Golf With Alexander Technique Exercises 

Like archery, or darts, golf is one of those sports in which a relatively small number of movements can be endlessly practiced and improved. In this respect it is an art form, almost a meditation, in addition to being good fun and enjoyed all over the world.

 

Golf is tremendously popular at all levels - from family-fun pitch and putt, to executive bonding, to the highest-earning sportsman in the world.

 

I've written this article for golfers who are encountering problems with their game, whether emotional, physiological or practical.

 

Excellent exercises for golfers are available but what if putting them into practice just doesn’t seem to improve your game as much as you would wish?

 

Lessons in the Alexander Technique can help you to access those exercises and improve your game. You can learn how to ‘feel’ right and enjoy everything coming together the way it should for that all-important ‘hole in one’.

FM Alexander

Frederick Matthias Alexander, 1869–1955, actor, rider and pioneer, found that the great majority of people have residual patterns of unidentified tension held throughout their muscular system. This tension creates pressure in the body – pressure which is communicated directly to whatever the person is doing, including golf.

 

Alexander was quite famous in his day - everyone who could afford him came for lessons - scientists, authors, doctors and statesmen, actors, athletes, clergymen and nobility, all seeking to improve their ‘use’ of themselves.

 

His pupils included many golfers who came to improve their game and find comfort, co-ordination and conscious control along the way. In fact, he devoted an entire chapter of his book, ‘The Use of the Self’, to the subject of golf, specifically to the problem of keeping one’s eye on the ball!

Alexander Technique lessons can help golfers with...

-   rotational stresses placed on the spine

-   pain in the joints, back, neck, hips and rotator cuff

-   incorrect grip and setup

-   overuse and over-practice

-   over-swinging

-   poor swing mechanics

-   not warming up the muscles properly

-   not keeping your eye on the ball

-   poor tempo

-   hand and finger problems

-   swaying

-   pushing or pulling the ball

 

And much more…

  For a 5% discount on your first lesson, contact me and I will aim to reply within 2 days

Alexander Technique exercises can help golfers...

-     avoid pain and discomfort

-     play in the zone

-     take each shot independently

-     bend with ease rather than tension

-     focus and remain present

-     move in a balanced, coordinated way

-     hit the ball further

-     be comfortable

-     achieve your full potential

-     not react to a situation, but instead remain calm

Alexander Technique exercises for golf

Coiling With Balanced Posture

The golfer's swing is everything. It is a complex movement that can be endlessly studied and honed, resulting in a vast array of competence, from the inexperienced amateur to Tiger Woods.

 

Often golfers will turn back clumsily and then turn through incompletely without coiling properly at all. How can this problem be solved?

 

Golf tuition can help with the angles, movements and positions; your level of fitness is crucial, but an important, often missed, factor is your underlying 'use' of yourself.

 

The Alexander technique helps you to experience your body as one integrated and coordinated system, rather than a collection of parts. It helps you use your body more like a spring. It helps you to achieve your full potential and make the best of what you’ve got.

Lessons are well worth trying as they will probably help your game. Even someone like Rory McIlroy, master of his game, could probably use lessons to feel more relaxed and comfortable!

Lying Semi-supine

Your back supports you in all your activities and only when you lie down is it able to rest and recover. It only takes about ten minutes for the discs to reabsorb fluid from the surrounding tissue and for the deep muscles of the spine to relax. 

 

Your spine regains its normal state and is better able to continue to support you.

 

Alexander technique lessons will usually include ‘semi-supine’ work i.e. lying with the head supported and the knees raised. This is mainly because it makes it much easier to show a person where their patterns of tension are and how to release them. It is also an easy exercise for a person to practise on their own in between lessons.

 

Among other things, resting your back like this for 10 minus before a game of golf is a very good exercise.

Freeing the Neck

Transitioning from one movement to the next, or from one position to the next, in any sport, not just golf, will involve an automatic clenching of the muscles at the back of the neck. This is mostly to do with postural habits and partly to do with reflexes. The result is a compression of the entire back just at the moment when you actually need to be optimally free and flexible.

 

This problem – the relationship between the head, neck and back – is the very first we deal with in Alexander lessons. Showing a person how to maintain a free neck, a head which is poised and a back which is lengthening and widening, is paramount. Only when this ‘primary control’ can operate efficiently will the use of the limbs, the breathing and overall coordination improve.

 

It's impossible to keep your neck free all the time but learning how to achieve it when you strike the golf ball is something an Alexander teacher can help you with.

Picking up the ball with 'monkey'

According to surveys more golfers injure themselves picking up their golf balls than in the swing! 

 

In Alexander lessons we teach the ‘monkey’ position. With golfers we adapt the exercise for picking up the ball, improving the swing and staying grounded. We teach you to free your primary control (head, neck, back relationship) during the entire bending movement; to keep your feet fully on the floor; to look at the ground, sending your knees directly over your feet, bending only at the hips and never at the waist.

 

People adopt this flexed, semi-crouched, springy position in most sports as it is mechanically advantageous. In Alexander lessons you study it thoroughly in order to gain more and more ‘space’, freedom and lightness. A course will show you how to bend with ease for the rest of your life, giving you a clearer view of your body’s natural organisation.

Strong legs, supple joints and a straight back will keep you mobile into extreme old age. 'Monkey' is good for everyone not just golf enthusiasts!

 

For a 5% discount on your first lesson, contact me and I will aim to reply within 2 days

Good Use

The human muscular system has around 750 postural muscles - muscles we can consciously control for balance and movement. The majority of these muscles need to work together, not independently, and as such influence one another. Tension in one part of the system will affect the whole.

 

Most of us have unidentified residual tension in our muscles, which means they are over-contracted, which in turn means that we end up squashing ourselves with the pressure that this creates. Alexander lessons show you how to permanently release this pressure so that you feel lighter and more spacious.

 

It’s easy to imagine the billions of potential combinations of patterns of muscular use in the human body. Given the number of muscles we have and bearing in mind the remote odds of winning the lottery, which only involves 6 numbers, you get the picture! Hence, Alexander lessons can make you infinitely lighter and freer, which is why so many people have lessons as a way of life.

 

Golf is a bit like this too – you can get better for ever and ever, and you will find that even people at the very top of their game will still want to practice and improve. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve a level which satisfies you, either for pleasure or profit; it just means that with the right instruction, in golf and Alexander technique combined, you can get there quicker.

Breathing

During any kind of sport, especially the ones where you have to rush about, integrating the breath is something which naturally occurs, with varying degrees of success. Golf is a bit different, in that you probably exhale as you swing, but the rest of the time your breath may be held in concentration, apprehension or purely from habit.

 

If you hold your breath, your ribcage becomes fixed, your diaphragm can barely move and the whole of your upper body is compromised. This is not a useful state of affairs, as the sport requires total mind and body coordination that is free, efficient and comfortable.

 

Alexander lessons teach people to improve their breathing from the start. When you begin to free up the primary control, or head–neck–back relationship, the resulting absence of muscular pressure allows your breathing to operate as little or as much as it needs to. This brings a certain lightness to your actions, a sense of emotional relaxation and the potential for a better stroke.

Inhibition

Being able to withhold consent to a given stimulus is a skill known as 'Inhibition'. I’m not talking about being able to overcome a reflex response, like flinching when a bee stings you, but about being able to pause for long enough to choose how you want to respond to something that happens in your game.

 

For golfers, it’s very easy to become emotionally challenged if things are going badly, as opposed to treating each shot independently. It’s easy to be put off your game when external circumstances are challenging. It’s easy to rush into a stroke when things don’t feel quite right and you’re badly prepared.

 

In Alexander lessons, we teach Inhibition from the beginning. We go right back to basics in that we focus on the split second when a message leaves your brain to travel down your nerve fibres and activate your muscle spindles. We’re able to show you how to prevent those messages from taking a habitual route which might result in misapplication or tension.

Inhibition is like mindfulness and can be a powerful tool.

Direction

In the sporting world 'Direction' is often known as ‘muscle memory’. It is the skill of being able to picture in your mind the desired outcome, so that your brain remembers how it felt to get it right before, when you made a perfect swing or got a hole in one.

 

Direction is one of the main skills we teach in Alexander lessons. We take you right back to basics, encouraging your brain to create, or rediscover, neural pathways that fundamentally reorganise the way you support yourself in balance and movement, before applying this to more complex activities like playing golf.

 

When you can feel the direction that all your main postural muscles need to be going in before you’ve even taken a swing at the ball, then your golf acquires a new depth of controlled lightness and accuracy.

 

Direction improves your use of yourself, and by extension, your golf, at a fundamental level.

Lessons With Jennifer

I've practised the Alexander technique since I was a teenager and have taught many people over the last twenty-five years, including sportsmen/women.

 

I find it very rewarding helping people enhance their skills. I have first-hand experience of working with golfers – training them to be more comfortable in themselves and to improve their technique.

 

I work in Oxford, Cheltenham, Exeter and on Dartmoor, giving mainly one-to-one tuition, but also taster sessions, group work and introductory talks.

Testimonials

‘I’m a sports’ photographer for world championship golf amongst other things. In the course of my work I have to hold super awkward positions in order to get the best shots. Jennifer has helped me to stay comfortable in spite of this and keep my back pain at bay.’

VL, photographer for Nike

‘Jennifer has helped me improve my game. I would tell my friends about her but at the moment I’m enjoying beating them!’

NG, policeman, Exeter

‘The exercises Jennifer has shown me are very useful. My golf is better as a result. Just have to remember to do my lying down!’

DH, business executive, Exeter

 

‘Studying the Alexander technique gave me back my career.’

Jeff Jullian, PGA golfer

 

‘After working with (my teacher) on the Alexander Technique I know that golfers could greatly benefit by training with (my teacher) and then incorporating the information into their golf swing.’

Mandy Quattlebaum, LPGA Teaching Professional at Chelsea Piers Golf Academy

John Duncan Dunn (1874–1951) was a course designer and teacher of golf. He wrote many magazine articles and several books, including ‘Natural Golf: A book of fundamental instruction’ (1931), which shows the golfer how to develop his own personal style. He was also a great fan of F.M. Alexander, as the following article shows.

 

Reprinted from Golfers Magazine, Vol. 36, No. 3 March, 1920. pp 17–20

 

 

For a 5% discount on your first lesson, contact me and I will aim to reply within 2 days

BA (Hons) 
MSTAT 
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Basic first aid training

Where To Find Me:

The Practice Rooms

The Old Bakehouse

2A South Parade

Oxford

OX2 7JL

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GET IN TOUCH

Jennifer Davy

The Practice Rooms

The Old Bakehouse

2A South Parade

Oxford

OX2 7JL

jenidavy18@gmail.com

Tel: 07866 257033

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