Understanding Arm Elevation

In this video, Ill show you what arm elevation is, why you need it, and exactly how much you need to build a perfect backswing.

  • Arms elevate mostly directly in front of the center or your chest
  • The base of the elbow elevates to the base of the pectoral muscle (your chest)

64x64
Matthew
Ive been working through takeaway and backswing drills, but still seem to get stuck deep. Could this be from a lack of shoulder elevation?
July 20, 2020
64x64
Matthew
Here’s a photo at the top
July 20, 2020
64x64
Michael (Certified RST Instructor)
Hi Matthew. It can be and it can be pushing from the left side. Take a look at the "Right arm backswing drill". It can help you keep the right arm and pec connected.
July 22, 2020
64x64
Brian
Hi Craig, I am struggling to get the correct elevation on my backswing. Seem to always end flat no matter how many drills I do. I can send a video if that helps you see my issue? Many thanks. Brian
June 12, 2020
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brian. A video would undoubtedly help. However, just make sure you aren't pushing with the lead arm. Elevation is variable in rotary, but I don't want you getting deep. Take a look at Pushing with the Left Side in the Takeaway and Winter Golf Training Program - Backswing Video.
June 12, 2020
64x64
Woody
Increasing arm elevation is another way of saying lifting your arms. If you don't lift your arms during the backswing, then your swing plane will be too flat and your hands will be behind your or "too deep". Is that correct?
June 8, 2020
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Woody. Yes.
June 8, 2020
64x64
Jens
Hi Craig, had a thought on elevation and thought this was a good place to ask it. From me reading up on the matter, ive gotten the impression that the elevation leads to a disconnection in the backswing, the texts ive found discuss it as connected is when arms are right in front of your torso. And rotaryswing teaches that arms should get slightly elevated and over the right shoulder in backswing. Do you guys define connected the same way? I know that chuck often discusses the importance of staying infront of the body with the hands, does that have to do with the connectedness? If you define connected the same way, when do i need to get my arms connected again in the swing? Is it through a manipulation at the start? Currently struggling a lot with over the top, will send a swingreview in the comming days, concerned it has to do with not enough torso turn which gets me very disconnected at top when i mimic rotaryswing positions. Doing drills without club i hit every position by the book (the bootcamp folder). So something that gets introduced with the club, which is why i thought it has to do with the hands.
December 28, 2019
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jens. When you add elevation you should still have connection to the core/box. If you lose connection you are over elevating. When the trail arm folds the hands will cross centerline, but that doesn't mean the arms start losing connection with the body. I will check in your swing review. But, it could be lack of turn which is allowing the arms to over take the swing. I think you are confusing the hands crossing center line with the arms over elevating and leaving its connection with the body.
December 30, 2019
64x64
Jens
Think you might be right, been overconcerned with letting my hips open up that i might be overcooking it. Tried to focus in more on where i feel my bellybutton is to get the right rotation, my self analysis is that it seems to be helping. Will get a video in after tomorrow. Happy New year!
December 30, 2019
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jens. Happy New Year as well! Thank You. Great. We will take a good look at it to make sure you get back on track.
December 30, 2019
64x64
Graham
Craig, I understand elevation now. I have reduced left side push even more now so I think my turning problems are receding fast. I don’t fully understand what you mean by ‘ coming off the shoulder line with my arms’ could you point me to a video or two which could help me understand what to do?
April 9, 2019
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Graham. Are you referring to a certain part of this video, or swing review? Could you give me the timestamp if in the video above. So, I can make sure I'm leading you towards the correct answer.
April 9, 2019
64x64
Graham
Craig,I was referring to my recent swing review.
April 11, 2019
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Graham. I didn't perform your review. But, after looking at your last review. Chris was referring to the speed of your arms are too reliant on your body turn. You aren't allowing for weight and gravity to bring the arms down. You need to blend a little more detachment/gravity into the downswing. Take a look at Reshaping Your Swing for Lag Video to help practice letting the arms work down as you shift. Coming away from excessive shoulder connection.
April 11, 2019
64x64
Graham
Thanks Craig.
April 11, 2019
64x64
David
This is something i struggle with. How do i make sure i elevate and not roll round my arms too flat. I feel if lift my arms up too much i dont rotate my body.
January 24, 2019
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Take a look at the 4 Square Drill and Pool Noodle Drill. Just keep focusing on big body turn going back as the arms move vertical.
January 24, 2019
64x64
Daniel
Arm elevation is something thats been missing in my swing until I got a review last week which highlighted this flaw. So since then i've been standing in the mirror in my golf posture (without the club), raising my arms to just below my chest and then rotating and it looks like my takeaway is in a really good position from doing that. If I continue to do this drill, then bring in the club (upside down at first) then the right way around, then moving on to hitting balls should this drill ingrain the correct pattern? ie In the end when I just take the club back like normal will it be in the position that I get into when I elevate then rotate? Really ready to make huge improvements to my game from now on!
June 6, 2018
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Daniel. Yes. That should help you get the positioning. The elevation though is slight in the takeaway and base of the pectorals for a full swing. Use the 4 Square Drill and Pool Noodle Drill to help you blend the elevation as you rotate. This will help you transfer the same feeling from a somewhat static drill to a more dynamic one.
June 6, 2018
64x64
Stephen
I understand the concept but am really struggling to execute it. Whilst using the core to rotate - is it ok to use the trailing arm to help elevation by keeping it straight out in front of the chest for as long as possible? Steve.
March 6, 2017
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Stephen. Yes. At some point the trail arm will have to add a slight amount of flexion. But, as you use the core to rotate feeling the trail arm straight will help.
March 6, 2017
64x64
gary
Where can I get a Rotary Swing Hat? Or shirt for that matter.
February 6, 2017
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Thanks for your interest. For right now, you would have to visit us at one of the clinics. We don't have a large supply or stock pile. But, sometimes give a few out.
February 6, 2017
64x64
Roger
Does elevation increase with length of club? Fairway wood vs pitching iron. Thanks so much. Love your web site. Roger
August 21, 2016
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Roger. Measure elevation by what the arms do and not the club. The standard would be base of the pectorals for all clubs. Thanks for the compliments of the site!
August 22, 2016
64x64
Jordan
So do I start the elevation at the same time as I start my back swing ? Like are the takeaway and the elevation before flexion of the right arm one move ?
August 9, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jordan. Think of it as Rotate, Elevate and Flexion. You start with rotation, start to add gradual elevation and then add a little flexion. The 4 Square Drill should help with the visual of rotation and elevation in the takeaway.
August 10, 2015
64x64
sambhu
Is Chuck saying one should "lift" the arms as the torso turns?
July 30, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Sam. Yes, there is gradual elevation of the arms as one rotates. The arms create vertical motion. The body creates depth. Take a look at Understanding Shoulder Elevation and 4 SQ Drill in this section. Also, the Pool Noodle Drill.
July 30, 2015
64x64
Samuel
I have issues with achieving enough arm elevation. I realize the change needs to happen and that it should lead to improved consistency, but when I implement these changes, my swing starts to feel very awkward and I seem to lose control of the club on the downswing. I end up chunking shots or topping shots. Am I just rushing too fast into trying to hit balls? Thanks
July 14, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Samuel. It sounds like you are on the right track, but now that your arms have some freedom you aren't giving them time to work back to the ball. Take a look at Re-Shaping Your Swing with Lag in the Introduction Section. You need to wait for them to create lag and work in front of the body since you have more height than usual.
July 15, 2015
64x64
Paul
How do you reconcile this arm elevation with staying connected and not letting the right arm get out of the box?
July 9, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Paul. With proper elevation the shoulder blades will remain in the box. Once, you start going above the pectorals and/or losing external humeral rotation in the trail arm the arms can disengage from the box.
July 9, 2015
64x64
Lee
Is it common to lose elevation with the driver, longer irons etc, don't know why but my irons can be perfect, hands above head etc, with the driver it is super low, with hands barely above the shoulder cap.
June 18, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Lee. It is typical for a driver swing to feel a little flatter, but you shouldn't lose too much of the elevation. With the longer club you need to make sure the arms don't swing too excessively across the chest.
June 18, 2015
64x64
Matthew
What tends to happen when there is too much arm elevation in the takeaway and the club comes outside too quick? More than likely a cut across the ball? I'm so fearful of taking the club inside that I tend to start taking the club out too far. The takeaway video explains how a player should be able to have a repeatable backswing with just a shoulder blade movement, but I'm finding that you need arm elevation along with some rotation. Since it isn't as easy as focusing on the shoulder blade, it can be hard to get a repeatable backswing plane without constant reps. Does this sound correct?
May 10, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matthew. A good way of training and getting easy repeatable reps is the bucket drill with elevation in the Understanding Shoulder Elevation Video Backswing Section. If you add too much elevation early the arms tend to get disconnected from the body leading to a small muscle versus big muscle backswing. Harder to repeat and not as powerful. Typically, this type of player will cut across the ball.
May 11, 2015
64x64
Jason
I guess another good thought for me would be.. to get to 9:00 do you have a little bit of shoulder elevation? This would be helpful knowing this when preforming the 9 to 3 drill. Thanks again
March 5, 2015
64x64
Lee
March 21, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Jason. See Below.
March 5, 2015
64x64
Lee
March 21, 2015
64x64
Jason
I'm starting to make good progress with the shoulder blade glide and keeping my right arm straight to start my swing/ take away. I would like some advice on when to start shoulder elevation. Prior or post 9:00 position in the back swing? Thank you for your time
March 5, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jason. There is gradual elevation in the takeaway. You will need just a touch before you get to the 9 O'Clock position. Take a look at the Understanding Shoulder Elevation Video and the 4 Square Drill in this Section. Also, discussed in the 5 Mins to the Perfect Takeaway in the Takeaway Section.
March 5, 2015
64x64
Jason
Hello Craig Iv'e looked at 5mins to a perfect to a perfect take away and understanding shoulder elevation as I have them on my favourite list. Iv'e looked at 4 square drill and I like this video as well. I was just looking for a finer detail as to when to start the elevation as none of these videos say exactly when. Do you think I'd be safe if I started back ,with the shoulder blade glide say an inch, then added elevation?
March 5, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jason. My apologies. I thought you were wondering if there was shoulder elevation in the takeaway. Yes, you start the club swinging with the rotation/pull of the trail shoulder. Once you get the momentum of the club going add a little elevation.
March 6, 2015
64x64
Richard
do you allow a. channel on the backswing or do you prefer an exact position as you described.
January 24, 2015
64x64
R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Richard, The way described above is the most efficient way to do it, but ultimately, if you can get into the impact alignments that are shown in the videos for the downswing section of the site, then you can pretty much do whatever you need to do to get there. The pros all get to the same alignment positions but take very different ways to get there. This site is geared towards teaching the most efficient and safe way to hit the golf ball, but it is possible to deviate from this and still perform well. Just know that there could be injury or inconsistency risks, depending on what you're doing, if you deviate from the RST program. R.J.
January 25, 2015
64x64
Terry
Please explain what you mean by flexion (sp) as you addressed it in this video. thx Terry
January 11, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Terry. Flexion is the technical term for bend. Ex. Folding the trail arm would be adding flexion.
January 11, 2015
64x64
Michael
How do we see Craig Morrow's video on the takeaway with the pencil attached? I like this video also.
January 10, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mike. We had a server glitch over the holidays. It will be back up very shortly and all members will be notified via email. I'm glad you liked both videos.
January 10, 2015
64x64
David
As you move your shoulder blade back & down on the take away what is the role of the hands, I was told long ago that the left hand pushed the club back and pulled it through, should I be moving the club head, the grip or what?
January 8, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. The hands will stay relatively passive in the takeaway. There will be a little forearm rotation and wrist set, but the origin and majority of movement will be dictated by pulling with the shoulder and oblique. Take a look at 5 Minutes to Mastering Rotation in the Takeaway Section. Don't over think it too much. Stay away from trying to start the club head movement too soon before the body starts to pull.
January 8, 2015
64x64
ERNESTO JOSE
Is it correct to say that you have to go down with your arms in the downswing (till the impact) in the same amount that you have elevate them in the backswing?
January 8, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ernesto. The club, hands and arms will technically be a little higher/steeper as you make your strike into impact. I don't want you thinking just "undo" the amount of arm elevation coming down because impact has a little more dynamic principles.
January 8, 2015
64x64
Sheila
Again I am having a problem accessing the Video!! This is very frustrating as it has happened a number of times!!
January 8, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Sheila. I contacted customer support for you. I apologize for the inconvenience.
January 8, 2015
64x64
TOM
Your video in the backswing section of the Advanced Swing section called "keeping the right arm straight to turn" was the best one for me to get in the right position at the top of my backswing. I believe this one provides the proper "arm elevation" you have highlighted here. The video of my completed back swing seemed to confirm it.
January 7, 2015
64x64
Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Tom. Thanks for the post. I'm glad that you were able to find the correct amount of elevation.
January 8, 2015

Arm elevation, or as we've called it on the website, shoulder elevation, it's technically called arm elevation is just the amount that your arms need to raise during the backswing. It causes a lot of confusion for people because there's lots of misnomers about the golf swing out there and some people say that your arms should do one thing, and other groups say your arms should do another thing. The simple fact of the matter is your arms and body have to learn to work together and your body creating the rotation or depth, as we'll explain in a second in the golf swing.

                Your arms need to do the opposite and create the height in the swing, so they have to move up and down. That's why we can it the elevation. Let me tell explain this for a second, as I mentioned, your body creates depth in the swing. We need depth, because the swing is in three dimensions and it's got to go back here and it's going to go back here because the shaft angle of the club design. If the shaft was vertical, we wouldn't really need any depth in our swing, but because it's sitting on an inclined plane, it's going to work back behind us, so we would call anything back behind the center line of the body, from view down the line, as depth in the swing.

                As I rotate back and I have no arm elevation you can see the club's going to want to get ripped way inside me, we see this all the time and you can compound those with a couple of other mistakes like rolling your wrists and rotating and letting your right leg straighten up. Now we've got a really bad golf swing.

                The way that we simply combat this, which again, we don't want to get rid of rotation, we need it. It's an important part of the golf swing to create this depth motion and start to load up some of the bigger muscles for power. The way that we get the arms and body to play nicely together is that we let them work up and down in this fashion, which is arm elevation. Your arm's elevating directly in front of your body, so as I do this motion with this motion in golf swing, guess what happens? I have what looks like a golf swing, so I'm going to let my body do the depth creation, the rotation, while my arms do this and as I put these two together, now I have good take-away, the club's no longer inside here. Turn back, my arms have been elevated and they elevate just enough so that the deflection of my right arm is going to finish the job for me, so that's how I get to the top of the swing.

                How much do your arms elevate? Well there's another video on that specifically but it's just a few inches, relatively. We can call this a big variance here, depending on how you want to swing the golf club, and again as we've talked about, the arms are invariable on the golf swing but your arms are basically going to elevate form about belt high, your belt buckle, to about the base of your chest. When I do the clinics, we get a little more specific, like to talk about the base of the elbow, the underside of the elbow. I'd address, what I want to see is that once your arms finish the top of your backswing that your elbow's going to be about at the base of your pectoral muscle. It's a good average for any golfer to put everything together down the middle.

                When we look at it from down the line, my elbow, as I go to the top, if I drew a straight line from the base of my pec, that's how much my arm needs to elevate to get into a position of leverage in the swing. If I don't elevate enough, what's going to happen? Well the club's going to want to go inside first of all and I'm going to have this really narrow, weak swing because my elbow's pitched down here, close to my rib cage, just noticed now, it's down here by my belly button instead of up here by my chest. I can see common sense is going to tell you I've got more leverage and power from up here than I do from down here.

                That's why elevation is so important, so as you go back, you just want to learn to work on getting your arms to go straight up and down while your body turns and then as you add flection, all of this stuff starts to come together. The arms are just going to elevate just a slight amount, use the base of your pectoral muscle, your chest as a good guide so if you're standing straight up, taking your ball position, your setup position, base of your elbow's going to be kind of close to your belly button. As you elevate up, elbow's going to be at the base of your chest and that's all the elevation you need to get into a powerful leverage position and have a great backswing.

 

We're after one thing: Real Results - Real Fast. And that's exactly what our members achieve. And that's why they say the AXIOM is: Mind-blowing. Game changing. Revolutionary.

Check it out ...

Here at RotarySwing, talk is cheap and the proof is always in the pudding. Come see the massive transformations we can achieve together in your swing.

See for yourself ...

From beginner to pro, we have what you need to get you where you want to go.

See how inside ...

RotarySwing was founded out of frustration with the current state of golf instruction. Quinton knew a better way had to exist to learn this game we all love.

Learn more ...