To hit the golf ball further, maximize your swing speed at the correct point in the swing with this tip.
Swing speed is measured as the speed that the club head travels through the golf ball. Many golfers believe that it is the speed of the swing action but this is not true. At the top end of professional performance, the PGA tour, the average speed of a driver club head travelling through the ball is 115 miles per hour. As strong as the professionals are, they are not strong enough to get their bodies moving at such speed. However, they do not have to as they can quite comfortably get the golf club to slingshot around their bodies and peak so that the maximum speed of the golf club is right where it needs to be - at the ball.
The biggest factor in generating speed in the golf swing is the action of the hands through the ball. The hands control the golf club and control when the club accelerates during the swing. Top speed occurs when the club head overtakes the hands. When this occurs, the club is travelling much faster than the body ever can. It is the 'rolling' action of the hands that produces this movement.
Just before impact with the golf ball in the downswing, the hands should begin to 'cross over'. For a right handed golfer this would mean that the right hand would roll over the left causing the forearms to cross over with the inside of the forearms almost touching each other. After impact with the ball, because the forearms have crossed, the right hand should be on top of the left hand. It is a very similar action to a tennis topspin shot. When performed correctly, the club peaks in speed right at the bottom of the swing through the impact area.
Try this exercise to practice this hand action and achieve peak speed in the swing:
Set up to the golf ball as normal and then turn the club around to hold the golf club by the shaft next to the club head. This will feel odd as the weight of the club is very different in this position with the grip end of the club being near the floor. Practice your swing until the club makes a 'whooshing' sound as the light grip end of the club whips through the air. Listen carefully and try to identify where the whooshing of the golf club occurs during the swing motion. Is it in the back of the swing before the ball when you first hear it or the front of the swing after the ball? You are aiming to hear the 'whoosh' at, or just in front of, the impact area where the ball would be. If it is heard before impact (too much in the right ear for right handed players), the hands are too active too soon and the peak speed of the swing is too early. If the sound is too far after the impact area, in the left ear for right handed golfers, the hands are too tight and the swing is peaking too late.
Adjust the turning motion of the hands sooner or later to change when the 'whoosh' occurs. Once the timing is correct, turn the club around and feel the weight of the club head peak at the right time, instead of the 'whoosh', and attack that golf ball.
Get the timing right with this exercise to gain easy distance.
Maximize Swing Speed – Cross Over Through Impact
Every golfer wants to maximize their swing speed. Swinging faster means more distance, and more distance is always a good thing. While adding distance to your game isn't automatically going to translate to lower scores, it certainly won't hurt your chances in getting the ball around in a minimal amount of strokes. The ability to hit long, powerful shots can help you reach par fives in two, reach long par fours in regulation, and handle the difficult long par threes that you are likely to find on tougher courses. Simply put, hitting the ball longer is a good thing – and learning how to cross over through impact can help you find that additional distance you desire.
Crossing over through impact is basically another way of saying that you are releasing the club fully at the bottom of the swing. The release is a crucial part of the swing, yet it is difficult to teach because it happens to incredibly fast. Your release in a full swing happens in just the blink of an eye, so there really isn't time to think about how you are going to execute the movement. Since you don't have time to think about how you are going to release the club, the best thing you can do is position yourself for a successful release on the way down toward impact. As long as you have everything in position and under control on the way down, the release should largely take care of itself.
So, if you would like to maximize your swing speed (and your distance) the goal is simple – create a swing that allows you to fully release the club head through impact each and every time. You don't want to have to force the release at the bottom, so it is important that the rest of your swing leading up to that point is promoting a good release. If you have parts of your swing that are causing problems later on during the downswing, you might not be able to release the club naturally, and your distance will suffer as a result. The swing needs to be a collective effort, with each part of the body doing its part to lead to a successful conclusion. If even one element of your swing is working against the release, the whole swing can come apart.
In the content below, we are going to take a closer look at what you can do to promote a full release – or cross over – through the hitting area. Believe it or not, this process starts all the way back at address and continues until the 'moment of truth' arrives. If you are currently having trouble with the release in your golf swing, you will need to look through your entire process from start to finish in order to track down the underlying problem (or problems). Again, it should be emphasized that the release is really a result of the rest of the swing, rather than being its own action. Get everything else in your swing together and you might not need to worry about the release at all.
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.
What Does It Mean to Cross Over through Impact?
The term 'cross over' comes from the fact that your right hand is going to cross over top of your left hand when you release the club through the ball. This is really the heart of the release – when your right hand passes over your left, you will know the club head is turning down through the hitting area correctly. Many amateur golfers never reach this point in the swing, however, as they 'hold on' to the release when they get to the bottom of the swing (holding on, in golf terminology, simply means you are preventing the release from taking place).
Usually amateur golfers will hold on to the swing at the bottom because something has gone wrong earlier on within their technique. The player can tell that there is going to be a problem with the shot if the club is released, so they hang on through impact and don't allow that release to occur. In the end, swing speed is lost due to the lack of a release, and the ball usually flies off target as well. There is no compromise or middle ground on this point - if you are going to reach your potential as a player in this game, you have to learn how to release the club correctly on each and every swing.
If you aren't sure whether or not you are currently managing to release the club properly, one of the best ways to check is to simply watch your ball fly through the air. Are you capable of hitting a draw with your current swing? If so, you are almost certainly getting a good release through impact. Are you hitting a nicely controlled fade that starts out straight and turns a bit right as it flies? Again, this ball flight most likely indicates that you are succeeding with your release. So, what kind of shots signal trouble in the release portion of your swing? The following shots are all potential signs of trouble.
- Short shots. Do you feel like you lack distance when compared to your playing partners? If you have similar physical capabilities as the others in your group (similar age, strength, etc.) and you are still hitting the ball significantly shorter than them, you might need to look at your release as a possible cause of the lacking power. Without a good cross over through impact, the club head will never reach its full speed potential, and the ball will always struggle to achieve a good distance. This is usually most noticeable with the driver, but it can actually be a problem with all of the clubs in your bag. Adding distance can do great things for your game, so make sure to look at the possibility of improving your release as a method of adding yards.
- Pushed out to the right. This is another common problem experienced by players who are not releasing the club correctly. Without a good release, the club face is likely to remain open to the target line at impact, which will cause the ball to head out to the right immediately upon leaving the club. It is important to note, of course, that this is different from a slice. A slice is a shot that usually starts to the left of the target line and quickly curves back right – and while you can create a slice with a poor release, the push is another problem that can stem from this swing error as well. Pushing the ball to the right is somewhat of a 'sneaky' mistake, because the shot doesn't usually look all that bad in the air, until you realize just how far right of the target it is going.
- Hitting the ball fat. Sometimes, a poor release won't just cause problems in your ball flight – it will cause problems in terms of getting the ball up off of the ground at all. Without the ability to cross your right hand over your left at impact, you may find that you are sticking the club into the turf before you ever get to the point of striking the ball. Hitting your shots cleanly is one of the main skills required of a quality golfer, and working on improving your release can get you closer to that ball striking goal.
Positioning your body in such a way that you are able to cross over your hands through impact time and time again should be one of your top objectives in golf. Although mastering the release isn't going to completely solve all of your swing woes, it can certainly help you take a big step in the right direction. Once the release is in place within your swing, you can quickly move on to other parts of the game that will allow you to improve even further.
Paving the Way
As mentioned above, one of the best things you can do for your release is to get all of the other fundamentals in your swing in good working order. You need to lay a groundwork early in the swing for a good release – when you do so, the actual act of crossing over through impact will largely take care of itself. The contact that you make with the ball lasts for just a fraction of a second, which is much too fast for you to consciously think about how you are releasing the club. Some players try to think about the release, but they typically fail in the quest to strike the ball cleanly. You can avoid putting the pressure on yourself to time the release right simply by doing everything else correctly in your swing leading up to that point.
With that concept in mind, the following list contains the key fundamentals that you should work on in your swing. Each of these points takes place prior to impact, and all of them are important to the final outcome of your shots.
- Left shoulder behind the ball. If you are going to make a full release going through the shot, you first need to make a full turn going back. To do so, make sure your left shoulder is getting behind the ball when you reach the top of your swing (specifically with the longer clubs in the bag – your shorter swings might not reach this point, and that's okay). You shouldn't be moving your left shoulder back by sliding to the right, but rather by rotating in place while maintaining your balance nicely. At address, keep your chin up off of your chest and then turn your shoulder under the chin when the swing gets started. As long as you are able to make a good shoulder turn each time you hit a shot, you will be a big step closer to ensuring a full release at the bottom.
- Hold the angle. This is perhaps the most important point of all that you need to understand when it comes to crossing over through impact. From the time you transition at the top of your swing up until the last moment before impact, you need to be 'holding the angle' of your downswing successfully. What does that mean? It means that you should have created an angle of at least 90* between your left arm and the shaft of the club during the backswing – and that angle needs to be maintained for as long as possible. The release is what will eventually eliminate that angle, creating tremendous speed at the same time. So, whenever you use up that angle, you are going to be maximizing your club head speed. Naturally then, you want to make sure that occurs at the moment that the club is tearing through the hitting area. A large majority of amateur golfers fail to hold this angle in the downswing, and they lose distance as a result.
- Turn the lower body hard to the left. You have another job to do on the way down into the ball. In addition to holding on to that angle as long as you can, you also need to turn your lower body to the left aggressively all the way through impact. Rather than consciously thinking about the release itself, you should be thinking about this lower body rotation. If you can turn left hard through the shot, the club will almost have no choice but to release through impact. It is the combination of holding your angle and turning hard left in the downswing that can lead to impressive power. When you watch golf on TV and you see professional golfers hitting extremely long drives and high iron shots, you can be sure they have both of these fundamentals down pat.
It can be difficult to focus on other parts of your swing when you feel like it is the release that really needs to be fixed. However, it is important that you trust the process and realize that learning these other fundamentals will improve your release by extension. The force that is created in the downswing when you rotate your lower body and lag the club is incredibly powerful, and it will cause you to release the club through impact correctly – even if you aren't really trying to do so. Stick to the plan of working hard on the other fundamentals in your game and rest assured that the release will get to where it needs to be soon enough.
Maximum Speed Does Not Mean Maximum Effort
In an effort to hit the ball as far as possible, many golfers make the mistake of swinging as hard as they can at every shot. Don't put yourself in that category. Yes, you want to max out your swing speed, but that needs to happen the right way, through the use of good fundamentals, excellent balance, and proper timing. You can't overpower the golf ball, and trying to do so will only lead to frustrating and disappointing results.
This is another concept that is difficult for the average golfer to grasp. It seems like you should have to swing extra hard if you want to hit the ball extra far, but that just isn't how the game works. It is the rotation of your body that accelerates the club head on the way down toward the ball, and there is only so much you can do to add speed to your turn. When you think about power in golf, you should be thinking more about efficiency than anything else. If your swing is efficient in the way you direct your power into the ball, you will hit long shots – even if you don't feel like you are giving it your all.
So what is the danger in trying to swing with 100% effort? Well, the biggest concern would be losing your balance. It is crucial to keep your balance at all times during the golf swing, as balance is essential for clean ball striking. Many golfers throughout the history of the game have allowed their balance to get off track as they try to swing harder and harder, and few (if any) of them wound up with positive results from that trade. When you lose balance, it is difficult to accurately locate the bottom of your swing, which is what you need to do if you want to catch the ball solidly in the middle of the face. Also, you may lose your footing if your balance gets off track, which can lead to even worse outcomes. Simply put, balance should always be prioritized ahead of making an aggressive swing, so keep yourself under control and focus on proper execution to achieve good distance.
Do You Cross Over in the Short Game?
All of the talk so far in the content above has related to releasing the club in the full swing. When hitting full shots, there is no doubt that you want to have your hands cross over through impact in order to achieve a full release and maximum swing speed. However, does the same hold true for the short game? Do you want to release the club through impact when playing shots from on or around the green? Well, that depends on the specific kinds of shots in question.
When it comes to putting, the answer is definitively no. You do not want to release your hands through impact while putting, and you should certainly not have your right hand crossing over your left in any way. The putting stroke is a simple motion that is controlled by a rocking of the shoulders, and your hands and wrists should stay out of the action as much as possible. On long putts you might need to give your hands a bit a freedom in order to hit the ball hard enough to reach the hole, but you still aren't going to be making anything that would qualify as a full release.
With chipping, however, it is a bit of a different story. From around the green, you are going to use a release that would fall somewhere between the release you use in your full swing, and the non-release you use while putting. On a long chip, the right hand is going to cross over the left slightly, but not to the same degree that it would when hitting a driver, for instance. More important than the exact amount of release you use, however, is the fact that your hands need to keep moving all the way through impact and into the finish. Many amateur golfers stop the club right at impact when chipping, and they run the risk of hitting the ball fat in the process. If you are going to chip consistently well, it is crucial that the club stays in motion all the way through the shot – no matter how much release you happen to use.
The key thing to understand about the release is the fact that you don't want to be thinking about it when you are making a swing. If you can do a good job of getting the rest of your fundamentals in order earlier in the swing, you should be able to allow the clubs to release naturally at impact. Players who try to consciously think about crossing the right hand over the left usually fail in their efforts, so don't even go down that path with your swing. Focus on the other important keys in your swing, execute them correctly, and watch the release phase take care of itself.