There have been quite a few people that have come for a lesson and say, “If I could just get rid of my baseball swing, then all my problems would be solved!” My initial thought is always, I wish you had a baseball swing, because it would help you play better golf.
While golf and baseball have many differences, there are some important similarities when it comes to swinging the baseball bat and the golf club.
Most people don’t realize that baseball and golf swings are essentially the same, they’re just on different planes. A baseball bat is swung on a very “flat” plane because the ball is in the air, and a golf club is swung on a more tilted plane because the ball is on the ground. Regardless of where the ball is, both swings demand a similar sequence of events to ensure solid contact.
In baseball, before you swing the bat forward and hit the ball, you have to get all your momentum on your back leg, you shift your weight onto your back leg before the pitcher throws. Once the ball is on its way, you move that weight and momentum forward into the ball.
In the golf swing, this same process is accomplished with the backswing then you are now ready to come forward with your club and hit the ball.
Most golfers have serious problems with proper athletic sequencing, the ability to start the forward motion of the golf swing from the ground. Most people start the forward motion of the golf swing from the “top”, their hands.
In a baseball swing, at the top of the backswing your upper body is still moving backwards for a short period as the lower body is moving forward. This sets the bat in a “lagging” position where the bat trails the forward motion and power is stored in the hands and wrists waiting to where it is needed most, at impact. In the golf swing this ability is the single greatest separation of the “haves” and “have-nots” when it comes to striking the golf ball well.
In order to feel this motion I do get people to swing the golf club like a baseball bat. I have students hold the golf club like a baseball bat and wait for a pitch, at which point I will lob an imaginary ball toward them and have them swing. What usually happens at this point is that the student will lift the lead foot and step forward before swinging the club forward.
This “step” is the biggest difference between the baseball swing and a golf swing. In baseball you lift and step into the lead leg shifting the weight to that foot. In golf you need to be able to push off the back foot and transfer weight to the front foot sliding the hips forward and left (for the right handed golfer) without the head moving forward.
So in baseball you will transfer your weight from your back leg to your front leg to get your swing started. As the pitch comes toward home plate, you must time the ball so your momentum is moving forward as you make contact with the ball. This will allow you to hit the ball hard. If your weight comes forward and your timing is poor, it will likely be a soft groundball or a pop up. In golf, you want to rotate your hips to and through the ball and then follow with your hands. If you swing with just your hands or fail or your timing is off, you will not be able to hit the ball hard and you will lose accuracy.
The follow through in baseball is essential for getting maximum distance from your swing. If you don’t finish your swing, you won’t generate as much bat head speed at impact with the ball. In golf, the failure to finish the swing will not only mean a loss of distance it will also mean a lack of accuracy as you will likely push the ball off to the side. Finish your baseball swing and your golf swing by getting a maximum hip turn and keeping your eye on the ball.
So if you are a baseball/softball player looking at improving your golf game, make baseball swings with a golf club at chest height to feel the proper sequence of motion. When that feels comfortable tilt your hips forward and change the swing plane to knee height. When that feels comfortable tilt your hips forward yet again and change the swing plane to ground height. You are now making correct sequence of motion golf/baseball swings!
By: Todd Keirstead
For anyone interested in contacting Todd for private golf lessons or corporate outings email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
To see Todd performing this tip, click on the link below!