This article presents five reasons why the Alexander Technique can make you a better golfer. There are also five accompanying tips. For over 100 years, the Alexander Technique has helped athletes to be more athletic by giving you the tools to take the greatest advantage of your strength and power.
By improving stability and movement mechanics, it can also help you avoid injury, especially back injury. Most importantly, the Alexander Technique offers a feeling of lightness and ease that is its hallmark. Of course you can’t learn the Alexander Technique just from reading an article, but I hope this article will give you the information you need to decide to take a course of lessons.
1. Enhance Your Athleticism
Athleticism can be described as a spring-like quality within the body and the Alexander Technique helps you enhance that quality within yourself. Golf instruction often includes angles, movements and positions. These instructions are important, but there must be an underlying athleticism in order for you to reach your potential. The Alexander Technique helps you experience your body as one integrated and coordinated system, rather than a collection of parts. If you feel like some kind of erector set on the golf course, the Alexander Technique can help you feel more like your whole body is a spring.
Stand up and imagine your body as an archer’s bow, oriented as if you are facing the bowstring. Stand straight up, not in a curved position. The bow is a spring and it always wants to expand against the string. Now imagine that someone is pulling the string, causing you to bend. The result may be bending, but in your imagination you are resisting the string and trying to go up. In reality, the string is gravity and we always go up against it, no matter how much we bend. Athletes often seem springy because we are springs.
2. Feel More Grounded, and Generate Greater Leg Power
A clear and stable connection to the ground is essential for a powerful swing. The Alexander Technique helps you establish that connection, not only for golf, but for every step you take. From the approach to the back swing, there should never be a question that your power comes from your connection to the ground. The Alexander Technique shows you how.
Improving balance on one leg can help you feel more grounded on two legs. The following exercise may help you realize that your balance is better than you think. Stand up and point one finger high in the air as if you are reaching. Continuing to point your finger, lift your opposite knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground (or as close to that as you can), while also allowing your foot to hang directly under your raised knee. Try to make the tip of your finger and the bottom of your standing foot be as far away from each other as you can. Does the dynamic relationship between your finger pointing up and your foot going down help you to maintain your balance?
3. Develop a Tension Free Neck
Excess neck tension is ubiquitous. If you have ever had a stiff neck, you know how much it inhibits movement in your whole body. A free and supple neck is key to easy movement in the rest of the body. The Alexander Technique teaches you how to avoid tension in your neck during all activities, especially athletic activities.
Lie face up on a carpet with your head on a soft cover book. The book should be thick enough so that your face is parallel to the floor. Place your feet flat on the ground so that your knees point toward the ceiling. With your mind’s eye, picture the very top of your spine, a point about the level of your ears and higher than the roof of your mouth. This is the joint where your head and spine meet. To experience more freedom in your neck, think of allowing this joint to soften so that the top of your spine almost seems to fall away from your head.
4. Increase Arm Speed and Reach
Many golfers pull their arms toward their body as they swing. The Alexander Technique helps you discover clarity and freedom in all of your joints. Alexander lessons give you a clear understanding of the difference between your torso and your arms, allowing fuller extension as you swing with ease and power.
Going back to the previous tip, lying down with your head on the book and your feet flat on the floor, gently alternate lifting your arms, each time imagining that it float up effortlessly. As you do this, with your mind’s eye, look for the difference between your arms and your torso. Notice that your torso stays on the floor as your arms go forward and look for where your arms connect to your shoulders.
5. Pick Up Your Ball with Ease
It is said that more golfers injure themselves picking up their golf balls than in the swing. By giving you a clearer view of your body’s natural organization, a course of Alexander lessons will allow you to bend with ease for the rest of your life.
During the entire bending movement, keep your feet fully on the floor as if you are standing straight, look at the ground, send your knees directly over your feet, and bend only at the hips and never at the waist.
Learning enough about the Alexander Technique to help your golf game generally requires at least 10 private lessons, but you can begin by taking just one introductory lesson. I encourage you to look for a teacher in your area.
By Leland Vall
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