11 February 2009

Body Angles and Body Shape

As a coach who teaches all sorts of players from absolute beginners to top amateurs and professionals, I believe it is very important, for the success of any shot that all golfers have a sound understanding of the correct set up before he or she attempts to swing a golf club.

Following is an introduction of a teaching method I have had enormous success with and is being used by an ever increasing number of coaches and touring professionals in Australia and worldwide. This article focuses on the set up, but the technique is part of an overall swing method referred to as the right sided swing and has been featured on the Golf Channel by its founder Gary Edwin who is one of Australia's most respected coaches.

I have had the opportunity to learn these methods from working with coaches from the Edwin Stable both in Australia and in Japan, and over the years I have come to learn that correct "body shape" has a big influence on the golf swing. By the term "Body Shape" I am not referring to how big or small a person is, but to the angles created by the bending of the body into position to set up to a golf ball.

The body shape is so important in that it can have an enormous influence on the swing. A poor set up or body shape at the start can multiply into several mistakes by the time we arrive at the top of the backswing, which means you have to make almost impossible (and very inconsistent) compensations during the execution of the swing to reach a good impact position.

Tour players and top amateurs can overcome set up errors with hours and hours of practice on the driving range. Most people never have this amount of time to hone these swing compensations due to a poor set up and this causes long term negative effects on their game.

I find assessing and improving students "Body Shape" at the start of the lesson can go a long way toward solving a lot of the problems in their swings. In all my lessons I spend a lot of time explaining and demonstrating good and bad body shape and use various drills to help the student achieve a good body shape.

Examples of Australian tour players on the US PGA Tour who actively work on good body shape are Rod Pampling, Paul Gow, and Peter Lonard among others.

Body Angles Explained

The most important thing to do before even attempting to swing a golf club is to get your body angles correct. Body angles refer to the angles of your body in the set up position. If the body shape is correct then you have more of a chance of getting the swing working well early and the club moving in the right direction during the swing

You don't need to go to a driving range to practice your body angles; it can be done at home in front of a mirror without clubs or balls.

An image of correct body angle at set up is that it is almost the same as the body angle in the impact position i.e. "set up resembles impact"

To get your body into the correct set up position adopt a reverse "K" shape looking from front on. This means the left side of your body will appear to be mainly straight and the right side will have the angle or "K" shape. Maintaining this shape from start to finish will form the basis of a solid swing.

Many club golfers set up in the reverse shape i.e. the right side is straight and the left side has the angle. When I look at players setting up poorly and trying to hit a golf ball they are all inevitably subconsciously trying to find the correct body angles while they are swinging the club in order to find a decent body shape at impact. All this moving around leads to all the common faults we ( and your golf instructor) are always talking about i.e. reverse pivot, swaying etc···

Looking from behind the forward bend from the hips is also very important. A minimum amount of flex in the legs, bend from the hips and let the arms hang, this will ensure the swing starts on plane and with a correct swing radius.

If your body shape is not right at the start you will have to try and find this position somewhere during your swing to achieve this shape at impact. Some tour players can get away with not having the correct shape at set up because they have grooved compensatory moves into their swings over hundreds of hours beating balls on the driving range.

If you START with a good body shape you've got more chance of getting the swing right with no need to make compensatory moves and a more consistent impact position will result.

Try to practice correct body shape (as above) in front of a mirror at home so you can engrain the proper image and feeling of Correct Body Shape. Just remember to always strive to create a straight line down your leading side intersecting your shoulder- hip- and outside of your leading foot at both set-up and then again at impact.

Here are some examples of how we compare a students swing to a Models swing

Example 1
The models swing is on the top, firstly you will notice that the starting body shape or "set up" is the opposite of the model. And you will notice that in comparing the two swings that while the model's body shape stays constant, the student's body due to his incorrect perception of what happens in his swing is changing and moving a lot sideways during the swing. This all leads to inconsistent ball striking.

Example 2
This is a before and after shot of a student, she has had lessons in the past but never a video lesson, so in lesson 1 (above) with me, she could see immediately that her set up posture was wrong compared to the model and that the arms and shaft were way to high or Vertical, In lesson 2 (above) the change in Shape and shaft arm position is enormous.

Online lesson

An option for those who can't come and have a video analysis is to have an on-line lesson. If you have a video camera all you need to do is video your swing from the front and back, email the swings to me and using the same video analysis software I use during my normal lessons and I will send you back a 5 -10 min analysis of your swing with voice comments, drills and model comparisons etc. Using the Internet I can give online lessons to people all over the world, so wherever you are all you need to do is video your swing and send it to me.

How to "capture" and send a swing via email

Videos can be taken using a video camera or a still camera with video function or even a Cell (mobile) phone with video capabilities.

The back video (see right) should be taken at waist height directly behind the student parallel to their target line and directly down the line of the student's hands at address.

The Front (see right) should be taken at waist height directly in front of the student perpendicular to the student's target line.

Where possible footage should be taken with a shutter speed of at least 1000 frames per minute and an aperture that is appropriate for the light conditions. However if your camera has no shutter speed adjustment set it to sports mode or similar.

Where many students may have video analysis software it is recommended that video files are captured using Windows Movie Maker or equivalent software. Movie maker allows the student to choose the quality of the capture and therefore the size of the file to be emailed. It is requested that the quality of the video footage be captured at Video for broadband (512kbps) at the very least.

Once you have the 2 files saved send them to


and I will organise the rest.

I look forward to seeing you in person or online soon.

Craig Roberts , 11 February 2009

Craig Roberts

Currently based in Melbourne, Australia. Craig has been working in the golf industry in various forms since 1992 when he traveled to Japan. Having spent 10 years in Japan on and off he has worked as an interpreter and instructor at golf schools with some of the best coaches from Australia and Japan. He currently teaches at a busy Indoor Golf centre in the centre of Melbourne. When time permits he travels to Japan and China to teach and conduct Golf tours.

GEGAS accredited instructor
World Golf Teachers Federation Top 60 Coach 2006
WGTF Master Teaching Professional Level IV Member
Phone +61-417-599 646
Email : craig@ausasiagolf.com
Website: www.ausasiagolf.com Skype : Robatsu