Recently, I have taken up golf, and I can not help but notice the similarities between learning golf and learning swimming. Both are finesse sports that require large amounts of concentration and practice to get right, and it is unnecessary (and ill-advised) to gain great amounts of strength to make major improvements in either sport. Let's look at some specific ways golf is like swimming:
1. It Starts with Head Position. In golf, you must keep your head still and look straight at the ball while you swing in order to make contact. In swimming, you must keep your head still and look straight down at the bottom of the pool while you rotate in order to get the most out of your stroke.
2. Concentration is Key. The moment you start thinking about more than one thing when you are about to hit the ball is the moment that something goes wrong. If I get 2 tips on my golf swing and I think about both of them the next time I tee up, I tend to have an underwhelming result! The same goes for doing the swimming drills. As a coach, if I give a swimmer several things to think about, inevitably, nothing will go right. The idea is to concentrate on one aspect, practice it, master it, and move on.
3. The Fewer Strokes, The Better. When improving your score in golf, you want to take fewer strokes to get the ball in the hole. To improve your swim (especially open water), you want to take fewer strokes per length, in order to utilize your energy for the entire swim or triathlon.
4. Follow Through is Important. When you hit the ball, it is important that you follow through all the way with your club. In freestyle swimming, to get the most out of your stroke, you must extend your arm and glide.
5. Power Comes from the Core. Your arms and legs themselves do not need to be incredibly powerful to have success in either sport. With both sports, the power comes from the core- abdominal muscles, lower back, and hips. Legs are used more for stabilization than to propel you forward in swimming. Legs in golf are also used more for stabilization, rather than for more powerful strokes.
Both sports can also be frustrating, but with practice, patience, and persistence, swimming and golf can both present you with a meditative-like form of exercise that I have found to be both fulfilling and fun!