The Loading Motion
Before we start be sure to review My 10 Conclusions That Led to a Breakthrough, and here’s some definitions to think about for today’s lesson:
- The MASS is the club, hands, arms and all muscles related to the movement of the arms
- CENTRIFUGAL FORCE is created by the rotation of the trunk of the body, the chest
- INERTIA is put into the mass through footwork and lower body movement through a transfer of weight.
The loading motion comes out of the preparation, the mood and the tone of the starting position. The starting position, of course, is designed to create your desired result. I like to use the term loading motion as opposed to the more commonly used backswing. A loading motion implies that a golf swing is indeed a motion. It is an intent to acquire and store enough potential energy to produce the desired result. It is a coordinated movement utilizing all parts of the body in a unified way that corresponds and reacts to the imagery and feelmagery of the shot being played. The loading motion is conceptualized, understood and executed with the unloading motion and the result in mind. For instance, you allow the load to continue on only to the degree that it has enough stored energy to hit your desired result. To go back more or less would indicate a condition of imbalance.
The loading motion is based on two main forces of motion; centrifugal force and inertia. Centrifugal force is the force that pulls an object or mass away from the center of rotation. Inertia has two parts. It states that if an object is still, then it tends to stay still, or if an object is in motion, then it will stay in its uniform motion in the same path and plane of movement unless another force acts upon it.
Centrifugal force creates the consistency of the arc…always pulling the clubhead to its widest natural arc. Inertia creates the consistency of the path and plane. It is your job to make sure that the mass does not interfere with these forces of motion. This is why your best grip is so critical to the entire program. It sets up the conditions that will allow for passive and yet educated hands. Having a grip that automatically manages the squareness, loft and lie of the clubface encourages the player to just let physics win, to be noninterfering and just let things flow. This encourages a proper muscle tone in the body and over time relaxation, security and confidence in the mind. Any manipulation will not be rewarded.
The bridge between the starting position and the beginning of the loading motion is the waggle. The waggle is a critical component to the success of each individual shot. Its explanation could amass to a seperate article however, the video at the top will get you thinking.
In the golf swing motion there are two pivots points. The right foot is the pivot point in the loading motion and the left foot is the pivot point in the unloading motion. To begin the loading motion, transfer weight into the right foot. This definite yet subtle movement puts inertia in the mass, specifically, in the clubhead. It gets it moving. It can now flow on its merry way. It is done through footwork, athleticism and a desire to have a continuous flow of motion. Alignment and inertia will dictate the initial path. Posture, arm extension and centrifugal force will determine the arc. Almost simultaneously, the trunk of the body begins to rotate. Transfer and rotate. The shoulder sockets, arms, hands and the club find their own natural path while rotating around the trunk. It is a unified movement. The mass does nothing to interfere with the pureness of the rotation. The mass does not move without the body moving it. The mass will move naturally around the rotating trunk.
NOTE: Most highly accomplished golfers have found that a slight movement to the left helps to start the movement back smoothly and athletically. The player slightly, subtlety but definitely shifts his weight into his left foot and as he starts to recover and begins the load, he starts moving into the right foot. Everything, that is the club, hands, arms and upper body are brought along with this motion and the actual backward motion begins. This movement lasts for less than an inch of the movement of the clubhead. As the clubhead begins moving, the rotation of the trunk happens almost simultaneously. One triggers the other. Don’t just stand there robotically and try to start your swing from a dead stop. Stillness begets stillness. Allow this natural athletic movement to get you started…you will be using physics to help you repeat your swing.
If you set up properly and, then begin the motion as described above and stay within the confines and protection of beat and balance, then the club will tend to stay in the proper plane naturally. A more detailed explanation of the plane for advanced golfers can be found in Hogan’s book, The Five Lessons, The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.
In the starting position, we establish the conditions to perform the loading and unloading motions appropriately…we establish the arc and the plane. Two conditions of balance during the swing are to naturally maximize the arc and to continue to perform the swing on plane. Utilizing centrifugal force and inertia, through rotation of the trunk and a transfer of weight, from a proper starting position allows for these two conditions to be accomplished.
It is critical that the upper body rotates more and fractionally before the hips. In fact, except for the first inch of movement of the clubhead, the rotating trunk dictates how the lower body will move. This difference in the amount of movement creates a stretch in the muscles, an athletic tension that stores up appropriate amounts of power that is waiting to be unleashed in the unload. Generally, during a full swing with a driver, the respective relationship between the upper trunk, hips, knees, and left foot is 90, 45, 22 and 10 degrees. (To be sure, there is also a proportional relationship of the movement of the arms, hands and club with the clubhead moving the most, the hands moving the next most and the arms moving more than the trunk.) This sequential and proportional relationship is critical to the overall success of the shot. Without this torsion and proper stretch of muscles in the load, the unloading motion is impossible to repeat.
During the loading motion, 75% of your weight moves to the right foot and as your trunk rotates your back becomes more or less facing the target. This weight transfer is completed during the first third of the load. Never move to the outside of the right foot. Although the hands do nothing active, the wrists do cock with the back of the left hand and forearm is in a straight line. Centrifugal force allows and encourages the left arm to be fully extended as the right arm bends at the elbow. The head does not stay still. It is carried along with the upper body rotation which is carried along by the lower body transfer of weight. As the trunk rotates, it moves on top of the lower body movement and thus transfers to the right in the load and to the left in the unload. (Although the movement of the upper body and of the head to the right in the loading motion is slight, it is definite.)
The arc in the loading motion takes on a slightly elliptical shape because of the weight transfer. Draw around one point to create a circle. Draw around two points to create an ellipse. Never do anything that would interfere with the purity of the rotation of the trunk. To accomplish this, the posture established at address is maintained. Balance is the key.
Since your mind is still holding the imagery of your desired result, you know exactly what you are trying to accomplish through your swing motion. The end of the loading motion comes then when you sense you have gathered all of the potential energy needed to hit your desired result. The end of the loading motion comes after the beginning of the unloading motion. You are literally moving in two directions at the same time.
You are now ready for the unload while connecting your motion to the finish. Keep feeding these fundamentals into your game. We are almost done with the physical basics. Now, keep reading on how to build a perfectly reptitive natural swing motion.
May all your swings be free!