Video Analysis = Results
Why do I use video analysis?
To make sure that I don't miss analyze! I can watch your swing and the flight of the ball, and have a very good idea if anything is 'wrong' with your swing. Of course the most important aspect is the flight of the ball. But if your ball flight is not correct or not consistent, I want to be able to slowly step through your swing on video to make sure of the proper diagnosis. I think that without the video the diagnosis is an educated guess. The better the instructor, the more accurate the educated guess. But with the video, I can ensure an accurate diagnosis. I can also leverage the video to communicate with the client exactly what his swing looks like. I may say he's coming over the top but he may not feel it, and may not be convinced in his own mind that he has this swing flaw. But if I can show him the video, it's like a light goes on. Click, "Oh, I see!" From this point I (and my client) have no doubt what needs to be adjusted in the swing to bring proper ball flight with more consistency.
Now if a client comes to me the day before a tournament and is hitting the ball fairly well, but there is an aspect of his swing that is noticeably incorrect, that is not the time to make adjustments. On the other hand if we have 1 or 2 weeks to correct a flaw, and I know that he can make the adjustment in that time frame, then we should do it. I think that video is the only accurate way to analyze.
Now video is not the only way to teach the golf swing. There are some players who are 'feel' players. They go by feel and make adjustments by feel. They just don't care what the video looks like, they care how their swing feels. And I will help them make adjustments by feel. There are other players who make adjustments visually and mechanically. To them the video shows exactly where their swing is now, and what needs to be done to make any corrections. This is an important distinction to make, as it determines how I will communicate swing change to them. But in either case, I can leverage the video to document to the client any swing flaws. And then after instruction, I can show you your improvement compared to your original swing
Are you getting better?
One of the biggest problems that most amateurs make in their quest to improve their swing is to try one 'tip' after another. But if you haven't diagnosed the problem and what is causing it, the tip may actually create more problems instead of helping it.
One of the reasons I am so busy is that people have followed the latest tips or watched the 'just released' golf video and their swings have gotten worse. For example, I had a client that came to me and said that he was coming 'over the top', as his ball flight was going left. Since this article described his ball flight, he assumed that this must be his problem. He worked harder and harder on coming from the inside as the article suggested, but his ball flight continued to get worse. The real problem was that he was coming too far from the inside resulting in a club-head closing to early, and therefore causing his ball to hook. But in a attempt to fix it he now was coming into the ball even more inside than when he started, causing him to hook the ball even worse.
Instruction is so difficult to write. I either want to make it so basic that it applies to everyone, or I need to make sure that the reader understands exactly what problem is that I am addressing, and exactly what has caused that problem. And even then, if the reader has miss-analyzed his own problems, he will be making 'corrections' that are not appropriate for him.
Another problem instructors make is teaching what they are personally working on. For example an instructor that is working on straightening his left leg through impact. Most of his students may need to be straightening their left leg through impact, but it is probably not the foremost problem of most of his clients. Instructors should make it a point of not teaching what they are working on unless it is truly relevant to a particular student. Eventually most swings will look somewhat the same, i.e. the grip, swinging on-plane, the club face square at impact, etc. But how one gets to that point can vary dramatically from one individual to another.
An instructor also needs to be brutally honest. Even if someone is making their best effort, I don't say, "Hey that's it", if it's only about 20% better. If I'm not brutally honest, I may give the impression that they have it, and they will stop making any more correction. Their thinking, "Wow, I fixed that quickly, but my ball flight isn't that much different. This doesn't make any sense." What I say is, "Hey, your headed in the right direction, that's about 20% better." That way they know they have made some change, but that it needs to be much more dramatic.
What kind of swing really works?
What works in the golf swing is repeat impact. If you can repeat impact, you will have a consistent ball flight. This consistent flight, be it high or low, or left or right, will allow you to play a good game of golf. But the easiest way to get consistent ball flight is to swing the club on plane.
The angle the club starts on at address is the plane angle of the swing. As the club starts back it swings up that shaft angle until it is parallel to the ground, when it is parallel to the ground it should be parallel to the target. As the club travels up from there it should swing on a plane that is above but parallel to the original shaft line formed at address. As it reaches the top of the backswing it should be parallel to the ground and parallel to the target again. The downswing should travel back in the same fashion it went up on the backswing so that the closer the club gets to impact the more the shaft returns to the position from address. The club should swing up and down in the angle from address with many planes but only one angle. The higher the club gets in the backswing the more above but parallel it becomes and on the way down it will travel back to its original position
But once the club is off plane, the remainder of the swing is dedicated to getting it back on plane before impact. And from all of my experience in analyzing literally thousands of golf swings, keeping the club on plane throughout the swing is the most consistent way to repeat impact.
What makes a good golf swing?
Does a golf swing have to be on plane throughout the motion to be good? For instance Jim Furyk has a unique swing that is not always on plane. It is a swing where he takes the club out and above plane on the way back, and then drops it inside on the way down, and manages to get the club on plane and the clubface square at impact. Even as good a player as he has been for many years, he has worked very hard over the last few years at getting his swing more on-plane. To get the club at impact the same every time and repeat that impact time and time again is most easily accomplished by an on-plane swing. This more on-plane swing seems paid off for him in 2001 as he improved to 17th in greens in regulation. This is the way to lower scores.