Anatomy of the Golf Swing Blog-post No. 2 The Head/Neck
Starting at the top, the first region is the head. [All descriptions are for a right-handed golfer]. Typically a golfer likes to know where the eyes should be or what angle the head should be at during the backswing or at impact. The head has no movement capabilities of its own, it merely rests on a movable neck. All movement of the head takes place through movement of the neck, correctly called the cervical spine, which comprises 7 vertebrae. These vertebrae together allow the neck to move three ways. The neck can move itself, and with it the head, forwards and backwards (flexion and extension), in a side-bend (lateral flexion) or with a rotary/twisting motion.
What is the role of the head during the golf swing and why? Let’s first look at what the best players do with their heads. One of the first items to appear when doing a youtube search for “golfer with excessive head movement during swing” is a video by Jim McLean, who has had the opportunity to study scores of the best players in the world. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqbNBMQLQUU
). As McLean demonstrates the head movements of the back- and through-swings, it is clear that during the backswing the head can be vertical - or, in many golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, even tilted with the left ear leaning towards the left shoulder. However, at impact, the head - along with the entire trunk - is always tilted to the right! For every golfer, every time! WHAT SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?
[Why tilt the head to the left, when that results in one more movement to be accomplished during the downswing, as the body has to shift weight targetwards and un-rotate; the trunk has to be tilted towards the right side; the arms have to be straightened and dropped downwards; the forearms have to be rotated; and the wrists have to be straightened! Whew!] When a golfer has to rapidly change head-direction during the downswing from a left-ward to a right-ward tilt, it adds to the number of unnecessary moves that must be made to re-position the golfer’s body for the downswing. This messes up timing (the sequencing of body-parts) as well as increases scope for injury. A rapid change of direction along with acceleration can cause injury to both the nerves that run through that region, and to the muscles and tiny facet-joints of the neck. (See http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/1101/p2035.html
for more information).
The Minimalist Golf Swing positions the head in right lateral flexion (right ear tilted towards the right shoulder), from address to impact, which reduces one extra re-positioning procedure during the downswing, and aids ball-striking efficiency. This positioning also prevents many of the known mechanisms of neck injury from occurring.