Getting Stuck on the Downswing

Tiger Woods used to always complain about getting "stuck" in the downswing; a position that had the club approaching the ball too far from the inside and lead to a block or a flip hook. Over the years, he's made several changes to combat this and I'm going to talk about the primary move that helps all golfers avoid this dreaded feeling. I'm using tour professional Skip Kendall as the example of what "not" to do.

  • See side-by-side video of Tiger Woods & Skip Kendall taking similar shots
  • Skip opens his shoulders too early, losing lag and getting the club stuck behind him
  • Tiger fires his hips first, keeping his arms in front of his chest and maintaining lag
  • Unwinding the shoulders from the top creates centripetal force that throws the club outward

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Mary
Chuck mentions the next video. I would like the name Thank you
July 6, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mary. I am unsure which video he is referring too. If you have a specific need I will be happy to suggest which ones you should look at.
July 6, 2020
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William J
Craig, thanks for the explanation. In practicing the squat to square move, which brought my arms into the hitting area, I was concentrating so hard on on the sit/squat that I was not using my left lat and oblique to move the lead arm into position (hitting area). So if i understand the move correctly, when drilling this i should be coupling the squat and actively engaging the lat and oblique together to bring the arms where they should be. Thanks.
March 17, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello William. Yes. The oblique will bring the hips to square as you shift into the lead side. The lead lat will have some engagement. It's not a yank, or big tug so to speak. But, enough to help pull the arms in front. Take a look at the Left Arm in the Golf Downswing Video for more info.
March 17, 2019
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William J
in this video Chuck explains how Tiger uses the proper muscles (left lat, rear delt.) to pull in the downswing. In other videos Chuck uses the squat to square and the sitting into the left side videos to demonstrate how the club is brought down into the hitting area without using those muscles that Tiger uses. I know that these methods (squat to square...) work because that is what I use to bring my club into the hitting area. Are these differences just because of the different philosophies in the downswing or ???
March 17, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello William. During the squat to square weight will be shifted to the lead side and the hips will square. When the core and obliques start to square the hips. The lead lat will aid in bringing the arms in front. It's not a difference in philosophies. The same thing is happening in your swing. Just a different way of looking at the muscle groups that are working.
March 17, 2019
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Giap
I shift my weight first and have a good amount of lag but I still struggle with getting stuck. What should I do?
February 19, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Giap. Your trail arm behind the body stuck? Sounds like you are giving the arms time to work in front during the transition. Maybe a little rushed. Take a look at Left Arm Only Downswing Drill. Make sure as you are shifting you allow the lead arm to get pulled in front.
February 19, 2019
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Frank
Hope you can update the corrections, drills for getting unstuck. The videos previously here are gone.
July 7, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Frank. Apologize about the videos being gone. You need to first diagnose why you are stuck. I would start with the Trace the Plane Line Video and Level Shoulders Drill.
July 8, 2018
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michael
Hi Craig, would the follow up video trace the plane line where Chuck refers to twisting the shaft on the downswing, help me get the club in front of my body as you mention in my review? I realise it won't do much for my early release but it's a concept I'd never grasped before. Regards Mike
August 22, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Michael. Yes, it will help. But, you have to make sure you still get a proper transition. Don't rush the early part.
August 22, 2017
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Michael
rst what was the follow up up next video, arms in front of body, mentioned by chuck at the end thanks mike
September 30, 2016
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hi Michael, check out the trace the plane line video!
October 1, 2016
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Andrew
Is flipping the club to save the shot at Impact a subconscious reaction to coming under the plane on the downswing? What is a reasonable window to be in of degrees from in to out to prevent blocks and hooks?
January 28, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Andrew. There are a million reasons for the flip. One of them is your description above. Typically, a subconscious reaction to the arms and hands that if they want to deliver power they have to speed up or find some room. Flipping can easily be caused by coming under the plane and being in the stuck position. Body shapes and types are different the degrees may vary depending on trail arm positioning. If you are currently stuck a little under plane. Take a look at the Trace the Plane Line Video and the Level Shoulders Drill to zero out the path and decrease trail side push/secondary axis tilt.
January 28, 2016
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Loran
What can I do to resist the temptation of throwing the club away from my body at the top of the backswing? Any suggestions?
January 5, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Loan. It is a hard urge to fight. Golf basically goes against all the normal instincts to produce power to a little white ball. You need to think/remember that you want to wait as long as possible to release energy. If you were throwing a ball the movement at the top would be tossing it in the air. You want to throw a strike. Reverse - Neutral - Drive. Not floor it from the top.
January 5, 2016
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Stéphane
Hi! My swing is very from the inside. The feel I have of my swing is that on the downswing I don't load on left glute before to pull hard from left shoulder. Down the line, my club drop under the plane with an open face maybe because I pull hard from the left shoulder and pushing against the shaft with my left hand thumb which result in duck hooks. The correct release is in part doing by the forearm overlapping each other with a counter clockwise rotation right? Well, my question is it possible that it's impossible for me to correctly releasing the club on downswing because of that hard left shoulder pull because I think that my arm/forearm are rotating the opposite way(clockwise), a result of the left high shoulder pulling so hard that my forearm just can't release the other way? I don't know if it make senses but since 1 week I concentrated on the counter clockwise rotation of forearm on downswing and I began compressing the ball. The camera showed me that I was perfectly on plane with a closed clubface at the 3rd parallel and my left shoulder was level instead of high pulling back. I don't know why but it seems to me that if I pull hard from left shoulder that's going up, the arms can't release and the opposite seems to be true...If I rotate the forearm counter clockwise with relax hands, it's impossible for me to pull from left shoulder because shoulders feels locked with this forearm rotation. Does it makes sense? Thanks a lot!
August 30, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Stephane. If you pull to hard from the left arm you can get under plane and start to get stuck. Leading to the inability to release the club. You need to zero out your plane. Take a look at the Trace the Plane Line Video. This will train you to work down perfectly on plane giving you the ability to release the club.
August 31, 2015
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Sergio
Hi, which is the next video that he refers to? thanks, regards.
June 8, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Sergio. If you look to the top right of this page. It will say Recommended Videos. Try those 3 videos to find more details about your inquiry.
June 8, 2015
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Frank
I use an iPad. There are no videos listed at top right. What are those three? I was hoping to get a drill to avoid getting stuck. What drill do you recommend?
July 5, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Frank. The videos referred too are no longer on the site. Do you tend to get stuck and under plane due to hip spin/lack of shifting?
July 5, 2018
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Frank
No, I start shifting my weight forward and let my arms and club go too far behind me. I tend to make a little backwards/downward loop that gets me stuck. I think I make the move to help get more inside approach. Aaron’s swing review said stop backswing sooner/shorter. I was looking for drills. Thanks
July 5, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Frank. For shorter backswing, try the Start Your Downswing Before Completing the Backswing Video. My suggestion on the loop is to understand less trail push and a zeroed out plane (Trace the Plane Line and Level Shoulders Drill).
July 5, 2018
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Matthew
I've been working on getting my weight fully on my right side in the backswing. I've had a tendency to keep my weight completely on my left. After fixing this my swing is much more flat. Is this a good thing and is there anything I can do to improve on in doing this? Thanks
April 6, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matthew. Are you saying that the backswing has gotten flat now that you transfer the weight to the right side? If so, take a look at Understanding Shoulder Elevation and Arm Elevation in the Backswing Section to understand getting it up on plane. Also, the 3 Functions of the Right Arm in the same section will help you own your new plane.
April 6, 2015
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Matthew
What video is he talking about on how to fix it?
April 6, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Matthew. If you look to the right of the downswing section videos (top right of this page). It will say Recommended Videos. Try those 3 videos to find more details about your inquiry.
April 6, 2015
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David
Hi Chuck, I seem to be able to release very well with my irons, but have a great deal of trouble releasing my driver unless I play the ball way up in my stance (approximately a foot in front of my lead foot). If I do not, I end up feeling extremely stuck, sometimes even taking a divot and popping the ball the straight up. But when I move the ball up, I have no problem getting a good release. It feels like I have the proper amount of time to move my hands arms back into position and catch the ball on the upswing. However, I feel like this is probably not the correct way to be hitting the driver even though it carries about 260. I should mention that I have been very right hand dominant in the past, and am working hard on left hand release drills, making the right hand feel like a passenger. Any insight into what I should be doing to work on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.
March 7, 2015
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey David, we do allow for some adjustments to ball position and stance width when it comes to the driver as we are trying to launch the ball with very low spin. So it is ok to have the ball forward a bit for sure. Now, I the problems that you are speaking of do relate to your right side dominance for sure. You may want to check to see how the lower body is working in the downswing, make sure that it is fully shifted and the lead hips is cleared out before the release. Without seeing the swing, I would tend to think that your arms and lower body are racing each other back to impact and your arms are winning that battle.
March 10, 2015
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Michael
Hi - Chuck says 2minutes 20 secs into this video that in the next video he will highlight the correct mussels that are used in the golf swing. Which is the next Video he is referring too please.
December 30, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Michael. I don't know which set of videos Chuck is referring too. But, take a look at the LADD Video in the Downswing Section to learn the correct pull from the lead arm.
December 30, 2014
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Michael
Thanks Craig, now having watched the video Getting stuck on the downswing which video should follow as per comment please
December 23, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Michael. We have a ton of videos to not get stuck on the downswing. Start with this video first: http://www.rotaryswing.com/videos/full-swing-advanced/downswing/drills-to-avoid-being-stuck-in-downswing Then, check out the Trace the Plane Line Video in this section.
December 23, 2014
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Michael
If you put a club across your chest and made a backswing in the correct posture where should the grip of the club be pointing in relation to the ball
December 21, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Michael. If the club is directly across the chest against the shoulders. The club would be pointing outside the ball.
December 21, 2014
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Russell
I have the same problem as Skip where my right shoulder does not stay closed on the transition to the downswing. However when I record myself on video during the downswing as I squat and shift my weight to the left my right shoulders almost automatically starts on the downswing. I cannot seem to fix it. Is it a flexibility issue? That Tiger more flexible than Skip and Me? Another issue that I have like Skip is that my left hand on video appears to be glued to my chest on the downswing. What can I do to fix this?
September 3, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Russell. Don't worry its not a matter of Tiger's flexibility being greater than yours. You've just used that right shoulder for way too long. You need to train a new movement pattern. Use the Stop Coming Over the Top Video and the LADD Video in the Downswing Section to help train the lead side correctly to pull down versus driving the shoulder. Also, the Sledgehammer Video in the Advanced Downswing Section to understand the difference in power and speed.
September 3, 2014
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louis
You talk about using the proper muscles and that you explain which muscles in the next videos there seems to be a disconnect in information please be specific about muscles in upper body and next video of Tiger the other guy on being stuck.....please respond!!!!
August 2, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Louis. On the downswing. The left knee will externally rotate over the ankle joint. Followed by left hip abduction and pressing the left heel into the ground. Activating the left glute and planting the weight on the left side. The Left hip and oblique will start to pull the hips open. The left lat will aid with helping the arms in front. Followed by firing the right arm and releasing the left through the shot.
August 2, 2014
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nathan
Whats the next video from this one?
May 8, 2014
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Trace the plane line would be a good one to watch after this.
May 8, 2014

                All right, in this video, we're gonna start to talk about the golf downswing movements, and more specifically, this is gonna be the introduction to when we start to talk about the muscles that we actually use during the down swing and the sequencing. I've got two golfers up here that illustrate how to do it right now how to not do it so right. I've got Tiger Woods on the left and Skip Kendall on the right, both are great golfers, great ball strikers, have had relatively good careers. Obviously nobody's great compared to Tiger, but Skip's made a living on the tour for a long time. I know Skip, he's a great guy, I've watched him hit balls a million times out at Keene's Point.

                The thing that's interesting about these two is you can see where things go really wrong really quick just due to not moving in the right sequence and not moving from the right places. Especially with the rotary swing tour, when we talk about all these details and the downswing, this is gonna really help you illustrate and understand why we want to move a certain way, and why we want to move in a certain sequence. The thing that we're gonna talk about today is this infamous term of getting stuck. There's several ways you can get stuck in the downswing where the club gets trapped behind the body and you end up having to come a little bit too far from the inside and try and flip the face to square it.

                In this video, we're gonna see that it's primarily due to, we talk a lot about the pushing versus pulling. You're gonna see that in this where Skip tends to open his shoulders a little bit early as we start the downswing, you're gonna see that his shoulders start to unwind pretty quick and you're gonna see that right shoulder pop out from the right side of his head pretty early. Tiger, granted Tiger's made a little bit more of a turn here, which is gonna help. But the big thing that you're gonna see is that when their arms are about in the same spot, get just a little bit closer.

                Tiger Woods' right shoulder, you can almost still see it on the left side of his head. This is because he's not pushing from the right side of his body to open his shoulders early. When I get into demonstrating this in the next video, you'll see this a lot more clearly. When you start to unwind your shoulder early you start to drive your right shoulder into the ball or toward the target line, and your shoulders unwinding early. Instead of you working from the proper musculature to pull your arms back in front of your chest, which is what Tiger's doing.

                You've heard Tiger talk about a million times, he feels like his arms are just falling at this point to get back in front of his body. Well that may be what he feels, but that's not what is happening, because there's no way, as fast as he unwinds his hips, that the arms would just naturally fall back in front of the body, you have to actively pull them there. Gravity's gonna assist a little bit, but when you're moving that quickly, you have to actively use the left side muscular and the right side, we're gonna talk about in the next video. We're gonna talk about the right peck, how it works, and the left lat, and the left rear delt, that are all gonna help pull the arms back in front of the body so that we end up with the arms back in front of the chest so we don't get stuck.

                As we're gonna see Skip here in the next coming frame. I'm just gonna keep moving them through here slowly, and you're gonna see when their arms are both parallel, Tiger has a lot more lag here where Skip has lost it. You can really see his right shoulder here, it's really opened up a lot. His shoulders are open a lot.

                If we had a down the line view you'd see his shoulders are very, very open, and we'll look at that in another video. You can see that his arm is really pinned against his chest here whereas Tigers is starting to work back out in front of his body. You don't see it strapped across his chest here like you do with Skip. Skip is basically just turned into his left arm and now the club is trapped behind his body. He's gonna have to continue to push that right shoulder into and around so that the club will start to get back out in front of his body.

                Unfortunately, as he continues to push, the harder he unwinds, the more the club throughs out away from him. This is why it's so important to not just unwind your shoulders from the top because you create a throw out motion that's very, very difficult to overcome unless you're very strong. Because the harder you unwind this part early in the swing, the earlier the club wants to get thrown out from the top. It's just a matter of physics, you're creating centripetal force when you start pulling from this left side and turning your torso really fast and pushing from the right, this center part is spinning really fast. The faster you spin this, the faster the centriphical force is gonna take over, and the fast this club is gonna be thrown out away from your body.

                Whereas in this one, Tiger's kept his shoulders very, very quiet. His shoulders are still relatively, probably 30 degrees more shut than Skips are. I'll try and draw a line here, it's really hard to see this stuff when you're looking at it from this angle, but I'll draw a line through both of his shoulders here. Then try to draw a line through Skips, and it's pretty easy to see even from this angle. If we had a overhead view it'd be really easy to see, but that Skip's shoulders are very open at this point relative to Tiger's and so this is why he's lost all this lag.

                It's solely because of this reason, because you're creating a lot of throw out force, and I see this every day. People want to get to the top and just spin their shoulders as fast as they can and the golf club gets thrown out from here and they wonder why they're casting and flipping. Well, you can't fight the laws of physics here. There's nothing you can do about it, you're not strong enough to hold that lag nor would you want to. That's not how we want to produce golf swing lag.

                As we continue to get further into impact here. Now you're gonna see that Skip's right arm is very bent here, it's not straightening out and it's trapped behind his body. As we move Tiger to the same point in the swing, notice how Tiger's right arm is much more in front and connected to his chest, his elbow is much closer to his torso whereas Skip's is lagging behind. Again, Skip's club is trapped back behind his chest, his chest is kind of pointing either directly at the ball or maybe even a little bit in front of it.

                Whereas Tiger's is still pointing back in this direction so if you just imagined a 90 degree perpendicular line from their chest. Tiger's shoulders are still closed, Skip's are open, and Skip's arm is still buried against his chest. This is the epitome of being in a stuck position. One more frame as we get closer, you can really see Skip's arm bent and stuck back behind his body here. We'll move Tiger's club to about the same spot.

                Notice there's another huge difference and this is the big key why Tiger can hit the ball so much lower than a lot of other golfers. Is that this pulling motion of using the left musculature to get your arms back in front of your body allows your hands to come down more on top of the ball and allows the club to work back out in front of your body. Which allows you to get a really steep angle of attack even with the club like his three wood to launch the ball. Like that famous shot we saw at Bay Hill in 2008 where he launched the ball like a missile on 18 very, very low without playing the ball off his back foot as most others would have to do.

                This is another, a good buy product of it again. But you can see again, Tiger's arms are straightening out here, his arms are right in front of his chest. Skip's chest is pointing out this way so he's stuck. Even at impact, his chest is very, very opened out. His arms are still buried against his chest, he never released the arms off the chest.

                Whereas Tiger's we get into impact, you're gonna see his arms are naturally straightening out in front of his body allowing him to maximize every last bit of speed and is in a much better impact position. Again, it all comes to how we move from the top of the swing. Instead of pushing from the right as Skip is doing here and unwinding the shoulders very fast. You can see he's also pushing off this right leg. We're gonna use the right musculature to get the arms back in front of the body and in the next video, that's exactly what we're gonna talk about.

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