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Lifestyle :: Health/Fitness :: Speed Training :: Micro Moves of Elite Golf Swings

Micro Moves of Elite Golf Swings

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After analyzing thousands of high speed video golf swings of elite PGA and long drive competitors, Rick and I have come to the conclusion that much of what we have been taught to “see” via traditional instruction is just the rough surface of what’s going on. Understanding elite golf swings as well as dysfunctional ones are much easier when you have an understanding of the deeper, “micro moves” that underlie the larger movements of the golf swing. Though it may seem a bit more complicated, the analysis and the treatment become simple when you have a roadmap to all the moves you need to have.

Sometimes these micro moves have a sequence and sometimes they don’t. But oftentimes it is enough to know whether a certain move exists in a swing or not. Typically, the absence of a micro move will lead to either loss of power or a dysfunctional move somewhere down the line. Thus, if you’re going to find and cure the root cause of a swing problem, you must be able to trace the obvious swing errors back to these missing micro moves.

Also, sometimes these micro moves are caused by certain muscles or muscle groups. To aid us in this understanding, Dr. Douglas Hayes has joined forces with us in developing deeper insights into human movements. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the way the muscles work and has had experience working with PGA tour pros as a soft tissue massage/chiropractic practitioner. 

It is helpful to have his understanding of how muscles work, how they are connected to bone structures, origin of muscle, insertion points and whether they are working as stabilizers or prime movers. Therefore sometimes, in the interest of being as specific and accurate in the English language as we can, we must label the micro move by the muscle or by its anatomical movement name. This will definitely aid in our understanding and hopefully prevent any loss in translation.

Micro moves

So let me start by defining what a micro move is. Basically, micro moves are like the individual genes that make up your swing’s DNA. For example, when a teacher says to “shift your weight” what does that really entail? Or, “you’re coming over the top. Let’s get the club on plane.” Well, we know the answers to those questions are not so simple and they involve many micro moves.

Seeing the Micro Moves

A micro move is so small that sometimes only high speed video captures it (even so-called high-tech biomechanical systems like the K-Vest, Golftec and TPI 3D are not looking for these moves, therefore won’t find it). We’re shooting videos at 300 or 600 frames per second and sometimes at 1200 frames per second to catch the action of individual muscle firings. Normal camcorders shooting at 30 or 60 frames per second will miss many of the moves or catch them in midstream. In other words, if you took video of a bouncing ball and two consecutive frames captured the ball in mid-bounce, it would seem as though the ball wasn’t moving or never moved. Thus, the need for high speed video is immensely important.

A micro move cannot be seen by the naked eye, though Rick might be able to see them since he’s studying swings so much. So if you want to see these moves, turn down the volume on your TV set (for best results, hit the mute button…….shhhhhh Mr. Kostis) and watch the Konica Minolta SwingVision shots on CBS carefully. In our modern, technological world, this should be our way of “digging it out of the dirt” as Ben Hogan would say.

Or, get yourself a Casio high speed camera and start seeing what’s really going on in your own swing. You don’t have to get the top-of-the-line Casio EX-F1 that Rick and I have. Casio has introduced several small point and shoot digital cameras like the EX-FS10 that shoot 210 frames per second and cost less than $300 on Amazon and other online dealers. With a great digital camera like that, who needs a camcorder?

Who uses the Micro Moves?

Micro moves are performed by the elite golfers most likely without their knowledge. They just swing that way. I’m sure Jamie Sadlowski can’t tell you which of the micro moves he uses. Nor could Tiger, Bubba, Rory, Camilo or Alvaro. But these moves are there in the most athletic and powerful swings. 

Also, micro moves are not only for golfers. They are in the motions of great baseball hitters, pitchers, tennis players, hockey players, football players, basketball players and more. When athletes use micro moves during their movements, it represents the best way they can move.  Take a look at the pitching motion of Tim Lincecum as an example of a pitcher using all these micro moves. Or Roger Federer using micro move called wrist flexion during his awesome forehand.

Yet oddly enough, micro moves are the opposite of what many people would call “efficient.” Many people believe that we should eliminate all extraneous motions and that this will make you better or more consistent. NOT! 

Thus, the majority of the weekend warriors do not use these micro moves. Some people may think that we lose these micro moves a little because we get old and stiff, but that’s not true. There are some great senior and super senior long drive hitters that can absolutely nuke it. So that’s not the reason.

Undoubtedly, we lose these micro moves because of poor instruction. Some popular swing theories seek to eliminate these micro moves from the swing. Forty years ago, it was a given that you should keep your head absolutely still and your left arm rigidly straight. Now we know that’s not true.

Today there are popular ideas in current instruction that are eliminating micro moves yet are being blindly accepted on the basis of marketing appeal and simple athletic illogic. It sends golfers flocking to the Kool Aid to drink without any scrutiny. Perhaps it will take a few more decades before the masses realize the damage it is doing.  

But you don’t have to wait for a few decades of waning performance before its too late. You can be on the cutting edge and start looking at these micro moves and better yet, begin using them now.

Remember, the removal of these micro moves will cause a loss of power and worse yet, will cause a golfer to have chronic swing problems unless you resurrect these micro moves. 

Another way to lose these micro moves is via subtle changes in posture due to exercise and improper training. In another article, Dr. Hayes and I will discuss postureology and its effects on the golf swing in a future article. 

Why do we need Micro Moves?

Each micro move is there for a reason. This goes back to stretch shorten cycles (SSC) and how we can use our body to the fullest potential. The most powerful way to use your body is to make use of these SSC’s because we can generate more power by stretching before contracting. 

Simply put, each micro move is a trigger to start a SSC and obtain a powerful reflex action that follows. If we focus on the micro moves, we won’t have to “try” to get the next move, it will just happen.  And by adding a micro move or two, you can really change your swing in a positive way. It will remove the flaws from your swing by pulling them out from the roots, not just clipping the top of the weed off. 

Also, these micro moves are set up sequentially to produce the greatest amount of speed and power for your golf swing.
If I don’t have the Micro Moves can I still be good?

Yes you can. However, it is at a diminished level. Let’s say we take out all your leg movements, given that you want the same distance but could only use the top half of your body.  Wouldn’t that make your upper body overwork? Wouldn’t that also cause dysfunction? Sure it would.

So the bottom line is that missing pieces to the puzzle will always affect the outcome. So try to get these moves because if not, you aren’t swinging optimally as your body is designed to do.

List of micro moves

Dr. Hayes, Rick and I are still finding more micro moves each week. Thus, the list of micro moves will likely increase over time. 

It’s more than a Plane

So let’s just start by taking a closer look at one of the most common problem afflicting golfers………the over the top error and how you can use these micro moves to get your club on plane.

So let me start by saying you just can’t put the club on plane. I think many of you saw the hit series on the golf channel called “The Haney Project” with Charles Barkley.  Did Sir Charles get any better? Haney showed us his lack of communication skills and true understanding of the micro moves that comprise a good golf swing. Repeating the same words over and over again and expecting a different result is the sign of……………..golf instruction insanity?

So here are two still shots were taken from the last episode in the series and he’s doing basically the same things he was doing at the start of the series. Whether he pauses, double pumps or not, it doesn’t matter. The flaws are still there.



Charles is missing the three micro moves that could surely help him. So let’s use this roadmap and see how simple fixing him could have been. 

Elbow Move

Charles’ most glaring missing micro move is one that we call the elbow move. Simply put, the elbow should move faster than the hands at the start of the downswing. This is similar to a second baseman flipping a ball to first base. The elbow leads the hand at the initiation of the forward movement. The difficulty with feeling this that you have two hands on the golf club so it is hard for some golfers to feel this move.

But Charles does not throw like a second baseman. Instead, he does more of a pie throwing down motion where he moves his hands first. By doing pie throwing move, he can only do the dreaded over-the-top move (macro move that we all can see). Also, he’s losing speed by not being able to tap into the external rotation of the right shoulder that is so powerful in throwing motions. 

Jamie’s Awesome Elbow Move

So what do elite golfers do? I’ve drawn a yellow line through Jamie Sadlowski’s right forearm to indicate the starting position. After a few frames you will be able to see a pattern. 








By this frame you can really see that his elbow has moved a lot faster than his hands at the start of the downswing.
There are other great examples of players with a great elbow move. Alvaro Quiros, the bomber that hit the 300 yard, uphill and against the wind second shot to the par 5 when Tiger was on the green, has a great elbow move. Lucas Glover has a great one as well. 

 



Back/Side Arch Move

The next move that Sir Charles is missing is the back/side arch move (there are more micro moves involved in this move but I’ll just start with the general idea) and it is the reason his head dips down. As the downswing starts, elite golfers show a high degree of creasing in their shirts just below the rib cage. It is the obliques (side abdominal muscles), rotator cuff, quadratus lumborum and latissimus muscles on the right side that are contracting to hold back and increase the stretch in the left side of your torso. It also is responsible for the right shoulder dropping lower as I will show later.
Without this muscle firing, Charles fires everything he’s got at the start of the downswing instead of sequencing properly.
Here’s Tiger at the top of his backswing at Hazeltine. Notice the looseness of the shirt on the right side of his rib cage/oblique area. 








The creases are starting.

By this point, you can really see all the creases building in his shirt. 

Thus, without this oblique firing, what chance does Charles have of keeping his head up on the downswing? And if Haney repeats “head up” or “keep your head up” one billion times, would it ever make any difference? Doubtful.

Stop Sign move

I mentioned this move in a previous article, the feeling you get is that your right hand is turning away from the target as you start the downswing.  This starts the process of closing the clubface or resisting the moment of inertia in the club to rotate open.

This move is actually occurring in both hands. The left wrist turns from a cupped position into a more flat wrist position as it starts down. Some are flat wrist at the top and it will become more bowed as they start down. 

In a dysfunctional swing, the right hand will turn palm up as it succumbs to the moment of inertia and allows the clubface to open more. This is the pattern of a slicer or at the very least the root cause of a golfer becoming a flipper.

Let’s take a look at Jamie’s hand movements.

I’ve drawn these lines in different colors so you can see the changes in the angle. 

Here the angle has become wider.

By this point his wrist has become flat.




Look at what this does to the clubface angle. This is how he can hit it straight and far. Many of the slicers out there definitely have the face opening as the downswing starts. Make the change here and say goodbye to the slice.

Shoulder Move

If the back arches and the elbow moves correctly (via rotator cuff and lat muscle pulling), we should see a bigger movement of the shoulders that is distinct. The shoulders move in a down and around pattern. Here’s Dewald Gouws runner-up from last year’s World Long Drive championships showing his shoulder move. 


















Dysfunctional shoulder moves travel in a straight line to the ball. It’s the shortest distance between the two points but does it really matter when it ruins the sequencing of everything else?




Is there any doubt as to what these three micro moves can do for you? Would you rather swing like Alvaro or Charles?

The choice is yours. 

There are many more micro moves to be covered in future articles so we’ll just tackle a few at a time. Next month we’ll be doing something on postureololgy and the way that your posture can influence your swing patterns.


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Comments

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Tominator — Thursday, October 1, 2009
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Kel, Great article! Lots to ponder. It's going to be hard to sit around another month to wait for the next installment! I hope the postureology discussion will give me some help on correcting the slide/move-past-Chi line/early extension problem that I continually battle. Thanks, TA


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kmiyahira — Thursday, October 1, 2009
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Thanks Tom! Found some micro moves that when missing, can surely cause early extension. Send me some current video. K


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Tom — Friday, October 2, 2009
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Excellent article again Kelvin. I like the terminology. I see the right forearm of Jamie rotating the radius and ulnar clockwise. That micro move starts the hand and advances clubshaft and head, it is the impetus to start the swing. I see the humerus being brought to jamies side as a reaction to firing the spine engine posting left, forming the chi line, as he abducts the right shoulder. That outward rotation of the forearm, advancing the clubhead, is what I mean by "throw from the top" it loads the shaft. It also enhances the dorsal flexion of the right hand as he propells the clubhead. This is not an argument it is an agreement. This is just how I percieve and perform it. This micro move jamie is using is my single concious thought to start the downswing. Video comming soon as I prepare for pretty busy weekend. Again great article. Keep well. Tom


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kmiyahira — Friday, October 2, 2009
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Thanks Tom, I look forward to seeing and analyzing that video. K


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golfnut — Friday, October 2, 2009
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K...This is BY FAR, not even close, to the best article I have ever read on "finding the slot" as some instructors would call it. I'm sending you a video very soon. I haven't been able to because Ive been SOOO busy. I'll get to it in the next week when I actually have time. All the best.


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kmiyahira — Friday, October 2, 2009
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Thanks Vern and there are more micro moves to be revealed in the future. K


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vision54 — Friday, October 2, 2009
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Hi Kel...great article...how important those micro moves are!!! I love JS first move down and while I was practicing realized how similiar the move is to my college career of pitching baseball. Once I connected that thought/image it became completely natural. From there it seems like everything follows. Going to the range tomorrow...will probably have some more observations...thanks for your dedicated search for the truth... P


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kmiyahira — Friday, October 2, 2009
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P, if you can pitch, you can swing a club. Look at how many pitchers and quarterbacks make great golfers. You can do it too. K


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mac — Saturday, October 3, 2009
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Transition- has to be the most important move - such little margin for optimum power and accuracy - Kelvin, you have nailed it for us 'seekers' of the missing link - kudos to your non ending research that makes it understandable and obtainable.


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vision54 — Saturday, October 3, 2009
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k....it looks like JS body remains still until his elbow reaches that certain point...yet the following pic appears as though the elbow move and body are almost simultaneous....if correct, which is better....wait or move all together? P


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kmiyahira — Saturday, October 3, 2009
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Look closely at the animated gifs of Quiros and Glover. You can't tell by looking at stills. K


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jimper — Monday, October 5, 2009
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K, Would the elbow move be the same as trying to decrease the gap between the elbows on the downswing? Thanks, Jim


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kmiyahira — Monday, October 5, 2009
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Jim, I'd have to say no only because that is not the real key. What's important is the right side external shoulder rotation should occur in doing the move. K


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shefield — Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Kelvin is beyond the cutting edge! I check the site every day, hoping more articles are published. Thanks for this invaluable website.


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sidious71 — Thursday, October 15, 2009
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So are the stop sign and elbow move a result of the body moving or something these guys are knowing or trying to do? Sean


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kmiyahira — Thursday, October 15, 2009
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Sean, perhaps they wouldn't be where they are if they didn't do what they do. They'd be a typical 5 handicapper with a lot of power just spraying it all over the place or really slowing their swing in order to keep it on the fairway if they didn't have this move. So it is something they have learned to do or they instinctively do. As we continue to research these micro moves we're finding that some pros can have a stop sign move but not an elbow move and vice versa. The bottom line is these moves can be learned and the more micro moves you have, the better you will be. K


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mac — Thursday, October 15, 2009
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What would be interesting would be to take someone who does not have these moves and train them to implement them (is it possible?) and observe the changes in ball flight, distance etc...


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kmiyahira — Friday, October 16, 2009
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Ian, we have done this with a top long driver who had gotten injured, lost his swing and had to find his way back. Took a few days but he got it fixed and he's ready for the world championships in a few weeks. K


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jymetalwood — Monday, October 19, 2009
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Kelvin: What a great article, I must be dense, it took me several readings to understand the item. I cant wait to see the next one. You mention converting a long hitter in a few days. How did you do that? I find I can make changes in practice swings, but not usually when I'm on the course. Joe Yablonski


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kmiyahira — Monday, October 19, 2009
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JY, Rick and I have lots of training tools at our disposal besides having some of the technological wizardry of Rick's biomechanical expertise. It's not that hard when you know most of the micro moves we need to see. In a couple of months, I'll have an article that's right up your alley and will help you. K


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stuts — Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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Kelvin, Does the micro move of the elbow start the downswing? If not, exactly when does the move begin.


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kmiyahira — Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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GS, in a nutshell, the spine movements precede the elbow move in a correct swing. So the back arching/anterior pelvic tilt is occurring first. Then the elbow can move into the space that is made by that move. Contrast, if you don't have any back arch, the elbow won't have any space to make their move and consequently the hands and the shoulders will move first. K


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PetePlayer — Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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In my oppinion it is a good way to pull that back elbow down first, if you're not familiar with the movements. The hip-rotation may start simultaniously or a fraction later... At least that's how I've been told to figure out how-to and it works.


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PetePlayer — Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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I didn't have them 3 yrs back, but plucky training has payed off. I still make som mistakes, that ruin it from time to time, but when applying those moves I create huge lag and 6i club head speed passing 101 mph mark. Imagine that. I think best seen on Sergio Garcia's iron swing.


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shep — Saturday, October 24, 2009
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Mahalo, Kelvin I am Stuz's friend. We both think you are on to something big. There has never been a really good biomechanical explanation of the golf swing (the golf machine aside). This involves the movement of the skeleton, joints and muscles. Reading your article, the light bulbs exploded in my head. The contraction of the muscles surrounding the right rotator cuff which are the three heads of the deltoid, the right external obliques and of course the lattismus dorsi on the right side. I also reviewed a previous article of yours which includes the rectus abdominals themselves. Brilliant. I would like to add from my weightlifting experience that a stretching of the muscle allows it to do work and the subsequent contraction performs the work much like the stretching of a rubber band. In weightlifting the stretching of the deltoid in the clean phase (and the holding of that stretch!) allows the work to be done by the deltoid in the jerk phase of the lift (clean and jerk). This ties into your wrinkling of the shirt comment. The alternate stretching and contracting of the latissmus dorsi can account for this effect. Gary believes the stretching occurs on both side of body and he is correct. Crucially it is the stretching of the latissmus dosi in roatating to the top of the swing which sets up the tremendous contraction of the muscles in the right side of the body the result of which are the micro moves you speak of. They should happen naturally as a result of these trigger moves. We were talking and it became clear that if one feels loose (I.E., looses the stretch) then this is a huge power leak which results in the arms taking over or worse the hands in keeping the momentum of the swing on the down swing. Of course the stretching if of far more than the lats but we feel these the most. All the other muscles that are contracted to do work experience this stretching. The contracting of the right side muscles to do work also affect the skeleton as there is a pulling against the origin and insertion of the muscle which is attached to the bone. Since there are so many muscles on the right side, there is a lowering of the skeleton itself on that side. Really are we swinging? What appears to be happening is that the contracting of the right side muscles (assuming the proper biomechanical posture you speak of (arch back/anterior pelvic tilt with a slight tilt to the right) produces what we think of as the swing. This also moves the lower body forward to allow the upper body to come down and through! Before I forget, the stretching of the muscles as the body rotates to the right along the axis of rotation (again given the proper biomechanical posture you speak, of as postureology) is critical and must be held before the right side muscles contract to do the work of moving into the ball (I dont want to use downswing because I don't believe it is a swing). This is a corollary to what you say in your article. Whew! I am through right now but I hope this adds to your theory of the golfswing which I am sure will result in a coherent whole. Gary and I believe that this biomechanical explanation you are going into is the missing link in golf instruction. We think this is it!!! Keep going! If I made any spelling errors please forgive me as I am late to the NU-Indiana football game. Go cats! Once again thanks.


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kmiyahira — Saturday, October 24, 2009
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Shep, thanks for your comments. I think you've got a pretty good idea of what's going on. There's a whole lot more to come in the next few months. K


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shep — Saturday, October 24, 2009
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Thanks Kelvin! I will be looking with great interest to what is coming. So will Stutz. We look forward to your articles each and every month. Stutz says keep rereading the articles and he is right. There is much in each one. PS the NU cats won! It was tough sitting there when they were down 28-3 (in the second quarter), weather about 45F, drizzle and blow hard fans behind me. The final was 29-28 so you can imagine. Have a real good day!


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kmiyahira — Saturday, October 24, 2009
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Sounds like a wild game you got to watch. K


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mship — Friday, February 12, 2010
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Kel, great article but what about the how?


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robinc — Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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hi kelvin. i know this article has been updated but i would like to understand better. basically the increase in lumbar lordosis + lateral is creating room for the right elbow move. by right elbow move you refer to the right humeral adduction...now my first question : when is the stop sign supposed to be performed...at the same time as the elbow move, prior to, second to ? and to precise the stop sign move...is there a better way to stop sign, stop sign being definitely a combined move with 2 actions, is one of this action facilitating the other ? and as a consequence, would you recommend performing right forearm pronation at the same time, prior to, or after the external rotation of the right humerus ? thanks for your help


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kmiyahira — Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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Robin, the stop sign is actually pronation and occurs virtually at the same time as the external rotation of the shoulder and adduction. Also, you are correct about lumbar lordosis creating room for elbow and lateral bend. Anterior pelvic tilt, which is also discussed in another article is another way of saying adding to lordosis. K


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Randyman28 — Friday, January 25, 2013
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Thanks for the article..Now my question is what kind of drill works to get these micro moves in my swing?It looks easy but its really hard to do this.



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