Wrist Cock vs. Wrist Hinge in the Golf Swing

Do you know the difference between wrist cock and wrist hinge in the golf swing? The difference is what separates high handicappers from low.


Updated: 7-16-2019     

Do you know the difference between wrist cock and wrist hinge? If you don't, listen up, because they can be completely destroying your golf swing if you're doing one more than the other, and doing one incorrectly. 
                    Almost without fail, when somebody sets up with their right side dominant, that right hand on top of the club, that I've talked about in the right side dominance video, no axis tilt, weight kind of hanging on the side, et cetera. Without fail, they tend to wrist hinge too much, and not have enough wrist cock. 
                    wrist hingeSo what is that? Wrist hinge, think about riding a motorcycle, right. We've all ridden something like this where you pull the throttle, twist the throttle, and so you're moving your wrist in this plane, it's wrist hinge. If you rotate your arm this way, and move your wrist up and down, that's wrist cock. And this is wrist hinge. Really simple, it just depends on the angle that you're moving your wrist, and the angle your forearm is.
                    When you just hinge your wrist in the backswing, that tends to shut the club face. This moves the club face up and down the right way, and when we just do too much wrist hinge ... Now there is hinge in the swing, I'm going to talk about that in a second ... but if you just do wrist hinge, watch what happens. Club face shut, I'm in that weird gang handshake I talked about in the shaking hands video, where my right hand is on top of the club, and the club face is now hooded, because all I've done to move the club is hinge my wrist.
                    This is really easy to do when you're in that right side dominant position, because your wrist is in a weak position. It doesn't want to cock up, it wants to go this way. Your wrists have to cock and hinge during the backswing, but it's gradual. For most people it's more wrist cock from the left wrist, than wrist hinge from the right wrist. That's when people make the mistake.
                    We're all right handed for the most part, and we want to use that right side to dominate the golf swing, and this feels really awesome, it feels really powerful, but it creates a shut club face, a flip at the bottom, and all kinds of other problems. And it makes the club tend to want to go back inside during the takeaway, so when you see this stuff, look at my right wrist, what have I done? I've hinged it, which has flattened out my left wrist too soon. If you look at my little video I did on this little trick to have your right thumb on your left hand during the takeaway, this keeps the wrist from flattening out, which then only gives you the option to cock your wrist, to take the club up one plane.
                    Now notice, if you're one of these golfers who always takes the club inside and under the plane, guess what you're doing? You're definitely hinging this wrist, and not using my little trick of thumb on the wrist joint to keep the club staying outside your hands, and working up during the takeaway.
                    If we do this, my wrist is now cocking, and as I keep going back, notice I have very little hinge in my right wrist. There's going to be some, but not this much, like most of us tend to want to do, as I go back, and then as I keep going it's going to hinge as I finish at the top. But so many of us want to hinge it early, shutting the club face, ripping it to the inside, and under the plane.
                    So, when you're working on your takeaway, the club should always stay outside your hands, or in line with your hands, we never want it going inside your hands, that's a death move for most golfers. It all starts with wrist hinge, so make sure that you understand the difference between wrist cocking, and wrist hinging in your golf swing. It'll be a much simpler move because of it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should you hinge your wrists in backswing?

When you just hinge your wrist in the backswing, that tends to shut the club face. The wrists should be relaxed and passive, they are not controlling the golf club.

What is the proper way to hinge your wrists in the golf swing?

The golf swing basically doesn't happen from the hands on down. Your hands and wrists are never actively controlling that golf club. You'll dramatically simplify your golf swing and get all of the other side benefits when you focus on making a big body movement-driven golf swing, rather than trying to control everything with your arms and hands.

How do you hinge your wrists?

When you're working on your takeaway, the club should always stay outside your hands, or in line with your hands, we never want it going inside your hands, that's a death move for most golfers. It all starts with wrist hinge, so make sure that you understand the difference between wrist cocking, and wrist hinging in your golf swing.

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James
what should the left hand feel during the backswing? i mean, if at the top of the swing, one should have the sensation of pulling down with the last 3 fingers on the left hand, should they be felt during the takeaway? if the left wrist remains cocked, with chuck's cool drill, does that put the feeling into the last 3 fingers of the left hand?? thanks in advance.
July 4, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. Feel can be a little subjective. So, take the advice with a little caution. As the club start to cock going back you will feel the weight of the club and the pressing down of the butt end in the hand. The wrist will gradually set going back and increase in the downswing with the transition. You should feel lick a gradual crescendo of wrist cocking/setting throughout the swing until you release all the leverage into the strike and follow through. The last 3 lead fingers you will feel throughout the majority of the move.
July 5, 2020
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James
thank you for responding. that is the answer i was looking for. in regards to "the weight of the club and pressing down of the butt end" would that, almost feel like your left hand is driving into the ground (even though one is pulling from the right side of the body; for a guy playing right handed)?
July 5, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello James. Yes. However, you want to shy away from excessive cocking early in the swing.
July 5, 2020
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Harold
Where is the video where Chuck talks about the timing of the wrist cock/hinge and set in the backswing. I cant find it
February 2, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Harold. Hmm. I can't think of a video where he talks about the timing of wrist set/hinge. The wrists gradually increase during the backswing. Take a look at Using Your Wrists in the Golf Swing Video. Chris will explain a lot of the details.
February 3, 2020
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Bruce
When I do my backswing (in which I take it too far inside) at the top, my club always goes past parallel. I do not know what is causing it or how to correct it. Is it a wrist hinge problem?
December 12, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Bruce. Take a look at the Stop Overswinging Video and 3 Functions of the Right Arm Video. Sounds like your trail side arm is over active.
December 12, 2019
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Robert
I just watched the hand hinging video again, very interesting. The hinge at the top of the backswing, do you hold that hinge all the way down to the right thigh with the right amount of lag then turning the wrist over to a knuckles and logo down position.
December 9, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Robert. Hold the hinge with the trail, or lead hand? Ideally, you don't want to try and force anything because excessive tension in the wrists will tend to make you fire lag too early.
December 9, 2019
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Robert
You really did not answer my question.
December 10, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Robert. I need further clarification. I asked in the post above if you were referring to the lead, or trail hand when talking about holding the hinge. Depending on which makes a big difference in my answer. I'm sorry if I didn't clarify that enough. The trail wrist will help you maintain the the lag in the downswing. When you start to release the lag your focus needs to be on the proper lead hand usage. Which it will be flattening/bowing and rotating. The knuckles under feeling as discussed in Fix Your Release and Knuckles Down Video.
December 10, 2019
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Nolan
Should the wrist cock be done solely by the lead hand by pushing down on the club handle during the backswing?
August 1, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Nolan. The lead wrist will do the cocking and the trail will have a little hinge as you reach the top of the backswing. Take a look at Right Wrist in the Takeaway Video to see how passive it will be.
August 1, 2019
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Patrick
Since I've added spine tilt and wrist cock with little wrist hinge in the backswing I've been able to hit my long Irons super flush every time. I went from not even wanting to hit a long Iron to now they are my favorite clubs.
July 23, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Patrick. Lovely!
July 23, 2019
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Alan
Working on this at the moment along with the back swing move - am finding that at the top of the swing the club gave us pointing to the ground and I am coming into the ball with a very open face! Any suggestions?
June 13, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Alan. Make sure you aren't cupped at the top. Take a look at How to Avoid a Cupped Left Wrist at the Top Video. This will open the face too much.
June 14, 2019
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Steven
Aha...explains why I have a shut face at the top. Thank you.
May 28, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Steven. Great. Glad you liked.
May 29, 2019
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Mikko-Pekka
Is it ok to feel very wristy during takeaway? In order to get the club parallel to the ground after takeaway I really have to feel I am cocking my wrist quite much. Or is there something else wrong?
May 3, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mikko. There is only 25% wrist set in the takeaway. Some may feel a little more pressure from under doing wrist set in their normal swing. But, it shouldn't feel massive. Big rotation, and little bit of set.
May 3, 2019
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Alan
Thank you Craig. It's amazing how many things I thought I had correct but am no where near when details are highlighted and addressed. Like Carver, I have been hinging my right wrist since the Faldo/Leadbetter books and video days. Chuck paid me a visit about a week and a half ago (what a super nice guy!!) and put my focus on width in the back swing. And after a couple of days of emphasizing width, I realized that even with width, I could still get the club way too far behind me. This video and the others you recommended are eye opening. Thinking I'm keeping the club in front of me and actually doing it are like night and day. It now feels like my swing is more oval shaped than round, especially the back swing. Thanks again!!
December 22, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Alan. Great. Love hearing the good news. No problem for the help. Glad you enjoyed meeting Chuck. Sounds like you are moving forward with some new insight to get your RST move nailed down.
December 22, 2018
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Carver
Thanks Craig. Not trying to be over analytical about this but I have been a perpetual "hinger" on the bs getting the club behind me. I have made great progress but just trying to make sure my visuals are correct so I can ingrain the feel then shallow the club on the ds. I tend to just cross under the line at the top then come down directly on the line. Not a horrible place to be but want to get the club absolutely right at the top so I can work on shallowing out......if all the verbage makes sense.
December 10, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Carver. Also, take a look at Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing Video. I understand. Just want to make the swing as efficient as possible.
December 10, 2018
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Carver
I looked at many pro swings with a line drawn from the hozel through the right elbow. Almost everyone keeps the club head slightly inside this line through the top of the backswing from wrist cocking. The wrist only seems to,hinge on the downswing and the club head shallows out a little under plane. Make sense? Does the hinging actually occur on the downswing and not the backswing?
December 9, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Carver. There will be very minimal wrist hinge in the backswing (Right Wrist in the Takeaway Video). A slight bit at the top in the trail being how the lead wrist will be flat. There will be an increase in hinge on the way down. I believe you are seeing it the correct way.
December 10, 2018
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David
Hey Craig, I know you guys are picky with your training aids, but wondering what your thoughts are about "The Hanger" or the "Swingyde" to encourage appropriate wrist positions.
November 19, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. I have seen some RST'ers use the Swingyde. If you use the aid correctly and don't over do the wrist setting early. You may use is to help you along the process. However, understand that it sometimes does make you too reliant on the aid, or using the wrists excessively early.
November 19, 2018
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Jeffrey
Hi Craig, for the wrist cock, does it also feel like the bottom of the left pinky or left wrist should be more parallel or at 45 degree angle the ground or should it be more vertical/perpendicular to the ground, as you are doing the takeaway/backswing with the wrist cock?
August 6, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jeffrey. The feeling is a tough aspect too handle. A little subjective when dealing with wrist cock/hinge. The goal is the club parallel to the ground at trail pocket height. For some players, it may feel very loaded and vertical. Others just natural and not much due to the weight of the club. Since, you don't want excessive hand movement, or roll off the ball. A little more vertical/perpendicular may be a safer bet.
August 6, 2018
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Jeffrey
Hi Craig, Thank you for your response. What do you mean by trail pocket height? Can you elaborate on that please?
August 6, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jeffrey. Take a look at the Pencil T Drill. The hands should be at trail pocket height (right side) for right handed player when the club is parallel to the ground in the takeaway.
August 6, 2018
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Jeffrey
Awesome thanks, will do Craig. I found the video, but under what section/topic does this fall under for future reference. I don't see this under the Takeaway or Backswing series.
August 6, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jeffrey. It's supposed to be under the Takeaway Series. Thanks for pointing this out. Must be a glitch.
August 6, 2018
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Joseph
Chuck, I have a question concerning how much hinging of the right wrist is needed at the top (I am a right handed golfer). About 7 mo. ago, I had to undergo a partial row carpectomy of the right wrist due to some arthritis setting in. My right wrist hinging motion obviously has been impacted by the surgery. I have approximately 45 degrees of backward flexion in the right wrist at the top of the swing. My downward flex is close to what it was prior to surgery. I am interested in knowing how much hinging of the right wrist is needed at the top of the swing to play solid golf. I was a single handicapper before surgery - I'd like to keep things heading in that direction post surgery. Thanks for your time! Joe
May 30, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Joe. Sorry to hear about your surgery. Good news though. You don't need a ton of hinge in the trail wrist at the top. 45 degrees should be plenty. If you were say holding a tray. That would be roughly 90. Too much causing a closed club faced and bowed lead wrist. You can even see in the 5 Minutes to the Perfect Backswing. Chuck doesn't have much at all at the top.
May 30, 2018
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Joseph
Thanks much, Craig. Same true for the hinge in the right wrist? I should've mentioned my right wrist hinge earlier - can still hinge the right wrist, but it too is limited. Can I still get solid speed in my swing with some wrist cock limitation in the right wrist? Left wrist cocks 100%, so hoping it can cover the speed coming from the cock the right wrist lacks.
May 30, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Joe. Yes, you can overcome the speed issue. Don't get me wrong. Lag is a great source of club head speed. Over 60%. But, not our sole contributor. And, you don't need a ton of it. Good speed is a blend of width, leverage and rotation (How to Maintain Club Head Speed As You Get Older Video). My suggestion would be to upload a swing for review. Let your instructor guide you to the best possible combination to maximize your ability to create speed.
May 30, 2018
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Lyndon
In Chucks other video "fix inside takeaway" he mentioned to keep the left wrist cocked to prevent the inside takeaway. I must say this immediately fixed that problem. My question is at the top of the back swing, is left wrist suppose to be flat and somewhat cocked at the same time?
May 3, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Lyndon. Yes, to keep from throwing inside maintaining the cupping will keep the wrist roll from over rotating the face early on. At the top of the backswing the lead wrist should be flat and with roughly 50% of your cocking. Using the Wrists in the Golf Swing Video.
May 4, 2018
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Lyndon
ok...just for clarification....at the top of my back swing.....my left wrist is flat with a little wrist cock...no hinge at all? At the top, the position of the right wrist is also cocked with a little hinge? When gripping the club and placing my right hand underneath...my right hand is more in a weak grip and it feels like my right hand is in a full hinge at the top of my back swing. Can you clarify the hand position? I looked at the using the wrist video but my hand/wrist position seem to be in a non consistent position at the top. Thanks.
May 30, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Lyndon. The lead wrist should be flat (not bowed, or overly hinged-cupped) at the top. The trail wrist should have some cocking and hinge. It may tend to feel like the trail hand is in full hinge. But, shouldn't be maxed out. The trail hand "v" should point towards the trail shoulder joint. How to Avoid a Cupped Left Wrist and the Golf Grip Checkpoint Tips Video should give you another visual.
May 30, 2018
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David
Do you eventually want your right wrist hinged at the top? (A la the waiter holding the platter that I’ve heard so many times). I struggle mightily with a cupped left wrist at the top
February 25, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. The trail wrist will have a slight hinge at the top. Not all the way back like a waiter. Take a look at Using the Wrists in Golf Swing Video.
February 25, 2018
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John
Loved your video ,what is a underhand release ? I saw retief goosen trying to explain it .
February 10, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello John. Think about a softball pitcher underhand throw towards the target.
February 10, 2018
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Stephen
So, is this "underhand release" action something that we should or should NOT be doing?
February 25, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Stephen. Focus more on the release of the forearms than guiding it under handed. Arms vs Body Release Video.
February 25, 2018
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John
Craig, it seems like you have a lot of wrist hinge at impact lookin at your photo. How do we get that wrist hinge and forward shaft lean like you have? John
July 13, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello John. While working with Chuck on my swing a decade ago we used a combination of the Taking a Divot Video and Knuckles Down Drill to start cleaning up impact for better control of my trajectory.
July 13, 2018
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David
I had no idea about the difference between cock and hinge. After watching this video, I realize that I hinge my right wrist right at takeaway, which I imagine limits the width of my backswing. I am reminded of the first lesson I ever got from my club pro where he told me to drag the club along the ground before lifting it, which is probably the point he was getting at. Of course, he never explained to me why and I seldom have done it as it felt awkward. The thing I like about Chuck's instructions is that he tells you the "why" of what to do.
February 4, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Thanks for the post and I would check out the Right Wrist in the Takeaway Video for more info.
February 4, 2018
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Carver
very helpful. brings it all together.
January 25, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Carver. Thanks. Appreciate the post.
January 25, 2018

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