SIX SPOKE APPROACH
The six spoke approach is my personal teaching philosophy that I use with all students from beginner to Tour level. Understanding its concepts will help you develop your physical and mental games, recognize the importance of properly fitted equipment, understand the game’s structure as played on-course, better manage your practice time, as well as recognize and understand the motion, speed and shape of your swing.
Imagine if you will, a wheel with six spokes.
The spokes, though separate components, converge in the center. The outer wheel, the completed whole, requires the support of all six spokes for optimal balance and function. Like the wheel, in golf, there are six essential spokes golfers must incorporate into their practice and play to bring their game to the highest level possible.
Spoke #1 The Body
Spoke #1 encompasses strength, speed, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. Often, your body and its condition, not your swing, keep you from reaching desired balance points and positions. To prevent the recurrence of any mechanical tendency or deficiency, as well as prevent injury, sport-specific exercises designed to increase strength, speed, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility are required. Teaching aids are welcome tools to help you feel a desired position, but the body must be trained and changed physiologically to reinforce these positions long-term. General weight training and stretching programs are good, but are not sport-specific enough to improve the golf swing specifically. The swing’s complex motor skills require detailed and specific conditioning. The Body is the first spoke for good reason- it precedes the remaining five in importance.
Spoke #2 The Mind.
What is your thought process? What style learner are you? How do you practice vs. play? Are they similar? Can you focus? Are you a positive or negative thinker overall? How does this affect your game? What should you do to remedy your attitude? It’s critical to identify your mental characteristics and establish drills to improve attitude, focus, concentration and visualization. This will contribute significantly to your overall development.
Spoke #3 Analysis
This means obtaining a true evaluation of our game in which rounds, shot patterns and tendencies are charted in a factual and detailed manner. It’s quite difficult to be objective and identify your own weaknesses. Statistically analyzing your tendencies enables you to isolate and target specific problem areas, further allowing you to establish a sound practice routine and improve your time management.
Spoke #4 Time Management-A Practice Routine
You need to develop a realistic expectation of results you expect to achieve based on the time and effort you put in. You and your time restrictions will determine what you can accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal basis. Use Spoke #3 analysis to prioritize what you should work on and what order. Example: If your putting statistics reveal that putting is your weakest link, each time you go to the club you should practice your putting first and devote the greatest amount of time to it’s practice.
Spoke #5 Equipment.
Poorly fitted equipment causes compensating movements and keeps you from “going to balance”. When fitting someone, we make the club a “zero” – a neutral device precluding any interference with the swing’s motion. Many players, even at the professional level, could experience marked improvement with better-fitted equipment. You should seek a trained PGA fitter with experience that will be able to evaluate your current equipment and make competent suggestions as to the type of equipment you should be playing with. A fitting session should take upwards of 1 hour +. Expect to have your grip size, shaft flex, lie angle, head design, swing weight and overall weight evaluated.
Spoke #6 Technique.
Technique is certainly important, but the effectiveness of the first five spokes are maximized since each one builds directly on the preceding and in this particular order. Again, for technical and mechanical information to have any effect, Spokes 1-5 must be executed first. I cannot stress this enough. Then, and only then can any competent teacher/coach or I expect to have his/her mechanical recommendations have any chance to be effective.
My philosophy includes three distinct areas: Symmetry, Physics and Geometry.
Symmetry is understanding your backward and forward motions as mirror images – folding joints, shoulder and hip rotation, plane of the shaft and arms, distribution of weight. For the most part, movement of the club and these joints and limbs are symmetrical. Minute differences exist, but a symmetrically balanced swing will lead to a more pleasing result in 99% of all cases.
Physics is understanding the various speed sources in your golf motion. Rotational forces-shoulders and hips, and leverage sources – rotor cuffs, elbows and wrists, are all sources of speed. The only item remaining is how to sequence these speed sources.
Geometry is the shape of your swing. This is based somewhat on you body type – tall, short, heavy (large-boned), thin (long-limbed), flexible or not. We each have a unique geometric shape. We must see it and understand it.
No golf professional is a Houdini. He or she is merely a set of trained eyes and a source of information to steer you down the road on which you should travel.
For more information:
Biosport Technologies LLC
Director of Fitness Port Royal Club
Director of Fitness
Titleist Club Fitting
Titleist Footjoy Worldwide
333 Bridge Street
Fairhaven, MA 02719-4900
Director of Instruction