Have you ever wondered why you swing the club the way you do? Of course you have – you wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t.
What if your body was extremely intelligent? What if your body could figure out things that even the best instructors in the world don’t even know about yet?
As I am quite weird, I was recently walking down the street and thinking about my movement. I noticed that my arm swing was in a very definite pattern – as my left foot stepped forwards, my right arm also went forwards, and vice versa.
Hmmm….. why is this?
I tried to reverse the pattern, swinging forwards the same arm as I stepped with. Wow – how uncomfortable. For a start, I couldn’t do it at first; my body completely resisted it. But, when I finally did get it, it felt so unnatural and off balance. Try it yourself.
Being as strange as I am, I quickly jumped on Wikipedia to look for the reason for this (I knew there would be a reason). And I found it.
Apparently, we swing our arms in an opposing direction to the lower body (i.e. left leg forward, left arm back) because it
- Reduces angular momentum of the body
- Balances the rotational motion
- Lowers the foot friction forces needed
- Improves energy efficiency by up to 12 % at certain walking speeds
The best part is, all of the above technical goodies came without thinking about them. Even better yet
I never had to learn them
That’s right – no one told me what to do or how to do this. No one ever grabbed my arm and moved it back as I stepped forwards. And I bet it was the same for you too – you probably didn’t even know you did this, and are now walking around the room like a madman while your wife/husband looks at you like you are nuts.
How can this possibly be? How could we arrange movement to be so perfectly efficient without having it engineered in some way by a walking coach?
The Gene Code
People don’t know, or don’t care to know, that there is a massive amount of information stored in you genetic code. So much more than just simply eye colour or height. In fact, it could be said that your entire being, from the way you look to the behaviours you exhibit, are a product of your genetic code and its interaction with the environment.
There is a lot of information stored in this little thing
Before you could convey anything to your ‘self’, you were able to
- cry when you were hungry
- retract from anything painful
- hold your breath underwater (Bradycardic reflex response)
etc. Cats can perform incredible acts of athletics, flipping themselves over mid air. Baby chicks shown a model of a predator (such as an eagle) will hide and remain quiet – even if they have never been in contact with their mother to learn this action from her.
As living, breathing, biological organisms, we are wired to evolve to what is thrown at us. We are all wired to self-organize.
Walking is Easy
Many people say that the golf swing is far more complex than walking, and I agree. However, we see the same principle of self-organization apply to every movement we make, from riding a bike to acts far more complex than the golf swing. And, until now, many of you will never have even thought about how complex the action of walking is – and this is only looking at arms swing. When you look at things such as;
- Step length
- Stride length
- Dynamic Base
- Progression Line
- Foot Angle
- Hip Angle
- Centre of mass locations
- Centre of pressure traces
- Centre of mass/pressure relationships
- Shear forces
- Rotational forces
Etc, you will see that the act of walking is incredibly complex. And a small perturbation in any of the above can lead to dramatic drops in walking efficiency, or completely falling over!
Why is My Swing Crap then?
There are many reasons why your swing may not have evolved into the elegant, flowing, majestic swing of Ernie Els. This article is a primer on Self organization. In later articles, I am going to be discussing some of the reasons why YOU may have not self-organized into a more efficient movement pattern, as well as what to do about it.
Some things which help self-organization occur are;
- The task is understood
- Task is the right level of difficulty
- Constraints are placed upon the task which encourage development
- Awareness is on the task during development
- Quality feedback is given
- Environment encourages it
- Equipment encourages it
- Physical limitations allow it
- Are you ready for your desired technique developmentally? Jumping into an F1 car before you have learned to drive may not be great for you
- Incorrect information isn’t told to you
- Fear is replaced with ‘exploration mindset’ during practice
- There is enough internal pressure to change
- Enough time is given (Self organization can be a longer, but more robust process of change)
- Player has the ability of adaptability
- The coach allows it (sees evolution as opposed to revolution)
By clicking some of the hyperlinks above, you can be directed to more information on each topic. As a player, you could have a lightbulb moment as to why your swing has not changed, or what you need to now do to encourage the changes you need. As a coach, this information could help you design more effective environments/coaching sessions to create the desired changes in your pupils. The information can be added to the toolbox of what you already do in your own practice/with players.
If you are ready to join the thousands of golfers using self-organization theory to improve their games, check out my video series, The Strike Plan.
It has many exercises and concepts which encourage the body and brain to learn quicker than ever. The program focuses on improving strike quality, which is the single biggest influence on the average golfer’s distance, consistency, accuracy and scores. Click the image below to learn more.
If you are ready for even more information on this topic, plus much more, I discuss all of this information in The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers. You can learn more about the best-selling golf book by clicking the link below.