This NBA-inspired swing lesson can help you add length off the tee

Looking to add some length off the tee? Start with this two-pronged swing lesson taken straight from the hardwood of the NBA.

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The NBA’s slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend is a feast for the eyes: the sport’s freakiest athletes and top showmen soaring to dizzying heights and throwing down jams with eye-popping force. Fun to watch. Also, good for your game if you’re a golfer looking to add distance.

Let me explain.

With the help of GOLFTEC’s new OptiMotion swing-analysis system, we’ve been able to study millions of players with an eye toward nailing down the moves shared by golf ’s longest hitters. As it turns out, the answer to golf ’s hottest riddle can be found as easily in your next pickup game as it can in a hitting bay.

The lesson is simple: If you’d like to hit the ball farther, you need to increase the size of your swing. Big hitters (and by that I mean the 100 longest drivers on the PGA Tour) do it by fully extending their lead arm as the shaft nears parallel to the ground in the downswing, then bending their hips and shoulder back (away from the target) when the shaft again reaches parallel to the ground in the follow through.

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Getting back to the NBA, this second move is what you see during a dunk contest. Extending the lead arm and bending the torso back produces a thunderous slam. In golf, it’s proven to add clubhead speed, shallow your angle of attack and help you maintain an inside-out path — all keys for max power. Most of the lessons I teach start with these two moves and help the student nail them at just the right time, but you don’t need to see me at GOLFTEC headquarters to learn them. Practice these moves at home. You don’t even need a club.

Make a mock downswing and when your arms reach parallel to the ground just before impact, start bending yourself back, straightening your lead arm as you continue into your follow-through. Then, when your arms are level to the ground in the follow-through, throw on the brakes. From this position, ask yourself a series of questions: Is my lead elbow extended? Are my shoulders back? Are my legs straight?

If your answer to even one of these questions isn’t a definitive “yes,” start over and repeat the exercise. Once you’ve got the movements down, start hitting 50-yard “chips” with your driver using the same feelings. Eventually, your goal is to make a full swing while keeping your body extended. Once you have it down, you’ll see your swing speed (and distance) take a massive step forward.

So, what’s the lesson here? Before you start swinging at breakneck speed just for speed’s sake, work on the moves proven to produce legitimate power. And for inspiration, watch some of the classic NBA dunk contests on YouTube. Just like golf ’s longest drivers, the top dunkers extend and then bend back. You’ll have your foursome jumping out of their seats.

Nick Clearwater is based at GOLFTEC’s headquarters in Denver, Colo

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