Keeping your head still

10 Oct


Being a golf teacher is a great endeavor it lets you work with people on many different levels. One of the facets that the community of teachers have on a global scale these days just so happens to be social media. Over all this leads to faster discovery’s on swing ideas on theory and or technology. It also links people into basic communication so that teaching the teachers can become very organic. I find myself very fortunate to link up with many fine folks all over the world.

Sometimes social media especially these days has become a marketing machine. The rules have not really changed, but the business models have to a degree. So far this has led some teachers into marketing statements. These statements I’d call the hook. The hook basically brings viewers to your website or blog to see what the teacher was talking about. There is nothing negative about this but sometimes it may come across negative or giving us a head scratching moment. Never the less I enjoy both sides of the equations.

One of the latest discussions on a notable golf blog was stating that keeping your head still is now a centerpiece of a number of modern day gurus. It’s dead wrong.
At first glance I’d say that this is a very pigeon holed statement. But never the less what this say is that at the basic level, if you’re a golfer keeping your head still is not a good thing to strive for.

Ok so before we just say ok let’s look at this on two levels.

1. What benefit does having a little or no movement in the head develop?
2. What benefit does moving the head create
3. Is this an actual measurable part of the body?


One of the big issues for the average player playing the game of golf is contact. Sure there are other parts that may occur like shot shapes and or curves. But really the average player has a big issue across the board with hitting the ball first. In fact if the golfer continues to miss hit the ball the game is said to be too hard.

So having the feel of not moving the head may help improve that player’s ability to time and time again get better contact. Why? It makes the club travel in an arch type fashion around a stable feeling axis. “I tried to not get into semantics here” When doing so the player can and should develop a pattern of hitting the ball in the same arena on the ground or tee.


Well I’ll give the positive and then the negative. So the reality is the head actually does move to a degree or more in most golf swings. Actually for the best players in the world is by far the easiest for them to do, however it may not be the best idea. The reason is that they already developed the motor patterns to hit the ball. So no matter what they actually do, they have some developed preconceived movement that they have developed. When you stand on the range at a PGA Tour event you will see some of both. Some that move the head and some that do very little to none. At the highest level of golf some players who move the most have to make the most compensations to overcome it.

“Some may say well if that PGA guy does it, why don’t” I?

Here is the problem most average players can’t or won’t get to that capability.

So for the average amateur golfer who has a job and family why not eliminate some of the parts of golf that just plain make things harder?


Well to make an answer to this question it’s a yes. However on another level it’s also a no. Today we have the opportunity to work with some very cool technology. There are super high speed cameras and also 3D machines. Both are pretty new within the last decade and the golf teachers are able to get data on what the golfers actually do.

2D video gives an anatomical perspective with ability to note positions that can be cataloged for study. This is a great way to show historical evidence on what great players actually did outside what they said they felt. There is however a limit to what a 2D video can actually see, and really on many levels. With a very experienced eye you can get pretty darn close to the correct arena.
3D machines came into the market for golf about a decade ago. Over the years the ability to see what players are doing is vast. You can measure body’s alignments and segmental speed ratios pretty darn clear. It’s a system that’s getting better every day, especially when more data is captured to study.

My feeling on the 3D is that is a bit complicated for most teachers up front and or the perspective values that people are looking for may be too wide. As an example if you take most tour players ranges of motion in the swing they will actually have the most variations. That being said there is no ability to create an idea in most circumstances. Kind of like what we talked about in the beginning about high level motor patterns.


We start looking at the golf swing first out of esthetics sometimes. Is it pretty to look at? Does the swing hit the ball the same way time after time?
So yes I am with you on that subject matter completely. I see a motion and it really suits my eye. Some others even at the highest level may not.
But in the end we need to grasp the fact that most of the tour players are not in the category that we personally have the ability to do in the area of ball striking. We can make better choices in playing, improve how we read greens and develop better mechanics. But physically becoming Bubba Watson is a pretty daunting task.
So in the end I’d say reduced head movement wins the battle. Not because it’s a center of anything or that is priority number one. Its wins because for the average player it helps them control the nervous system with stability and make better contact.
Hope you enjoyed my take on the debate, may it continue

Here are three examples on the PGA Tour.


2 Responses to “Keeping your head still”

  1. John Dunigan November 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Very good discussion.
    I wanted to tell you about a discussion I had had with one of the top biomechanists. He had mentioned that golfer X moves off the ball and hits it farther than golfer Y…
    He wanted the head to move 1-3″ back, giving the golfer a chance to really push off and move forward through the swing, giving more potential speed…I asked something to the effect of, well, might a golfer have difficulty getting back to center, causing fat and left shots? He said “yes, but an elite golfer will be able to recover.” I then asked, Ok, so using the same golfer, what is his likely increase in speed when moving the head back as opposed to forward. How much yardage is it worth?” If indeed the golfer can hit the driver 20 more yards, it might well be worth it, but if it’s 5 yards, and it comes at a cost in accuracy (dispersion gets wider) then it’s not. Answer: “I don’t know.”

    I leave it to you to infer what you will…

    Hope you are doing great!


  2. dahlquistgolf November 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Good take. Once again as you stated “well I might add”, the elite golfer. Id agree its as in golf a loss into semantics to a degree.
    Keep up the good fight bud!

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