Pulling for Tiger to Win the 2012 British Open

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Tiger Woods at Bay Hill
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Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of all time, has battled injuries and pain his entire career.  “Most people don’t know this Zig but Tiger’s back hurts every day,” Charles Barkley once said to me about Tiger in 2005 on a call as he invited me to meet him and Tiger for drinks at a Scottsdale nightclub.

Because Tiger failed to treat the root cause of his issues, less than 3 years later his career was in jeopardy after undergoing his third knee surgery. Tiger tore the anterior cruciate ligament in 2008 while winning the US Open at Torrey Pines.  Tiger showedd signs that his body was breaking down from compensating for the root cause of his injuries.  Tiger experienced  pain and suffered injuries to his Achilles tendon, left knee, right knee, lower back, and upper back.

As a result of Tiger’s injuries, his swing suffered.  Tiger’s “expert” swing coaches constantly tweaked his swing to fix his golf issues as he struggled on the course from 2009 to early in this year’s 2012 season. In my opinion, those coaches needed to focus on suggesting Tiger fix his slumping fitness level and fully recover from chronic injuries.

Unfortunately, the latter was not likely to happen because none of the experts surrounding Tiger seemed to be aware of the need to aggressively focus on the physical limitations and compensation affecting his swing. Sure, like many other world class athletes, Tiger is perceived to have the best swing coach and one of the top medical teams (fitness, physical and massage therapists, chiropractors, etc.) who all may want to say they helped Tiger become number 1 or get back on top of his game.   In reality, Tiger makes his coaches look good not the other way around.  Working with Tiger or other high profile athletes does not make them the best.

Tiger is the one on the course and doing the exercises.  And it is his work ethic that allowed or allows him, from the start of his career, to overcome chronic compensations for his pain and injuries. In addition, Tiger has been so much better than everyone else during his career “talent-wise”, that a 50% healthy Tiger  was typically better than 75% of his competition.   As I write this Tiger is preparing to tee off in his third major of the year, the 2012 British Open.

Based upon his efforts to date, Tiger’s body (not his swing) seems to be rounding into shape just in time to win a major.  This could be his weekend to win his first major golf tournament since the 2008 US Open.  But take nothing for granted, Tiger has worked hard to get here.  No one discusses what he’s doing off the course, but if Tiger wins, his swing coach will get credit for bringing him back.  At the end of the day, it’s Tiger Woods return to fitness that will give him the edge he once enjoyed. Oh, Tiger still has more work to do on his body, but he is much closer to getting healthier and fully recovering from the knee injuries and physical limitations.

Team Tiger should get some credit if he wins, but the bulk of the victory is Tiger’s to celebrate. And by the grace of God, from whom he draws his strength, I believe Tiger will demonstrate his return to glory and win one of the two remaining majors this year and the Master in 2013.

If Tiger wins, let’s not crown his swing coach as “the greatest”, but give Tiger his due for working so hard to get back on top.  Tiger is a gift from God and we have all been blessed to have been able to enjoy his golfing career.  The bottom line is that we give too much credit to experts who list names of famous people as their clients.  They may be the best at promoting and building their business but that does not make them the best in their field.  If that were true, Hank Haney would have finally fixed Charles Barkley’s dreadful golf swing.  Sorry Charlie…had to say that.  It’s Charles’ injury history that affects his swing.  There is no amount of instruction alone that will help Charles.

I may not the best at choosing business partners, promoting or building a business, or filing paperwork.  However, I pride myself on conducting thorough evaluations and asking questions to determine the root cause of an injury.  But that alone doesn’t even make me the best Sports Kinesiologist on the planet (yet).   My philosophy is to strive to help lead my clients to solutions for them individually, regardless of the ability level they’ve achieved. I am thankful God has given me the opportunity to work to provide the best services I can to so many of the world’s greatest athletes and anyone who just wants to get back in the game.

No “expert” has any idea how to treat the root cause of your injury until we ask your body some questions. This is done by objectively evaluating your current movement patterns AND injury history.  But regardless, unless we measure, we are guessing.   And while I have written or offered my opinion after evaluating video footage in some cases, I don’t like to guess.  My goal for you as a reader is simple. Ask questions not for references.  The way your questions are answered will let you know more than the feedback you get from hand picked references.

Only time will tell if Tiger is addressing his true deficiencies.  But as a fan, I certainly hope he wins the 2012 British Open.  And I’ll be up early on Thursday morning watching.

Go get’em, Tiger! May God Bless You.

Follow Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist on Twitter @zigsports

Greg Oden to play in 2012-13 NBA season? It is possible! Heres how…

What a crazy last 12  months in the NBA.  Brandon Roy is coming back! When I wrote about Brandon Roy coming back from retirement in April,  some readers responded in disbelief.  “He’s got bone on bone,” they said.  “I must have been on drugs”, one commenter said.  “No credibility”, and so on.   Well this is not an I told you so follow up, but more about how Greg Oden can get there too.  (Blog coming soon about Brandon Roy’s chances of staying healthy: stay tuned).

After a whirlwind last 6 months or so, Greg Oden was released and gave a lengthy interview discussing his career and life with Mark Titus of Grantland.  According to published reports, Greg also began a rigorous rehab and conditioning program to help get his body right.  In addition, Greg also reportedly underwent a surgical procedure to help reduce pain in his knee.

The reason you’re here is to find out if and how it might be possible for Greg Oden to make a return as well.  I am a fan of Greg as a person and want to see him on the court and achieve his basketball dreams.

My biggest motivation for writing about Greg Oden and other athletes issues is to bring light to the fact that proper treatment of the ‘root cause of any injury is an  essential component to helping prevent athletes and anyone from suffering from an injury long term’.   What traditionally has been referred to as proper treatment has had only short term benefits to the patient.  Traditionally, professionals in the industry treat the symptom.  If you treat the symptom (pain or injury), yes you can get back in the game quickly.  But the long term affects can be devastating and cut short any athlete’s career.

Recently, someone asked what I thought would have happened had Michael Jordan been drafted in Portland instead of Sam Bowie (whose career was hampered by chronic foot injuries)?  The answer is who knows and who really cares.

The bigger question is what would we be saying about Michael Jordan if he had not recovered from injuries suffered to his feet early in his career.  Three games into the 1985-86 season, Jordan went down with a broken bone in his left foot and was sidelined for 64 games before returning in mid-March.

The answer is that Air Jordan might have been reduced to a fraction of what he is today.  According to his teammates and those who played against him, Michael Jordan (whom I first met in 1994) worked harder than any other player in the game on and off the court.  In many ways, his work ethic overshadowed any treatments or training programs prescribed for him  As a result, any trainer who worked with Jordan would have become a name in the industry because he was Michael Jordan. Had that same trainer worked with Sam Bowie, we have no idea how Bowie ‘s body would have responded.  It is impossible to treat the two players with similar injuries with the same treatment because their body types and injury/training histories are different.

Oh by the way, many people forget or don’t know that Sam Bowie played in the NBA until 1995, he just didn’t play the way he was expected to based upon being drafted Number 1 overall ahead of the greatest player of all time.

Now back to Greg Oden so I can tie this all together.  A proven surgical procedure undergone by hardworking Kobe Bryant (who works as hard as Jordan on his fitness level) to eliminate pain only fixes part of the problem: the pain goes away. That is a good thing because the pain prevented Greg from being able to workout efficiently.   Additional benefits to the procedure Greg underwent earlier this year include reduced inflammation and possibly accelerated healing in the areas of his body affected by all of his surgical procedures.  Based upon the sheer number of surgeries Greg has undergone, his body has probably built up a considerable amount of scar tissue and some nerve damage may have occurred as well.  The procedure could potentially help with both.  This is very positive for Greg’s comeback.  But it is still not enough.

I hope Greg’s rehab and training program has focused on his weaknesses.  As I’ve stated previously, Greg moves inefficiently because of weaknesses in his body that have caused injuries.  Here are a few areas that were weak on Greg in 2008 and as evidenced by the repeated procedures in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, possibly still affecting him today: glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, hip extensors, hip rotators (internal and external), peroneals, gastrocs, soleus, abs,anterior and posterior tibialis, and more–mostly on the right side.  The left side indicated signs of significant fatigue and overuse.  So Greg’s left side needed then and probably still does need a break, relaxation.

The Number One area Greg Oden needs to improve….his feet!!!

Greg Oden laces up the shoes on his size 18 shoes into a rigid botttom, Nike shoe. Oden’s shoes also contain at least a heel lift, which also places stress on the front of his right knee. The lift could contribute significantly to meniscus injuries. immobile feet and a heel lift. No wonder Oden has meniscus and patella issues.

In particular, Greg needs to improve  his right “foot flexion” strength.  Can Greg grip things with his feet?  As crazy as it may sound to the novice reader, it is a necessary part of efficient biomechanics and Kinesiology.  As you’re reading this, take off your shoe and you’ll see what I mean.  Place a towel flat on the floor and grip or pick it up with your foot (one foot at a time for 50 reps- hold each rep for 2 seconds).  Try it and see how your foot feels.  Some of you won’t make it to 25 before your foot cramps.  If you’re right handed do the exercise with your right foot. Lefty’s just the opposite.

The feet are the single most neglected part of any training program.  Less than one percent (1%) of all trainers or physical therapist include true foot exercises in the daily or even weekly training programs for their athletes.  Now big manly types will say working out your feet is not important. Give them big strong massive biceps and they’ll take that guy. But let’s get real, we are seeing more injuries to knees, achilles, and other parts of the body related to weak feet.

We assume that because we are on our feet that they are functioning correctly, but that is not true. And no all of you you barefoot running enthusiasts, that is not enough either. Barefoot running only affects where the impact occurs not function of the feet. That’s a whole blog series I have set for October.

Here’s an indicator of whether or not you need to train your foot flexion or gripping:  Do you wear flip flops? If so, you are overworking the top of your foot and ankle (dorsiflexion and toe extension). In my research for this post, I watched a youtube video promoting toe extension exercises for dancers. It is honestly the worst and most unnecessary exercise ever, unless you’ve suffered an injury that keeps you from wearing flip flops.  Don’t get me wrong, some people will need it but 9 out of 10 would be negatively impacted by it.

Greg Oden and just about every other basketball player in the world needs the opposite.   These athletes need to work on gripping things with their feet. Why do I say this? It’s because the shoes worn by basketball players prevents their foot and ankle from functioning properly.  The solid rigid surface, the ankle taping…this prevents the ankle and foot from doing what it does naturally.  So yes, Greg Oden has a weak right foot.  In addition, he has a weak right lower leg complex: gastrocs/soleus.

This weak right foot contributes to his weak right lower leg, which contributes to his weaker right hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and other areas of his right leg.  These weaknesses cause Greg to over use his left side which is what contributed to Greg Oden’s left patella injury in 2009.  So if Greg Oden wants to come back in 2012-13, he’ll need to work hard, but he’ll also need to work on the right areas of his body.   Most importantly, Greg should absolutely under no conditions perform the same number of sets and reps or stretches on his right side in comparison to his left.  Greg’s injury history alone is an indicator that one side was damaged more than the other, so why do the same things on both? And yes, all of this was a part of the “controversial report” given to the Portland Trailblazers in 2008 and again in 2009 when contacted for a copy by Tom Penn.  Emotionally, another major injury would probably end his career. I would hate to see this because I had a chance to have an impact on his career longevity.

I guess we can say that two chronically, injured players for one team might be playing in the NBA for other teams after being let go due to those alleged career ending injuries.   And isn’t it amazing that one of them could win a championship (if he ends up in Miami and they win again). Shocking!  I’m just saying… somebody other than me thinks these two guys are still worth it and can be fixed.

The bottom line is just because you read it on the internet or someone makes a statement about it does not mean that it’s true.  Apparently one shoe has already dropped as Brandon Roy has signed with a new NBA team.  Another shoe will drop when Greg Oden is signed before the start of the season and returns to the NBA.  I’m pretty sure someone will sign Greg  next season.  And at worst, Greg can hang on for another 5 years or so going from team to team and make millions.  I hope he works hard on the root cause of his injuries and not just the injury itself.  Ask the question of your therapists, Greg.  And make sure you get a real answer not just one to pacify you.

The only other question left for me to answer here is, “What’s my motivation?”

Well, it is truly to see Greg Oden and many other injured athletes back on the court or in the game.  If Greg’s serious about a return, he should have a copy of his old report if he does not already have one.  But also, he should get a new one. Oh and if he does call to request one, no one will never hear about it from me until long after he returned to the court.   After all, you didn’t know about his previous tests as I kept that confidential not because I had to but because I wanted to keep it quiet.  At anytime, I could have promoted my relationship with the Blazers or any athlete or team as many others in the field do.  Having a famous clientele doesn’t make you an expert.   Actually having a positive impact on them or sharing valuable information for their benefit is what makes me and others in the profession feel great about waking up every day to go to work.

Until Greg was let go, I was a background guy.  That means when an athlete or team came to me, I stayed in the background. This is not about attention for me, it’s about bringing light to a dark situation. I want Greg Oden’s flame to shine.  Let the candle burn Greg.   Next week, I’ll detail Greg’s number 2-5  most important exercises to guarantee his long term health. Oh by the way, NBA teams, a guy with a tight back (back problems) can be fixed and is still worth a top draft pick. hint hint.

Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist can be followed on Twitter @zigsports.

Derrick Rose: Career in Jeopardy! Why he may never be the same.

To keep up with the latest from Zig Ziegler, follow Zig on twitter @zig_ziegler.

In this day and age of high flying, fast moving, power displaying NBA players, Derrick Rose was regarded as one of the best! MVP in 2010-11 season; comparisons to Michael Jordan; and numerous championships already planned for Chicago in the minds of fans like me.  The dream of Chicago Bulls fans around the world has now come to a knee buckling jump stop. Hoping for the best for you D. Rose, but I have major concerns. So here we go…

Derrick Rose tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) while performing his signature power move: Jump Stop and attack or pass.  Since his rookie season in the NBA, Rose has amazed fans around the world with his athletic ability, conjuring up images of and comparisons to the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan who led the bulls to six (6) NBA championships (All of us Bulls fans know there would have been more banners if not for baseball).

While watching the video, you’ll notice Rose’s body was off balance (if you look closely) as he landed with more weight on his left leg than his right leg. This is a move that is partially learned (NBA players often practice the move landing on the inside leg incorrectly) and in other cases it is done subconsciously, as a compensation for weakness or injury to the other leg. Weight should be more evenly distributed with more weight on the outside leg to actually change directions more effectively.

While moving to his right, Rose should have been preparing his body to land with slightly more weight on his right leg than his left.  To help you understand, when moving to the right, it is the right leg’s job to stop the lateral movement to the right. The left leg acts as a decelerator with weight distribution (40-45% left, 60-55% right). In Rose’s case, his left leg (in hitting the ground with more of Rose bodyweight on it) attempted to stop his motion to the right, with limited weight absorbed on his right leg (based upon an evaluation of Rose’s posture in video footage of the incident).

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In my opinion, Rose was most likely compensating (as many great athletes would do) for the foot injury/soreness he felt less than two weeks ago. Now Rose has been battling injuries all year:

According to Fox Sports these are the injuries reported since January 11, 2012:

1/11/2012 Sprained left big toe. (Catalyst to right leg injuries)

1/16/2012 Sprained left big toe.

2/10/2012 Strained lower back

3/14/2012 Groin

4/10/2012 Sprained Right Ankle (Key injury leading contributor to ACL/MCL tear)

4/16/2012 Soreness Right Foot (Key injury major contributor to ACL/MCL tear)

Other injuries Rose suffered during his brief career include additional injuries to his right ankle and a bruise to his right hip from a collision with Dwight Howard in 2010.

Rose’s injury patterns indicate a clear cut case of compensating injuries shifting back and forth from his right side to his left, and from his feet/a

nkles up to his knees (with the exception of ankle sprains and contact related injuries).  It is blatantly obvious to anyone who understands how the body works that Rose’ left leg should have been experiencing a significant amount of left leg fatigue as a result of the recent right foot and ankle injuries, regardless of what caused them.

In my opinion, this injury would have happened anytime.  And unless Rose and his medical team address the root mean cause of his previou

s

injurie

s and compensations related to them, the ACL injury could not have been prevented.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that some of Rose’s injuries occur because he plays fearlessly with reckless abandon.  It is that style of play that now w

ith an ACL and MCL injury could lead to more injuries from Rose. In addition to the risk of more injuries (next up is

either a reoccurrence of the left ACL tear or a tear of the right ACL within 12 to 18 months (which is actually pretty common).

I’m thinking a tear of his right ACL happens first but this one is tough to predict because of Rose’s style of play. If I were to complete a 3D Motion Analysis of Rose’s body, I’d be able to provide a more accurate prediction (This is based solely on my opinion and evaluation of his injury history and playing style).

Rose ACL tear is clearly related to his recent injuries.  Many people are asking should Coach Tom Thibodeau have taken Rose out of the game.

Actually, coach has no idea about limits that should have been placed on Rose after his recent string of injuries. However, common sense would tell any medical professional that Rose’s play should have been limited (bring up images of Brandon Roy against Phoenix in 2009 playoffs).

It’s easy to see that Rose was compensating for the soreness in his right foot. This can be done consciously or subconsciously. Only Rose really know

s how

his foot feels when he jumps, changes directions, or lands on it. If Rose was feeling any fatigue at all in his foot, it was up to him to salvage his career. However, because no player wants to be considered soft and take himself out of the game, Rose chose to stay in the game (as would every other athlete who is taught “no pain, no gain”) hopefully sending a message to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Please keep in mind it is the medical staff whose job it is to impose limitations on players’ time on the court or in a game when a player returns from

injury.  It is not the responsibility of the coaches at the professional or any level to determine if a player is physically recovered.  Thibodeau’s job is to play the players who are eligible to play, not monitor rehab and fitness levels of players. So let’s give Thibodeau a break. If the injury hadn’t happened, and the Bulls won by 20 with rose on the court, this topic related to the injury would be a non-issue.

When Rose comes back after surgery, his style of play will definitely change. We won’t see the old powerful, explosive Derrick Rose for 2? 3? Ma

ybe 4 years, and that’s only if there are no setbacks over the first year.  His signature “jump stop” power move could be what ends the career of another bright young NBA star.  Keep in mind, an ACL injury is not like a meniscus/cartilage injury.  It can be death to an athlete who relies on explosiveness and changing directions. The ACL and MCL provide stability to the knee, while cartilage essentially acts as a cushion.  Rose needs stability of the knee for his game to be effective. It will be at least one year before Rose’s repaired ACL is healed enough to provide the stability for the types of moves Rose needs to make when playing.  And let’s also not forget about those chronic injuries on his right side.  They could at any time cause an injury to his right knee or re-injury to his left.

Yes. Derrick Rose will play again but it is highly unlikely he be the same high flying Derrick Rose we knew before the fourth quarter was near its end this past Saturday. I’m praying for a safe surgery and really, really, good rehab. And hey Derrick in case you’re listening, objective measurements of how your body is functioning during rehab and identifications of your injury related compensations will be the key to your return to the Derrick Rose glory days. Speaking as a Bulls fan sin

ce the arrival my home states’ Scottie Pippen, I’m pulling for D. Rose.

While I have not worked with Derrick Rose, I write this post at the request of several readers who have posted or emailed with questions about the topic.  My preference is to comment on athletes based on objective information.  This post is merely my opinion based upon a subjective review of Rose’s injury history and video of the actual incident in which Rose tore his ACL.

On Wednesday, I’ll discuss ACL injuries, the surgical procedures and the most common aspect related to the surgery and rehab that could be considered negligent in the areas of orthopedic surgery and rehab.  In this story, I’ll explain why I feel Derrick Rose’ career could be over and what Rose and his therapists and trainers can do to help extend his career and reduce the risk of repeat or compensation injuries related to the ACL/MCL reconstruction he is about to undergo.

Zig Ziegler, The Sports Kinesiologist, provides feedback on injuries to A-List athletes in an effort to help educate athletes and parents on the prevention of injuries.  Be sure to check out other stories here about Greg Oden, Mark Sanchez, Tiger Woods, and more.  Follow on twitter @zig_ziegler

Tiger: Still Inconsistent? The Sports Kinesiologist Zig Ziegler’s Biomechanics Review

While watching Tiger Woods dominate the field at Arnold Palmer’s 2012 Bay Hill Invitational, I found myself for the first time in a long time watching and enjoying the moment.  I got a chance to be a fan.  Like millions of other viewers, I wanted Tiger to win.  And Win He did.

Throughout the weekend, it was amazing to hear all the bandwagon jumpers who’ve abandoned Tiger since 2009, praising the return of Tiger Woods. “He’s back,” many golf experts proclaimed. Every expert watching from day one was pulling for Tiger to win and had great reasons to pull for Tiger. Most importantly, it helps their jobs, gives them a hot topic, and is great for the game of golf.  Congrats on the win Tiger.  But is is the Tiger Woods of old?

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When kneeling, we can see Tiger supporting the majority of his body weight on the left leg. This can be seen as an indication tightness and weakness in his right leg.

Not so fast.

While I have not had a chance to conduct a full biomechanics assessment on Tiger’s swing from just two weeks ago at Bay Hill, visually there were still glaring issues with his swing and body.  Just two weeks prior to Bay Hill, Tiger withdrew from the WGC-Cadillac Championship citing a left leg injury.  It was later reported that Tiger was suffering from left Achilles tendon soreness…again.

While the world is ready to anoint Tiger’s swing coach and Tiger victorious for making changes to his his swing that may return him to greatness, I’m not quite there yet.  When Tiger struggles, both Tiger and all around him quickly blame his inability to put swing traits related to his “old swing” behind him.  In reality, two things are two blame, neither of which are related to his old swing.  Both reasons for Tiger’s struggles are related to Tiger’s old body not his new swing.  The same physical limitations related to Tiger’s fitness are the only reason he continues to struggle in spite of his new swing.

The Achilles tendon soreness will continue to pop up in Tiger’s game unless and until he address on a regular (daily) basis.  Tiger needs to bring along his massage therapist, muscle activation specialist, or other manual therapy expert to help assist him with recovery from round to round, not just week week.  The therapist should focus on releasing tightness and fatigue in Tiger’s entire left leg, from foot to hip. In particular, unlock the left ankle with manual therapy on the anterior (front) side of the lower leg while addressing fatigue in the gastroc/soleus areas (calves).  This will release the ankle dorsi flexors and allow Tiger to get back into planter flexion during his swing.  this will allow Tiger’s body weight to be more evenly distributed towards the middle of the left foot, enabling him to apply the brakes and maintain a better position of his hips at impact.

The biggest contributor to the left Achilles tendon sores in Tiger…Right leg weaknesses.  Tiger’s right leg still shows significant signs or weakness. As a result, Tiger’s “new swing” and right leg weaknesses force Tiger to repeatedly overuse his left leg in the swing.

When we look at Tiger’s swing from Bay Hill several flaws show up, which when rested, Tiger is capable of overcoming. However, as soon as fatigue in the left leg sets in, Tiger begins to over-swing with his upper body to compensate for the fatigue on the left leg and weakness on the right leg.  At Bay Hill, Tiger’s posture was the most improved I had seen in months.  However, when we look closely at his feet during each swing, here is what I see.

1. Tiger’s weight is distributed more towards the middle to front of his feet at address. During his backswing, Tiger’s weight shifts into both heels. It drifts to the outside back heel on his right foot and the inside back heel of his left foot.

2. During his downswing, Tiger’s weight shifts forward towards the center of his feet.

Now here is where the first compensation for weaknesses in his right leg begins to show up…

At Bay Hill, Tiger’s left foot slides open towards his target slightly during his downswing (It appears to rotate open approximately 10 degrees on shorter shots, but closer to 30 degrees on longer shots).

How does this affect Tiger? Well its actually pretty simple.

At Bay Hill, Tiger’s left leg may not have been as fatigued as it appears during the 2012 Masters Championship in which he is currently playing. As a result, when Tiger’s left foot slides open, the weight which has started to transfer from his heel to the middle of his foot actually ends up closer to the front of his left foot.  In order to stop the weight from continuing to move forward, Tiger must begin to plantar flex (press downwards) with his left foot (as if to apply the brakes on his lower body during  the swing).  This natural reaction pf the body to control his balance during his swing actually forces Tiger’s hips to slow their rotation.  The benefit of this to Tiger is that the braking action initiated by his feet allows his arm rotation to stay ahead of his hip rotation. This keeps Tiger’s back side (right) arm from getting trapped behind his body.

In the good ole days, Tiger had a problem with over rotating or rushing his hips and getting stuck or trapped behind that rotation.  Under Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, Tiger learned to close down his front foot thinking that would slow or limit his hip rotation. This is true but Tiger’s swing mechanics (no reverse weight shift) were so different (as was Tiger’s leg strength) that he was able to overcome the teaching flaw.

In his new swing under Sean Foley, for the first time in his career Tiger Woods is exhibiting major signs of a reverse weight shift (making Tiger Woods play like a mere mortal).  The reverse weight shift makes it look as if Tiger is attempting the Stack and Tilt technique on most of his swings off the tee. His short iron shots however, show a lot less signs of reverse weight shifts. This is due largely in part to Tiger’s focus on the shot accuracy as opposed to the added factors of striving for distance and control off the tee.

Now I have not been in sessions with Tiger’s swing coach. But based upon what it appears they are working on with his swing, a part of the blame for the reverse weight shift is Tiger’s new swing mechanics under Foley. But the bigger contributor is the lack of strength and flexibility in Tiger’s right leg.

In his first two days at the Masters 2012, Tiger’s legs appear very fatigued and as a result, he  is “over swinging” on all swings of distances over 150 yards.  The over swinging shows up as a result of two issues. Weight distribution (in his feet) and hip rotation.  Both of these issues are affected by his left leg fatigue.

At Bay Hill, Tiger was able to overcome the weight distribution issues. At the Master’s 2012, Tiger’s inability to control the weight distribution in his feet, is preventing him from controlling the rotation of his hips. As a results, his hips are significantly more open at impact.  At Bay Hill, Tiger’s hips appear to be close to 30 degrees at impact (exactly 22.5 degrees open at impact is ideal).

At the Masters 2012, Tiger’s hip rotation appears to rotate way past 30 degrees at impact and is closer to 45 degrees open at impact.

The result for Tiger’s shots with hips too open? Big misses to the left.

At one point during a late round missed shot by Tiger on Friday, one of the ESPN announcers said, “I don’t know what the swing plane is that he’s practicing….”.  The announcer was referring to a steep downward practice swing with so much rotation visible that the only place for Tiger to hit the ball was to the left.  Maybe he’s got Beyonce’s song playing in his head or perhaps Tiger is just trying to hard. Regardless, for Tiger to win his 15th Major golf tournament, he must correct this early on Saturday or Tiger Woods will continue to struggle up and down the course.  If he corrects the problem, Tiger may shoot 65. If he does not, Tiger may shot 75…again.

If Tiger can slow down and swing under control he may yet win the Masters 2012. If he does not, we may see him hobbling around or withdrawing on Sunday again blaming left leg issues.

For the long term..Tiger as a fan, please improve the strength and flexibility of your right leg, from the foot  to the hip.  Also, please improve the flexibility/mobility of your left leg. Its extremely fatigued. If not, you’ll be under the knife again. At a minimum…Stretch Your Left Quadriceps! Stretch our Left Quadriceps! Stretch Your Left Quadriceps!

Hey Tiger? All the back pain you’re complaining about is not from your back. That’s a symptom of a bigger problem. So the stretching I see you doing periodically to release discomfort in your mid and upper back and into your neck is related to the same issues identified above.  It’s all connected.

How will we know if Tiger is going to play well..Watch for this major sign.

When Tiger makes a full swing, pay close attention to his posture at and after impact. If Tiger slides his hips, we won’t see him flow naturally to the upright finish position we saw at Bay Hill 2012. If he does not over slide his hips to the left,Tiger will be able to maintain his swing path through the ball longer and stay on target with each shot. That slide will be evident when we see a lot of side bend at impact and then a second move where Tiger has to stand himself up into the upright posture we saw at Bay Hill.  When Tiger is on track, we will see a natural and smooth transition to upright posture at finish. Another quick sign: If Tiger’s right shoulder is point past the target at finish, he is over rotating his hips which allows his shoulders to over rotate. But Tiger and his swing coach must fix the problem not the symptom.

Let’s hope for a smooth fluid swing on Saturday and Sunday so Tiger Woods can win the Masters 2012.