Teaching Tip: Put A Sock In It!

Do you have a problem with that flying elbow at the top of your backswing? Most people that make the transition from baseball to golf tend to let their right elbow (right handed players) get a little too wild at the top of their backswing. Why should you care? The flying right elbow, or “chicken winging” as my fellow teaching pros like to call it, causes the hands to move towards the ball at the top of the backswing and forces the club over plane. Take a look:

Brandon Lewis swing 1

Brandon came to me with a baseball swing, and like many young athletes he was able to make decent contact because of his excellent hand eye coordination. His miss hits however, were pulls and slices caused by his flying right elbow (see image above). In order to make his swing and results more consistent, I had him use a couple of different drills that tightened up the swing and got the golf club more on plane.

Let me preface the next few paragraphs by saying, Brandon has made a lot of progress! His average scores dropped from the 110’s to the mid 80’s over about a 3 week period! THAT’S AMAZING! Now, keep in mind he is an athlete, he did play another sport where you hit a small ball with a small club, and he did practice four to five times a week. His swing is not great yet and we are working to get him to a point where he is completely satisfied with the results, but that being said his swing looks much better than it used to. Take a look at Brandon’s new swing:

Brandon Lewis swing 2

Notice that in the second photo of Brandon his right elbow is much closer to his body, creating a flatter and longer swing plane. In this position, it is much easier for Brandon to rotate his hips and shoulders back to impact and hit the ball without making a “casting” (over the top) move. The hands drop on the down swing and power is created with the lower body and torso instead of the arms and hands.

Here’s the Golf Fix: We used a simple drill and some visualization to get Brandon into the position that you see in the second picture. First, take a head cover or a sock (you may want to use a clean one) and stick it under your right arm pit. As you take a backswing, make sure to keep the head cover/sock pinned between your arm and your side. If your head stays still, then your left shoulder should drop towards the ball and your right elbow should stay closer to the body. At the top of your backswing, pause and take a mental snapshot of your position. My PGA mentor told me once that you should be able to let a pizza box rest on your right hand at the top of your back swing. If you let your right elbow fly out during the backswing (like Brandon does in the first picture), then your right hand becomes vertical and the pizza box would drop to the ground. When I teach junior golfers, I use this analogy because it’s easier for them to visualize the position I’m trying to put them in.

As you make the down swing, let the hands drop towards your right hip and start rotating your shoulders and hips towards the target. This move will create club head lag and, if done properly, will force the club to make a slight “inside-out” path as you hit the ball. The sock that is stuck in your right armpit should stay there until just before you get to the impact position. At impact you should be extending your right arm, allowing the sock to drop out of your right armpit.

Do you want me to discuss a particular part of the golf swing? Comment on this post and let me know what you are interested in!

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