Why Grip Pressure is important?
When I first began playing golf I was told that grip pressure is important. But Why? Well recently I have been working privately with quite a few tournament players. When going through post tournament reviews with 2 players, I noticed a common theme when they got under pressure.
Both players are junior golfers that are trying to take their game to the next level. I advised them to step their game up and try to play in bigger events. They are new players to my program and we have been working on fundamental changes in their mechanics of their full swings and had not yet focused in on the mental game aspect. One portion of the mental game program is breathing and relaxation. When playing tournament golf, this is arguably the most important tool to have in your bag to be able to execute under pressure.
In addition to them both stepping up their game to the next level, they both had the same ball flight patterns when they are comfortable. Their natural tendency was to hit a pull draw. They did this because their club path would go left (right handed players) and their club face at impact would also be left, which causes your direction to start left off the club face and then curve more left. I worked with both of them the last month on balancing that out by hitting push cuts (path going right and club face going right). They both have seen progress and seen less dispersion to the left. (In practice). In their post tournament reviews, they both expressed how they were over doing what we were working on and kept hitting it way right. I found this odd because they add never over done up until the tournament. I took them on Flightscope launch monitor, told them to relax and hit 10 shots just focusing on tempo and being athletic. Both had the same results again, pull draw. Did their swing suddenly change the day of the tournament and revert back to their natural tendency the day after? NO! It was all mindset!
I asked them what they did when they got nervous, and after much thought they both said they didn’t have a process to go through when the nerves got high. I then asked, “what was your grip pressure like?” They both responded, tight. Well let’s think about that. If you are squeezing the grip, trying to “guide” the ball down the fairway, what is going to happen? You are not allowing the club to release like it would if your grip pressure was light, so the club face will stay open and you will miss it right!
We then went through some breathing and relaxation techniques for them to develop the tools to use under pressure. Fast forward, to their next tournament. They played much better, implementing those techniques and their natural ball flight they are used to surfaced.
Point of the story, it was not a mechanical swing issue that caused their ball to go to the right. It was a mental game issue that was cured by focusing on their breathing to lighten their grip pressure. Before I completed my sport psychology education, I would’ve instantly went to mechanics to tell them to release the club more to eliminate their miss to the right. This would’ve caused long term problems because their natural tendency is left, and we would’ve made it worse!
- Light grip pressure so the club can release natural, utilizing your athleticism
- The grip stays in your hand by the positioning of your grip (fundamental grip) not by squeezing
- Slow, deep, belly breathing is the key to gaining relaxation, increasing your awareness and letting you think clearly to execute to your potential!
The majority of your time working on the “performance” side of the game is done at home. Changing mechanics in your swing is also done at home. You do not need to go to the golf course every day to improve your game!
Challenge to you: How much time do you spend working on your “swing mechanics” verse your “performance skills”? I find most golfers spending majority of their time on the mechanics. For the next 90 days focus on the performance skills and mechanics at home only. At the golf course work on your feel, shots around the greens, and shaping shots on the driving range – going through your complete pre-shot routine each time! If you do this, you will see your scores drop quickly when going on the golf course!