More torque in the swing means more power. Control the legs in the backswing for a greater wind up of power.
Torque is a measure of turning force in an object. In a golf swing, torque is used as a way of describing the stretching that takes place in the body during the backswing as the upper body turns back against the lower body. We refer to more stretching in the backswing as a good thing as this means more torque, which means more power as the muscles in the body stretch so that they can release hard and fast in the downswing, promoting huge speed into the golf ball.
Torque is created by keeping the lower body extremely still while turning the upper body against it. A powerful backswing would consist of the back leg staying still - exactly as it began at the set up position - creating a solid base. The hips and shoulders then rotate around the spine against the solid base, creating huge stretching in the muscles across the back, knee, hips and lower back. Performing this action stretches these muscles like springs, allowing the golfer to turn much harder and faster into the golf ball as the muscles release in the forward movement of the swing. If the base of the golfer or the legs move, the stretch is released during the backswing and so valuable power is lost. Problems occur in the golf swing when golfers sway instead of turn during the backswing. When a sway occurs, golfers lose power in the swing and also expose themselves to injury.
A sway in the backswing of a golfer occurs when the hips move laterally (sideways) towards the back foot during the backswing movement. If the hips move sideways then rotation becomes limited meaning that there is not enough torque created and therefore power is lost. Also, a sideways movement of the hips creates a problem position for the back and can lead to injury or lower back pain through a round of golf. The swaying sideways motion of the backswing tilts the pelvis which curves the bottom of the spine. If the golfer tries to rotate the hips as they are tilted, a huge amount of pressure is put on what is a very weak position in the lower back. If you experience back pain or aches toward the end of, or after a game of golf, this could well be a major factor in why that occurs.
An exercise to practice turning correctly rather than swaying during the backswing is to stand a golf bag in an upright position, resting against the back foot and hip at the set up position. Make sure that the bag will not be hit by the golf club during the backswing. Once this is done, swing into the backswing making sure to turn the hips and shoulders and to keep the back knee as still as possible. If the turn of the hips is correct, the bag should not be touched by the back hip. If there is a sway then the hip will touch the bag or the bag will be knocked over.
Practice this exercise to create more torque to hit the ball further and more importantly, relieve the pressure on your spine.
Stop Your Backswing Sway for More Power
Everyone wants to add power to their golf swing. Even if you are already a long hitter, you likely would love to add just a few more yards to make sure that you can hit it past everyone in your group. There is no doubt that hitting long drives and powerful iron shots is a great feeling – even if there is more to scoring well than just hitting long shots. So, when you look to add power to your swing, what is the first thing that you should do? In many cases, the first step is going to involve taking the sway out of your backswing.
Swaying during the backswing is a common mistake made by amateur golfers. Not all golfers make this mistake, of course, so you will first want to make sure that this issue is one that affects your swing before you go making changes. Once you determine that you are, in fact, swaying during your backswing, you can use the instruction that is contained in the content below to hopefully get your mechanics back on track. With the sway eliminated, you should notice an uptick in your power almost immediately. Nothing comes easy in the game of golf, but improving your technique in this way is a relatively simple point that stands to offer impressive returns.
Before going any further, we need to stop and clearly define what a 'sway' is from a golf perspective. Basically, the golf swing is supposed to be a rotational action, so any swaying from side to side needs to be taken out of your technique. When we talk about backswing sway, we are referring to a lateral movement to the right as your backswing develops (for a right handed golfer). Instead of keeping your center of gravity between your feet as you rotate to the right, you will instead shift your weight over your right foot and you will quickly become off-balance. In order to even make good contact from this point, you will have to sway again to the left in the downswing, meaning you won't be able to turn powerfully through the shot. In other words, your potential for making speed in the downswing will have been ruined by the backswing sway to the right. This is not a move that you will see made by any of the top golfers in the world, and for good reason. Pro golfers know the importance of rotation, so they stay away from the sway at all costs.
Golfers who sway will usually hit the ball shorter than their playing partners, but there are other problems to be encountered as well. Most notably, the slice is an issue that frequently comes along with the sway, so be sure to check for any signs of a sway if you are prone to hitting a slice. Also, you may find that you regularly hit the ball fat with your short irons if you sway, as you won't have enough time in the downswing to sway back over the ball before impact. There is really nothing good that is going to come from swaying in your backswing (or at any other point in the swing), so this is an error to get rid of as quickly as possible.
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.
The Many Benefits of Rotation
In the golf swing, you can't really have both a good rotation and a backswing sway – you will have one or the other. With that in mind, there are countless reasons why you should be focused on achieving great rotation while eliminating the sway. The list below contains just a few of the many benefits that you will enjoy when you optimize your rotation throughout the golf swing.
- Better balance = better contact. The main goal of the golf swing should be to make clean contact with the ball at impact. After all, if you strike the ball cleanly, you should at least be able to carry the intended distance, and the shot should stay relatively close to your intended line as well. With that in mind, you want to be as balanced as possible during your swing in order to make it easier to catch the ball on the sweet spot. Any movement from side to side that takes place in your swing is going to harm your chances at solid contact. Stay balanced nicely between your two feet during your backswing and you will be that much more likely to strike the ball perfectly at the bottom. Also, you will be more consistent with your ball striking when you take this approach, so you should be able to maintain your level from the first hole on through to the last.
- Engage the lower body. When you sway from side to side during your golf swing, you will be unable to generate power with your lower body since your legs will be busy simply trying to hold everything together. If you stay on balance, however, you will suddenly be able to use your legs to turn hard toward the target in the downswing. Your lower body can be an incredibly source of power and speed in the swing, but only when you are balanced enough to use it properly. The best players in the world all use their lower bodies beautifully throughout the swing, and that is the lead that you should be trying to follow. If you have never before engaged your lower body in the swing, you may be shocked to find just how much power is available once you use your legs the right way.
- Improved angle of attack. Hitting down through the ball is one of the keys to producing great iron shots, and that is another thing that becomes easier when you rotate instead of slide. If you were to slide from side to side, your swing would become rather shallow through the hitting area, and you would likely be forced to 'pick' the ball off of the top of the turf (assuming you don't hit it fat). On the other hand, with good balance and plenty of rotation, you can hit down from above and take a nice divot once the ball is gone. This is a significantly better way to make contact, as it will improve both your ball flight and your spin rate.
In reality, this list could go on and on. There are nearly endless reasons why good rotation will benefit your golf swing, and there really aren't any drawbacks to speak of on this point, either. If you think you may have a problem with sliding or swaying in the backswing, be sure to check out your swing on video as soon as possible to confirm your suspicions. This point isn't going to improve on its own just by mindlessly hitting range balls – you need to have a plan in place, and you need to take action on that plan. Below, we will get into the specifics of how you can work yourself away from the sway and into a good rotation.
Breaking the Habit
As you know, breaking any kind of habit is hard work. Whether it is something in your golf swing or something in another part of your life altogether, it is tough to stick to a plan that will allow you to create a new habit –destroying the old one in the process. While it is certainly a challenge, you have no choice but to break your swaying habit in the backswing if you are going to successfully become a better player. Good golf shots do not come from swaying on the way back, so that habit has to go.
In the world of golf, breaking habits comes down to repetition and practice time. You can't just read something in an article and expect to put it to use on the course immediately – you have to practice it first. Many amateur golfers take the practice step for granted, thinking the work that they do on the range won't really translate out onto the course anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you work hard on your game on the practice range, and you work the right way, the results of your efforts are sure to show through in the near future.
So, what should you work on in your upcoming practice sessions as you aim to eliminate the sway once and for all? The list below is a good collection of points to use as direction in your next trip to the range.
- Right knee control. If there is one specific part of your body that needs to be monitored during the backswing to ensure that you aren't swaying away from the target, it is the right knee. Keeping your right knee in the same position that it occupied at address is one of the best things you can do for your swing as a whole. If that right knee is able to hold stead as you swing the club up to the top of the backswing, you can be almost certain that you haven't sway unnecessarily. It is when that knee drifts to the right that you need to worry about what it happening to your balance. You can allow a very slight bit of natural movement in the right knee on the way back, but be careful to not allow that movement to get carried away.
- Left shoulder under your chin. This is another key point to monitor during your backswing. When you are rotating nicely, your left shoulder will pass under your chin as the club goes back – however, that probably won't happen if you are swaying instead of turning. Those who sway in the backswing usually don't make much of a shoulder turn, meaning the shoulder will come up short of getting under the chin. Think of this as a 'benchmark' that you can use to measure the quality of your turn. As long as your shoulder is getting all the way under your chin properly, you can feel good about how you have rotated back.
- Back to the target. When working on this last point, you are really working on the same thing as in the previous point, only you will be thinking about it in a different way. As you swing back, think about trying to turn your back completely to the target by the time you transition from backswing to downswing. A golfer who is swaying to the right will have almost no chance to complete this task properly. As long as you have your back to the target at the top, you can be confident that you have done a great job with your rotation throughout the first half of the swing.
Working consistently on the three points listed above will take you most of the way toward eliminating the sway. You should notice that you aren't really focusing on the sway at all when going through your practice session – instead, you are focusing on the things that you can do to in a positive manner to improve your turn. It is better to focus on what you want to do rather than on what you want to avoid. Think positively about creating great rotation and you will forget all about the sway in short order.
Turning Rotation into Power
As indicated in the title of this article, the idea behind getting rid of the sway in your swing is to add more power to your shots. Powerful golf shots not only travel farther in the air, but they tend to hold their line better as well – especially in windy conditions. So, now that you have spent some time on the range learning how to turn rather than sway, the next step in the process is to turn that great rotation into some additional power. This isn't necessarily a difficult task, but there are a few ways in which it can go wrong.
To make sure you are able to translate as much of your potential power into actual speed as possible, use the tips below as you continue to work on your swing.
- Pause at the top. As the club reaches the top of the swing, it needs to pause momentarily in order to allow your lower body to get the head start it needs going forward. You want to have your lower body leading the way so you can develop as much speed as possible when the club finally does move through the hitting area. So, while the club is temporarily paused (for just a split second) at the top of the swing, your lower body will be getting things going. Once your legs have started to turn left toward the target, you can simply allow your upper body – including your arms and the club – to follow along for the ride. This is a powerful way to swing the club, and it is how most professional golfers go about generating tremendous club head speed.
- Right elbow moves down. One of the biggest mistakes that is commonly seen in the swing of an average golfer is allowing the right elbow to move up during the transition. When you get to the top of your swing, your right elbow should be pointing down at the ground. From there, it should move down in toward your side as your forward swing begins. Unfortunately, many amateurs allow the club to move up and away from their body in the transition. This puts the club too high in the air, and the result is an outside-in swing and a slice. To avoid that fate, make sure your right elbow drops in close to your side as you get started turning left. This can be one of the most difficult changes to make with your swing, so take as much time as necessary to get this just right.
- Hold nothing back. In many ways, the best thing you can do for the power of your golf swing is simply to have confidence in what you are doing. Players who are confident will aggressively accelerate the ball through the hitting area, while players who are doubtful about their technique will hesitate to really turn the club loose at the bottom. You need to be as confident as possible if you are going to see your improved technique actually translate into results that you can benefit from on the course. The confidence that you need to maximize your power should be built on the driving range. Spend plenty of time hitting quality shots on the range and you should start to feel better and better about your swing.
It would be a shame to improve your technique only to have a minor issue derail your efforts to hit longer shots. If you aren't getting as much power from your swing as you expect, check on each of the three points above to make sure you aren't falling victim to one of these mistakes.
Playing on Uneven Ground
When you work on your golf swing at the driving range, you are almost certainly hitting shots from level ground. Nearly every driving range in the world is designed to be flat, so as to make it as easy as possible for players to practice their technique. Of course, that makes sense. It would be hard to practice your technique on an uneven surface, so having flat ground on which to work is a great place to start. However, as you already know, golf courses are anything but flat. While you will have a flat lie on the tee box, the lies you face around the rest of the course are typically going to be sloped to at least some degree.
So, knowing that you are going to have to hit plenty of shots from uneven ground during each round that you play, it only makes sense to have a swing that is designed to deal successfully with such a situation. That means using a swing that is rotational in nature. Golfers who sway in the backswing will have almost no chance to hit good shots from uneven ground. Playing from a sloped lie is all about maintaining balance, and you can't maintain your balance when you are shifting your weight from side to side during the swing. To make yourself a better player overall, you want to make sure everything you do is geared around rotating rather than sliding.
In this way, avoiding the sway is about much more than just power. Sure, you stand to gain some power through improving your rotation, but that is only the start of it. You will also find that you can produce better shots from uneven lies, which is a big part of the battle. Power will only get you so far in this game, as control and accuracy will always be more important than sheer power through the ball. If you can control your ball – even when playing from a sloped lie – you will be able to post lower scores than a player who can blast long drives without much control over trajectory or ball flight. The skill to play shots from uneven lies is often seen as an advanced ability reserved for better players, but it is important for all golfers equally.
When you think about the golf swing, you should think about rotation – it's just that simple. You don't want to be sliding from side to side during your swing, which means you need to avoid swaying in the backswing (as well as the downswing). If you are currently swaying in your swing, make sure you put the tips included above to use during your upcoming practice sessions. You should be able to work this move out of your swing in relatively short order, meaning you will only need to adjust to your new and improved ball flight before you can hopefully begin to play your best golf.