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The Counter-fall and Why it is Essential for a Physics Perfect Golf Swing

Drilling for Freedom - by Danny Lee

Sound science, proper physics and feel are the principles you can't escape, but are always searching for in your golf swing.  When they come together in the correct fashion, you will “Feel the Freedom” in your swing, and the results will show.

Odds are, you have felt the counterfall working in your every-day life and have never been conscious of it.  If you have ever locked arms with another person or child in the back yard, and swung each other in circles, you both had to lean backwards in equilibrium, in order to counter-balance the rotational force pulling you both toward each other. This is the centripetal force at work. In physics, we see the same thing applied in every rotary movement where weight is moving on one side of an object.

In the golf swing, the weight (force) of your arms and club swinging in front of your body are trying to pull you off center, and in most amateurs ends up causing them to come over the top. The human arm can weigh anywhere from 8 to 20 pounds:  imagine your arms and club as a dumbbell attached to your chest that you are trying to throw in front of you at the speed you swing a club.  The next time you’re watching a place kicker in a football game, a pitcher throw a baseball, or an Olympic hammer thrower in action, pay special attention to the off vertical move they start making before they turn through to release the object.  That “off-vertical” move is the counterfall, and it is also necessary in a sound golf swing.

Typically, what you will see in most golfers, is a move they have manufactured to take place of the counterfall - a compensation. For instance, most people’s posture tends to be too bent over with their torso and upper body balanced over the quads (fronts of their legs) instead of the hamstrings (back of their legs). What will happen, in this case, is when they turn in the back swing, they shift their weight forward onto the front leg (toward the toes and quads). The detrimental part of this is that as they try to rotate, it will not carry them backwards easily into the Counterfall and from here one of  two things could happen.

If they try to swing from this position, the force of their arms swinging will pull them onto their faces if they stay completely relaxed (I doubt this has ever happened). Your natural instinct is to protect you from harm.  If you were to swing like this, you will start internalizing energy to maintain balance, but will lock up your rotation (99% of people only advance their hands and shoulders through the ball in the last 3 frames through impact). This causes you to lose much of your power, because the rest of the body is not free to move through impact, as it is fighting for balance and the body is very weak rotationally. The other option is to somehow create an equal amount of force moving in the opposite direction to allow you to clear your hips and body through the shot. This can come from pulling your hips back and around or snapping your front knee back (see if you can guess which professionals  do that) or other compensatory moves in an effort to stay on plane.

The cure for your aches and pains, including your power and control loss lies in being able to properly balance the forces out between what is pulling you forward and what is pulling you back. The simplest way (which is also easiest on your body) is at the top of your back swing, once you have made a full weight transfer back to your left heel, allow your body to start falling away from the ball. There is a perfect “tipping point” you will reach that allows for free rotation and subsequently a complete release of the club head.  You will also find that the more upright your posture is and the closer you are to the ball, the easier it will be to fall away (the counterfall). Master this move and you will have found the swing key for which you have always been searching!