26Aug, 2013
Shoulder arms 2

3 Keys to a Solid Backswing

There is a lot written about what a player must do during the downswing to hit the ball well, but much less written about how to set yourself up to accomplish these key downswing moves. Although there is much detail we could discuss there are a few keys to a solid backswing that if followed will give you the best opportunity to make an effective downswing and thus hit more solid golf shots.

When most players think of the backswing they will usually focus on two things. The first, that if the club does not reach at least a horizontal position then the player believes they have made less than a full swing, and second that the longer the backswing the further they will be able to hit the ball. If this was true, why then do we see so many PGA Tour players with backswings where their club does not reach horizontal yet they hit the ball such long distances?

When I am assessing a student’s swing I am looking at a couple of key areas that allow me to make decisions about the efficiency of a backswing:

  1. Body rotation – In an athletic backswing I am looking for the upper body to have turned about 90 degrees to the target line and the hips about 45 degrees. In this position the back is facing target and the lead shoulder is turned under the chin.
  2. Weight transfer – The role of the backswing is to load the body so that you can unload into the downswing thus producing high club head speed and distance. In turning into the backswing a good thought is to feel as though you pivot around your trail hip this will allow the weight to load into the inside of your trail foot. In this position you are balanced and loaded behind the ball and you can make a dynamic and explosive move into the downswing.
  3. Arm position – The arms and upper body need to work together to provide consistency in both backswing and into impact. At address the hands and arms are in front of the chest. At impact they are in a similar position. If the arms are in front of the chest at address and impact it makes sense to keep them pretty much in front for the entire swing rather than getting them too far behind the chest in the backswing and then trying to recapture that position in the downswing.

A very good yet simple drill that you can do to learn the movements of an athletic backswing is the Shoulder Arms Drill.

Shoulder Arms Drill – From your normal address position keep your body angles and cock the wrists to bring the club up in front of you. Then lift your arms in front of the body to set the club over your trail shoulder before finally turning the upper body as you would in your backswing. This is where you should be at the top of your backswing and this drill is a very simple way of learning that position.

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I hope you enjoyed this post. As always comments are welcome and appreciated

Good Golfing

  1. Gus says:

    Derek how’s it going hope all is well. Derek I saw my swing the other day on video and on my takeaway my right elbow does not appear to be pointing down to the ground like yours is .Do we have to actively bend our right elbow to get it to look like yours? Thanks for your time. see you on the 16th. Gus

    • Derek Hooper says:

      Hi Gus

      Thanks for the question. During the backswing it is preferred that that the right elbow be pointing towards the ground. How much, depends on your levels of flexibility. Let’s discuss this some more in our lesson on the 16th.

      All the best and I look forward to seeing you soon.


  2. Virgil says:

    Derek, will performing this drill over and over change my backswing so that I naturally achieve this position or is it just to provide a feel for the position I should attempt to achieve when I swing?

    • Derek Hooper says:

      Thanks for the question Virgil. This drill is designed to give you a better feel and understanding of where you should be at the top of the backswing. To change your backswing, you would do this drill first and then work on making a backswing and repeating this top of backswing position.

      I hope that helps and all the best with your golf game


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