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Baseball Swing vs Golf Swing

Switching from a baseball swing to a golf swing isn’t easy. But there are key items to focus on to help you abandon some baseball habits that don’t translate well to a golf swing.
Baseball Swing vs Golf Swing

Baseball season must be over because I had a handful of recent and former college baseball players wanting to get into the game of golf. Their initial belief is that it’s an easy transition since they are already professional-level athletes (swingers) and also because… the ball doesn’t move!! 

A golf ball is not moving at almost 90 mph, it’s not breaking from 12 to 6 in the middle of your swing, there is no off-speed junk to adjust to. But they quickly learn it’s more difficult than they imagined! I learned from past students that the transition from baseball to golf is much more difficult than a student that never played either sport before.

All of my former baseball-playing students were using a golf swing that was a variation of their baseball swing since that is how they were trained to swing throughout most of their lives playing baseball since T-ball. The biggest challenge for them in their transition from baseball to golf is the need to use something else in their golf swing other than just their arms.

From what I learned from them, they were taught to do two things well in their baseball swing, twist their hips quickly and use their arms to swing the bat to make contact. 
But there are other factors under consideration in regards to differences between a baseball swing and a good golf swing.

Differences Between a Baseball Swing and a Golf Swing

  • The golf swing has a backswing so let’s take advantage of it by creating tempo and rhythm in both back and down swing. 
  • The golf club has a flexible shaft so we need to allow the club to flex and bend during the swing
  • The hips rotate back and forward but your lower body also needs to rotate so it takes time to transfer the weight properly.
  • We want our arms and hands to stay looser so we can use our shoulders and upper body to help create a coil to get our lower body to react as well.
  • You want to feel closer to the ball at set-up and feel even closer with your arms close to your body at impact. I told them that it’s like they want to pull the ball over third base every time you make contact.

Drills to help Transition from Baseball Swing to a Golf Swing

Here are a few drills I gave them to stop using their arms to hit the golf ball and to slow down their hips in the downswing. After the second lesson, they were starting to transition into a slower swing which means they are allowing the clubhead to create momentum and letting the shaft to flex and create lag.

Momentum

They need a guide to allow their entire body to rotate with the club. I had them swing the Orange Whip (training aid) which is a very flexible shaft with a heavy ball at the end. This aid makes them realize that you can not swing fast by using the arms or hands. You have to allow the orange ball to create speed and allow it to swing around your body without assisting it.  

If you don’t have this training aid, you can use an iron and loosen up your grip pressure so you can feel the weight of the clubhead. Let the clubhead swing back and forth using your lower body to follow the weight. This is a good drill to feel your lower body support the clubhead and to stop using the arms and hands.

Slow Transition

In baseball, you need to be quick with your swing because the ball is moving towards you at a fast rate of speed. Luckily, the golf ball just sits there on the ground or on a tee. I had my students feel that they don’t need to hit the ball out of the ball park or they would hit it off the golf course which is a bad thing in this sport. 

I explain to them that even if it doesn’t feel like they are creating power and speed from the top of their backswing transitioning to the downswing, they will allow the club shaft to bend the proper way and will create the speed at impact with the golf ball. 

We need to slow down their swing on the way down. I made them feel like their hands are coming down in slow-motion when starting the downswing or may feel like your hands dropped in position a tiny bit. It made them feel like nothing was moving on the way down. 

This is exactly what I want them to feel as I showed them on video that their lower body was moving and moving in a slower manner which means that their lower body is starting to rotate with the club instead of twisting their hips quickly like in baseball. 

Since they have a slower start from the beginning, they now feel acceleration through impact and their body guiding the club down. 

Feel your Lower body in Quicksand

Slowing down the hips made my students use their legs, knees and feet more in the downswing so it creates lag as the clubhead will catch up and create the proper timing to maximize power. 

First we have to have a good hip turn in the golf backswing. Make sure the back leg feels solid as your lead hip turns into your back hip. This will create an angle in the hips and the feeling that you’re able to use your lower body force to begin your downswing.

From this point, if you feel your hands in slower on the way down, you will feel that your lower body is barely moving like you are trying to fight from moving too fast. This will consciously make you direct weight forward through your thighs, knees, and into your feet.  

This move will take some patience because you’re not in a rush to hit the ball.  You’re just working on a slower move which in the long run will create faster clubhead speed at impact which is the goal. Don’t forget, the golf club shaft bends, a baseball bat doesn’t so the transition into hitting the ball is different.

1-2 Then Hit Drill

This drill goes against the baseball swing instinctively as it adds extra moves when swinging. I have my students put their feet a bit closer together when starting off.  I then have them swing the club back to make sure they feel that they transferred weight to the back leg “1.”

Then they will begin “2” by stepping forward with the lead leg and placing it the same distance as they would in their regular stance.  Now as they are about to plant the lead foot, that is the time when the hands will start coming down with the club.  

As they are transferring all the weight forward to the lead side, the club will lag behind and feel the club release through impact. That is when you should feel the “Hit.”

This drill breaks the swing down in parts so that my students don’t feel rushed to hit the ball but to understand and feel the body and weight going forward first before the hands and club.

Summary

While it can be difficult to transition from a baseball swing to a golf swing, there are specific things to address to adapt your swing more quickly. I hope this post helps highlight what those items are and how you can root out any habits from the baseball swing that don’t translate well to a golf swing.

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V Tongwarin

V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.