Biomechanically Shorten Your Backswing

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Published: February 18, 2014

One really common problem we see among student golfers, both online and in person, is controlling the length of the backswing.

Taming a long swingDo you feel like you're only halfway back when you're actually here?

It's not very helpful to tell somebody, "Only swing to 9:00," because you may feel like you're only swinging halfway back when you're already too long.

Even if you do manage to shorten it a bit, it's very difficult to make good golf swings when you feel like you're only swinging halfway back and not really getting set, so we try not to tell people to stop short on the backswing.

Telling yourself not to do something is very difficult; the subconscious mind tends to rebel.

It's much more helpful if we give you a visual of what you do want to do. When your mind has a solid mental image of what you're trying to achieve, your body can translate that into action more effectively.

When a student swings long and loose and gets a really big turn, we like to tell them to simply put more weight on the left foot.

It's as Simple as That

You can go ahead and start out extreme. Get 100% of your weight on the left leg, just like in the One Legged Drill. All your weight is on the left foot, with the right foot just touching down for balance.

Weight on leftWith all your weight on the left, you can't go much farther than this.

That will inhibit how much you can turn. It's very simple. Biomechanically, when you have all your weight on the left, your muscles can't stretch far enough to over swing to the right.

If you struggle with a really long backswing, it's probably because you're letting your weight shift to the outside of your foot. Your head is probably moving off the target, which encourages your weight to move to the right side.

When your weight gets off to the right, it's really easy to make a massive turn and get really long and loose at the top, and that's what you don't want.

Getting a more compact feeling in your backswing is as simple as putting as much weight as you comfortably can on your front foot. Start by putting all your weight up there. You can always back it down.

Put most or all of your weight on your left foot and try to keep it there throughout the swing. Don't let it decrease, and don't necessarily increase it. Just keep it constant.

It May Feel Very Different

If you struggle with a lot of lateral leg drive, a long, loose swing, and a big turn off the ball, you may even feel like you're actually putting more weight on your left foot through the backswing.

You probably aren't, but it may feel like you're setting more weight on there as you take the club back.

That's exactly what you want to feel if you've become accustomed to making a shift off the ball, getting weight onto your right side, and then trying to drive back through. This should feel very different.

Weight on left shortens swingGetting all the weight on your left foot at setup (left) shortens the swing (right)

Again, start out with 100% of your weight on your left foot. As you get more comfortable with it, you can back it down.

A lot of golfers actually like to keep all the weight on the left, and that's just fine. Get more weight on your left foot, shorten up your swing and get through the ball. That's great.

Weight shift is a very dynamic part of the golf swing. If you have trouble getting your weight onto your left foot on the downswing, this drill will help a lot. Keep your weight on the left and get better rotation through the ball.

Checkpoints for Practice

  • Don't try to artificially shorten a long backswing - just put more weight on your left foot
  • With your weight on the left, you will be physically unable to swing too far back
  • Start out with 100% of your weight on the left foot at address, and keep it there throughout the backswing
  • As you become comfortable with it, you can get your weight distribution closer to normal

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