Look for Instability in Your Swing

When avalanche safety experts teach back-country skiers how to avoid getting swept up in life-threatening avalanches, they take an interesting approach.

These safety guides teach skiers that when they are poking and checking the snow and terrain beneath them as they move along mountain ridges, they should not look for proof of stability in the snow.

Why not?

When stability is what you are looking for, and when you find it, it is – in a sense – the permission you are looking for to go ahead and do what you want to do.

This is a problem because it may not be thorough enough.

The same approach used to avoid avalanches may help you build a stronger Single Plane Swing in shorter time.

Instead, they teach the skiers to test the snow for proof of instability. In fact, because avalanches are so serious and deadly, they encourage the students to search relentlessly until they find instability.

What is paradoxical is that they are encouraging the students to search for what they DON’T WANT…not for what they do want. Skiers WANT to ski.

But they are also humans, susceptible to confirmation bias – a tendency to search for information that confirms beliefs or assumptions. They have invested a lot in getting to where they are (at the top of a mountain.) and the last thing they want to do is turn around and walk down the mountain. They (the skiers) will naturally look to confirm that conditions are acceptable to ski – much more so than looking for reasons to NOT ski

The safety instructors are attempting to get them to think differently.

As golfers on the Single Plane Swing journey, we can all benefit from understanding this approach.

If you are at all like me, my guess is that you want to confirm that you are swinging properly. You probably look to things like ball flight, video, and even comments from SPS golfers around you to confirm that what you are doing is correct.

But that can be problematic.

(For a long time, I could maneuver in ways that could get the clubhead back to the ball pretty square, creating some pretty nice ball flight. And this was all I needed to confirm that I had “nailed’ the Single Plane Swing.)

A better way to approach this is to look for “proof of instability” in your swing. And then look to remove that instability – one piece at a time.  (Todd and Tim Graves would say – start with Address position.)

What does this look like?

It looks like seeking proof that you haven’t mastered the swing yet: …that you are off-plane in the backswing, or that your trail leg has straightened and locked in position 2, or that you have not maintained proper leverage in position 3…etc.

It looks like being willing to say to an observer or a coach at a 3-Day School…  “How far back did I set the club?” …or: “Tim, what are you seeing here?” …or “Clay, did I slide forward too much?”  …etc.

If you want to make your Single Plane Swing better and stronger, stop looking for confirmation that you are getting closer.

Instead, think differently about this problem. Be willing to go to the experts – and beg them to tell you what they see wrong about your swing. This may be the fastest path to mastery.

It’s not life and death – as in avalanche avoidance training – but it help you learn WAY faster.

Have a great week!


Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

2 thoughts to “Look for Instability in Your Swing”

  1. At 70 yrs I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone in core so my balance is not consistent. What do you recommend for strengthening?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Rich.

      While my post was intended to help the reader to rethink what to focus on while on the Single Plane Swing Journey (Hopefully my message came across something like this: Look for evidence to prove that you are “doing it wrong” instead of trying to convince yourself that you are “doing it right.”), I am happy to address your question.

      In my experience, any body-weight exercises – squats, burpees, sit ups, push ups, leg-ups…etc, are terrific and can be both safe and effective at almost any age for developing the muscles that we use during the golf swing.

      Look no farther than Gary Player as a resource for how to build the core for golf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vfyphm9EkgI

      The other recommendation I would make is to get intentional about providing your body with the nutrition that is needed to support your physical development efforts.

      Simply put, eat as well as you possible can. (Gary Player says that too!)

      I hope that helps Rich!

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