Last month we spoke about ground forces and how the body moves and creates power. Next, we are going to compare golf to baseball and the similarities in how the body creates the power generation process (kinetic link).
Believe it or not, golf and baseball swings are biomechanically comparable. Hitters in baseball and golfers use similar muscles and coordination patterns to develop swing power. These similarities provide insight into efficient power generation for the golf swing. I will illustrate the mechanical correlation between the two motions by describing the baseball movement mechanics and relating them to the corresponding golf movement mechanics.
Ballistic Power Movement
Baseball hitters effectively use muscular preload to develop optimal power, which results from their ability to stretch and contract muscles.
Golf: A Smooth transition from backswing (stretch) to downswing power generation (contraction) will allow muscles to create and use potential energy. A forced, erratic or excessively fast tempo inhibits muscular stretch. An excessively slow tempo, especially with a pause between the backswing and the downswing allows potential energy to be dissipated.
Big Muscle Power Generation
Baseball hitters allow the big muscles of the lower body to drive power generation. Weight transfer and force applied by the feet and legs create hip segment speed.
Golf: the lower body power generation process is a result of weight transferred within a stable foundation and the feet and legs’ muscular power. If the lower body moves laterally (or slides), energy and power is lost. If hips “spin” to clear, power production is lost.
Baseball Hitters maintain a “spine angle” or upper body orientation that allows for muscular symmetry around the axis of the spine or rotation during the power generation process. When upper body muscles are symmetric they work very efficiently in creating rotational speed.
Golf: The most important thing to remember about “spine angle” during the golf swing is that your orientation should allow symmetric muscular contraction. If you begin to “tilt” your spine either to the left or right, some muscles will be compressed and others lengthened. In either case, not only is power production sacrificed, but increased stress on the back and upper body may result in back injuries.
Arms Drive Into Impact
Baseball Hitters use big muscles to accelerate smaller body segments. This allows them to create incredible rotational speed and power. This action culminates with the arms as they are driven into impact with the ball.
Golf: Baseball hitters don’t consciously try to place the bat on ball, nor should golfers. The culmination of power generation during the golf swing should drive the arms into impact. The bigger muscles accelerate the smaller muscles (upper body arm relationship in muscular loading). Proper arm segment acceleration will create club linear speed and angular speed (club release), placing the club head square on the ball at impact given proper setup and swing plane.