Getting the trail elbow forward

Getting the trail elbow forward

Joined: July 21st, 2004, 12:07 am

August 25th, 2005, 1:59 pm #1

I'm new to reading Blake. I like some of the analogies he uses to try to help the reader's understanding, particularly those relating to motions used in other activities.

Here's a great clip of a very good raquetball player, Cliff Swain, "down the line," from down low. Look how he gets his trail elbow ahead of his hand on the swing to generate power. (He's a lefty obviously.)



BBFTX
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Joined: December 23rd, 2004, 12:51 am

August 25th, 2005, 5:06 pm #2

You'll see the same elbow forward position in a number of activities including volleyball spike, javelin throw, tennis serve, baseball pitch. However in these activities the analysis is not that the legs 'drag' the hand as a result of the position nor has analysis shown a use of some reflex action. In fact it's somewhat the opposite - being able to get your arm into the extreme position demonstrated by elite performaers of these actions requires a de-sensitization of the proprioceptors that initiate some reflex responses that would otherwise prevent your body getting into a position where it could damage itself.

Peter
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

August 25th, 2005, 5:20 pm #3

I'm new to reading Blake. I like some of the analogies he uses to try to help the reader's understanding, particularly those relating to motions used in other activities.

Here's a great clip of a very good raquetball player, Cliff Swain, "down the line," from down low. Look how he gets his trail elbow ahead of his hand on the swing to generate power. (He's a lefty obviously.)



BBFTX
Swain has great form. Remember Steve Strandemo, a top racketball player of the 1970s? I sent Mindy a photo of Steve in mid-forehand shot (he was right handed). It was from a different angle that showed his right elbow well across the body with his whole arm fully stretched. Blake wrote back that Strandemo's position was exactly what he was trying to achieve in golf. The difference, IMO, is that in racketball you don't achieve such a position of the elbow with inactive arms. You do get the legs into the shot, but the arm serves as more than just a transmitter of energy as in Blake's golf downswing.

Odd fact: In 1973 the Navy built what may have been the only racketball court in Scotland at RAF Edzell, a US Navy security service base. Back then I was splitting my sports time between golf and racketball but a shoulder injury ended racketball for me. SD
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Joined: September 10th, 2004, 4:03 pm

August 26th, 2005, 11:13 am #4

Great pictures of the racketball player. As Mindy said to Jim, this is exactly what the Blake swing is trying to achieve. Remember Mindy's analogy of skimming a stone. The same "trail" arm action would be observed. It is a completely natural action, albeit one that has to be learned. [ This is using Mindy's description of a natural action - namely one that does not conflict with, or far less damage the body. It is not the same as an instinctive action. ]

When we talk about relaxed "transmission muscles" let us refer to this racketball action. I contend that the muscles in Mr Swain's racket arm are not contracted in the way that they are in a conventional golf swing. I would still say that they are relaxed but am willing to be persuaded to adopt another description if someone can make out a cogent case !!

Jim, I played at Edzell Golf Club in Scotland last year. I guess you must have played there as well.

Regards, Chris Walker.
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Joined: December 23rd, 2004, 12:51 am

August 26th, 2005, 1:26 pm #5

Having used a trail arm action like the one shown I can say the the muscles are not used the way they are in a conventional golf swing or the way Blake describes their use. They are not relaxed. The internal rotation of the arm is active.

A single arm action like that shown with the extreme elbow position is VERY different and one that can put considerable stress on the arm. That is why baseball pitchers need rest days. In my case use of that trail arm action in my golf swing led to elbow damage. I have found that I could accomodate a similar advanced trail elbow position WITHOUT the trail arm muscle action demonstrated without problem.

Peter
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Joined: July 21st, 2004, 12:07 am

August 26th, 2005, 1:40 pm #6

In particular, I'm interested in knowing how strong or weak your trail hand grip is,
and how you are positioning the elbow to avoid injury during the swing.
Is there anything else different (other than relaxed muscles) from the earlier version that was "damaging"?

From my own recent experimentation, I can sense that some efforts to get the trail elbow forward could indeed lead to pain/injury/damage if one were to make a lot of swings doing the wrong thing.

BBFTX
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Joined: December 23rd, 2004, 12:51 am

August 26th, 2005, 4:26 pm #7

It wasn't 'relaxed muscles' that caused the damage but active muscles (the same ones you activate when 'skipping stones') causing the medial rotation of my trail arm stressing the connective tissue at my trail elbow. The result was serious pain (that went away when I changed my swing) and calcium deposits (that have not gone away and may never).

Now I work to get my trail elbow to a position in front of and very near to (if not touching) my trail hip. This requires biceps tension to hold the bend and muscle action of the lats and pecs to get it to the correct position, but I make no muscle effort ala 'skipping stones' to 'throw' towards the target. Eliminating the 'skipping stones' ACTION eliminated the pain but if you looked at my elbow position (when I get it right or on drill swings) it is just as far forward. You can have your trail elbow in the 'skipping stones' (or raquetball) position without the action.

The more difficult thing is getting my trail elbow that far forward in real swings vs drill swings. With my 4.5 drill swing I have my trail elbow exactly where I want it because that is where it is at the top of the drill swing. Once I let my trail elbow get away from this position it's not so easy to get it back there. I noticed in snakedoc's pictures of Blake that he was not happy with one showing a real downswing because his trail elbow was not as far forward as he thought it should be. I can relate. There is a noticeable increase in distance when it is closer to the correct position vs when not which might explain why people report the same or greater distance with the 4.5 drill as with 'real' swings. The limited backswing shown in GtTB fig 16 and the somewhat paradoxical comment (though understandable if you've done it):

Although the muscles are relaxed, ther arms feel 'welded into one piece with the elbows close together.

will certainly help.

It occurs to me that like some who find Blake easier to learn starting with chips, it might be useful to try a Blake equivalent to my 4.5 drill where you start down from a position between GtTB figs 17 & 18 with the trail elbow in the fig 18 position but with the arms and club closer to fig 17.

Peter
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

August 26th, 2005, 5:40 pm #8

Though Blake used skipping stones as an analogy to his reflex swing, the analogy is not complete. In skipping stones the throwing arm is not being dragged through by the legs. That arm is quite active in the throw, at least in the way I skip stones. The throwing arm action is similar, IMO, to the action of a racketball forearm. I can remember as a kid when skipping stones, we would compete to see who could get the most skips. If you tried too hard, ie, whipped your arm through too fast there would sometimes be an immediate pain in the throwing arm.

I wrote in a separate thread of starting with my trail elbow further across the body at address. In the backswing I try to keep the elbows as close together as possible. It really does seem to help get the trail elbow further forward in an actual swing.

Peter, could you append a description of your 4.5 drill to this thread? Thanks, Jim
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Joined: December 23rd, 2004, 12:51 am

August 26th, 2005, 9:01 pm #9

The idea of 4.5 started from a clip of Hogan. The original thread with the clip is here. My trail elbow position is further forward in front of my trail hip vs next to it (per IMA).

Note - as I mention in the post having your trial elbow in contact is important. I showed this drill to another golfer and found that they had great difficulty maintaining contact for the start down. Their trail elbow had a tendency to 'float' away without their realizing it. They would never have known without me providing feedback or possibly video from the correct angle.

Peter
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

August 27th, 2005, 1:54 am #10

As you know, Blake wanted the trail elbow to pass clear of the trail hip in the downswing. We know that's a characteristic of Richard's swing from video and presumably of Chris, Julian and other Blake swingers.

[For Chris and Julian: does your trail elbow pass in front of trail hip in your downswing?]

Because of this a Blake equivalent of 4.5 is not immediatly obvious to me. I have spoken of my version of a pre-set address position which puts me at approximately figure 18 of GtTB. From this starting position, I then finish the backswing and downswing normally. This wouldn't simulate 4.5 but, intriguingly, it does seem to result in a well advanced position of trail elbow at impact more often than does a regular address full swing. That's one reason I've experimented with the pre-set as an actual swing, rather than just as a drill. It also eliminates the grip change and allows you to have the trail hand/wrist bent back from start.

As you have noticed both figure 18 and 26 of GtTB appear to show trail elbow in contact with the...the...stomach I'd say. You have to refer back to figure 29a of GSotF to see that Blake intended for the trail elbow to pass in front of the trail hip. The videos of Richard's swing also show it clearly. Jim
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Joined: December 23rd, 2004, 12:51 am

August 27th, 2005, 4:05 am #11

As you note the figures in GtTB appear to show contact but GSotF seems to not. However the swings in the 2 books are not the same. Regardless examining the photos of Blake and in particular the one where he noted to you where his trail elbow SHOULD be in the downswing it is quite clear that neither Richard nor Julian meet Blake's standard. If, however, you put examine yourself in a mirror and put your trail elbow in the position Blake noted with the blue lines in the photograph #3 (which basically replicates the take away):




or illustrated in fig 18 of GtTB that will serve as a sufficient start point for a Blake 4.5 equivalent and you will likely learn some things about your own anatomy

Peter
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