Left Elbow Position at Impact

Find out a simple trick to hit straighter shots while also virtually eliminating your chances of developing "golfer's elbow." As a bonus, you'll find your shots flying on a more penetrating trajectory.

  • Golf commentators are often WRONG about the golf swing!
  • Some pundits claim the arm should be externally rotated at impact - this is incorrect
  • If your elbow pit points down the line, your arm can simply bend to absorb unexpected or repetitive stresses
  • With external rotation, the elbow can't bend to absorb impact and suffers stress with every shot
  • With your elbow pit pointing down the line and wrist at full range of motion, the club face is naturally squared up
  • With external rotation, you need to learn wrist position and timing to avoid hooking left

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greg
Hi Craig, I feel if I turn my head slightly to the right just prior to impact that it helps keep my shoulders from opening up and my elbow DTL.
September 11, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Greg. I wouldn't teach that move. But, if it helps keep the head down and chest from spinning I can't say no. We just like to delete as many variables as possible.
September 11, 2020
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greg
Hi Craig I want to know if it’s OK to cut my left wrist at the top I feel more powerful with this move I Still bow my left wrist at impact
September 11, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Greg. Unless you have a super strong grip it would be ideal to have the lead wrist flat.
September 11, 2020
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greg
Thanks Craig!
September 11, 2020
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greg
I meant cup My left wrist also is it OK to turn my head slightly to the right to help keep my shoulders square through impact
September 11, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Greg. When you cup at the top you have to undo a lot of wrist manipulation by the time you reach impact. Just adding more variables you have to correct. Cupping will also tend to open the face. Turn you head slightly to the right through the strike, setup, etc?
September 11, 2020
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David
Light bulb video for me. Thanks Chuck!! Can't wait to try this on the range and learn this pattern and mylenate...
August 14, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Love those light bulb moments.
August 14, 2020
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Florian
This is very interesting. I have had problems in the past with tennis elbow (the outside of the lead elbow joint not the inside). I know it requires speculation without seeing it specifically, but any ideas on what I am probably doing to cause this variation?
August 4, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Florian. Take a look at Cure Golf Elbow Pain Video. See if that is your culprit.
August 5, 2019
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M. (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Craig. Just for my understanding, how does elbow and wrist position at impact relate to elbow and wrist position at set up/grip? If I stand strait in (military) attention, my elbow pits point a little away from my sides and the flat side of my wrists/hands point away from me. That means elbow pits and hand /wrist are not in line with each other and point in different directions. If I then grip the club (lead arm) this different positions remain. So to get them in line, pointing in same direction, at impact there needs to happen something in the swing. I watched mself in mirror and discovered that when I stand strait it is relative easy to just rotate my upper arm a little inside and then bring my wrist/hand in line with elbow pit. Now they are both in line and if I then grip club they are much better alined at set up. It does not feel strange or tensed doing this, nor does it feel strange or difficult in swing, but I am not sure it doing this is correct? Thanks for helping!
July 29, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Marcel. I apologize. Without seeing the setup it would be tough to tell exactly your positions. However, at setup the elbow pits need to be pointed away. You don't need to externally rotate your arms to lock the elbows in together (ala - Hogan rubber band around arms feel). Pointed away, but not locked away. The lead arm will rotate from the shoulder socket in the backswing to help set the swing plane. And, as you come down the lead elbow will be pointed at the target as the forearm rotates over. Take a look at Right Elbow Pit, Gorilla Grip and Golf Grip Checkpoint Tips for some visuals.
July 29, 2019
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Tony
Trying to figure out best position for elbows. I have been told through the golf swing to keep your elbows pointed down for the entirety of the swing- The main benefit to this would be in order to cure the “chicken wing“ In follow through as well as create better and more consistent contact . ( I have very good contact on club but do not usually take a divot at impact ). I have watched the elbows cure, set up, gorilla grip etc. and was hoping to shed more light on best position going forward or is it varied by individual?
April 25, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Tony. The elbow pits will be pointed away. But, you don't want to go to the extreme of locking them out (externally rotating them excessively like Hogan's band around arms). Neutral and pointing away. The Chicken Wing comes from trail side takeover. Take a look at Cure Chicken Wing Video.
April 25, 2019
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david
Man, I am having a very rough time with this. It seems painful and unnatural to think of keeping (locking down?) my left elbow pointing at the target, the releasing my left wrist after impact......
October 29, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Nothing in RST should be locked. The goal is to have a proper forearm release and not elbow release. Get the position as close as you can without straining and flipping the arm over.
October 29, 2018
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david
I'll work on it, thank you.
October 29, 2018
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tim
I'm in my first month of RST and came across this video. I have always struggled with a weaker grip. After I looked at this video and changed my elbow position, I immediately went to a stronger grip. Great video.
October 17, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Tim. Thanks for your input and glad you liked the presentation.
October 17, 2017
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Paul
Really confusing video, ask if u can please redo this video with focus on super clarification and detail views of correct elbow positions please and thank you?
August 21, 2017
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Hector
it is a good idea in the downswing after my weight shift, think that the left elbow is directed towards the target? when I do that , I hit the ball good and far, and doing that I avoid the over the top and I can control my right side ... any suggestion
August 9, 2017
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hi Hector, yes, that is perfectly fine for sure.
August 9, 2017
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Hector
it is difficult in the downswing to keep the left elbow looking at the target and at the same time release the left wrist. there is going to be an external rotation of the elbow?? . until when in the downswing we are going to keep the left elbow looking at the target?
April 21, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Hector. You might see a little, but you don't want the elbow flipping over. Take a look at the Left Hand Release Drill and Curing Elbow Pain. The elbow as you start to enter impact will point down the target line. After the strike about halfway to 3 O'clock you will see some external rotation.
April 21, 2017
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Justin
Where is the left elbow at address?
March 22, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Justin. The left elbow pit will be pointed away. You don't want the lead arm externally rotated the point it is locked. Take a look at the Gorilla Grip and Golf Grip Tips for a visual.
March 23, 2017
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Cornelius
The easiest way I have found, to get the left elbow in correct position is; to bend the left elbow towards the target, place left hand on grip, then push forward until arm is in a straight line.
March 22, 2017
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Cornelius
So fundamentally, what you are saying Chuck, is, Ben Hogan could have saved himself many hours of practice of trying to eliminate the left hand side of the course, by simply getting his left elbow in the correct position at address.
March 22, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Cornelius. Yes and some hip stabilization.
March 22, 2017
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Alan
Craig, in a response to Virgil below you mention a "Curing Elbow Pain" video. Can you provide link? It does not show up in site search. Thanks.
January 28, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Alan. I think it is out of rotation right from the new site build. Let me check if I can get it for you.
January 28, 2017
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Matthew
I have been suffering with golfer's elbow the past year - this video looks like it hit's the nail on the head as to why. Going to work in elbow towards the target at impact.
December 19, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matthew. One of the leading causes for golfers elbow.
December 20, 2016
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Lance
This principle with the lead elbow is helping me keep the upper body tension free in the transition and thus allowing the lower body to move the arms to the hitting area. Is there something earlier in the downswing happening by keeping the lead elbow internally rotated? Almost feels like it inhibits the dreaded right side dominance that leads to chicken wing release issues. My main miss is pulling left - this definitely solves that problem. Great job coach Chuck!!!
September 30, 2016
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Lance, there shouldn't be much going on with the arms in transition. You want the arms to be in a good spot at the top like we describe in the backswing videos, and then to be pulled down by the weight shift and a bit of gravity, into the release point of the swing. Hope that helps
October 1, 2016
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Virgil
The only way I can get my lead elbow facing near target at impact is internally rotating my arm/hands before gripping. Is this the correct?
May 11, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Virgil. I would rather you not internally rotate the lead arm too much at setup being how both elbow pits should point away. Take a look at the Curing Elbow Pain Video and report back if you can achieve (same premise as video above).
May 12, 2016
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Alan
It just seems physically impossible for the my left elbow to face down the target line and the wrist and clubface to be square. Best I can see is 10 oclock
October 2, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Alan. The key is not to flip the elbow over. If 10 o'clock is the max you can achieve for right now and still release the wrist. That is okay.
October 2, 2015
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Robert
Hi Craig. I understand what Alan is saying. If my shoulders are square to the target line, even sitting on a bench, I cannot point my left elbow DTL. Chuck said in one of the hip spinner videos, 1) that the belt buckle should feel like it is pointing behind the ball and 2) that the right shoulder should have moved neither forward nor rotated nor down (as in too much secondary axis tilt) at all as the arms pass the stable lower body. Only from here can I have my left elbow pit pointing DTL. But my shoulders are in fact slightly close to the target line. This is the same "feeling" I get when following the advice regarding sequencing to let my shoulders "be pulled by the club" into the classic looking width to follow through.
February 22, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Robert. At impact the hips will be open roughly 35-45 degrees. The hip spinner feeling is for hip spinners only. If that is you the feeling of them staying close is okay. You need to get the lead elbow alignment as close as possible. Sounds like you are rotating the whole arm down versus letting weight and post up bring it into impact. Take a look at Step 3 - Add the Lead Arm.
February 23, 2018
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Dan
Great video. What is the best way to drill this when hitting balls? Thx
June 19, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Dan. Use the Face On Impact Alignments Video and work on your release (5 Minutes to the Perfect Release) in the Downswing Section.
June 19, 2015
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Seth
This makes sense at Impact but how is the elbow positioned prior to impact? Is this correct.... At address the elbow is pointing towards the hip... Then as the right arm bends in the backswing the upper lead arm rotates inward... Then you essentially hold this inward rotation of the upper lead arm up to impact and then release the forearms?
May 15, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Seth. Yes, you are correct in your thinking. However, coming down from the top. The lead arm actually increases slightly with more internal rotation before coming down into the hitting area and releasing the club. LADD Video in the Downswing Section. Also, Proper Muscle Activation Video in the Introduction Advanced Section.
May 16, 2015
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Seth
Awesome. Thank you. I think I was rotating inward in the backswing and then rather than rotation inward even more (is that correct?) I was rotating outward causing me to have inconsistent face position at impact. I just want to clarify: essentially your left elbow should be pointing out to 1 o'clock during the downswing working its way to 12 o'clock at impact?
May 16, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Seth. Yes. If you allow for proper pull and gravity with the lead arm it will actually rotate more inward when shifting and starting down. Essentially it works as you described into the strike.
May 16, 2015
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Seth
Ok. Thanks again. Have a good weekend.
May 16, 2015
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David
How do you release the left hand through impact, if the elbow does not rotate internally? Doesn't that prevent the left wrist bone from rotating through the release if the elbow stays pointing down the target line?
September 17, 2014
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james (Certified RST Instructor)
The elbow will be working down the target line and the left wrist/forearm will rotate to a position where the club can square coming into impact and then release down the target line.. If we are rotating from the elbow we start releasing too much to the left of our intended target line
September 17, 2014
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Philip
This video is very interesting to me... I have always been told to keep both elbows pointing at hips through swing, I also have a pretty horrible pull hook! My club face always feels like it wants to work closed, even after I take my normal neutral grip. Setting up with the elbow pointed down the target line my clubface instantly feels 'squarer'. Haven't played with this feeling yet but my question is should I have my forearm internally rotated and left elbow pointing DTL at address and try to feel this again through impact? Really feel like this could be a lightbulb moment for me so want to make sure I get it right, also can you point me in the direction of a video which covers left elbow position/alignment at address. Thanks..
August 29, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Philip. Take a look at the Golf Grip and Being Out of the Box Video in the Advanced Setup Section to learn more about elbow positioning at address. The left elbow pit will be facing away from you at address and then DTL at impact.
September 1, 2014
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Robert
"The left elbow pit will be facing away from you at address and then DTL at impact.". At address, with a good grip and solid posture the elbow pits face away from the body. Not 90 degrees away but certainly away. I'm having a hard time getting the left elbow facing the target line at impact. Even when I drill in slow motion my elbow pit always wants to stay pointing away with my left elbow pointing left of the target line. Mechanically I'm having a hard time understanding how to get the left elbow pointing down the target line at impact. Does the left arm internally rotate during the backswing? Then in the downswing the left arm slowly rotates externally leading to the elbow down the line at impact? In a nutshell my address elbow position is by all accounts correct. My impact elbow position mirrors the address position. Do I need to do something with the left arm during the backswing or downswing to enable the left elbow to be square at impact? Is it as "simple" as left arm internal rotation during the backswing?
November 10, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Rob. As you continue to work to the top of the backswing. The left arm will have to rotate. Use the Using the Wrist Efficiently Video in the Introduction Advanced Section for more detail. The folding of the right arm allows for internal rotation of the left to get in the correct position. If you don't allow the left arm to rotate to the top the right will stay too much on top. On the way down into impact most players over rotate with the left elbow leading to a flip of the hands at impact and left elbow strain due to over rotation. The sensation of keeping the elbow down the target line at impact and releasing the left hand will prevent from too much rotation at the strike.
November 11, 2014
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John
Hi does this mean that in order to rotate my left hand after impact I have to rotate my elbow to do so? Thus making the righ elbow as the fulcrum point for releasing the club?
July 11, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey John. The left arm will rotate after impact including the elbow. The fulcrum point would still tend to be high in the middle of the chest (upper body).
July 11, 2014
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John
Is there another video that explains this a bit better? This is a difficult position to achieve, starting with the grip.
June 22, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Take a look at the Left Hand Release Drill and 5 Minutes to the Perfect Release in the Downswing Section to understand not flipping the left elbow over. You can also look at the FO Impact Alignments Video in the same section.
June 22, 2014
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bryan
As I fire the right arm in the downswing (release the wrist angle), my left elbow always wants to rotate back towards my body instead of down the target line. Can you please help explain what is causing this?
May 8, 2014
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Could be caused by a bit too much right side push from the right shoulder or arm really.
May 9, 2014
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John
Is there a video that addresses this set-up? When I take what I think is a normal grip the arm want to internally rotate naturally. I tried Christopher's suggestion and it does not seem to help.
June 22, 2014
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey John, in neutral posture with you shoulders depressed and slightly retracted and remaining neutral while you hinge from the hips, then moving the arms across the center of the body, the arm internally rotates? I would take a look at the gorilla grip video and see if that helps. If not, post up again and I will see that you get clarification
June 23, 2014

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