If you hit a lot of hard hooks – shots that dart sharply left (for a righty) – you're probably rotating your hands too quickly through the impact zone.
Lets tackle a few possible causes of your over-rotation, and the ways you can fix the problem.
- Your clubs grips are too small: Did you know the thickness of your grips can make a major impact on your shots? Its true. If you've got large hands, they'll become over-active when using regular-size or worn-down grips. Next time you re-grip, consider installing extra-thick grips or having the shop add an extra wrap or two of tape underneath.
- Your grip is too strong: Grasp a club in your usual manner and address a ball. Look at you the back of your left hand. If you can see more than two knuckles, your grip may be too “strong,” or turned to the right. This gives the hands and forearms lots of freedom to roll over, sometimes too much. Roll both hands a touch to the left on your grip, making it “weaker” or more neutral. Ideally, you should see two or 2 ½ knuckles, tops.
- You are under-rotating the lower body: When your hips are still or static on the downswing, the shoulders, arms and hands must compensate to provide enough power. The usual result – big hooks.
- To get your hips more involved, they should turn about half the amount of your shoulders on the backswing (i.e., a 90° shoulder turn equals 45° for the hips). Begin the downswing by pressing your left heel into the ground and rotating the left hip toward the target, finishing with your belt buckle pointing at or just left of the target.
- Your wrists are too active in the takeaway: If you pick the club up abruptly by hinging the wrists, you'll likely repeat this action coming into the ball. Instead, sweep the club away from the ball by maintaining the triangle formed by your shoulders, arms and wrists for the first 12” or so. This will reduce your hand action and curtail those nasty hooks.
Stop Over-Rotating Your Hands in the Golf Swing and Regain Control of Your Ball Flight
At some point during the golf swing, your hands need to rotate through the shot and release the club. Without a release, you will be stuck with a club face that is open to the target when the club makes contact with the ball. Also, the release serves to speed the club head up right at the last moment, so it is an important component in terms of maximizing distance as well. A proper release is one of the main keys that golfers need to incorporate into their swings for consistently solid ball-striking.
Unfortunately, the release is something that gives many golfers trouble. Timing the release just right can seem like an impossible task for many players given how fast the golf swing develops. You only have a fraction of a second at the bottom of your swing to get the release right – in fact, it can seem like a minor miracle that anyone ever manages to get the release working properly. No matter how hard is might seem to be, it is a challenge that you will have to successfully conquer if you are ever going to reach your potential on the course.
The key to understanding how the release works is realizing that there isn't enough time at the bottom of the swing to manually release the club. By the time your use your brain to tell your hands to rotate through the shot, it is too late – the moment has passed. Given the speed of the golf swing, human reaction times aren't quick enough to consciously release the club at the perfect moment. Instead, you need to get the rest of your body working in such a way that the release happens automatically as a result of your swing mechanics. If you put your body in the right positions throughout the swing, your hands will rotate at the perfect time to put the club face squarely on the back of the ball.
Trying to manually release the club will always lead to over-rotation, and ugly shots. Take a step back from the release and work on the mechanics that make up the rest of your swing. After you learn how to use your body to get the club in the perfect position coming down toward impact, you wont need to think about the release ever again. Your hands will naturally rotate through the ball and you will start to hit some of the best shots of your life.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Set the Stage with a Great Backswing
Whenever you have any kind of swing problem in your golf game, it is a safe bet to look at your backswing for the solution. Most of what happens during the downswing is just a reaction to the backswing, so getting the first part of your swing under control is a great way to improve. If you settle for a poor backswing and spend all of your time focused on the downswing, you ball-striking will never reach its full potential.
Remember, the downswing phase of the swing only takes a fraction of a second, so it is incredibly difficult to make up for mistakes that have been made in your backswing. If you are out of position when you reach the top of the swing, there is almost no chance that you will be able to rescue the swing on the way down and hit a quality shot. Likewise, when you do complete a good backswing, you stand an excellent chance to hit the ball solidly, right at your target. It cant be overstated – the backswing is crucially important to your success on the course.
With that in mind, consider the following three elements that make up a great backswing. When you can check off all three of these points, you will be a big step closer to solving the problem of over-rotating your hands.
- Balance at the top. The cardinal rule of the backswing is that you always need to remain on balance – especially when you reach the top of the swing. As the club is transitioning from backswing to downswing, you need to have excellent balance to support the aggressive downswing that is about to take place. Poor balance puts the club out of position and limits your ability to create speed. To check your balance, take a practice swing and pause right at the top. How do you feel? Are you comfortable enough to hold this position for several seconds, or are you about to fall over? If you feel like you are going to tip over when you pause your swing, work on maintaining better balance during your backswing. Until you get your balance right, nothing else that you work on in your swing is going to translate into results.
- Arms and body connected. In order to allow the club to rotate naturally through the hitting area you first need to make sure that your arms and your torso are well-connected at the top of the swing. If you allow your arms to lift up and away from your body during the backswing, they will be in a disconnected position. From there, you wont be able to use your body rotation to naturally release the club at impact. Many players who struggle with over-rotating their hands will notice that they make this mistake. By getting disconnected at the top, you lose the ability to power your swing with your body turn and are forced to use your hands and arms to speed up the club. This is an inconsistent way to swing, and your results are never going to be satisfactory. Work on keeping your arms lower in the backswing and make sure your right elbow is pointing down to the ground at the top of the swing.
- Maintain knee flex. A classic amateur mistake is to lose knee flex during the backswing and end up completely out of posture by the time the club starts down toward the ball. Dont let that happen to you. One of the top priorities that you have in the backswing should be to maintain your knee flex as completely as possible. Not only will this make it easier to engage your lower body during the downswing phase, but it will also contribute to helping you keep your balance.
While these three points might not seem to have much to do with over-rotating your hands, they are in fact crucial to correcting that mistake. The over-rotation of your hands at impact is simply a response to problems that exist earlier in your swing. Once you take away the problems that are causing the over-rotation, you should find that your hands start performing better through the hitting area. Clean up your backswing through the implementation of the three points above and the need to over-rotate your hands will quickly start to disappear.
The Unstoppable Force
If you are going to be able to hit good golf shots without consciously releasing the club through impact, you are going to have to have another way for the club to move through the hitting area correctly. That is going to happen through the rotation of your body. When your whole body is working together to turn toward the target, the club wont have a choice but to release nicely through the ball. You wont have to worry about over-rotating your hands – because your hands wont be actively doing anything at all. They will simply be along for the ride as your lower body leads the way through the shot. When all is said and done, your body will be completely turned toward the target in your finish, and the ball will be on its way.
One of the reasons that you are better off using your body rotation than your hands to release the club is that this method is far more reliable. Timing the rotation of your hands at the bottom of the swing is challenging, but it is relatively easy to turn your body the same way time after time. As soon as you reach the top of the swing, your lower body should jump into action and start turning everything to the left. Your legs and hips are responsible for doing the hard work, and your upper body (along with your arms and the club) will come along later. Think of the forward swing as simply uncoiling from the ground up – what starts in your legs is transferred up to your torso, and eventually out to the club.
Another benefit of this method is the amazing power that you can develop as you turn hard to the left. Rather than just pushing your arms down toward the ball with nothing behind them to build speed, you will be using the power of your whole body to gradually accelerate the club head. This is the way that professional golfers build power, and it is the reason that they can hit the ball so far even when it doesn't look like they are trying very hard. If you have always wanted to hit the golf ball farther but never knew how you could create more speed, this is the secret that you have been looking for. Use your lower body to rotate toward the target and you will unlock incredible amounts of power within your swing.
There is one problem that you need to watch out for when using your body rotation to swing the club down toward the ball – you cant back off at the last instant and lose your confidence. It is crucial that you stay aggressive in the downswing and turn your body all the way through the shot. If you stop your body rotation prior to impact because you aren't confident enough in your swing, the results can be ugly. In fact, giving up on your body rotation before you get all the way through the swing is an easy way to over-rotate your hands – exactly the mistake you are trying to avoid. Keep your confidence up, stay aggressive, and swing all the way through the shot to a full, balanced finish.
Two Simple Drills
Making the transition from an arms-only swing to one that is controlled by your body rotation can be difficult. Therefore, it is helpful to do some drills on the practice range which will teach you the right feelings that you want to look for during the swing. Make sure to spend plenty of time on the practice range working on your new technique so that it is completely comfortable before you try playing an actual round of golf.
The first drill that you are going to work on is one that takes your hands completely out of the golf swing. Since you are trying to get rid of the over-rotation of your hands, it only makes sense to do a drill that doesn't allow you to use your hands at all. Follow the steps below to complete this simple but helpful drill.
- To start, head to the driving range with a bucket of balls that you can hit for this drill. You will only need one club, and it should be a short iron (anywhere from 8-PW).
- Take your normal address position and pick out a target somewhere on the range that you can aim at. The target should be at short range, ideally no farther than 60 yards away. Prepare to take a swing just like you would prepare before any other shot.
- As you start your swing, restrict the movement of your wrists so that they are locked into place. Think about how you hold your wrists steady when you make a putting stroke – that is the same idea that you want to use for this drill. There should be no movement within your wrists at any point during the swing.
- Since you aren't using your wrists, your backswing is going to be significantly shorter than it would be normally. That is fine – just turn your shoulders to move the club back, and start forward when they are done turning away from the target.
- To get the club moving forward, you are going to have to use your lower body since your hands and wrists aren't engaged in the shot at all. Turn your lower body quickly toward the target and allow that speed to transfer into the club to help it move through the ball. Even with a good lower body turn, you aren't going to hit the ball very far without the use of your hands and wrists.
- Hit several shots using this drill, then go back to making your normal swing. Hopefully, the lessons learned during the drill will translate to the regular swings that you make and your lower body will instantly be more engaged.
Going through that drill is going to feel weird at first, and your shots probably wont look very good. Stick with it until you can strike the ball cleanly and send it flying toward your short range target. Even though you will never hit your shots their full distance without using your hands, you can quickly see just how powerful your lower body is in the golf swing.
The second drill that you are going to use to prevent the over-rotation of your hands is a ball flight drill. You are going to make your regular golf swing without any modifications – except you have to hit a fade. The entire goal of this drill is to fade the golf ball from left to right. If you are hitting a controlled fade, you will know for certain that you aren't over-rotating your hands during the golf swing. Use the following steps to work through a fade drill on the driving range.
- Instead of a short iron, you will want to use a mid-iron for this drill so you can see a longer ball flight in the air. For most golfers, a six iron will be the perfect choice, but you can use a seven iron if you are more comfortable with that club.
- First, select a final target for your shots. This target should be something on the range that is at approximately the right distance for the club you have picked. For example, if you hit your six iron 150 yards, find a flag or marker on the range that is near that distance.
- Next, find a starting line target for your shots. This should be about 10 yards to the left of your final target. You are going to aim at this target with the intention of fading the ball back to your final target for a successful shot. It doesn't particularly matter how far this starting line target is down the range – just pick something that is easy to see.
- Hit 10 shots and grade each one before moving on to the next. How many were successful? If you start the ball in the general direction of your initial target and it finishes somewhere near your final target, that shot is a success. The ball flight doesn't have to be perfect, as long as it manages to move from left to right in a controlled fashion.
If you find that you are unable to fade the ball no matter what you do, there is a good chance that you are still over-rotating your hands. Keep working on using your body better in the downswing to eliminate this mistake, then come back and try this same drill again. Once you can hit a fade on the majority of your shots you will know you are on the right track.
Take Your Improvements to the Course
Now that you have stopped over-rotating your hands successfully, it is time to head out onto the course and test your progress. Before you tee off, there is something you need to remember – playing golf on the course is much harder than making swings on the practice range. You might think you are completely prepared for the challenge on the course, but that is rarely the case. For most people, it will take a period of several rounds before any swing changes are able to properly take hold during a round. You will likely struggle, and that is okay. Remain focused on your technique and keep at it until you are able to make great swings on the course just like you are doing on the range.
To make your transition a little easier, try playing your first round without anyone else along with you. Playing by yourself will offer you the freedom to hit plenty of bad shots without feeling self-conscious about the outcome. You will be free to try your best with the new swing, and you wont be tempted to give up on it when things aren't going well. Also, not having anyone else along with you will make it easier to focus on your new swing. If you get caught up in chatting with your playing partners during the round, you may lose track of the things you are trying to do in your swing. Play alone for the first round or two and your transition should be completed much quicker.
Many golfers have the problem of over-rotating their hands in the golf swing. If this is something that you struggle with, you would be smart to address this problem as soon as possible so you can improve the consistency of your game. Excessive rotation of the hands will always make it difficult to hit the same ball flight over and over again – which is one of the key components to being a good player. Spend plenty of time on the driving range learning how to use your lower body to release the club through impact and your over-rotation problem will soon be gone forever.