The False Hope Of an “On Plane” Swing

Golfers tend to love the look of an “on plane” swing.  Many spend endless years trying to put their swings on that mythical plane. 

Think about it…  What is “on plane”? 

More importantly, what would being on plane do for you?

Our definition of “on plane” swings have changed over time from flat (Ben Hogan) to more upright (Tom Watson), to 2 plane (Nick Faldo) to somewhere in between (Greg Norman.  Although Greg Changed to a more upright swing for a while before going back to his original flatter plane….)

My contention is that we like the neat look of a swing that tends to move back and through with a simple action.   We tend to like the look of Stuart Appleby’s swing because it looks simple. 

I’m all for simple, I just know that swing plane is not the answer!  If golfers used their core correctly, and allowed the tension to leave the arms early in the swing so GRAVITY and ROTATION could create the motion, most golf swings would magically become simple and neat for them!!!!

More importantly, the “on plane”  move wouldn’t matter.   Some would have it, most would not!  Thank goodness that Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Freddy Couples and Jim Furyk were not “on plane”! 

I guarantee you that to them, the golf swing was “neat” and simple!  That’s because they used their body correctly, and their physiology and perceptions created their unique swings…. 

Trying to be “on plane” almost always creates too much tension in the swing!  Trying to be “on plane” means every few years you need to change as our definitions of “on plane” change with the next great swing! 

Most importantly, if you create the proper power in the backswing, and are able to get the tension out of the back, shoulders, and arms….  The club will seek the correct DOWNSWING plane every time, and that is far more important for power and consistency!!!!

Confidence. Get it!

I like the way Chuck Hogan put it.  If you don’t have confidence, fake it!  This game is tremendously difficult to play with doubt and fear.  Heck, this game is difficult to play even with confidence!!!

I believe that a golfer’s most important tool is positive self-talk.  It’s not easy to be confident, especially after a few bad rounds, or a bad warm up session, or a bad start to the round…. I’m just saying that its importance must be smacking you in the face while you are on the course.  

Be obsessed with walking, talking, thinking and acting with confidence.  How would it feel?  How would you walk? What would you be thinking?  How would you be acting if you were confident?

Over time, you’ll find that this thinking becomes more natural, both because you are focused on it consistently, and because in all likely hood, you’ll be playing better golf!

At first, FAKE IT!


Congrats go out to Mike Assey, who defended his Club Championship this past weekend!  Great weekend for ATHLETIC GOLFER’S….  Leon ran away with the 3rd flight and made a real run at the overall championship!  Michael Gates, Jake Rambo, John Wood and Allen Shelley were also flight winners.

You guys train hard, and maybe even more importantly,  train in a very effective way!  Well done. 

Practice Swings, Part I

Let’s begin on the range.  The drills I teach are super high quality and
are typically best served through rapid repetition.  I don’t think it is often necessary to take
practice swings on the range.  The
exception is when you are really trying to OVER LEARN something.  The most common example is when I am helping
golfers learn to draw the ball.  The
habit they created, or the perception that they have locks the forearms up
through the hitting area, keeping them from working naturally.  The tendencies for them are either slices, or
pulls.  Shots tend to be weak and very

 To build in the skill of a fully
released swing, I ask my students to “go a mile to get an inch!”  To do this, I want to see a bunch of practice
swings before just about every shot they hit (in a normal swing mode).  Let me explain. 

While doing massive over
training, the goal while hitting is to severely hook the golf ball.  I’m talking about looking for a 15-30 yard turn
of the ball while they train.  To make this
happen quicker, I expect an awful lot of practice swings feeling the forearms
release, watching and feeling the club head seriously roll from open to
massively shut in the hitting area!

When I did this training myself
for several years, I would take 3-10
rehearsal swings before each shot
.  I
was basically revving up the arms, preparing them to do something that felt
unnatural at the time.  

The biggest reason for the
practice swings….  TO LEARN FASTER!  I wanted to get this phase over with as soon
as possible, so the more times I taught my arms to release freely, the quicker
it became natural!!!!  I’m all for

You can adapt this to many
different situations on the range…. Have trouble hitting the ground?  Take lots of small swings BUMPING the
ground.  Find it difficult to start the
ball to the right?  Take lots of
rehearsal swings feeling a motion that swings 30 yards to the right!  OVER TRAIN.
That’s the key. 

 In our next episode, we’ll head
out to the golf course.  

A Little Zen

“All know the way, few actually walk it” -Bodhidharma

Most golfers know more than enough to play better golf.  Few actually take the time to master a consistent swing.  It takes high quality training and many many months of consistent and systematic practice to experience deep change.  It’s a journey, and it’s worth it!

Impact Is Incidental To The Swing

If the golf swing is a ‘throw’
(and I believe that is a much more accurate description than a hit), then the
ball simply gets picked up and ejected at some point in your motion. 

 If the golf swing is most
efficient when gravity and rotation create centrifugal and centripetal force,
then the ball is simply thrown off on a tangent to the arc created by the

 There is no need to HIT!

Nicklaus said, “I swing, and the
ball gets in the way.”

Watching Freddy Couples, you can
get the impression that the ball is velcroed to the face of the club, and he
simply leans back and throws the ball out to the target. 

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Why People Think They Have To Think And Why They Are Wrong, I Think…

If you picked up a tennis
racquet, or a baseball, or a football, or even a bowling ball, most of you
would perform the leg motion naturally without any thought.  If you were to toss the baseball 10,000 times,
my guess is that you would step forward and plant your forward leg before you
made an upper body motion to throw each and every time! And you would never
have to think about it!!!

Now let’s talk about golf.  Most golfers do not get to the forward leg
before they deliver the arms and club towards the ball….  When I discuss the importance of the correct
move and they begin to train, it tends to become very cerebral.  

People tend to have to think too
much simply because their target perceptions are wrong.  Remember all those “bad targets” I discussed
in previous blogs?  Well, they are the
reason that you are stuck in a thinking mode, rather than a playing mode!  

 A major goal of ATHLETIC GOLF is
to get you into a throwing mode out towards the real target so the motion of
the body, arms and club become natural and non-thinking! 

 Completely and totally throw the
club through the ball and out to the target (in a circle around the body) and
you will move seamlessly into the forward pivotal axis every time!

 *take some rehearsal motions
right now.  Look out at something and
think about throwing the club out there.  Don’t worry about impact right now, just
throw!!!!  Can you feel the natural
athletic motion?  

Control Your Thoughts

“Good thinking, good golf.  Bad thinking, bad golf”
 -Moe Norman

Golfers all over admit to me that they think poorly.  They admit toconstantly changing their swings and swing thoughts, that they have noconfidence in their games, and that they don’t think things will change…. 

Your thoughtsabsolutely affect how you act, behave, and yes, swing a golf club 

If you’re waiting for the magical tip, the secret thought to confidence in yourgame, or to play consistently well before you think well, YOU’VE GOT ITBACKWARDS! 

You’re old thoughts are part of the problem, and they will keep you fromfinding what you so badly hope for!

Changing swings and swing thoughts keep a golfer from ever mastering theswing.  You’ve dabbled in dozens if not hundreds of different swings,never mastering any! 




Confidence is something that must be practiced.  If you wait untilyou hit every shot perfect….  You’ll never find it!  On the range,and on the course, you MUST look for any possible reason to be confident.Golf is too difficult at every level (yes, even scratch players feel like theyhit almost every shot less than perfect) to simply build your confidence onsolid and straight shots!  


Thinking things won’t change will guarantee that they won’t! Change inmotor learning is a long term process.  I take a lifetime approach inthe method I believe in.  I’ve learned that expecting change to happen ina week, or a month, or even in 6 months causes impatience, and too much stressin my training and play.  When I take the “lifetime” approach, Iconstantly search for positives and small victories as I trust in the approach to learningthis game.  I expect improvement, Iknow it will come IF I STAY CONSISTENT IN MY APPROACH! 

“Every morning I have achoice.  I simply choose to be positive” -Gary Player

About 14 years ago I decided to take Mr. Player’s advice about choosing to bepositive.  He advised golfers to stop making excuses on the first tee, tostop telling stories of their 3 putts and triple bogies…. he went so far asto leave the table when golfers began to talk negatively (I respect that aboutGary Player, but found that I’d be sitting alone almost all the time if I tookit that far!).

My advice to you is to TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS!  You are the thinker of yourthoughts….. 

-Find a teacher and a method that makes sense to you. BELIEVE in the method and train it for the longterm!  

TRUTH.  Motor skilllearning takes time.  Motor skill learning takes consistentrepetition.  Motor skill learning happens with ALL GOLFERS who trainconsistently.  

-Catch yourself thinking poorly.  Catch yourself sharing golf ‘horror’stories.  Catch your own sarcasm.  Change your behavior! YOU CAN BEFUNNY AND CONFIDENT AT THE SAME TIME! 

-You will think poorly.  The key is to notice and CHANGE IT,  rather than just give in to it.  

-Thinking well does not guarantee good shots,  but thinking poorlyguarantees bad golf.  

“Golf is a game ofConfidence” -Dr. Bob Rotella


Repetition Is The Mother Of Skill

In golf that can be good or bad.  Many golfers repeat the same bad thing over and over….

Most golfers practice haphazardly and inconsistently by nature giving them very little chance of stumbling into technique that improves results…  

The best case scenario is that you train and play with proper technique all the time….  (haven’t seen that one yet!)

Since that is so unlikely, what I prefer is to have my students train in ways that nudge them towards better technique and at the same time build repetition towards improving their end results!

It’s not necessary to be perfect.  That’s far too difficult anyway!  It’s far more productive for most golfers to simply train consistently in a manner that produces results! 

I often refer to it as “limitation training”.  What that means is that the drill simply limits options in your training, therefore you are more likely to REPEAT a motion that produces the desired result! 

It can be as simple as putting 30-50 straight 3 foot putts every time you step on the putting green.  

Again, the key is massive repetition over a long period of time (I mean years and decades!!!)

Like tying your shoe.  Like typing.  Like brushing your teeth!  Repetition improves consistency!