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How to Keep Your Left Arm Straight in the Backswing

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The secret to why you can't keep your left arm straight at the top of the golf backswing.

Why can't I keep my left arm straight at the top of the backswing? I'm just not flexible enough, right? NO!

I wish I had a dollar for everytime some poor golfer was told by some "expert" that he's just not flexible enough to make a proper golf swing. As I've proven 100% of the time with all my students, EVERYONE has enough flexibility to make a full shoulder turn and EVERYONE has enough flexibility to keep their left arm straight at the top of the backswing in golf.

RotarySwing.com's approach to the golf swing is all about teaching you HOW and WHERE to move from and how to sequence these movements correctly. If you do the movements the way they are prescribed, you can build a tour pro quality golf swing that is as powerful and consistent as it looks. So, stop buying into the idea that you're not flexible or fit enough to swing like a pro. The reality is that you're not moving correctly - it's as simple as that.

When you watch this golf instruction video, don't just WATCH. Get up and do the movements that I'm demonstrating here. It doesn't do you any good to just watch this videos, you have to DO the movements. Expecting to learn the golf swing by just watching me is like expecting to lose 20 pounds at the gym by watching someone else workout!

Do the arm movement that I demonstrate and then watch the whole sequence in the video 5 Minutes to the Perfect Golf Backswing. As you'll see, you'll have no trouble getting your arms into the perfect position at the top while doing the drill - which should tell you something!!! Why then can you not keep your left arm straight when hitting a golf ball??? Hmmmmm.....

Learn to move correctly, add power, width AND consistency to your golf swing and lower your scores today!

Hi guys, Chuck Quinton here. You know by now that I love crushing golf myths. Anytime somebody says something out there on TV or in a golf magazine and just says, "This is the way it is," but they don't back it up with any real facts or science and it's just their opinion, well, I generally have issue with that. One of those things, that I see all the time and I hear from students writing in, asking questions on the forum or sending in emails is, "I'm just not flexible enough" or, "I'm not strong enough" or, "I'm just too old to keep my left arm straight at the top of the backswing." It's not true. Everybody can keep their left arm straight at the top of the backswing, no matter your age, no matter your fitness level, no matter your flexibility. I'm going to prove it to you.

                First, I want you to understand the two key reasons why keeping this left arm straight is so important in the first place. The first reason is, understanding where club head speed comes from. Now of course, I've done a video on exactly that, The Three Primary Sources of Club Head Speed, which is on the site. One of those things I talked about in there is width or the radius from the rotating center to the club head. For every half inch that you increase the radius of your swing arc, it increases club head speed by about two miles an hour. That's huge. Two miles an hour, think about that. This is really easy for you to understand because every time you pick up a longer club, you pick up about two miles an hour club head speed. From your seven iron to your six iron, it's going to go about two miles an hour faster and they're only a half inch difference in the clubs.

                When you make a really narrow, collapsed swing by folding this left arm early, you're shortening dramatically the radius of your swing and you're costing yourself free club head speed. You don't have to swing any harder to use width to your advantage to increase your club head speed. You simply just have to make a wider arc. That's a no brainer. You absolutely want width in your golf swing. You want your hands to be traveling in a circle, an arc, as far away from your body as humanly possible. That's one of the huge reasons that you want to keep this arm straight as much as humanly possible.

                The second reason is variability. By now, if you've studied Rotary Swing you know that I hate variables. I want everything to be black and white, hard facts, white or black, hard science, right or wrong. I don't like variables and I certainly don't like increasing variables in my swing. By folding this left arm, that's exactly what you're doing. If you go to the top of your swing and you let this left arm bend, well now, at some point coming into impact it's going to get back to straight. When you do that and how you do that, is just increasing a tremendous number of variables into the swing that are completely unnecessary.

                By keeping this left arm straight, you're making your golf swing much simpler. You're not worrying about timing the release of this arm, and how much force you put into it, and how hard you push it down, and how much you do all this extra stuff with this left arm. Make your golf swing simple. That's what the Rotary Swing is all about. It's about making the simplest, smallest movements humanly possible while still having maximum power in your golf swing. We use physics and science to our advantage, rather than just a bunch of opinions. When you want to keep this left ... The reason you want to keep this left arm straight, to recap, width in the swing and reducing variabilities. Extra club head speed, fewer variables, equals more consistency and greater distance. Those are huge.

                Now, how do we keep that left arm straight? More importantly, what's causing you to not keep that left arm straight? That's really want I want to talk about first. One of the things I preach in my golf clinics is something I always tell people to write on the bill of the cap, and that is, "Big body turn, tiny little arm swing." That's the mantra for your backswing. If you think about turning your body rather than swinging your arms, you're going to have a head start on keeping that left arm straight. Now, what do I mean exactly? Well, most people when they take the club back, all they do is is they just start pushing this left arm across their chest, tightening the left shoulder girdle, reducing their turn, reducing the width of their golf swing, et cetera and not loading these big muscles in your body, which of course, is what we want to do.

                We need to recruit maximum muscle fibers to generate club head speed. If you just push your arm across your chest, you're only tightening up the muscles in your arm. You're only stretching this left shoulder girdle. What that also does, is by the time you get to the top, your arm doesn't have anywhere else to go because it's running into your chest. What does it got to do in order for you to finish your turn or to get the club up to the top? Your left arm has got to bend. Instead of taking your arms and swinging them across your chest, think about turning your chest to move your arms. In fact, I like to tell people, "If that club head's moving, it's solely because you're body's turning not because you're doing anything at all with your arms or hands." If you think about rotating your chest instead of moving the golf club, well guess what? The golf club is going to move and ironically, it's going to move exactly where you want it to.

                That's the beauty of Rotary Swing. When you start focusing on these big core body movements, the club starts going exactly where you want it to instead of you trying to move it there with your arms and hands, which is what everybody does. Stop swinging your arms and that'll keep your left arm from bending almost immediately. Focus on turning your shoulders, stick your arms out. Boom, left arm's dead straight. Why wouldn't it be?

                The second thing that causes people to fold their left arm is taking this right arm and starting to bend it early. Trying to load up this right arm to try and get a false sense of power. This is a huge limiting factor on how much club head speed you can create if you just focus on loading up this right arm going back. You want to keep this right arm, in fact, I call it the governor of width in the clinics, as straight as long as humanly possible. Now, in order to move that golf club, what have I had to do? Well, I've had to recruit all of these muscles in my core and torso in order for the golf club to move halfway back. Now I'm going to keep turning, keep turning, keep turning. Now look, my left arm's dead straight. Why wouldn't it be?

                Now I'm going to show you a little trick. I covered this in the video, 5 Minutes to the Perfect Backswing, but I'm going to do a quick recap of it here. If you take your arms, sit them straight out in front of your chest, elevate them to the base of your elbows, about the base of your pec. You can have a little lower, a little higher. I'm going to move it a little bit lower. Now, fold your right arm until your left arm swings across to where it's over your shoulder. Guess what? That's about exactly where you want it to be at the top of your backswing. Now, notice that my left arm is still perfectly straight. Your left arm, if you get up and do this with me, should still be perfectly straight. If it's not straight, you've either folded your right arm too much, and this is what I see all the time. They have too much flexion in this right elbow and that forces your left arm to bend. Well guess what? Your right arm doesn't need to bend that much. You're thinking about creating width in the swing, which is free club head speed. Keep your right arm wide, and you don't need to fold it that much, and your left arm will stay perfectly straight.

                Another fault that I see all the time is not letting this left arm rotate at the shoulder socket in order to let this left elbow point out, because now I feel really tight. Now, I feel like my left arm needs to bend. Your left arm needs to rotate, while you're doing this drill, in order to set the club on plane at the top. As you let this left arm rotate, now it makes it much more relaxed and my left arm can stay straight. Now look at my arm, holding it out here in front of my body. Why would this left arm ever bend? Just move it up here across your body, let it rotate in front of your shoulder, bring your right arm up there to support it. Now guess what? As soon as I go to the top of my backswing, none of this should ever change.

                How do we do that? Well again, the 5 Minutes to Perfect Backswing, I get in my posture, give it a little axis tilt. My arms are exactly where I just had them and I rotate to the top. Why would my left arm bend? My left arm is perfectly straight at the top. Why would it change? The only reason it's going to change is if you start moving it. Don't move your arms. You set your arms in the perfect position, get in your posture, and then rotate your body to move your arms and club to the top. Don't use your arms. Your arms have already been set in position. Then, as you keep doing this golf swing drill, you slowly go down to address and you pump them back up. Voila, your left arm is staying straight. Your left arm is bending, is because you're moving your arms too much. Remember my mantra for your golf backswing, "Big body turn, tiny little arm swing," and your arm will stay straight at the top.

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"I think he's come very close to a golf swing model that appears to be ideal...It's a big muscle, motor-driven swing that's repeatable...You don't have to be a super athlete."

-Dr. Jeffrey Broker, Assoc. Prof. in Biomechanics at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Former Senior Biomechanist for U.S. Olympics Committee

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-Sam Jarman, PGA Golf Instructor in the UK


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