We all know that a golf swing needs to be relaxed and fluid so why would there ever be a pause at the top of the golf swing? Find out the benefits with this golf tip.
The golf swing travels in two directions: one direction where the golfer swings the golf club back away from the golf ball - the backswing, and one direction where the golfer swings the golf club forwards through the golf ball - the through swing, downswing or forward swing. In between the two movements backwards and forwards there will already be a slight pause. Here the club reaches the extent of it's upward motion and has to physically stop to change direction and then come down again. This lasts for only a millisecond or two and can prove to be a positive period in the golf swing as it gives the golfer a fraction of a second to adjust and set the club ready to come down in the correct fashion to the golf ball.
One of the common problems that can cause poor shots in golf is that most golfers accelerate hard from the end of the backswing to attack the golf ball as quickly as possible. This action lessens the amount of time spent in this pause period and produces a 'snatch' down to the ball often pulling the golf club out of position for the downswing motion. A definitive pause in between movements allows the golfer time to re-adjust the position of the club if needs be and then to slowly accelerate down towards the ball smoothly to attain peak speed at impact. An action such as this is very smooth and provides huge amounts of speed to be delivered to the golf ball in a consistent fashion.
Consider these benefits of a definite pause in between the movements of the backswing and downswing and how they could help improve a golf swing:
Time - A pause at the end of backswing point alleviates any 'hitting' action from the very start of the downswing and provides time to set or reset the golf club correctly, ready to attack the golf ball. It also allows time for the body weight to move into the front foot so that the golf club can drive correctly downwards into the golf ball and produce a good ball strike.
Rhythm - A pause encourages good rhythm. Rather than snatching or lurching at the ball from the end of the backswing the golfer can use this time as a transition period and can position the body as a whole to bring the club down to the ball effectively each time a swing is made.
Compact - A pause gives the golfer a sense of where the golf club is at the end of the backswing. With this awareness the golfer can keep the club under control and keep the swing short and compact for more consistency.
To practice pausing correctly at the end of the backswing, count out the swing when hitting a golf ball. A simple count such as "one and two" in a suitable rhythm is perfect during the swing. "One" should be counted at the start of the swing, "and" is the pause itself at the end of the backswing, and "two" is the strike of the golf ball. This rhythm represents perfect timing for a golf swing and where most golfers experience just a "one, two" movement, make sure to introduce the "and" which represents the pause.
Use this understanding of great rhythm in the golf swing and hit better, more consistent shots.
Consider Benefits of Pause at Top of Backswing
You probably think of the golf swing as one continuous motion from start to finish. However, it is actually impossible for the swing to be continuous, as the club has to change directions from backswing to downswing. It is impossible for any object to change directions without first coming to a stop, meaning that your golf club does have to stop momentarily at the top of the swing. With that in mind, should you consider extending that pause slightly in order to improve the tempo and timing of your swing? It is an idea that is far more attractive than it might seem at first. When done correctly, extending the pause at the top of your swing can help you build more power, position your body correctly for the downswing, and more.
One of the reasons most golfers would resist the idea of extending the pause at the top of the swing is because they are trying to build as much speed as possible. For most players, the swing is a rush from address to impact, as they turn back and through as fast as possible in order to accelerate the club. However, this approach fails to recognize the fact which we laid out above – the club is going to stop at the top of the backswing anyway. There will be no momentum carried from backswing to forward swing, meaning it doesn't matter how fast or slow you swing back, as that piece of the puzzle has no impact on your power. All the speed you are able to build in the golf swing is going to have to develop from the top of the swing on down to the ball. It is just that simple.
So, knowing that an extended pause at the top isn't going to hurt you in terms of power, you should now be willing to consider this interesting idea. If you do decide to go ahead with extending your pause, you will find that a number of benefits quickly find their way into your swing. First, you will no longer feel as rushed as you may have felt previously when hitting shots. The golf ball isn't going to run away while you swing, so there is no reason to be in such a hurry. A relaxed, smooth golf swing is one that will always be more effective and consistent than a hurried one. Also, the quality of your ball striking should improve with the addition of this break at the top, and every golfer can benefit from hitting the ball more solidly. With plenty of potential benefits to enjoy and no notable drawbacks to speak of, extending the pause at the top of your backswing is a move that you should at least consider adding to your own game.
All of the content 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.
A List of Benefits
Above, we briefly touched on some of the possible benefits you can enjoy by pausing at the top of your swing. However, before we get into the details of how to make this move, it is important to highlight specifically the range of benefits you may find when this extended pause is successfully integrated into your swing. Think of this section as motivation to work hard on this move – if you are willing to put in the practice time necessary, all of the benefits listed below can be welcome additions to your golf game.
- Additional power. First and foremost, you actually stand to gain power from the use of a pause. This seems counterintuitive at first, since you are slowing down the overall tempo of your swing, but the added power is going to come from the way your body will be organized heading down toward impact. During the pause, your lower body is going to have a chance to get out in front of your upper body, which is exactly the right way to build speed. Most amateur golfers fail to make this move, and they lack power in their swings as a result. Even just a slight pause at the top is going to give your lower body the head start it needs to generate an impressive amount of speed through the hitting area.
- Consistency from shot to shot. If you ask the average golfer what they would like to improve on in their game, the first thing that will come to mind is usually power. A close second, however, is consistency. You need to be consistent in order to play good golf, as even just a few poor shots throughout the course of a round can quickly do major damage your score. It is certainly exciting to hit great shots from time to time, but good players know that the key to scoring well is simply avoiding the bad shots. Adding a longer pause in your swing can help you be more consistent because you will be able to use your body in the same way shot after shot, all day long. A rushed swing is going to vary more dramatically from swing to swing, leading to a wider variety of outcomes.
- Improved performance under pressure. Even if you aren't a professional golfer competing on TV for millions of dollars, you still are likely to find pressure on the course from time to time. That pressure could come from trying to beat the other players in your group, or simply from trying to improve on your own personal best score. No matter what it is that has you feeling the pressure, an extended pause can help you to stay on track when the nerves do hit. Most golfers tend to speed up and rush their swings when the pressure is on, so a pause is a perfect counterpoint to that tendency. As long as you stick with your pause even under pressure, you should be able to play well no matter what is on the line.
- Control over the short clubs. To score well on any golf course, you have to be able to control your short clubs beautifully. Yes, it helps to smash long and straight drives from the tee, but even the best tee shots are only going to go so far in terms of helping you score. To place the ball close to the hole and set up birdie and par chances, you need to have great control over the way you swing your short clubs. One of the best ways to improve your control is to add time to your pause at the top of the backswing. This pause will prevent you from rushing through the swing, and it will make it easier to stay on plane coming down toward impact. Players who are deliberate at the top of the swing tend to be quality short iron players, a point which should be motivation enough to cause you to work a longer pause.
As you can see, you have a lot to gain by learning how to pause longer at the top of the swing. It will take a little bit of time to work this new move into your swing, so you have to be committed to the process. Many golfers give up shortly after starting to work on a new technique when they don't see results right away. Don't let that be you. Stick with it, commit yourself to plenty of practice time on the range, and look forward to seeing your results slowly start to improve as the weeks and months go by.
Some Key Points of Preparation
If you would like to add a longer pause to the top of your swing, you are first going to need to make sure that the rest of your swing is in good enough shape to perform this task. Specifically, you have to check off some boxes when it comes to the fundamentals that you are using on the way back. If you arrive at the top of the swing in a poor position, it isn't really going to matter how long you pause – your swing will still be destined for failure.
Before you start working on the addition of a pause to the top of your swing, look over the following points to make sure you are hitting on all of these keys in your current backswing move.
- Staying balanced. By far, this is the most important key to hit on if you would like to use a pause at the top of your swing effectively. You simply have to be balanced when you transition from backswing to downswing. Without good balance, the pause is only going to give you more time to fall farther off balance – which is obviously going to cause trouble. Both at address and during the backswing, focus on keeping your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Don't allow yourself to slide away from the target in the backswing, either. Your body should simply be rotating on the way back rather than sliding to the right. Until you learn how to stay balanced, you will never be able to live up to your potential as a ball striker.
- Plenty of extension. At the top of the swing, you should have plenty of room between your head and your hands. This is accomplished by keeping the left arm mostly straight as you swing back. It is common for amateur golfers – particularly those who struggle with a slice – to make a narrow backswing in which the left arm collapses and the hands wind up close to the right ear. Maintain your width during the backswing and trace a wide arc with the club head all the way up to the top of the swing. With plenty of width in place, you will have the room needed between the club and the ball to accelerate fully down into impact. A narrow swing traces a shorter arc, and a shorter arc means you have less time to speed up your swing before contacting the ball.
- Flex in the knees. Losing the flex in your knees at some point in the backswing is a costly mistake. You need to arrive at the top of the swing with plenty of flex in your knees so you will be able to use your lower body to drive toward the target powerfully on the way down. Don't allow yourself to come up out of the swing going back – stay deep in your stance, use your shoulders to rotate while your lower body holds steady, and get ready to use your hips aggressively once the swing pauses at the top.
Without these three keys in place, you will have very little chance of seeing success with the extended pause. Before even thinking about the pause, take some time to make sure you are hitting on all three of these points in your current swing. If not, work on making those corrections first, and then move on to the task of adding a pause during your transition.
Making It Happen
With the groundwork laid, it is now time to give this move a try out on the range. As with any other change you make in your swing, it is best to start with the short clubs before reaching for your driver. Sure, it is fun to hit the longest clubs in your bag, but using those clubs while making a swing change will only make things more difficult. Start out with something like a pitching wedge or sand wedge and work your way into the longer clubs as you gain confidence.
The best way to get started with an expanded pause is actually to exaggerate the pause beyond anything that you would use out on the course. Once you are at the range, make some practice swings with a long pause (without hitting a golf ball). For these practice swings, you are going to pause for a full five seconds at the top of the swing. Would you ever pause that long during a real swing? Of course not. At this point, you are simply trying to get a feel for how you can stop your swing at the top without falling off balance or losing track of any other parts of your technique. Swing up to the top of your swing, pause, count to five, and then finish the swing.
These initial practice swings are going to give you a good indication if there are any hidden problems in your swing that need to be corrected. Are you struggling to hold your balance for the full five seconds? If so, your weight distribution might not be as good as you once thought. Work on correcting any problems that you find and keep performing the five-second-hold practice swings until you are comfortable with your technique.
Once you are happy with your progress, you can gradually reduce the amount of time you are spending in the transition. First, make some practice swings while holding the transition for four seconds, and then three. As you decrease how much time you spend at the top, be sure to hold steady in terms of your technique. If you start to feel your fundamentals slipping away at any point, go backward and get yourself on track once again.
Eventually, you want to get to the point where you simply pause at the top for about one second. Once you are at that point, you can begin to actually hit range balls with these swings. Remember, this is going to be a relatively dramatic adjustment, and you are probably going to struggle at first with the quality of your ball striking. Don't give up on yourself just because of a few poor swings to start. Understand that it is going to take time and practice, and commit yourself to seeing it on through to the end.
As you hit shots with your short clubs, be sure to pick out a target and take accurate aim just as you would when on the course. There is no excuse for cutting corners on the range, as that sloppiness is only going to show itself later when you need to be precise. Once the shots that you hit with your short irons start to improve – which may take multiple practice sessions – you can start to work on hitting longer and longer shots. It is important, however, that you don't rush through this process. Forcing yourself to hit drivers shortly after starting this new technique is only going to lead to frustration. Golf is a game that requires tremendous patience, and that fact is obvious when trying to make a significant swing change.
Taking It into Battle
As you already know, the driving range and the golf course are two very different places. You might be able to perform your new swing timing beautifully on the range – but that doesn't mean you are going to succeed with it when the time comes to hit the first tee. On the range, you have no hazards to deal with, and you aren't worried about losing a ball by launching a tee shot into the woods. The golf course is a whole different ballgame, and the adjustments you need to make between range and course should not be overlooked.
To give yourself the best possible chance to succeed with this new swing out on the course, check out the tips listed below.
- Commit yourself to a target. One of the best ways to make great swings on the course is to be thinking about something other than your swing. Ideally, you will have drilled the new swing timing into your head during range sessions before you ever headed back out to the course. Then, when on the course, you can 'get lost' in the process of picking and hitting targets. Focus all of your mental energy on selecting a smart target for each shot and allow your swing to happen naturally. It takes discipline to play this way on the course, but the results can be powerful.
- Don't let others hurry your game. This swing tip is all about taking your time at the top of the swing. Unfortunately, it is easy to get in a rush when on the course. You might feel pressure to keep up with those around you, or you might just want to get your shot over with because you are nervous about the outcome. Either way, you have to avoid the temptation to hurry through your swing. Stick with the timing you learned on the range and don't worry about what others may be thinking.
- Stick with it. One of the biggest mistakes that is made by amateur golfers is giving up on swing changes after only a few short holes on the course. When you step to the first tee, you are likely excited to put your new swing into action, based on the success you have had on the range. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned, and you hit a few bad shots to start out the round. At this point, the last thing you should do is give up on the change. If it has been working on the range, it can work also on the course – you just need to give it time. Be patient with yourself, and understand that there is bound to be a learning curve involved. In time, your results should come around and you will be glad you didn't give up early in the process.
Extending the pause at the top of your backswing can benefit your overall game in a number of ways. Most golfers don't possess great timing or tempo in their swings, and this change can serve to improve both of those points. However, you are not going to be able to take advantage of this idea if you are impatient. Only golfers who are willing to struggle at first will be able to see real progress down the line. Good luck and play well!