Similarities Between Great Baseball Swings and the Mike Austin Golf Swing

Monday, March 14, 2011

One of the most comical things I ever overhear on the range is 'don't use a baseball swing!'  Many of my students tell me that they've received the same advice from their friends and their previous teachers.

To hit for power AND accuracy, your golf swing should be very similar to a baseball swing, and today I'm going to explain why.

For our model, we are going to examine one of baseball's all time most prolific hitters, Manny Ramirez.  Manny has hit well over 500 home runs (power) but also has a lifetime .316 average (precision).  With this combination, he is very similar to Mike Austin's peformance on the golf course.  An example of this is the day Mike hit 47 out of 50 balls onto the green of a 360 yard par 4 during an exhibition.  Power and precision in action.

It is no wonder that the two motions are very similar.  Let's take a look.

0:43 - Bat speed and squareness of contact in baseball.  Clubhead speed and squareness of contact in golf.

1:06 - Bat on plane for a long time promotes more square contact and more margin for error.  Club on plane promotes more square contact and more margin of error.

2:13  Feet not overly wide for a hitter.  Mike Austin's feet were not overly wide for a long hitting golfer.

2:14  Manny's head is midway between his feet.  Mike Austin's head is midway between his feet.

2:21 Manny retains a bit of movement prior to the start of his swing.  In golf, we call this the 'waggle'.

2:43  Front knee is flexed and heel detached from the ground.  Center of gravity is moved laterally over towards the right foot.  Manny has gone from a two foot balance to a rear foot balance.  Precisely Mike Austin.

3:04  Stepping down onto the front heel.  No attempt to turn the hips or torso.  The first half the compound pivot.  Rear humerus bone is rotating inwardly while it is also abducted 90 degrees, resulting in a 'flying right elbow'.   Nicklaus comes to mind here.

3:09  Ready to transfer energy from body into bat into ball.  The kinetic chain bullwhips the energy from our CoG into our extremities, and then finally into the implement we swing.

4:43  Right knee starts to flex in while the left straightens.  Same as the Austin swing.  The 'Modern PGA' swing keeps the right knee straight and the heel down.  Only now are the hips starting to rotate - after the weight is established on the left leg.

4:44 Right elbow dropping into the slot by externally rotating the humerus bone.  The is dropping his bat onto the plane to hit the ball.  Precisely the same as the Mike Austin swing.

5:13 Swing circle center and head are staying steady.  Identical.

6:39  Both arms are fully extended 30 inches past impact.  Identical.

6:58  Left arm lines up with the bat head at impact, making a straight line.  This is also the position at impact in good driver swings.

7:30  Manny is doing the equivalent of swinging 'under up and out'  on the plane.  There is less 'under' in a baseball swing because the Manny's hip flexion is 15 degrees.  This is ideal for hitting a ball that is thigh high, and not sitting on the ground.  The plane is different because the posture is different....but the arms are in nearly identical position relative to the chest and he hit the ball.

The most efficient golf swing is very similar to the most efficient golf swing.  The only major difference you see between these two photos is the golfer increasing his angle of inclination in order to strike the ball on the ground.

If I went through the video again I could probably double this list of similarities.  This is the baseball version of the Mike Austin swing method for golf.  Swing the body's center of mass from foot to foot while slinging the arms and whirling the clubhead through with your hands with reckless abandon.

The next time you are at the range, I urge you to use your baseball swing!  Let me know what happens!

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