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We talk about so many swing keys, from backswing to follow-through, and certainly all of these things are important. But without having the ability to relax the muscles to be able to coordinate a consistent golf swing, all those swing keys aren’t going to help. Tension is going to restrict movement. And there probably is no sport where lack of muscle tension is so important to success.
Unfortunately, simply eliminating muscle tension is much more complicated that it may seem at first glance. That’s because so much goes into it, and it relates to confidence as well as muscle and mind control. So relaxing the muscles is much of an exercise in psychology as it is swing basics. So here are some ideas that get your muscles relaxed in the golf swing, including when the shot gets really important.
1. Being able to clear the mind. When you get to the golf course you usually bring the problems of the day with you. The first thing you must do is clear that clutter from your mind as you arrive. Whatever you can do to put your mind in a relaxed mood, such as music or relaxing images should be developed.
2. Confidence. If you go into any situation not sure of what you are doing, it’s going to cause tension. If you are approaching the first tee not sure of your swing keys and not believing in your game, it’s probably too late to really have your game in order. At this point in order to gain confidence, you might have to do some hard selling to yourself. It’s okay to believe in yourself even if there might not be a lot of reason to.
3. Start with the grip. Tension usually starts in the hands, moves up the arms and settles in the major muscle groups. Every time you grip the club, consciously make sure the grip is light. Try gripping very tight and release. Because you can do it in the setup it’s something you can consciously work on before every shot.
4. At address, relax everything. Make sure the joints are not locked, which means the elbows can be slightly bent. The knees should also be bent to the point that you will feel you are approaching the sitting position. Relax and drop the shoulders so all the tension is released from the upper body.
5. Pre-shot movement. Some use the waggle to start the swing, but something has to get the body relaxed and moving. Whatever it is that gets your swing started, it should be natural for you.
Tension is usually caused by thinking too much. When athletes get “in the zone”, they all describe it as complete lack of thought and being able to let the body take over. It’s not an easy place to get to, but when you do you can accomplish some amazing things on a golf course.