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Understanding Arm Elevation

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

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

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Golf Biomechanics: Understand Shoulder Elevation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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