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We are doing it wrong. Matt Wolff has it right. Baseball vs. Golf


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The obsession with a pretty back swing (on plane with a tucked rear elbow) has robbed many/most golfers of natural athletic ability and speed. 

 

Every single baseball and softball player has a backswing that would be considered steep and across the line with a flying right elbow (think Mathew Wolff's golf swing). There are some expected differences in posture because the baseball is in front of you and the golf ball is on the ground but overall the athletic movements should be very similar. The problem is hardly any golfers swing like baseball players because of the obsession with backswing positions. Many amateur softball players (former baseball players) have very powerful swings with a lot of speed and a flying right elbow (steep and across the line). The problem is that when you put a golf club in their hand and tell them to take a backswing on plane with that tucked right elbow they can barely hit driver over 200 yards. I'm quite sure if you could "reset" their golf swings and told them to swing it like a baseball bat they would immediately be significantly faster.

 

 

Here is the most powerful and best swing in baseball history (debatable). If he did the same exact action with more hip bend, a narrower stance, and swinging down toward a golf ball he would look almost identical to Matt Wolff. I say we shouldn't be afraid to break the norms and look a little funny if it means we can be way more athletic and swing faster. 

 

 

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There’s a reason every position player that shows up on my lesson tee has a slice...and why pitchers are better golfers.   A pitching motion is more analogous to a golf swing than a baseball swing..

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3 minutes ago, dbelles1 said:

i don’t understand the obsession with the backswing when the only important part of the golf swing is impact. Every tour pro has similar impact with different backswings and downswings. 

 

I don't think most good teachers do obsess over the backswing. 

 

That said, while you can't hit the ball with your backswing, you can make it very difficult to hit the ball well because of a bad backswing.  Getting under the plane is a great example. 

 

This is all very familiar territory to guys that have read/studied/used the teachings of Jimmy Ballard, who learned from Sam Byrd, who was a baseball teammate of Babe Ruth before Byrd became a teaching pro.  Ballard doesn't worry much about the right elbow "flying", and one of the really misunderstood things about what he teaches is what "connection" means for the right arm.  He wants the right elbow working up and away from the body on the backswing, into a powerful position that roughly equals the position from which an infielder would throw a baseball to first.

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8 minutes ago, bluedot said:

 

I don't think most good teachers do obsess over the backswing. 

 

That said, while you can't hit the ball with your backswing, you can make it very difficult to hit the ball well because of a bad backswing.  Getting under the plane is a great example. 

 

This is all very familiar territory to guys that have read/studied/used the teachings of Jimmy Ballard, who learned from Sam Byrd, who was a baseball teammate of Babe Ruth before Byrd became a teaching pro.  Ballard doesn't worry much about the right elbow "flying", and one of the really misunderstood things about what he teaches is what "connection" means for the right arm.  He wants the right elbow working up and away from the body on the backswing, into a powerful position that roughly equals the position from which an infielder would throw a baseball to first.

agreed. i guess i could’ve rephrased what was said better because good teachers like gankas won’t focus too much on the backswing as long as the rest of your movement matches up. and the obsession is more with players without a coach trying to replicate swings from youtube.

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40 minutes ago, dbelles1 said:

agreed. i guess i could’ve rephrased what was said better because good teachers like gankas won’t focus too much on the backswing as long as the rest of your movement matches up. and the obsession is more with players without a coach trying to replicate swings from youtube.

This simply isnt true. Gangas' entire pattern is about matching the parts and if you don't get into the right position in the back swing, the rest isn't going to work

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8 minutes ago, dbelles1 said:

Ohh, you are right. Gankas knows what to do to match your positions up to a common point (impact), right? Or am I backwards?

You are backward. You won't get to his desired impact position without the other elements he teaches. He doesn't care if you get a little crossed up at the top or if you have a more traditional structure, but his backswing is still pretty specific. I've never heard him say it doesn't matter what you do in the backswing, it's quite the opposite infact

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24 minutes ago, Krt22 said:

You are backward. You won't get to his desired impact position without the other elements he teaches. He doesn't care if you get a little crossed up at the top or if you have a more traditional structure, but his backswing is still pretty specific. I've never heard him say it doesn't matter what you do in the backswing, it's quite the opposite infact

Oh, I guess I misunderstood what he was explaining. Thanks for clearing that up.

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12 minutes ago, freowho said:

I agree. Also, if you look at Trout's follow through he would be considered to have a weak left grip. The weaker my left hand the straighter and further I hit the ball because I can release the club more. This is what Hogan worked out. I think the role of the grip is misunderstood. 

Thats why so many tour players have weak grips

 

/s

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8 minutes ago, ryan84 said:

Do you think baseball players would swing like that if they could only hit between the second baseman and shortstop? Or if they were required to make contact 100% of the time not 25%?

I don't think the hit rate is relevant because the golf ball doesn't move but I think your other point is worth a discussion. Good players play the ball away from themselves, i.e. right hand golfer is playing to right field. But they turn their body so the ball goes down the middle. Many golfers think golf is a side on game and try to swing to left field, around their body or behind them as they look at the field of the play. If you play the ball away from yourself you don't have to try and get the hips deep, or clear them or shallow the club etc.

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Former high-level college baseball player here.

 

In baseball, the (new) goal is to hit the ball as hard as possible ... anywhere.

 

That goal is a bit different than the goal in golf, so not quite a perfect analogy. Not a bad analogy (as analogies go), but the goals are not the same.

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7 minutes ago, pinhigh27 said:

Thats why so many tour players have weak grips

 

/s

 

5 minutes ago, Krt22 said:

Imagine how far DJ would hit it if he didn't have such a silly strong grip, he'd be able to release super hard and blow it by Bryson

I'm not suggesting everyone will look the same. Some people rotate the lead arm into impact, some keep the back of the lead arm facing the target. The grip has to match the release patterns. But stronger grip doesn't mean the ball will go further and the lead hand doesn't need to leverage or tip the club. Nicklaus said he just placed his lead hand on the club differently if he wanted a fade or draw. 

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27 minutes ago, freowho said:

I don't think the hit rate is relevant because the golf ball doesn't move but I think your other point is worth a discussion. Good players play the ball away from themselves, i.e. right hand golfer is playing to right field. But they turn their body so the ball goes down the middle. Many golfers think golf is a side on game and try to swing to left field, around their body or behind them as they look at the field of the play. If you play the ball away from yourself you don't have to try and get the hips deep, or clear them or shallow the club etc.

Yea I agree the hit rate was a stretch but the idea of different goals, as @obee mentioned, remains. 

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Golf's golf, tennis is tennis, boxing is boxing etc. etc for all other sports.

 

Each is a unique sport with specific equipment. With some you hit a stationary ball, others a moving ball, some there's not a ball involved at all.

 

Therefore I'm not interested in what happens in those sports in relation to golf. A baseballer isn't hitting a stationary golf ball on the ground with a golf club.

 

I view all this 'cross sport' comparison and trying to get a relationship to golf as meaningless and even detrimental to developing an effective golf swing.

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2 hours ago, ryan84 said:

Do you think baseball players would swing like that if they could only hit between the second baseman and shortstop? Or if they were required to make contact 100% of the time not 25%?

 

Hogan studied and befriended Ted Williams (last man to hit .400 & lifetime .344 hitter) because he believed the foundation and sequencing of Williams' swing would help his own swing. So yeah, a baseball swing can work in golf.

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5 hours ago, dc1123 said:

I'm interested to see the responses to this. I came straight from baseball into golf and definitely fight the "flying elbow". I'm able to generate a good bit of speed but I also can hit it off the planet. I also chicken wing the crap out of the release which I've always attributed to coming over the top. 

 

i've "squashed the bug" probably about a half a million times in my life, and despite not swinging a bat regularly in more than a decade this habit still tends to creep into my iron swing if i'm not careful. i don't care so much if i do it with driver though.. 😅

 

separately, @mgoblue83 -- very small sample size, but it was the exact opposite for me and the ball players i've known: the tendency was to yank the club back inside and come over the top for massive "power fades" 😂

 

and the other thing was getting way too much separation/disassociation because of very fast hips from the baseball swing. 

 

there is one thing i'm trying to incorporate from the baseball swing now for driver -- the front foot rotation you see bubba and bryson doing à la barry bonds (etc.). i have a hunch this takes a lot of pressure off of the front knee.

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3 hours ago, nitram said:

 

Hogan studied and befriended Ted Williams (last man to hit .400 & lifetime .344 hitter) because he believed the foundation and sequencing of Williams' swing would help his own swing. So yeah, a baseball swing can work in golf.

In the age of video, trackman, force plates, and 3d motion capture, we’re still using hogan legends to justify trying to swing like a completely different sport. In my opinion a golf swing can also work in golf. 

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Have you been on baseball/softball forums? They have almost as many arguments about the swing as this forum. So you'd have to be a bit more specific if you're comparing the two. 

 

Btw, most of what I learned about the baseball swing when I was growing up was total garbage. I coached for 6 years until last year and I was still hearing coaches repeat the same garbage they learned as kids. Myths die hard, just like in golf. 

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11 hours ago, MonteScheinblum said:

There’s a reason every position player that shows up on my lesson tee has a slice...and why pitchers are better golfers.   A pitching motion is more analogous to a golf swing than a baseball swing..

 

I totally understand the slicing part but it sure seems to be a more athletic move that generates more speed. Btw don't pitchers have a flying right elbow too? I don't know if I've ever seen anyone throw a ball by taking their arm back on the same plane they release on. Just trying it here at my desk feels awful. 

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5 hours ago, acekun said:

Have you been on baseball/softball forums? They have almost as many arguments about the swing as this forum. So you'd have to be a bit more specific if you're comparing the two. 

 

Btw, most of what I learned about the baseball swing when I was growing up was total garbage. I coached for 6 years until last year and I was still hearing coaches repeat the same garbage they learned as kids. Myths die hard, just like in golf. 

 

Haha! Can't tell you how many times I was told to hit down on it and hit the top half of the ball. All data now points to upward angle of attack being optimal in baseball. So dumb. 

 

My point isn't really about a specific swing it's just about having a flying right elbow lets us be more athletic and fast - and is more natural. 

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