Having experienced centred strike, aligned force and shaft lean, now we need to add plane. The necessity to swing the club broadly at the angle it is designed to be used.
There are a few theories about swing plane, but at the heart of the philosophy of a self-organised swing is the notion of getting the job done. This focuses our attention on how the club behaves through the impact zone, and leaves us with freedom to discover how you get there best, earlier in the swing.
The practice aid in the image above is called a plane board. It is important to note this simply represents an impact zone plane, and is not prescribing plane anywhere else in the swing, like the backswing. The plane board can be set anywhere between the lie angle of the club and a few degrees steeper depending on your goals.
Whatever the preference, it is rare that we get to experience what perfect adherence to your desired plane feels like. With no room for ambiguity about whether the club is on task or not, we can really trust the feels we get from our body when we use it.
The sequence I like to follow is, take your address, squeeze into an impact position (with the shaft lean drawn out by the pole) then scrape back and through along the length of the board. Whilst it looks a totally logical way to deliver the club (as it matches the lie angle) for many golfers it might feel unfamiliar. If it does, it tells you something about your current plane.
The most common tendency is for the handle to get much higher through impact, and you might notice that the top end of the shaft is wanting to come off the board.
However, by working the club from delivery (the beginning of the board or P6) to exit (the end of the board or P8) you experience the 3-dimensionality of the swing. If you feel your body move slightly differently to achieve this, these could be valuable feels that will inform your swing going forwards.
Chicken or egg?
A swing fault that attracts a few 100,000 youtube tips in itself, is early extension and standing up through impact - this usually results in the handle arriving above plane. Most of the tips work on the principle of "tell body what to do, club will hopefully follow". However, the plane board naturally promotes staying in posture. Good, appropriate movement comes "for free".
The golfer moves the club in a way that is indisputably on-task i.e. it would result in hitting your intended shot.
The golfer's body organises itself to make this happen.
Golfer learns a new feel as a by-product
It's one of many examples I will share of how task-led learning, guarantees effectiveness and reduces the need for explicit instruction. All very good things if you wish to accelerate and retain learning.
Learning how to move the club through the impact zone as above, is great for providing your instincts a juicy goal to reach for.
However no rehearsals are truly complete if they are too passive, and aren't also applying force.
One of the reasons golfers generally display superior technique when rehearsing baseball swings (on a horizontal plane), is that the required direction and plane of force is much more obvious. Just like chopping a tree.
However, put a 9 iron in your hands, a bit of pelvic tilt and a 63 deg lie angle, and we have fewer comparable experiences and motor patterns to draw on.
The solve this problem, I introduce resistance to the shaft on the plane board for the golfer to work against. In doing so the golfer self organises to produce on-plane force.
It's amazing how almost immediately the pivot improves because the question its being asked is better, more complete.
Face to plane
This is a small video to help your task clarity around the clubface, and how by understanding its relationship with plane will focus your efforts further.