Steady Head – Balance, Vestibular System, Jack Nicklaus

Steady Head
Since the creation of the game, and even to this day, there has been much debate about whether the head should stay steady and centered during the golf swing.  The message and concept of having a steady head was emphasized in the book I authored, Purestrike – The 5 Simple Keys to Consistency, though it was not a novel idea or concept but one that was mentioned by many of the greats in the game.  Those greats included Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Tom Watson.  Just like the old E.F. Hutton commercials, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen”, I to listen when these greats speak.

But there is more to the Steady Head besides just listening to the greats.

What is a Steady Head?
A Steady Head is a head that stays centered between the feet from address until at least follow-through.  For reference, follow-through is when the club is pointed at a 45 degree angle to the ground after Impact – and it’s the only time during the swing when both arms are straight.   During the swing, your head is a steady center under which the body can rotate.  Only after follow-through should your head begin rotating around until you’re facing the target.

Why do I need a Steady Head?
There are several reasons why a golfer should strive for a Steady Head, but today, we will address the concept that all athletes strive to have: Balance.  The Steady Head contributes to your overall balance — keeping you centered over the ball and not inclined to “tip” in any direction.

Imagine a camera tripod, but with a 16-pound bowling ball on top instead of a camera. If you remove or bend one of the three legs, the bowling ball will fall to the ground. Likewise, if the bowling ball drifts too far from the exact center of the three legs, it will no longer be balanced and will fall. Though golfers have only two legs and a tripod has three, moving the head — just like moving the bowling ball — causes imbalance and inconsistency.

Balance – The Vestibular System
The vestibular system is a sensory system. It is a main contributor for your sense of balance and spatial orientation, allowing coordinated movement with balance to be achieved. The vestibular system, which is located in the head, contributes to sensing the position of the head in relation to the ground and the direction of head movement in space. It sends signals primarily to the neural structures that control eye movements and to the muscles that keep us upright. Head position is also a key aspect of posture. You can quickly see that the Steady Head, given how it is tied to and contributes to Balance, is an important concept in the golf swing.

What happens if I don’t have a Steady Head?
Disruption of the Steady Head leads to highly inconsistent contact.  A Steady Head will provide you with improved balance and will give you a much better chance of striking the ball more consistently on the clubface and specifically the sweetspot.

How do I achieve a Steady Head?
A Steady Head is achieved by an overall coordinated movement pattern that begins at how we connect to the ground since we are bipedal (having two feet).   This interaction with the ground starts with our feet and goes up the chain to the knees and hips

What’s the bottom line?
So, the message here is to focus on a steady head that remains centered between the feet during the entire swing.  Being able to totally control your Pivot – in this case, being able to keep your head steady – is absolutely necessary for great golf.

As you work on keeping a Steady Head, remember that all progress is good progress. A head that moves 2 inches during the swing is better than one that moves 4 inches — though a head that moves zero inches is best.  Keep working incrementally to eliminate excessive head movement until there is a head that is steady.

Our Approach

Golfers who follow our simplistic approach to teaching and learning this Key will learn and experience:
The Head is the center of rotation
Improved balance
Reduced bobbing and swaying
Reduced fat and thin shots
Reduced heel and toe shots
Improved impact alignments
Consistent ball position

Simple cues that will have you:
Achieving this Key
At setup
Throughout your swing

Drills to assure:
The correct application
Create your own feel
Continued maintenance
Continued improvement
Developing the correct habit

**Special thank to my friend Michael Manavian for providing the pro and amateur golf graphic.  The graphics depict a small sample study of golfers who exhibit a steady head vs those who move ahead and behind measured in 3D.