PGA Championship

Southern Hills CC


Instruction

Fighting Shape

How Tiger Woods adapted to his body is a lesson for the rest of us

JD Cuban

Tiger Woods was remarkably candid Friday about the limitations in his surgically repaired leg, and how he needed to use more twist in his already fragile back to produce more "ballistic" speed. Of course, he also has a squadron of trainers, therapists, doctors and assorted experts to get him moving as efficiently as possible.

Maybe you don't have a team, but you can take some of what he's doing and more successfully fight off age and injury, says top Illinois teacher Rick Silva. "Even a few subtle changes in your posture at address can have a big impact on making your swing 'cleaner' in terms of the stress it puts on your body," says Silva, who runs Movement 3 Golf outside Chicago. "Tiger's posture has more of his major body parts—the torso and the pelvis—aligned over themselves, and he's sitting down into his hip joints more, which lets him get glide from that joint vs. his spine. And he's lifting the club more instead of pulling it behind him so much on the backswing—which is less jarring on his body."

How can you get some? "Get in your normal setup, jump straight into the air and stick your landing. After two or three tries, you'll find your body will organize itself into a more improved, balanced setup," says Silva. "From that new setup posture, grab a basketball or light workout ball and lift it with your arms straight up until they're about 90 degrees relative to your spine. Now do the same lift as you rotate the ball into your backswing. This move is training you to get an ideal amount of arm lift in your swing."

Is being able to push fully off the ground and use lots of turn the ultimate way to produce lots of speed? Sure, but you have these additional tricks and levers at your disposal. "What's always been great about Tiger is his willingness to examine his swing critically and make adjustments he thinks are necessary to play better," says Silva. "He understands that it isn't a static thing that stays exactly the same no matter your age or speed capability. Bodies change, and swings need to, too."