Why You Are Losing Lag
Before working on the mechanics behind increasing your lag, it's important to understand the main causes for losing it.
1. Spinning the Shoulders in the Downswing
This is perhaps the most common swing fault I see. Spinning the shoulders is simply starting the downswing by aggressively unwinding the shoulders from the top of the backswing.
This rotary motion creates a great deal of centripetal force, the result of which is centrifugal force that acts on the club.
This centrifugal force causes the club head to release away from you and is powerful enough to overpower the wrists and create club head throw away, or a casting motion.
"Just watched this video today. Did this drill for about 5-10 mins. All I can say is 'Wow, I actually have a golf swing again and no more shoulder spinning or getting stuck.'...I looked at a video from yesterday then took one today. It's a huge step in the right direction."
-Michael I. | Sept 30, 2012 | Arkansas
2. Oversetting the Wrists
The second common cause is setting the wrists fully too soon in the backswing.
When this is done, the muscles in the forearms that are responsible for creating the lag are fully contracted and have nowhere else to go during the downswing.
A muscle under tension wants to do one thing – release the tension! So, as the golfer starts down, the club is cast.
3. Too Much Tension
This shows up in golfers of all levels, from the PGA Tour pros I've worked with to the 30 handicapper.
Too much tension in the forearms locks up the wrists and prevents something that is very important in all great golf swings – a downcocking motion.
A downcock is simply the act of setting your wrists MORE during the downswing when it's needed most (see below).
(Note that this was NOT a comprehensive list of faults, but it does cover the common ones that most golfers don't realize are the culprits for loss of lag.)
You can see downcock when comparing the first image to the second one in this complete, powerful sequence that happens when following the drills in this video.
How to Attack Your Lag Destroyers
As with all things that I have devised in the RST System, you will go through a very specific sequence of drills that need to be followed IN ORDER to overcome these flaws.
The order of this sequence is as follows...
Train the Left Arm First:
- Left arm swing into the impact bag
- Left arm swinging freely
- Left arm into the bag with the ball in front of the bag
- Left arm hitting a ball with no impact bag
Each step is progressively more challenging than the next.
Step 1 is something that most will breeze through rather quickly, as is Step 2.
You will want to focus on keeping the wrist and arm soft to allow for the downcock, and then focus on getting into the impact position laid out in the Impact Alignments Face On video.
Once you feel comfortable with this, Step 3 will make the transition into hitting balls much smoother.
The goal with Step 4 is to put all these pieces together into a smooth, effortless swing that creates the same feeling as when you hit the impact bag.
Then Add the Right Hand:
Once you have progressed through these steps, as I demonstrate in the video, you will then add the right hand back on to the club.
This will be a big challenge for those of you who are very right side dominant, so be patient with this process and work through it.
It is critical that the left hand be trained properly, and that will take time. Just imagine if you had to brush your teeth with your left hand, you would probably end up with toothpaste in your eye!
As you begin working on introducing the right hand, it will be very beneficial to learn to let go of the club with the right hand during the downswing.
You want the club to rip through impact with effortless speed, and you will find that holding on to the club with the right hand will actually SLOW DOWN the release of the club.
Take a look at golfers like Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelsen and note that their trailing hands all nearly come completely off the club after impact.
This is a great free-wheeling feeling that shows you how fast the club can move independent of the body.
Here is the impact position as you let the right hand come off at impact.
Where the Speed Comes from in Your Swing
Once you have properly trained the left hand and do the drills in the video proficiently, you want to begin doing a very similar process for training the right hand.
This is where the majority of the club head speed comes from.
In fact, the release of the wrists is responsible for about 60% of your overall club head speed, so take great care in getting this part right!
You should note that as you work through the drills with the right arm, you will be able to produce more lag and maintain it later in the swing, as that is the right hand's primary role in the swing.
"Holy Crap what a feeling!!! I started this drill on Monday, and today, for the first time, I think I hit the golf ball the correct way. I've never felt that feeling that I had from the right arm...Really cool feeling, and I also love when I do the divot one handed, I'm amazed at the consistency."
-Robert H. | Oct 3, 2012 | 16 HDCP
Here I am doing the right hand drill while keeping the left hand as a "passenger," and you can see that a lot of lag is maintained late in the downswing.
Exaggerate Soft Arms and Wrists
One key point that I cannot stress enough is to keep your body out of it and your arms and wrists soft.
Exaggerate that, especially when hitting the impact bag, so that you can begin to create tons of lag in your swing and get comfortable with this process of downcocking.
As you train each arm individually, you will see just how simple the golf swing really can be and start down the road of becoming a "Lag Monster"!
Now let's watch this video!
"Great Video, Chuck! You may be the best golf teacher on the planet!"
-Neil S. | Sept 26, 2012 | 8 HDCP
"Chuck, at 9:38 you give one of the best instruction tips I have ever heard...Perfect. Looking forward to more vids on how to make gravity work in your favour. Thanks again!"
-Paolo R. | Sept 27, 2012 | London
"Hi Chuck, Love this video. This is like the lid for the jigsaw puzzle :0)"
-Sam J. | Sept 28, 2012 | England
As a generic guide, I would recommend that you work on the left hand drills for at least 10 practice sessions before moving on to the right hand.
Submit your swing for a free review (if you are a Premium Member) when you feel like you have it, and one of our Certified RST Instructors will tell you when you are ready to move on or tell you what you need to work on before moving on.
Note, if you do not have an impact bag, which you will need to do these drills, you can pick one up from us here: Buy Impact Bag (opens in new window).
Video Transcription: Re-Shaping Your Swing for Lag - Lessons 1-3
A lot of times when you're working on your golf swing, and you get into the website and there's a lot of videos on there, and you're working on little tiny things and getting into the nuts and bolts of things.
A lot of times what you really need to focus on is just building the shape of your swing.
I call what we're going to work on today, "reshaping your golf swing."
What I mean by that is training yourself to learn how to swing the golf club, how the club works, how the wrist works, and how the arms work.
Left arm drill - Backswing
Rather than worrying about getting my takeaway perfect and my setup perfect and all those things - which are extremely important, of course - but a lot of times we just need to kind of reshape the swing because you have so many little things going on that you don't have the basic idea and the basic concept of how the basic motion of the swing works.
That's what this video is all about. This video is ideal for a couple sets of people.
One, it's winter time and you're just wanting to reshape and start from scratch, because what you have isn't working for you.
This video is perfect for that.
You have winter to work on it. You're not going to hit a lot of balls, although I'm going to show you how to use this drill to hit balls, but it's going to be more for learning how to just build the shape of a great world-class golf swing, without getting into the nuts and bolts of getting every single little step along the way perfect.
Once you have the basic shape of the swing, that's when we can go back and start...making a change in the takeaway makes a huge difference, but if you have no idea how to swing the golf club, having a perfect takeaway, it's going to take a long time to get to the point where you can really enjoy hitting the ball correctly.
The second piece is, for those of you who really don't get the concept of how to train the left and right arm independently.
That's how I always, always work on the golf swing when I'm working on something like this.
I train the left hand by itself, and then the right hand by itself.
I usually start with the left hand first; it depends on the golfer, but the reason for that is the left hand, left arm, left side, controls the position and the impact alignments of the golf club, which is obviously everything.
If the club's in the right position at impact, we've got a good chance at hitting good shots.
The right hand is really primarily there for speed, so we're going to focus on the left arm first, and then we're going to train the right arm.
This is going to be critical for learning how to build the shape of a golf swing.
Then you can go back and watch the other videos and get the details of it.
This video is going to be really critical for just about everybody, but those people specifically who are working on reshaping your swing for the winter, you really don't know what's going on in your swing, this is going to help you with that.
Then those of you who really need to learn how to train the arms independently. That's when you train the left hand, the right hand just doesn't take over, and vice versa.
Let's get started.
Left arm drill - Follow through
When we start shaping the swing, we're going to focus on the left arm first.
As I mentioned in the introduction, that's really what's controlling the overall shape and width of the swing, and those types of things, and the impact positions most importantly.
We're going to focus on the left arm first. I'm going to teach you the basic swinging motion.
This is going to look a lot like what you perceive as a golf swing. It's very simple at first.
Before we get into this progression of drills, we're just going to get the basic shape of the swing. There are a couple of key points that we're going to focus on.
The first thing that I'm going to do is, obviously, grip the club with my left hand only.
Then I'm going to turn back and get my arm to a position at the top that resembles a backswing. Don't worry about getting it perfect just yet.
We're building the overall construct of the swing.
I'm going to keep my left arm straight. I want to see this, but I'm going to turn back; I don't want to see this.
As I turn back to the top, weight's on the right, all the basic stuff. Any piece that you're working on, on your swing - whether it's the downcock or weight shift, stuff like that - you can still do that in this drill.
To the top and turn, and now what I want to do is just shift laterally, just a little bit, just to get my weight back to the left side, and then I'm going to let my left hand swing down.
What you're going to notice is I'm not going to do this. That's what most people perceive as a golf swing.
The only reason you turn in the golf downswing is because both hands are touching the golf club. That's going to force you to turn, but because I only have one hand on the golf club, I only need to shift and let my arms swing, and you'll see I don't turn very much.
Now, the only reason I turned at all is because the momentum of the club swinging - because I didn't try and slow it down - pulled me around. I'm not trying to turn.
That's critical; most golfers, especially the guys who get stuck a lot, add a lot of rotation. The club can never catch up, and that's what causes that problem.
This drill is critical for those of you who, A, either come over the top - because when you're going down you're not going to rotate - that's what causes most people to come over the top.
They turn back, and then they do this, coming down, and that's how they learn to come over the top.
And B, for those of you who spin out and get stuck, this drill is awesome for that. For over-the-toppers and guys who get stuck, it kills two birds with one stone.
We're going to go back, shift, release. Now what you'll notice is that, as I do this, there's going to be a natural little bit of downcock in there if my wrist stays supple.
You don't need to get nutty with it, and get really super supple; I actually hit myself in the shoulder with my shaft, but you can.
That's OK if you need to exaggerate it. If you're used to feeling a casting motion from the top, and especially if you're used to rotating a lot, having a significant downcock to exaggerate it, where it touches you in the shoulder like you can see here, is really easy when that right arm's not in play.
The third group of people this is really important for are those who don't really have any lag or downcock in their swing.
It's really easy when you have just your left hand on there. You just keep your wrist soft, and as you start down and shift, you can see I have tons of lag and I can really exaggerate it and get a lot of lag.
I don't want that much lag; that's a little excessive.
Left arm drill - Release into the impact bag
Now what I'm going to do is start building this into a drill. The first thing we're going to do is with our buddy the impact bag.
You have to have one of these impact bags from the website, or wherever you get one; they're so important for this drill.
What I'm going to do first is the exact same drill, but I'm going to focus on getting into the impact bag. The impact bag is good for a couple things.
One, you're not going to tend to want to keep turning through, because the impact bag is going to stop your forward motion.
The second thing is, it's going to allow you to focus on releasing the club into the bag and get some speed into the bag, rather than just trying to rip yourself around into a follow through.
I'm going to focus all my energy into releasing here. I don't have to worry about squaring the club face or hitting the ball solid; we're going to get to that step next. Here...then I'm just going to release it.
You'll see that as I come through, my body's still going to be squared up. Now I've got myself into a good impact position here.
This is going to be awesome for those of you who have really flipped the club. It's going to keep you from flipping the club into the bag, and it's going to just teach you the basic shape and basic motion of what a golf swing really is.
Once you have that motion, we're going to take the impact bag out for a second, and now we're just going to go back to what I was doing earlier.
You're going to focus on how your divots bottom out now. Here on the grass we'll be able to see it a little bit easier.
As I do this drill, my divot bottoms out and starts in the exact same spot, every single time. That's not me being coordinated and being able to put it in there. I'm just letting physics and the motion do the work. I'm letting my arm swing very soft. I'm letting my wrist be soft in downcock, and then gravity and physics are what are forcing the release of the club here.
I'm not doing anything.
I can even get a little sloppy with it, and it still bottoms out in the exact same spot every time. What you want to do is start getting that to happen without a ball in the way, so that you're not focused on hitting the ball correctly.
Left arm drill - Put a ball in front of the bag
Then what we're going to do is we're going to go to this third step. Once you've got your divots bottoming out in the same spot, now we can put a ball in front of the bag.
Now we're going to kill two birds with one stone.
We're going to get over that little nervous system hurdle, where people always freak out and say, "I do the drill perfectly, then I put a ball in there and it doesn't work." It's not that the drill doesn't work.
It's that your brain is now trying to make a compensation to hit this little white demon.
Now that you've got the impact bag - you'll build a lot of confidence really quickly, hitting the impact bag - you'll get to the point where you can swing and downcock and shift your weight and not spin out, really quickly.
When you take the impact bag away it'll be a little bit more challenging, but you'll get it.
But now, when you put the ball in there...the reason we have this third step is to just get over the hurdle of actually having to just hit nothing but the ball.
It gets a little scary at first for a lot of people, so this is going to allow you to focus on hitting the impact bag, and the ball's just going to get collected. You're going to hit it whether you want to or not.
All I'm going to do now is the exact same drill, back...and you'll see I hit the bag and the ball, just fine. Back...through. The ball's not going to go anywhere. I'm using a 7 iron here. It'll fly into the bag and stop.
What you want to start doing is trying to replicate the free-flowing shape and swinging motion that you have without a ball - just the impact bag or without the impact bag - with the ball in the way.
Then of course the fourth step is to take all of our crutches and hurdles away and start out really easy.
Just like our little "Five Minutes to the Perfect Release" video, just little shots at first, but eventually you'll be able to work up to the point where you can make a pretty full swing and hit the ball just fine.
That'll be the last step.
Right arm drill - Backswing
These four steps are really, really critical for building the shape of your golf swing. Once you have the basic shape, then you can worry about all the details and the positions, and the nuts and bolts.
If you don't have a clue what the shape of the swing and what it's supposed to feel like, this nice, free-flowing, gravity-driven, how your arms come down...
That's one last thing I want to talk about here, is that as I'm coming down I'm not trying to pull my arm really hard like I did there. I'm letting gravity take over.
That's how I get a nice, smooth acceleration and get my divot to bottom out in the same spot.
It's because I'm not putting any muscular effort into it. I'm literally going to the top, turning to the top, and then just turning this muscle off. You'll see I'm not trying to move my arm at all, but if I turn this off, my arm moves really fast.
I'm letting gravity get me from here to here, and I have some initial research coming out on that. It's going to be very interesting.
I won't finish it until this winter, but you get the idea that, from here to here, the hands are going to move about - my research so far has shown - about 85 percent of your normal max speed of a tour player can get there solely by gravity.
We'll get to that on another day.
Here, relax, let the club work through. That's the basic swinging motion. You need to train this left arm first. Get into these impact alignments that are discussed on the site.
Once you have that down - that'll take a little while. It'll be different for everybody - but make sure that you're pretty skilled at this.
You don't have to hit the ball dead perfect with your left arm only, and you don't need to hit the ball very hard, because that's where the right arm's going to help and add some speed.
That's what we're going to talk about next.
Now we've got the left arm basic motion. Now how does the right arm work in conjunction with the left arm?
That's what we're going to talk about here.
Now what we're going to do, the drill's a little bit different. It's got two basic steps to it. The first one is just swinging the arm back by itself.
Right arm drill - Swing through
Notice that I didn't talk about rotating back.
We're going to add that, but that complicates this drill quite a bit, so we're just going to swing back, shift forward, swing through. The same thing is true here; I'm just letting my arm drop and release.
You'll notice that as I'm doing this with just my right arm only, I'm turning a little bit here, but the big key is I'm not turning coming down. I'm trying to keep my body very, very quiet, and I'm teaching this arm how it swings and releases.
Now what you'll notice, even though I'm trying to keep my body really square, what happens to my body? That looks like a golf swing. I turned through, but I did not turn my body at all. It got turned by my club, and the momentum of the club releasing.
That's what you want to feel here.
That's the big goal of this drill is that, as I go back I'm really just teaching this arm how it works in the swing.
The same thing is true with the left arm, that I want it to be soft, I want it to be relaxed, and I want that wrist to downcock a little bit, to get a little snap out of the wrist. That's where 60 percent of your club head speed comes from, is just the wrist.
You'll notice as I go back I get a little bit of a downcock here because my wrist is soft, and then I get speed into it.
Right arm drill - Add in the impact bag
It's the same thing we did before; the exact same progression.
I'm going to go impact bag first, and then once I've got that I'm going to go back and start making my divots bottom out in the same place, making sure I'm not rotating through.
Same deal, I put a ball in the way, swing back and through, and then eventually learn to hit balls without the bag in there.
Once you get that whole sequence, eventually you're going to learn to put those two hands together. That's the last piece of this.
One last thing I want to say about the right arm is that you can eventually start learning to turn and then release through, but it is harder, once you rotate back with the right arm, to not want to rotate through.
That's why I'm not too worried about just keeping your body pretty square going back, and releasing it.
We're just trying to teach the right arm by itself, exclusive of the body. We're trying to break it down into smaller pieces.
Right arm drill - Put a ball in front of the bag
Now we've got the right arm and left arm trained independently. It's going to take a while, but that's going to teach you the basic shape and swinging motion of the golf swing.
Now how do we get these two to play nicely together? That's the trick.
If we go back to the left arm only drill, as you start becoming proficient with it, you're going to go back to that same four-step progression that I went through, but slowly introduce the right hand.
How do we do that?
First what we're going to do is we're going to put the right hand on there, but it's barely touching the club; I call it a "passenger." I still want to feel 100 percent left armed.
Now I'm going to put my right hand back on the club, but you'll notice it's just barely touching the golf club.
Now I can still feel 100 percent left-handed, but I can let my right hand start to get involved a little bit. It'll add some support, some stability, and some speed to the club.
If you struggle with not letting the right hand start to take over right away, and you start getting into this where you're turning a lot and you notice your right hand tensing up against the club and you're pushing against the shaft, then what you want to do is start letting it come off in the downswing.
It's on the shaft here, but now I let it come off so that I can still focus on getting into that impact position.
Once you've reintroduced the right hand, like I said, things are going to be a little bit different. Just keep working through it, and keep letting the hand come off the club.
You can hit balls like this as well, so that when you come down, let your right hand come off and let the left hand continue to release, just like you did in your normal drills.
The key is to not let that right hand start to change the feeling of what you just did with the left hand. We trained this left hand for a reason.
It has a very important job to do, and you don't want the right hand to start to muck it up.
Reintroduce the right hand
Now we've got to start training the right hand, and we go through the exact same thing that we did with the left.
The difference is, here, when you do the drill with your right hand only, and the left hand you start reintroducing it so that it's a part of the show here, you want to do the same thing that it's just barely touching the golf club.
What you're going to notice now when you do that drill is that it's going to force you to turn. Before, we could just do right arm only. Can't do that now that the left hand's on there. We're going to have to turn, so that'll change the feeling of the drill slightly.
Then the big key here is, once you go back, let the right hand still be doing all the work. You want to focus on really releasing and slinging that club head into the impact bag with the right hand.
Notice that I didn't try and shove it through with my shoulders or push against my arm. I released it like this.
I always use the analogy of either swinging a hammer - you don't keep your wrist really tight when you swing a hammer - or playing ping pong and you use your right hand to get the little snap in the forehand, with your right hand topspin shot with the forehand, that you get that speed from the wrist, not from your body like that.
It obviously doesn't make any sense to hit a ping pong ball like that. It doesn't make any more sense to hit a golf ball like that; it barely weighs an ounce and a half.
Right hand as the passenger - Let it come off the club
You'll notice here that, now that I've got the left hand back on there, it's going to provide a little bit of stability and control. I can be a little more aggressive with my downcock and get a little bit more snap into the release.
Turn back...and now I can start to get some speed and I'm really releasing the club head into the bag.
Same thing, you go through the same progression. Go back and we'll do it without a ball, and we'll release it. Then we'll go back and we'll put a ball in there, go through the same thing and so on and so forth.
Left hand as the passenger - Swing feels 100 percent right-handed
That's the progression that you're going through to reshape your golf swing as you train the left arm first, slowly start reintroducing the right hand. You train the right arm by itself, then you start reintroducing the left hand.
You want all these things to slowly learn to work together.
Once you have that, you have what is the basic construct and shape for a swing. Then worry about the position of the takeaway, and the position at the top of the swing, and your wrists, and impact and all those things.
Get the basic motion down first. Once you have that, you're well on your way to building a world-class golf swing.