bigger stronger fellas by a lengthy margin.
Moving laterally, second example: Rory Mcilroy.
Check out the link above and watch very closely what Rory does with his right foot. You’ll see it spin clockwise at the top of the backswing. This is Rory’s equal and opposite. By pushing clockwise, the body goes the other way, towards his lead side. (If you’re struggling with weight shift, give this feeling a try and see if it doesn’t help you a little bit.)
Both of these players use the ground to get them from point A to point B. Push right to go left and push down to go up and around.
Your homework, if you choose to accept it: work on these feelings at the range, in slow motion, until you think you have a handle on how it should work. Pushing towards the trail side at the top will take you to the lead side, at which point you can drive off the lead side vertically to clear the hip.
The efficient golf swing sequence is: Load trail hip, drive trail foot down and away, feel load on lead leg, drive lead heel into the ground. Let the arms follow the legs.
The second part of your homework is to implement these exercises into your workout routine: (enter disclaimer on checking with your doctor, performing only those you feel adequate to be able to perform and have no injuries etc.)
First, lead side single leg explosion.
Second, skater jumps.
If you work on these feelings at the range, and perform these two exercises, I know you’ll begin to feel a more efficient and powerful golf swing. Get after it, keep after it, and make Newton proud.