Get an On Plane Golf Swing with the 4 Square Drill

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Published: February 17, 2014

Killer Swing Plane Drill

This golf instruction website includes many articles and videos, covering the golf swing in great detail. Of course, there would literally be hundreds more if we included every single thing we use in our in-person golf lessons throughout the week.

QuadrantsThe visual aid creates quadrants

Here's one very important swing plane drill that we use almost every day. We call it the "4 Square Visual."

We use a simple alignment aid to help you visualize the different spaces in the golf swing. This is a great drill to help you to develop an on plane swing.

Think of the golf swing in terms of two halves, front and back; and two sides, left and right. This creates four quadrants, as you can see in the photo.

Today we're going to talk about the front and back halves, seen from down the line. Specifically, we're going to look at the backswing in terms of these quadrants and what you should visualize, especially if you struggle with the club getting deep and off plane.

Try It Yourself

Lay a pair of crossed shafts or tour sticks on the ground to create the four quadrants. As you can see in the photo above, Box 1 is the front left quadrant, Box 2 is front right, Box 3 is back right, and Box 4 is back left.

Don't do thisThis is what you want to avoid - the club being deep and not on plane

Thinking in terms of those four boxes helps us discuss where the golf club and your body need to be in different phases of the swing to develop your swing plane with this drill.

For instance, something we emphasize a lot during the takeaway and backswing is that you never move the club into Box 3.

Now, obviously the club does move into that box -- it has to -- but you don't want to feel that you're moving it there yourself because, if done incorrectly, it will get buried and stuck and rolled inside.

The golf club will stay in Box 2 throughout the takeaway in the golf swing. It should always feel like it's forward of that front/back dividing line.

Stay in Box 2 to Keep Your Golf Swing On Plane - Drill

The whole point is to avoid the position shown in the photo above, where the golf club has moved inside, into Box 3.

Instead, you're going to keep the club in front of you, in Box 2, as you rotate in the swing. If you're used to moving your arms and getting the club way around your body, you may feel like you're extending it way out in front of you at first.

The only way to keep the club in Box 2 is to move correctly during the backswing, which involves just two things:

  • Rotation of your upper body
  • Elevation of your arms

Put those two things together and the club will travel back on plane with this swing drill.

Tour sticksUse tour sticks or just a shaft on the ground

Just turning your body and using your arms to elevate the golf club will keep it out in Box 2 the whole time, but it's a very different feeling than you may be used to.

The problem is that many golfers use their arms to swing the club across into the depth dimension of the swing.

Going back to the original diagram, everything in Boxes 3 & 4 is depth. You get into the depth dimension when you move the golf club around you, crossing that line and getting it behind you.

When you move it up and down, you're working in the vertical dimension.

You should feel that your arms are working only in that vertical dimension during the backswing in golf. It's only the rotation of your body -- not your arms -- that will carry the club into Box 3.

A New Feeling for an On Plane Golf Swing

If you're used to coming deep as you go back, then when you visualize these quadrants and work to keep the club in Box 2 you'll probably feel like it stays out front even as you keep turning and get to the top.

You can use tour sticks for this if you have them, but you don't need a fancy training aid. You can just lay a single shaft on the ground at your toe line, as shown in the photo below.

The shafts should be parallelThe shafts should be parallel

If you take the golf club back correctly during the takeaway, by the end of the takeaway it will be directly over the shaft on the ground, every single time. This is how you use this drill to get your golf swing on plane.

Elevate your arms going back, and use the rotation of your body to move the club into the depth dimension. Just turn back.

Picture these quadrants when you practice, especially if you have a problem with the club going inside.

Work on feeling like the club stays in Box 2 throughout the entire backswing, and that will help you stop getting stuck going back.

Just drop a club on the ground and use it to check your position, even during the takeaway.

Make sure the club stays out in front of you, and that it's parallel to the shaft on the ground when you finish the takeaway. Then just keep going up from there and it will feel like it stays out in Box 2.

We use this method all the time in our private lessons. It's a very effective visual and will help you with your takeaway.

Checkpoints for Practice

  • Think of your swing in terms of two sides (left & right) and two halves (front & back)
  • A training aid or shafts laid on the ground help you visualize the four quadrants
  • The club should stay in the front right quadrant, Box 2, during takeaway
  • At the end of takeaway, the club should be parallel to the shaft that divides front from back (Box 2 & Box 3)

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