Good Looking Practice Swing and Bad Looking Real Swing. Why?

A few days ago, I received an email from someone asking a question. I told him I would give him the answer in this tip. So, here it is:


Why is it that practice swings feel so good, but once you get over that ball to hit the shot things start to change rapidly? I mean I can make some great practice swings that just feel like I’m hitting every position pretty well, but then hit a bad shot. Why is that?


Let’s start off by analyzing the email. The first thing he says is that the “practice swings feel so good.” This is pretty typical. Most people feel pretty good when they make a practice swing.

So why do practice swings feel so good? Well, think about a practice swing for a second. The main difference between a practice swing, and a real swing, is the fact that there is no ball there. Because there is no ball, you are not trying to hit anything. If you’re not trying to hit anything, your club is allowed to swing through the impact area freely.

Think of it this way. In a golf swing, you take the club to the top of the backswing, which is “Point A” to your swing. Then, you swing it through to “Point B,” which is your follow through. If there is no ball sitting in front of you, you’re able to swing from Point A to Point B without anything getting in the way.

The average player is trying to hit the ball. In doing so, it means that the average player is making the ball Point B to their swing. If the ball was Point B, it means your club would stop at the ball. We all know that the club goes beyond the ball after it is hit, so this means that the ball cannot be Point B to your swing and you cannot be thinking about hitting it. So where is Point B?

The proper Point B to your swing is the follow through position. Now, it’s not just any old follow through position. It is a very precise ending point that you can repeat each time without falling out of balance. If you were to just swing through to any old place, you would hit the ball better than just thinking of hitting it but you would not be getting to a consistent Point B each time which means you would not have a consistent swing. So, start putting your importance on the follow through as opposed to impact.

Hitting the Ball Makes Your Golf Swing Longer

Another line in the question said, “ once you get over that ball to hit the shot.” This line is again saying that he’s thinking of hitting the ball. If you are trying to hit something are you going to try to hit the ball hard or are you going to hit the ball easy? Of course you’re going to try to hit the ball hard!

When you try to hit the ball hard, your brain is saying that the farther you take the club back, the farther the ball is going to go. This thought process causes you to take a longer backswing than your practice swing. Remember, in a practice swing there’s no ball so why would you take a really long backswing?

In order to cure this, you have to come to the realization that a longer swing does not equate to longer shots. If it did, every Tour Player would have a really long backswing. As you have probably seen, most pros only take the club to around parallel with the driver and short of parallel with irons and they sure hit the ball a lot farther than you. So, maybe there is something to this shorter backswing thing. Give it a try!

Lack of Confidence

In another part of his question he says, “I mean I can make some great practice swings that just feel like I’m hitting every position pretty well.” This statement is telling me that he is not confident in the positioning. If he were, he would be saying that he feels like he “knows” he is hitting the positions or he has the positions “mastered.” Instead, he says the words “pretty well.”

Now, pretty well is certainly better that not well, poor, no clue, wrong etc. but to a pro, pretty well would be pretty bad. I’m not saying everyone should aspire to be a pro, but pros do have the right fundamentals. So, a better understanding of his positions and how they relate to the positions of a pro would be a good idea.

How Do You Make Your Practice Swing Your Real Swing?

1. Find out if you really want your real swing to look like your practice swing. You may think that your practice swing is good when really it’s not. So, your best bet would be to have an experienced pro go over it with you and make sure you really want that swing.

2. Quit trying to hit the ball so hard. As much as I tell people this, they insist on trying to hammer it as hard as they can. Remember, hitting hard can lead you to having a longer backswing than your practice swing. If you aren’t trying to hit something hard, why would you take a really long backswing?

3. Hold your finish position a little longer. This means that the next time you go to play, hit your shot and hold your finish. While you’re holding it, check it in your mind. The idea here is to do your practice swing when you make a real swing. If you just hit your shots and don’t care about your finish how are you going to replicate this position? A good way to remember it is to hit your shot and hold your finish for at least 3 seconds. This will give you enough time to check your positioning and you will start to actually care about your finish position.

4. Video your golf swing. In today’s day and age the majority of people have a video camera. If you don’t then check your phone. Phones these days shoot short video clips. If your phone doesn’t, then ask one of your playing partners if their’s does. Also, digital still cameras shoot video now as well. If you have a digital still camera at home then check it out. I guarantee it will capture video.

Once you have access to a camera, have someone shoot your practice swing then shoot your real swing and compare the two. Look at where your club ends up and where your body ends up. Then, pick out one thing and work on it. Don’t look at the whole swing. If you do, it will become a blur. By picking one thing, you can actually make the change. Once you feel you’ve got it, film your real swing again to see if, in fact, you do. If you do, pick out something else to work on until you are happy with it. Pretty soon, your real swing will start looking like your practice swing.

6. Do practice swings at home and study the positions. Use a mirror to check them. Take out some golf magazines and lay them at your feet and compare your swing to various pros swings.

Watch golf on TV. The next time golf is on, watch the positions they end up in. Watch how they make the same swing each week. This tells you that they are making a consistent movement. This also tells you that you should be doing what they are doing.

While you’re watching golf on TV, try to record some of their swings. Then, take out the video you shot of your swing(s) and compare it to their swings in a freeze frame. If you do, you will quickly see how much work you have to do.

Okay, that’s about it for making your practice swing look like your real swing. Most people do actually have a half decent practice swing so learning how to do this swing with a ball in front of you will bring you one step closer.

Until next time,

Paul Wilson
Creator – Swing Machine Golf

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