How to Avoid a Cupped Left Wrist at the Top

Learn the cause of a cupped left wrist at the top of your golf backswing and how to fix it.

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Gary C
Does the wrist cup slightly at the top of the backswing when the weight of the club “cocks” to 90 degrees? As I have relaxed my grip I am noticing that the club head seems to pull my wrist into a very slightly cupped position but I am not actively trying to do this. As far as I have been able to tell through my drills (without hitting any balls) the club face is squared up at impact but I don’t want to develop any bad habits. I can actively try to keep the top of my left wrist more flat and then the plane of the club seems to shallow a bit at the top but what I am doing now feels more relaxed and natural with the weight of the club “cocking” into the 90 degree position at the top. When I keep my wrist flat I can’t get all the way to 90 degrees between the club and my arm. This appears to be anatomical in how the hand moves in relation to the club in my fingers. Also checked the checkpoints of my grip to make sure that was correct. Is what I am seeing normal or okay? Looks very similar to the pic from Kevin’s post on this recently.
April 9, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Ideally, lead wrist will be flat at the top. You will allow for the weight to cock the club, but also have to take into account how strong your grip is. Stronger grip will tend to have a touch more cup. Take a look at Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing.
April 9, 2021
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Gary C
If I am noticing a slightly cupped wrist at the top and I am getting that without actively cupping my wrist but just from the weight of the club, as it seems to me, then would that suggest my grip is too strong? Is this something I will be able to diagnose and address better once I begin hitting balls again or should it be a focus now in front of a mirror as well?
April 9, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Check grip now, but also make sure the wrists aren't getting too lazy. If they get floppy they tend to cup. Just to knock off your list just in case.
April 9, 2021
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Gary C
As a point of further clarification for how grip pressure and the design of the club head to rotate and therefore release naturally with light grip affects all aspects of the swing and the release, I am curious if my grip pressure is light and relaxed such that it allows the club head to release properly with passive hands does it matter what happens to the hands at the top of the backswing? I notice some pros have a really flat wrist at the top (Tiger for instance) and some seem to be slightly cupped and others or more bowed (Dustin Johnson being an extreme example). All these players strike the ball well and I assume all would use a light grip, so does a light grip and passive hands that get out of the clubs way compensate for discrepancies in wrist position at the top of the backswing? Not trying to imply that a flat wrist at the top is not important or ideal. Just curious if passive hands and light grip is a more important singular focus point that makes the overall accuracy of other smaller details (like how flat the wrist is at the top) less important to get perfect. It seems with all pros there is a variety of differences in backswing details but everyone looks the same on the downswing and at impact...
April 26, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Those positions have more to do with how players hinge, or add flexion with their wrists. Some players use a push release, and others lead side. Ideally, the lead wrist is flat at the top which will open up more opportunities to change ball flight dynamics at impact.
April 26, 2021
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Kevin
Hi Craig - I’ve improved my takeaway I think and am keeping the clubhead more outside but am worried I am seeing a little cupping - does this wrist position seem OK to you?
March 3, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Kevin. The amount of cupping there is very little. In fact the face is pretty darn square. I wouldn't worry.
March 4, 2021
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Kevin
Thanks Craig - I was able to fix my backswing and posture by adding more hip bend at setup after this picture - obvious tush line issues but the face is still coming into impact too open and I have to slam it shut - just wondering if I should try and play with a more shut position at the top to fix that issue
March 4, 2021
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Kevin. If you shut it at the top. That would be like adding a band aid. Think more like Stab the Thigh, Trace the Plane, or Squaring the Face Early. That isn't too open right there. Just a little underneath and why you feel the slam.
March 4, 2021
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Brian
Many thanks Craig
October 23, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brian. Absolutely.
October 23, 2020
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Brian
Hi Craig, I have a bad habit of re cocking at the top going from a slightly flat backswing to a steeper down swing which causes a cupped left wrist. Any drills you can recommend to help my arm structure and what I can work on to help my sequence. Many thanks Brian
October 22, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brian. 3 Functions of the Right Arm for the Backswing. Winter Golf Training Program - Downswing for the downswing. This will help you gradually add light trail to help it not interfere.
October 22, 2020
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Kevin
More of a positive comment than question. I found this video very helpful when doing left arm only Dead drills. I found that due to the weight of the club it was easy for me to roll the club head inside on the takeaway. By adding a little cup at setup it allows me to take the club away and keep the club head outside of my hands until the mid point of the takeaway before it eventually flattens.
April 6, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Kevin. Great. Take a look at How to Fix an Inside Takeaway as great follow up.
April 6, 2020
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Ron
Craig, I’m sending you this question in the reply mode because for some reason I can’t get the comment button to open. When taking the club back, is the lead wrist cupped during the takeaway and then starting to flatten when you take the club to the top? How long does the lead wrist stay cupped? When does it start to flatten?
August 10, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ron. You start to gradually lose the cupping from address to the top. Take a look at Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing and Wrist cock vs Wrist Hinge Videos. You will still have some cupping at the end of the takeaway and notice the bigger change as the trail wrist starts to hinge back on itself with the trail arm fold. Easy way to picture it is as the trail arm folds and the lead arm starts setting the plane the lead wrist will work to flat.
August 10, 2020
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Ron
Thanks
August 10, 2020
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Claes
When I practise at home I always end up with a cupped left wrist at the top of my backswing. I have tried holding the club with my left arm only but end up in the same cupped position. Any suggestions what I might be doing wrong?
July 16, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Claes. 3 Suggestions. Make sure your grip isn't too strong (Golf Grip Checkpoint Tips), lead arm rotation (How to Keep the Left Arm Straight), and trail wrist not flat/bowed at the top (Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing).
July 16, 2019
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Chad
Hello, so I used to have a flat left wrist at the top, but it looks like that closes the face of the club, correct? Is that ok ? I changed it but now I'm cupped and across the line, which is worse, so should the face be closed if your left wrist is flat or bowed at the top?
July 15, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Chad. Ideally, the face would be square and matching a flat lead wrist at the top. Giving you that on plane, or slightly laid off look. Cupped wrist will open, bowed will close it all dependent on the strength of the grip. Take a look at Using Your Wrists in the Golf Swing Video.
July 15, 2019
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Terry
During the backswing, as we rotate, the hands and arms elevate slightly during initial takeaway. At what point do they elevate intentionally to get to the top of the backswing when rotation stops?
June 5, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Terry. Elevation will be gradual from takeaway to the top. Your arms should stop when rotation stops. It's not a separate motion. You are gradually adding elevation, flexion and rotation until the backswing is completed. None of those pieces will work independently of each other.
June 5, 2019
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Ronan
Hi, When i don't have a ball and i'm practicing my backswing, it looks great a the top When i have a ball like on the picture, it tends to go across the line. Is that a cupped left wrist? a right side dominance? Is it bad or alright? Ronan
February 3, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. The picture is a little small. It doesn't look like the lead wrist is cupped. But, you do have a tendency to get a little deep and across the line. The trail arm looks like it is trying to dominate. Take a look at the Winter Golf Training Program - Backswing Video. Work on getting the hands over the trail shoulder and not letting the club float a little across.
February 4, 2019
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Ronan
Hi, I struggle with this left wrist a lot. Not on my practice swings, they are perfect... but as soon as i have a ball in front of me. I really cant replicate the exact same move, eventhough i'm concentrating a lot to do so ! I now understand where it comes from, and its better, but far from perfect. Is it right to consider that the feel we want to have during the backswing is that the left side is leading it and that the right arm is very loose/not engaging? Because i find hard then to think about the core rotation and the right shoulder pulling at the same time! What do we want to feel exactly during takeway and full backswing? Thanks a million
January 2, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. Teaching feel can be a little subjective. But, you should feel the core rotating and the trail glute loading. As you perform rotation and weight shift the trail arm should remain straight and in front of the body. It will fold a little as you reach the top, but definitely not early. You can simulate rotation, weight shift and lead arm swing to the top to help with the cupped left wrist. Take a look at the Body Rotation in Golf Backswing Video to get a good awareness of what is going on. It sounds like you need to add the ball back slowly. Try to achieve the swing (if practice swing is correct) with a ball in front, but at a much slower pace. The goal is to make the proper move and not contact.
January 2, 2019
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Ronan
Hi Craig, I've watch this body rotation in golf backswing video but i find hard to have the same feeling in my golf posture with a club or even without (just with the arms in front of me). Does that mean i am doing it wrong? Ronan
January 2, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ronan. That doesn't necessarily mean you are doing it wrong. But, it may mean you are changing your shoulder plane when you hinge forward that is adjusting your feeling. Take a look at the Golf Backswing Shoulder Plane Drill.
January 2, 2019
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Alasdair
Hi. Ive just had a swing review from Aaron and he mentioned my backswing is great apart from my left wrist is cupped at the top. I have always thought it should be, and if i flatten it out my clubhead becomes shut (not badly but enough), whereas if its cupped it holds the club perfectly square. I have a square clubface at address so i dont understand how i get a flat left wrist and square clubface at the top. Am i doing something else wrong in my backswing? Thanks Alasdair
May 14, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Alasdair. Sounds like you have a really strong lead grip. I would check grip strength first. And, then Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing Video to check your motion.
May 14, 2018
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Christopher M
Assuming a perfect neutral grip at setup and a perfect flat left wrist at the top of the backswing, and further assume that the right hand is removed from the club at the top of the backswing; then, is the left thumb supporting the weight of the club at the top of the backswing…? Or is the club suspended from the last 3 fingers of the left hand…? Or is the ideal somewhere in between?
March 7, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Christopher. The lead thumb will be helping with support. You want some balance. But, it won't solely be suspended in the air with the fingers giving the only support.
March 7, 2018
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Damian
Gone through the videos, practiced in front of the ipad, been playing nearly twenty years playing off 17, my course is a tough Alistair McKensie designed layout, ( South Moor, England )Heather, gorse no flat lies. Played today broke eighty for the first time ever. Thank you Mr Quinton the best 150 pounds I've ever spent!
February 22, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Damian. Awesome post. Much appreciative of the kind words and congrats on your round. Lets keep it going!
February 22, 2018
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Rich
Due to an injury my right wrist is very immobile. I can only get about 10 degrees backward rotation. No glasses on a platter position for me. So moving it back as far as Chuck does in this video is not possible. It seems that to get my left wrist flat I have to rotate my right elbow in toward my body narrowing the spacing between my arms or slightly loosen my grip with my right hand. To me the elbow move seems the worst of the two choices. Any suggestions, or other options.
January 28, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Rich. Allowing for more lead arm internal rotation from the shoulder socket (How to Keep the Left Arm Straight Video) and slightly increasing your external humeral rotation (3 Functions of the Right Arm and Stop Overswinging Video) shoulder help. Yes, you can easily get carried away with squeezing the trail elbow too much in.
January 29, 2018
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Rich
Thx. Viewed 3 functions and left arm straight. Couldn't get at stop overswinging as it is not included in my members. But I think I the drill in 3 functions will help. The left arm rotation inthe other video will also help. Will practice at both. Thanks.
January 30, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Rich. You're most welcome.
February 5, 2018
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Stephen
Great Video, thanks! This is (one) of my many issues and no pro lesson has ever helped me deal with it so this is music to my ears! One issue though - after I have done some reps using Chucks advice I go to hit some balls but get some terrible slices. Another one of my issues is releasing the club properly so is it possible that by concentrating on keeping my right elbow tucked in/right hand in the 'waiters' position that I am leaving the club face way open and forgetting to do all the other things in the downswing? Would that be a common fault when you try and correct this movement? Thanks as always....
January 3, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Stephen. While maintaining the better trail arm position we usually see lack of lead side release. Your old move allowed you to dominate the top and downswing with the trail side. Now, you are prone to stay passive with the trail side and need to release the lead. Once, you start getting the proper position at the top. Make sure you shift and turn without shoulder spin and release the lead.
January 3, 2018
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Barry
Great to see a Colorado course in your video. Fossil Trace is a unique course, I am glad that you found and liked it.
December 22, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Barry. Thanks for the post. Definitely a unique track.
December 23, 2017
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Steven
Great video. Thanks!
December 21, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Steven. Glad you enjoyed.
December 21, 2017
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Todd
I've played for 50 years and had a cupped wrist for 49 1/2 of the years. No more. If you don't change you will continue to swing over the top, hood the club face thru impact and put a smothering slice on the ball, the ultimate death move or if you hang back you'll duck hook it OB. (Unless your Fred Couples)
December 21, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Todd. The cupped lead wrist requires the golfer to make unnecessary manipulations in the downswing. Keep getting the wrist in the proper position.
December 21, 2017
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kevin
Clay Ballard talks about additional left wrist rotation (bowing) before impact, slightly closing the face and helping with consistency particularly with the driver. Does RST suggest the same?
December 17, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Kevin. The lead wrist will start cupped, work to flat at the top, and gradually increase bowing into impact.
December 18, 2017
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Manny (Certified RST Instructor)
When you say left wrist flat at top, do you mean "no bow or cup" or "neutral? I thought it should be close to the same as when you started at setup with a small amount of cupping. Just a bit confused.
December 21, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Manuel. The lead wrist should be flat. No cupping, or bow. At setup you being with a slight amount of cupping and you will gradually lose that towards the top of the backswing. Take a look at Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing.
December 21, 2017

Hey guys, Chuck Quinton here founder of RotarySwing.com at the beautiful Fossil Trace golf course in Golden Colorado. If you guys haven't had a chance to play here this would be one of the most unique experiences you'll ever find with giant pillars of rock in the middle of the fairways. It's a very cool geming designed course. Highly recommend you check it out next time you're in the Denver area. 
                    What I want to talk about more importantly today is the position of the left wrist and specifically how it gets cupped at the top for so many golfers and they just can't seem to understand what causes it and how to fix it. The great thing is it's going to be a super easy fix. The bad news is it's not going to feel real good at first because it tends to stem back to the same thing that so many amateur golfers struggle with, and that is right side dominance for right-handed golfers. 
                    As you know by now you've watched my videos on push versus pull on the site and you understand that typically most bad faults happen as a result of a pushing motion that's over dominant and over taking the lead side of the body or for right-handed players, the left arm. The same is true when you look at the top of the swing and the position of the left wrist. 
                    So, we want to look at that here and I want to show you first ... I'm going to pull my sleeves up so you can see my wrists a little better, and as I go to the top this is the really typical high handicap position, with this cupped left wrist and typically this goes hand-in-hand with the elbow. Now, I want you to grab a club and do this along with me 'cause this is going to be so easy for you to understand where this movement comes from if you're doing it along with me. 
                    So, take your club go to the top and then I want you to purposely elevate your right elbow this way, away from your body, and straighten out your right wrist a little bit. If you put these two motions together, the right wrist wanting to flatten out and the elbow coming up you'll notice that my lift wrist is going to get really cupped really fast. Now, keep doing this for a minute so you can feel how this not only causes your wrist to cup but it gets you across the line and then this is how it's really easy for high handicappers to come down really steep and for lower handicappers to get way stuck from the inside and have to hit this big flip hook. So, both of those we need to avoid. So, once you get up there and you get used to this elbow coming up, right wrist flattening out ... and again this is just because you're trying to put this right arm into a position of leverage. This feels strong like I can really huck that club down there, but of course alas just like everything else in the golf swing, if you do the exact opposite of what you think is right then it's typically the right answer. And even though this feels good it actually causes tons of problems in the swing. 
                    So, now go to the top with your left arm only and you'll notice how the club naturally wants to swing in what looks like a position that lays off, it's definitely not laid off at the top, but it looks like it's laid off especially if you're used to coming across the line. This club would end up pointing down the target line if I continued to rotate back. So, this illusion of a laid of position you just have to ignore that or get comfortable with the fact that the club's not going to point straight down the line unless you make a nice big turn with a long club. Now, as I go to the top with my left arm only when this laid off position what it looks like, that puts weight on this wrist. The club naturally wants to flatten out the wrist at the top. The wrist throughout the whole swing are gradually flattening. The left wrist is going to start with a cupped position. 
                    I tend to grab my student's wrists and put my thumb right in that crease during the takeaway to make them maintain that cupping position half-way back because so many students want to take that wrist and bow it and that gets the club inside. So, if you keep that wrist nice and cupped and let it gradually flatten throughout the whole sing, by the time it gets to the top it's nice and flat. However, you can totally wreck this motion if you take your right arm and start doing a bunch of stuff with it. If I try and set my wrist and pick the club up and get this wrist loaded up, this forearm loaded up, my arm loaded up, boom cupped left wrist. 
                    So, how do we get rid of this? The simple answer is the same answer I've been preaching for everything else that you're doing in your swing, initially until this lead side is under control of the club, and the body movements are all working correctly, take the right arm off. You don't need it there. At least during your practice swings get used to thee club feeling like it's pulling your wrist flat just due to gravity wanting to pull the club down. Let your wrist swing back naturally as your body swings it back and then bring your right arm up to support the club and you'll notice that the right wrist is going to arch back. It's going to sit like this. The old analogy, which is relatively accurate is, somebody holding like a platter or something, a plate with glasses on it. It's not quite bent back that much but it does need to be allowed to arch back and that pulls the left wrist back. So, you start like this where the right wrist is flat and the left wrist is cupped and at the top it looks like this. That's the whole hinging motion in the entire golf swing. The entire backswing literally just does this and this. That's how simple your wrist movements are. 
                    If you add anything else to this your golf swing a thousand times more complicated. The wrist can move the club a greater distance than any other movement in your body and get the club more off plane more quickly. I can sit here and just do this with just my wrist I've moved the club five or six feet. So, the wrist movement, again it's here, there a little bit of cock, done. That's your whole wrist movement in the swing and so as you're going back if you're used to getting your right wrist like this you can see this is the opposite of what I'm showing you to do. This movement is really simple. This right elbow coming out, right wrist flattening, behind left wrist back, move that club all over the place and makes it virtually impossible to play consistent golf. 
                    So, work on this drill of just doing it left arm only. Sit in front of a mirror and watch your wrist being flat to cupped, or excuse me, bent back, arched back on your right wrist and flattening out your left wrist. That's the whole movement in the swing and then as you combine a little bit of wrist cock as you're doing this hinging motion that's the whole movement. And that just gradually happens throughout the entire backswing. And if you do this and you practice without your right hand on there, you get the feeling, and do it in front of a mirror so you can see it. You'll never have that cupped left wrist at the top of your swing again. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a cupped wrist bad in golf?

One of the things that we see that is unbelievably common in the golf swing, and probably one of the most detrimental, most common, fundamental flaws that we always see is happening just with their arms and hands. Early hinging of the hand and wrist causes a cupped wrist.

What is a cupped wrist in golf?

The most common thing we see is early hinge of the hand, hinge of the right wrist, getting the club buried in behind the body and not getting much movement from the body at all, this contributes to a cupped wrist.

How do I stop my wrist cupping in golf?

Sit in front of a mirror and watch your wrist being flat to cupped, or bent back, arched back on your right wrist and flattening out your left wrist. That's the whole movement in the swing and then as you combine a little bit of wrist cock as you're doing this hinging motion that's the whole movement. And that just gradually happens throughout the entire backswing. And if you do this and you practice without your right hand on there, you get the feeling, and do it in front of a mirror so you can see it. You'll never have that cupped left wrist at the top of your swing again

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