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5 Minutes to the Perfect Golf Backswing
This golf instruction video is all about giving you drills you can use five minutes per day to get your backswing dialed in like a tour pro.
Once you've mastered the golf setup and the takeaway in the golf swing, it's time to get us all the way to the top of the backswing. If you haven't mastered the set up and take away yet, you're not ready for this video. Do the right thing. Master the takeaway first; then come back for this video once you've mastered that piece. You need to have a perfect takeaway to set up a backswing to make it simple to get to the top in the right positions.
I'm going to walk you through the exact same progression that I use when I teach students in person so that you can get the exact same experience and understand exactly how you need to work through the backswing to get into a perfect position at the top every time without any problems.
There's two techniques that I use. The first one is progression or stacking. What that means is I'm going to make things really simple at first, and then each time we master a simple little piece of the backswing I'm going to stack another piece on there to make it more challenging.
The second piece is I'm going to use isolationism. What that means is I'm going to take all the distractions away at first. There's going to be no club, no ball, none of that, so we're really just focusing on movement. That's really what we're trying to do. We're not trying to hit a perfect golf shot or have a perfect contact or impact position yet. We're trying to learn a new movement pattern. That's critical so that you take what position the golf club faces in and realize all you're trying to do is create a new movement pattern, and that's it.
I'm going to show you exactly how we do that. The first thing I'm going to do is get rid of the golf club because I don't need that yet. That's just a distraction. Here's the first thing that we're going to do. Before we actually start the movement, I want you to understand a concept. This is critical that you understand this, because this will affect your vision, or what you can see the golf swing to be. Once you understand what your preconceptions are and how they may be flawed a little bit, you'll understand why people end up in the typical positions that we see every day on the lesson tee.
The first thing I want you to think of is that when you're looking at a golf swing from down the line, there are two dimensions basically. You're going to think of vertical movement in the golf swing, and around movement, rotation. When I demonstrate this for my students, what I'll typically do is put a shaft down the line in the middle of my body here, and tell them that anything behind this shaft would be in the depth dimension, and then anything moving straight up and down would be in this vertical dimension.
Where most people go wrong with the backswing is that they try and move their arms and club into this depth dimension. When they do that, that's how you end up really flat and deep and in a bad position at the top. What you need to think of is that you never move your arms into this depth dimension. All the arms are doing is moving in this vertical dimension and that's it. Now technically that's not exactly what happens, but that's what 99.9 percent of the students need to focus on and feel in their golf swings.
What you're going to do is to get into this depth dimension because obviously the club is going to end up behind us. That is handled through rotation. Now as I turn, that moves my arms, starts to move them, into this depth dimension. It's done by rotation, not be me taking my arms and swinging them across my body. That's going to end up with a flat swing. What your arms do is that they feel as if they're only moving straight up and down in this vertical dimension.
As I'm doing this, this is when our first drills are going to start, it feels like I'm just moving my hands straight up and down over my head. That's it. They're not moving this way. They're moving straight up and down. When I put the two together, vertical movement and depth movement, rotation, here's what it looks like. I'm going to only do vertical movement while rotating, and when you put the two together, you start to create a golf swing and a swing plane. All I'm doing is this with this.
What you start to understand now is that my hands and arms always feel like they're out on this side of the shaft. Never into this deeper dimension. They feel like they're going straight up and down in front of my body, while my body turns. That's the concept of the golf swing, of the backswing, is that your arms are always on this side of the shaft. You never move them into this dimension. They do get there. You can see that my hands are now behind the shaft, but they got moved there by the rotation of my body. That's the first concept that I want you to understand.
Now let's get to work doing some drills. It's very important that you follow along with me and go through the drills with me. It doesn't do you any good to just sit here and watch this video. I need you to get up out of your chair and follow along with me because this is important.
The first thing we're going to do, we're going to isolate down to the simplest movements we can create during the backswing, and that is what we call shoulder elevation in the backswing. It's very little. This is how much my arms are going to move. I'm starting them at belt heights and moving them up about to the base of my chest where the bottom of my elbows are just below the bottom of my pectoral muscle. Tiny amount of movement vertical.
You'll notice that my hand are staying straight in front of the sternum of my buttons on my shirt, and that's it. From this dimension I'm standing straight up, hands are about belt high, and they're elevating to the bottom of my chest. This is what happens during the backswing. Once you can do this, we're ready to add the next piece in. A lot of people are going to be doing this. We're in trouble. It's just straight up and down, vertical movement only.
Now what I want you to do is move your hands to the base of your chest. Then fold your right arm. Notice that my elbow and my shoulder are in alignment. Right now my wrist is in alignment. Later on we're going to add a little bit of rotation, but for right now, elevation, flexion, is how you're going to learn the basic movements of the arms. This is it. From down the line, elevation, flexion. Notice that I didn't collapse my right arm, because when we add the left hand in here in a second, that would cause my left arm to fold. I'm just going here and a little bit of flexion. It's not a lot of movement to make a proper golf backswing.
Now we're going to do elevation, I'm going to grab my left thumb, and I'm going to fold my right arm. This is the vast majority of what happening in the backswing. Notice that as I'm doing this, notice that my left wrist is flat and perpendicular to the ground. This would be parallel; this is perpendicular. As I fold my right arm, notice that my left wrist is now on an incline plane. It's at an angle. This is because I'm allowing my left arm to rotate slightly as I go back. This will set the club on plane. If I didn't do this, the club shaft would be too steep. Elevation, flexion, and now my hand would be on plane as I let that rotate. Notice that my right elbow is still in front of my shoulder, and the left elbow is above the right elbow.
The other critical piece here is to notice what I call the right elbow pit. My elbow pits at address, in neutral joint alignment, would face straight away from me, not in like this. That's not good posture. That's not normal. Everybody's elbows face out this way if we took all the muscles off you. As I elevate and my arms come across to the center, there's a little bit of internal rotation, but we want to try and keep this right elbow pit always facing out away from us. That's going to be very critical when we get into this rest of the backswing.
Elevation, grab the left thumb, flexion, and we've got a great backswing. As I mentioned, there's going to be a little bit of rotation here. We're not going to worry about this so much for now. Just here, get that elbow and shoulder in alignment. From down the line we've got elevation, flexion. Notice that there's a not a great deal of bend in my right arm. I want to feel like I have a lot of width and my hands are out away from me. I'm not trying to rip my thumb back into my shoulder. It's here, and that's it. That's the basic movement of the arms.
Now what we're going to do, once you can do that correctly, and watch yourself in a mirror that you look like I did there, now what we're going to do is we're going to stack another piece on there. What we're going to do is we're going to do rotation with our elevation and flexion. We're going to make it a little bit more challenging. What we're going to do here is elevation, flexion. Now because you should have already mastered your set up by now, you should know how to hinge from the hip and get into the right position, and you should have already done five minutes to perfect rotation so I shouldn't have to tell you how to rotate at this point. Rotate to the top, and now I'm in the right position. Stand up again. Elevation, flexion, posture, rotation. That it's it.
This is how you check your backswing every time. Stand straight up, elevation, flexion, get into your posture, rotation. Stand straight up, elevation, flexion, get into your posture, rotation. Notice that my elbow is still in front of my shoulder. I didn't do anything with my arms when I added rotation. I just transported them as a unit with my torso rotation. That's how your arms get moved into that depth dimension I was talking about earlier.
If you find that you do this and your arm looks like this, you've let this elbow drift away from you. What you need to imagine is that I've drilled a bolt into your arm. It allows it to move up and down, but it doesn't allow it to move this way. It doesn't allow it to move away from the body. It's only moving in that vertical dimension, not the depth dimension.
If you find that you're here and your elbow just moves out a little bit, that's where that little bit of rotation of this part of your arm comes in. A lot of you will find that it's really normal for you to get here and your elbow pit wants to face back at you. As we get into the rest of the backswing, what we'll see is that as I'm going back, I want that to face away from me and at this point should feel like it's facing the sky. It should never feel like it's rotated in. If it's facing the sky, my elbow can fold up. If it's facing this way, my elbow is going to fold in and move out away from me and get that flying right elbow. It's important to keep that elbow pit facing away, and now we're in a great position at the top.
That's the first piece. If you do this correctly, you take the time to go through these little steps that I've done, elevation, flexion, rotation, you'll know what it looks like and feels like to be in the perfect position at the top of the swing every single time. Now we're going to challenge you a little bit more.
Now what I want you to do is go ahead and pick up a golf club, but I want you to flip it upside down. The reason for that is there's a tremendous amount of weight, even though it doesn't seem like it, but once you start moving this around in space there's a lot of inertia. As it builds momentum, it's going to want to act on your wrist joints and get you to move out of position. You're also attuned to what the club head feels like at the top of your golf backswing. What you're used to. What you're used to probably isn't right, but you're going to want to settle back into those old movement patterns. We want to create new movement patterns, which means we need to break some old habits, and we need to start with baby steps.
Now we're going to make it a little bit more challenging. Hands are still in front of the center of my chest. Elevation, flexion, and let's see if we can keep everything else the same. If it's not, throw the club down and go back to doing it with just your arms until you can do that exactly right every time. Then we go elevation, flexion, posture, rotation. Same thing here. Elevation, flexion, posture, rotation. Perfect position at the top. That's all we've got to do to get there.
Once you master that, and this is going to take a while. You need to be patient with this because you're going to do it incorrectly. It's taken me lots and lots of reps to do it. The goal of these five minute series is to get you to do these same movements over and over and over again at least five minutes a day. If you can put in 10, 15, 20, or 30, that's excellent. In five minutes you should at least be able to start making progress on your golf swing.
Once you start getting that comfortable where you have it with the shaft upside down, flip it into the normal position. This is where things get tricky. Now what we're going to do, same thing. I messed up there. Here, set up, posture, rotation. Elevation, flexion, posture, rotation. Then we should see what it looks like and feels like to be at the top of the swing, and now you're going to notice that club is going to feel a little bit heavier. You're going to notice how it wants to move your hands and wrists out of position. It's very important that you take your time and move very, very slowly.
Once you've done this enough, and you're going to start out with just your arms, you may need to do that for the first week until you can get just your arms correct. Then add the distraction of a golf club turned upside down. Maybe that will take you another week. For some of you it may take five minutes. Once you can do it correctly, that's all that matters. Then you can flip the golf club back into its normal position and start working from there.
Now, once we know what it feels like to be in the right position, here's what we want to try and do. We want to stack all of these things together and move to the top of the swing in one motion from a set up position. We're not quite ready yet, just yet. What we're going to do now is we're going to start out in our posture, do our elevation and flexion, and rotate. We want to do this enough until we get it right every time and can do it from our set up position. That's the next little evolution here of our drills. The progression here is to start from set up.
Now, once we've got the set up and we know what it feels like it feels like to be at the top, we know what the arm movement feels. It just feels vertical. It doesn't feel like it's moving across. Now what we're going to do is try and glue it all together for a perfect golf backswing. Set up, get in your posture, and all I want you to try and do, if your take away is already mastered, which it should be if you're watching this video, we're going to try and get from here to the top, and I don't want you to think so much about how to do it. Your take away should be ingrained by now. What I want you to do is let your movement patterns happen. Let your take away happen. Feel the same things at the top.
You know what it feels like. You should have done enough reps right now by the time you move to this final stage of trying to do it correctly with the club in your set up position flipped normal side out, then it's going to be just getting to the top. First, I want to take another distraction out. I'm going to take the weight of the club head out of there. I'm going to start in my set up position with just the butt end of the club down. I'm just going to try and get to the same set up position or top of the golf swing position by doing the same move. I'm feeling this and this, with a club in my hands.
I'm just trying to get to the top. If you can't do it with a club in your hands, throw the club down, grab your left thumb, and create the same movement. Now we're doing it from our set up position. Until you can do that right, there's no point in having a club. Once you get it all together, then take the club, get in your normal set up, normal grip, and just try and move the same position at the top every time.
Check yourself in a mirror. If you don't have a mirror or camera, you're going to have a hard time mastering these moves. You must be able to see exactly what you're doing. Once you can do this, you will have a perfect backswing every single time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the correct backswing in golf?
With the back swing, what we're really focused on is the REF, an acronym that I created, rotation elevation flexion. We're going to rotate our body. We're going to elevate our arms at our shoulders and flex the right arm, and this one's going to rotate a little bit, and this is the whole movement during the back swing while turning and shifting our weight. That's it. The movements can't get any simpler than that.
How do you do a proper backswing?
Stand straight up, elevation, flexion, get into your posture, rotation. Stand straight up, elevation, flexion, get into your posture, rotation. Notice that my elbow is still in front of my shoulder. I didn't do anything with my arms when I added rotation. I just transported them as a unit with my torso rotation.
How far back should golf backswing be?
Your arms need to stay in front of your body, and to do that, they only move vertically. If your arms are moving side to side, your arms will always end up buried, flat, and deep behind you.
How do I practice the perfect backswing?
RotarySwing instructors teach the entire backswing by focusing their students' attention on these three little letters: REF.
Rotation is for the rotating body and the rotating forearms during the backswing. Both are ALWAYS rotating throughout the entire swing until impact when the body slows down and the golf club fully releases.
Elevation refers to the way the arms work vertically up and down in front of the rotating rib cage during the backswing.
Flexion refers to the very late bending of the right arm in the backswing.
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-Dr. Jeffrey Broker, Assoc. Prof. in Biomechanics at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Former Senior Biomechanist for U.S. Olympics Committee
-Hub Orr - Happy PREMIUM MEMBER of RotarySwing.com
-Sam Jarman, PGA Golf Instructor in the UK