Part 1 - Understanding Athletic Movements Across the X Axis

Lesson Goals for Part 1

  • What You'll Learn

    • After working through the first part of the lesson, you will have a clear understanding of the foundational movement pattern that underpins the athletic movements across a wide variety of sports. 

  • Why Learn It? 

    • The Golf Like An Athlete approach is centered on approaching the golf swing using the same movement pattern that underpins a variety of sport movements you have already intuitively mastered

    • Understanding this common movement pattern is foundational to learning how to re-platform your swing 

What is an "Athletic Movement Across the X Axis"?

 

What do the following athletic movements all have in common?

  • Swinging a baseball bat

  • Swinging a tennis racquet

  • Throwing a football

  • Throwing a baseball

  • Throwing a frisbee

  • A hockey slapshot 

  • Swinging a golf club

They are all movements designed to move an object horizontally in space!

While all of the sports associated with these movements are unique in a multitude of ways, the core bodily movements involved are incredibly similar because at a foundational level, because they are all based on the need for the athlete to move an object horizontally through space.

 

The body is preset with a basic understanding of how to fluidly move in a way that can move an object horizontally in space. This is why many of us can pick up a football and throw it with decent accuracy and little practice, or throw a frisbee across a field with relative ease. This is also why the pathway to truly simplifying and improving needs to start by looking at these related athletic movements as guideposts.

 

It's also helpful to contemplate athletic movements that are not relevant to our pursuit of the golf swing, such as a shooting a basketball or kicking a soccer ball.

  • If you can imagine a basketball player standing at the foul line taking a foul shot, the core athletic movement involved produces an object that moves primarily vertically in space, and thus isn't as applicable to study in the context of the golf swing.

  • Kicking a soccer ball is a little tricker, as it objectively involves a movement aimed at moving an object horizontally in space. However, the key difference between kicking a soccer ball and all the other horizontal movements outlined above is that your movement during a soccer kick is focused on building power in your lower body and then releasing that power through your lower body. All of the other horizontal movements we covered focus on building power in your lower body which gets released through UPPER BODY ROTATION.

The soccer example is great because it helps us even further refine just how similar throwing a frisbee and football or swinging a baseball bat or tennis racquet truly are. Not only are they movements designed to move an object horizontally in space, but they all involve building power in your lower body and then releasing that power through upper body rotation. 

 

Understanding the Foundations of X Axis Based Athletic Movements

 

Let's check out a few examples of X Axis movement.

 

Throwing a Football: Pay specific attention to Tom's front leg (left leg) and how he uses it to pull his body through the throw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwing a Frisbee: This is an incredible view of weight transfer. We see all of the throwers weight on their back leg initially, and then an almost complete shift to the front leg which he uses to pull his body through the throw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swinging a Baseball Bat: I love this video, focus in exclusively on how Mike Trout initiates his swing with pulling all his weight to his back foot (by lifting his front foot off the air it forces him to load up on his back leg, then watch how he plants his left leg and uses it to pull his body through the swing.

 

 

Swinging a Tennis Racquet: Check out the first few swings in this video compilation of great slow motion backhands. What do you notice? Loading up on the back leg, transitioning the weight to the front leg, and then pulling the body through....

 
 
 
How does this relate to the golf swing?

 

If you believe that the golf swing is an athletic movement designed to get an object to move horizontally in space (and that lower body power released through upper body rotation is the foundation of the swing), then you are hopefully beginning to realize where your swing has been going wrong.

 

Go up to the range and ask any amateur golfer there hitting inconsistently what they are thinking about when they swing the club and the answers will invariably include...

  • I'm trying to control the club face

  • I'm thinking about pushing the club back with my left shoulder

  • I'm thinking about my chest turn

  • I'm trying to get the shaft parallel to the ground at the end of the takeaway

  • I'm focused on cocking my wrists

  • Setting my wrist angles at impact

  • And a 100 different variations of these general themes

But that's the issue that we all have, we are all thinking about everything OTHER then the foundational pillars of X axis based athletic movements, which are the 3 phases of lower body movement!!!

  1. Getting your weight loaded up on the back leg

  2. Transitioning that weight load to the front leg

  3. Using the momentum of the transition and strength built up in your front leg to pull your body through the swing

The worst part of this all is that the very act of thinking about something other then using our natural athletic instincts to move across a horizontal plane, we neutralize our natural athletic tendencies and succumb to a never ending cycle of upper body driven movements that lead to virtually all of our swing faults.

Apply this learning to the golf swing in Part 2.