While it's essential to rotate your body to generate power, your arms and hands must be in sync to deliver the club to the ball with maximum speed. Release too early or too late and you'll lose distance.
To really hit the ball long and straight, you must also achieve a full hinging or cocking of the wrists on the backswing, then unload this power into the ball with a proper release. This drill will teach you the correct wrist hinge and how to time it with your body's rotation:
Remember that efficiency comes from the big and small muscles working together.
More Power Golf Drills – Hinge Wrists in an L Shape
Do you want more power in your golf swing? Of course you do! Every player on the course would love to be able to squeeze a few extra yards out of their shots - and that includes the best players in the world. Distance, as long as it is controlled, unlocks a lot of opportunities on the golf course. Hitting it longer off the tee will set up shorter approach shots, and shorter approach shots should lead to better birdie chances. If you can take a step toward improving the power in your swing without damaging important fundamentals like balance and tempo, you should absolutely take that opportunity.
The way your wrists work in the golf swing is one of the most important parts of developing power. Specifically, it is the angle between your arms and the club shaft that goes a long way toward determining what kind of power you will have - and that angle is set by the action in your wrists. Using your wrists properly will make it possible to create some serious swing speed. However, using your wrists incorrectly will limit your potential and restrict you to short shots with all of your clubs.
Unfortunately, most amateur golfers use their wrists the wrong way, and they pay the price in terms of the ball flights they create. Ideally, you will use your wrists to create an 'L' between the shaft of the club and your left arm (for a right handed golfer). In order to do that, you are going to need to hinge your wrists at some point during the backswing. Some players never manage to achieve that wrist hinge, which means there is very little power potential stored in the swing as the club comes down toward impact.
Unhinging your wrists at the very last moment as the club is approaching the ball is the single most-effective way to create speed in the swing. Rather than trying to overpower the ball with sheer muscle and force, you can tap into incredible amounts of swing speed just by learning how to hinge and unhinge efficiently. For a player who has previously tried to swing the club with very little wrist action, this is going to be a serious adjustment - but it is an adjustment worth making.
If you are interested in learning how to use your wrist hinge to develop speed in the swing, the content below should help you in that direction. Before getting started, you should know that your swing and the shots you hit may get worse before they get better during this process. In order to actually see improvement and find that extra distance you have been looking for, it is essential that you stick with the process and see it through to the end. Progress is hard earned in the game of golf, but it is exciting once it arrives.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Understanding the Concept
Most golfers have a major lack of understanding when it comes to how power is developed in the golf swing. The typical player feels like they can simply use maximum effort to hit the ball as far as possible, rather that looking to fundamental techniques to speed up the club properly. In reality, you aren't going to be able to get the club up to an impressive speed with muscle alone – you are going to have to make the right moves and know how to position both your body and the club as you are heading down toward impact. Only when you get all of your positions correct throughout the swing will you be able to max-out on your power potential.
Forming the 'L' with the use of a good wrist hinge is an important first step in this process. Why does it help to create the 'L'? Well, that angle is essentially stored up energy, and that energy can be used to accelerate the club head at just the right time. If you are able to hold the angle deep into your downswing, you will be lagging the club head – and lagging the club head is the ultimate key to hitting powerful shots. Every professional golfer you see on TV has mastered the art of lag, and you should be aspiring to that same goal.
The easiest way to understand this concept is to see it for yourself in action. Find a video of a pro golfer hitting a drive and pause that video as the club is coming down into the ball. The best videos for this purpose are ones that are shot from the 'face-on' angle, as that view will allow you to see the relationship between the club and the left arm. If you are able to pause the video when the club is about halfway through the downswing, you will notice that the left arm and the shaft of the club form the 'L' that we are looking to achieve. In fact, some players lag the club even more than that, and they may have an angle that goes beyond an 'L'.
Now that you have a good picture for what you are trying to accomplish in the downswing, take a video of your own swing from that same angle to compare your positions on the way down. Ask a friend to shoot the video for you from a safe distance while you make a few swings. If you are anything like most amateur golfers, you won't have that same angle in your downswing – most likely, you will see a very small angle formed between your left arm and the shaft of the club. If that is the case, you need to get right down to business working on using a wrist hinge in order to improve lag in the downswing.
Executing the Wrist Hinge
Hinging your wrists in order to create lag in your swing is a task that is easier said than done. While this might seem like a relatively simple move, it is easy for things to go wrong, especially if the timing of the move is off. Not only do you need to make the right motion with your hands, but that action needs to happen at just the right time. You should already know how important timing is in the golf swing, and this is another element that has to be timed up just right in order to be successful.
The classic mistake made by the amateur golfer on this point is to hinge the wrists to early. In a hurry to set the club, the average player will start to use their wrists almost immediately upon starting the swing. That is the wrong approach. Your takeaway should remain a motion that is controlled only by your shoulders while the rest of your body stays quiet. If you being to use your wrists too much during the takeaway, you will bring the club too far to the inside and a number of problems could develop from that point. Your golf swing can certainly benefit from learning how to hinge your wrists, but make sure you don't allow that action to make its way into your takeaway or trouble will be soon to follow.
So, if you aren't supposed to hinge your wrists during the takeaway, when should you let them spring into action? For most players, the point at which the club becomes parallel with the ground during the backswing is the perfect time to hinge the wrists and move the club up toward the top of the swing. As you turn your shoulders through the takeaway and beyond, the club will gradually move away from the ground as a result of turning around your body. Once the club hits that parallel position, use your hands and wrists to pick the club up – you should feel like you are taking the club head up toward the sky. At the same time, you don't want to be forcing your arms up into the air, or you could get off track and eventually hit a slice. Continue your arm swing on the same path, and simply use your wrists to hinge the club up into position.
When done correctly, this kind of wrist hinge will establish the 'L' that you need to find in order to hit powerful shots. By the time you reach the top of the backswing, the 'L' should be in place and you should be ready to start turning back toward the target. At first, this move is likely to feel forced and extremely difficult to execute consistently. Like anything else in golf, however, it will get better with time. Keep practicing the timing of your wrist hinge during the backswing and you should start to see gradually improving results.
If you would like to work on a specific drill to help you learn how to hinge your wrists properly, try going through the following steps during your next practice session.
- At the range, take a short iron from your bag and grab a bucket of balls to hit. If your course has a short game pitching area, you could do this work there, otherwise you will just want to do it on the range.
- To start, pick out a target that is within 30 or 40 yards of where you are standing. These shots aren't going to be particularly focused on the target, but you still want to be aiming at something when you make a swing.
- With a short iron in hand, place a ball down in front of you and get into your address position. You are going to be using the same address position that you would use for any full swing. However, instead of making a full swing, you are only going to make a partial swing in order to work on your wrist hinge.
- Once set, start your swing using your shoulders to turn away from the ball. Remember to keep your hands as quiet as possible early in the swing, and maintain your lower body position as well.
- When the club reaches parallel with the ground on the way back, hinge your wrists as discussed above. As you are hinging, you should be slowing down the backswing and getting ready to move forward toward the target. When the club shaft reaches vertical, it will be time to swing through the ball.
- Hit down through the shot as you would any other short iron swing, and make an abbreviated finish. When done with the swing, the club should be in front of you and most of your weight should be on your left foot.
- Repeat this process as many times as you would like to get a good feeling for how to hinge your wrists.
Since you aren't making a full swing, you will have an easier time learning how to feel the hinge of your wrists in the backswing. Without the speed of a whole swing, the process slows down and you can get a better idea of exactly when and how to deploy your wrist hinge. As you gain comfort and confidence, feel free to gradually make a bigger and bigger swing until you are hitting full shots with a perfect wrist hinge and 'L' angle between your left arm and the club shaft. Everyone will learn this move at a different pace, so don't force yourself to progress before you are ready. Be honest about how you are feeling with the new technique, and only hit longer shots and longer clubs when you truly are ready for the challenge.
As you are reading through the instruction above, it might seem relatively easy to put these directions into use. After all, if you follow the instructions closely, what could go wrong? Well, unfortunately, there is still plenty that could go wrong. Golf is a hard game, as you already know, and you will need to put in some work if you are going to get results.
The following list contains three points that could turn into trouble spots during the process of learning how to hinge your wrists properly. If any of these three points becomes a problem, use the information provided to work your way through the issue.
- Hitting the ball fat. Many players, when they first start to hinge their wrists properly in the backswing, will suddenly start to hit the ball fat over and over again. For the player, this is an incredibly frustrating experience. Even if you feel like you are doing things right, you still might dig into the turf prior to hitting the ball. When that happens, it is likely that your lower body is not doing its job in the downswing. If you hinge your wrists nicely going back, you will put the club on a vertical plane – meaning you have to turn through or you will hit the ball fat. You can get away with a lackluster turn when you aren't hinging your wrists since the club comes in on a flat angle, but that doesn't work as well when you have a good angle in place between your left arm and the club. With the club set, it is up to you to make a great turn through the forward swing in order to strike the shot cleanly.
- Rushing the tempo. Having a good tempo is crucial for hitting good golf shots, yet it is easy to rush when you start to work on the wrist hinge. Since you will be thinking about hinging your wrists throughout the backswing, it will be tempting to start the downswing once they do get hinged properly. If you are going to make a good swing that develops power, you have to resist that temptation and get the club all the way to the top successfully. Allow your backswing to finish by only starting forward after your shoulders have finished turning away from the target. Using your shoulders as the trigger is a great way to maintain your tempo and build up as much power as possible.
- Losing angle early. By hinging your wrists in the backswing, you are doing a great job of creating that 'L' angle that we have talked about throughout this article – so don't waste it early in the downswing! You want to hold on to that angle all the way down until the final moment before you contact that ball. Using up the angle early by unhinging your wrists will not only waste the work you have done to that point, but it will also leave you with a weak swing that likely sends the ball off target. Work hard to hold on to your angle and you will be much more satisfied with the results of this swing technique.
Golf is very much a game of trial and error. You have to be willing to try various fixes to your swing problems until you run into the perfect solution. This can certainly be a time consuming process, and it isn't always going to be fun. However, sticking with it is the only way to get better, whether it has to do with wrist hinge or anything else in your swing.
When to Lose the Hinge
Believe it or not, after all of that talk about how much a wrist hinge can help you play good golf, there are some shots around the course where you don't want to hinge your wrists very much at all. This is one of the reasons why golf is such a challenging and frustrating game – once you think you have your technique under control, you run into some shots that require you to do something completely different. The variety of golf is what makes it fun, but it is also what makes it maddening at the same time.
So, when do you want to take the hinge out of your swing? Mostly you will need to make this adjustment when you want to keep the ball down closer to the ground. Wrist hinge will add elevation to your shots, and that isn't always a good thing. For instance, if you are playing a shot directly into the wind and you want to keep the ball low to reach the target safely, one of the first adjustments you should make is to take some of the wrist hinge out of your swing. This is often called a 'punch' shot, and it is one that every golfer should be able to produce when needed.
Also, you will want to know how to take wrist hinge out of your swing when you are trying to take backspin off of the golf ball. If you use a ball with a high spin rate, you already know the frustration of hitting a good wedge shot into the green only to see the ball spin back off of the front edge. To avoid that feeling, take a little bit of the hinge out of your wrists on your wedge shots when playing on soft greens. The lower flight and softer swing that result from using less hinge will go a long way toward reducing your overall spin rate for the shot.
Generally speaking, wrist hinge is going to be a great thing for your golf swing. Sure, you are going to have to learn how to use it properly, but that effort will be rewarded with some excellent play at some point down the line. Wrist hinge not only can help you hit the ball longer, but it can also help you make clean contact swing after swing. Hitting the ball cleanly is one of the key ingredients to playing solid rounds, so don't overlook this benefit by focusing only on added distance. Take time on the range to implement wrist hinge in your swing using the instruction contained in this article and your game should be on the path toward a better future.