"Hopefully you answered yes"
The quickest and easiest way I can explain what momentum is to you is by asking you to stand up from a chair while thinking about what muscles you feel working to get you upright. Go ahead and do it now. Any chair will work but to really get this you should try from a recliner or a couch.
Next I want you to sit back down and stand up again as slowly as you possibly can while thinking about what muscles you feel working and this time don’t use your hands to push off on your legs.
Did you catch that last part?
“Don’t use your hands to push off on your legs.”
Bet you didn’t even realize you did that the 1st time I asked you to stand up did you?
It’s funny how every time I call somebody out they always respond “I didn’t even realize I was doing that” (using your hands to push off on your legs).
Chances are that you felt completely different muscles working when you got up super slow versus just getting up out of the chair like you normally would. And if that is true, then you my friend are guilty of using momentum (not muscles) to get up and down from your seated positions all day long!
Why does this matter?
Why does it matter how you get up and down from a seated position? It matters because when you use momentum you do NOT use muscles, or at least you don’t use muscles efficiently. Remember that old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it”? Welp, this is a perfect example of that saying becoming a reality.
How many times every day do you get up and down from a seated position?
On the low side it’s at least 20 times every day. Think about it. From getting up and down from a chair, in and out of your car, and up and down from the commode- it’s at least 20 times every day. Likely closer to 40 times every day.
And because we don’t really think about using muscles versus momentum, doing this every single day, our strong leg muscles start to become weaker. That is the beginning of the end my friends. To be as explicitly clear and to the point as possible, this is what will lead to you dying in a chair.
Seriously, I mean that. I watched this exact thing happen to my own grandmother before I knew any of this muscles vs momentum stuff. Let’s think about this for a minute. As we age, are we more inclined to do things that are physically strenuous or less inclined? In general, 99.9% of people are LESS inclined to do things that are physically strenuous the older they get.
Getting back to those muscles in your legs and not using them... there have been multiple studies looking at MRI pictures of thigh muscles and how the actual circumference of your thigh doesn’t change as much as the composition of your muscle mass itself. As you age and don’t use your thigh muscles (strenuously as in exercising), the muscles actually become infiltrated with fat tissue resulting in less overall muscle mass. It should go without saying, the less muscle mass you have, the weaker you will be.
And to bring things full circle, if you are weaker...
Hopefully you are now starting to get the picture. This is exactly what happened to my grandmother. She literally died in her recliner because she had gained weight (from not being active) and lost muscle mass (from using momentum over the years) so she literally could not get out of her recliner without help.
I’m telling you all of this about getting up and down from a chair and how my grandmother passed because I really want you to see and feel the difference between using muscles versus momentum. It’s extremely important to understand this concept because it is killing you and your golf game.
Now let's switch gears back to the golf swing. I’m going to ask you to remember this saying “The slower you go, the farther it’ll go.” This saying is by far the most important and beneficial saying you can possibly remember on the golf course after the age of 60.
Remember that test we did earlier testing how you get up from a seated position?
Now let’s apply that concept to the golf swing. By now you should have a slow motion video of your golf swing and a screenshot of the exact moment at the transition from your backswing to your downswing. It’s going to be the same guidelines for this test- go into your backswing as slow as you can, attempting to not stop until you reach the same exact position seen in your screenshot. Once you get there, pause and have somebody take your picture.
Now let's compare the two pictures. Do they look the same? If you are over 60 years old and your two pictures do look identical, congratulations! You are literally the first person I’ve ever heard of to be able to accomplish this feat!
However, if you are like the rest of every single 60+ year old I’ve ever worked with, your second picture will not be as far into the backswing as the screenshot of your real time swing in slow motion. This is concrete objective evidence that you are in fact using momentum and not muscles during the most important time of the golf swing! I can honestly say that 100% of every single golfer that I’ve ever worked with over the age of 60 years old is guilty of this before going through the Berman Method for golf performance. And out of all the hundreds of golfers that I’ve worked with in Naples, 99% of them are over the age of 60!
My opinion on the difference between elite athletes and olympic caliber athletes is that olympic caliber athletes can hold every single position that their sport requires STATICALLY (this will be important to remember later!). Elite athletes are able to perform at very high levels due to innate athleticism however their bodies will break down when being asked to give “just a little bit more” because they are (at a significantly smaller level than us mere mortals) using momentum at certain moments during said sport. Olympic athletes are using muscles 100% of the time, every time.
Back to the golf swing
The majority of power is lost OR retained during the transition from your backswing to your downswing. Over the years I have developed very simple, specific, and reproducible techniques that test muscle activation at your address position, middle and end of your backswing, beginning of the downswing, and at impact. These techniques give me and you the client objective data that is scientifically proven with no room for error. Your big power muscles are either working or they’re not. It’s that simple. No arguing or interpretation. Just simple objective data that allows us to immediately make adjustments resulting in more power!
What I’ve found over the years is that on average, golfers over the age of 60 lose their big power muscle activation during the last 33% of the backswing and the first 50% of their downswing! That’s insane right?!
So if we know that the club is moving because we can see and feel it moving through that 33-50% range noted above but “we ain’t usin’ no power muscles'' to move it, what is actually moving the club?
Sure you are using some muscles in addition to momentum but momentum is the driving force.
You are using momentum to move the club! And momentum is not your friend in the golf game after the age of 60. Why? Well a quick Google search for how momentum is generated will confirm that....
Momentum = Mass x Velocity.
I’m sure we can all agree that 99% of aging golfers “progress” to swinging lighter clubs, not heavier clubs right?
That means that your mass in this equation is decreasing. And I’m also pretty sure that we can all agree that the aging golfer gradually swings slower than they did at younger ages right? Well that means that the velocity in the equation is also decreasing. You don’t have to be a math major to now see that if two smaller numbers are multiplied together (Mass x Velocity) you will get a smaller result/answer (Momentum).
Power on the other hand is what we do want to use to swing the golf club after the age of 60 (and at any age really). Increasing power during the golf swing will directly and immediately, positively affect your ball flight distance. Power is super simple (but sometimes not easy!) to increase because power is generated by your muscles.
Another quick Google search of the equation for Power will confirm it is the result of Work (muscles) divided by Time. Again for all my non-math majors out there, there are only 2 ways to increase Power. You either have to increase the amount of Work (muscles) or decrease the amount of Time the Work is being performed. Time literally translates to the amount of time it takes to complete the golf swing.
Since we already established earlier that golfers over the age of 60 swing slower, it is highly unlikely that we will be decreasing the total amount of time it takes to perform the golf swing. Does that make sense? So the only realistic option for golfers over the age of 60 to increase their power is to increase the amount of work being done AKA increase the amount of muscles being used!
Now let’s use an explicit example of a golfer on the PGA Tour that I’m predicting will be the oldest competitive golfer on the PGA Tour... Hideki Matsuyama! I’ve now gone on record multiple times on multiple platforms with this prediction so it will be really interesting to see how it all plays out 25 years from the time of this writing.
At the time of this writing Phil Mickelson just made history as the oldest person to win a major on the PGA Tour at 50 years old (the same year that Hideki was 29 years old and won the Masters!) The reason why I’m predicting this about Hideki is because he physically pauses at the top of his back swing.
Remember that test I asked you to do earlier by comparing the screenshot of your real time swing and the snapshot of you slowly going into your backswing and stopping at the top? Well Hideki’s two pictures will look exactly the same!
Is Hideki using muscles or momentum to stop his backswing, pause at the top for a moment, and then initiate his downswing?
You BETTER have answered muscles! It is physically impossible for him to not be using muscles to pause at the top of his backswing while fighting gravity. Get it?
Now to come back full circle to that saying I asked you to remember earlier “the slower you go, the farther it’ll go.” What I mean is that the slower you go into your backswing, the more muscles you’ll keep engaged. The more muscles you keep engaged, the more Power you’ll be generating. And by simple math, the more Power you generate, the farther it’ll (the ball) go!
Immediately actionable tips
Try saying your first and middle name
Try saying your first and middle name through your backswing and last name through your downswing. Unless you have an unusually unique name, this technique should help your tempo tremendously! The better your tempo is, the more likely it is that you’ll be using muscles and not momentum. This is one of my favorite tips to give my Naples golfers, especially the ones who are struggling with back pain.
muscles and not momentum
If you want to add more life to your years versus more years to your life (read that again), I highly recommend using muscles and not momentum at least 90% of the time you get up and down from a seated position. One way to do this is by thinking about pushing your feet through the ground opposed to thinking about standing up. Simply switching thought processes usually triggers your brain to activate your power muscles opposed to momentum. If you use muscles 90% of the time getting up and down from a seated position, it is highly unlikely that you’ll ever run into a time that you can no longer do said task, which further decreases your chances of dying in a chair!
The next thing I’ll be covering is balance and how crucial it is for the golf swing (and life!). Balance is another one of those funny things like posture that nearly everyone agrees is very important for the golf swing but very few people actually do anything to improve...
How to Transform Your Golf Game
...and hit the ball like a champion