There are a number of common mistakes found throughout the amateur game.

The Best Way to Accelerate Nicely All The Way Through the Golf Ball?

For instance, the over-the-top move at the top of the swing is extremely common, and it leads to a slice ball flight more often than not. Sliding from side to side is another often-seen swing mistake. Players who struggle with that issue tend to struggle with the quality of their ball striking, hitting fat or thin shots with great regularity.

In this article, we are going to talk about another common golf swing mistake – decelerating in the downswing. This one might not be talked about as often as the two mentioned in the opening paragraph, but it can be just as damaging to your game. Decelerating in the downswing has a number of negative side effects, and we will get into the specifics of those later in the article.

It should be noted before we get started that deceleration in the downswing is as much about the mental game as it is about the physical game. There are some physical mistakes which can lead to deceleration, but the root cause of the issue is usually found between the ears. If you can put your mind in a good place to make a quality swing, you will stand a much better chance to accelerate nicely all the way through the ball.

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.

The Impact of Deceleration

The Impact of Deceleration

There are many ways in which a decelerating swing can harm the quality of your play. In this section, we are going to talk about a few of the issues that you may encounter when you decelerate on your way down into the ball. If you are currently decelerating in your downswing, you may notice just one of these problems – or you may notice more than one. As soon as you start to notice that deceleration is leading to negative outcomes, it will be in your best interest to look for a solution. The sooner you can take the deceleration out of your swing, the sooner you can get back to working toward your goals on the course.

The list below highlights a few of the many ways in which deceleration in the swing can cause problems in your game.

  • Poor quality of contact. This is probably the first issue you will notice when you get into the habit of decelerating on the way into impact. When you don’t carry the speed of your swing all the way through the hitting area, it becomes quite difficult to strike the ball cleanly. It is common to hit fat shots as a result of deceleration, but it is certainly possible to hit thin shots, as well. If you are usually a good ball striker and you are suddenly having trouble hitting your shots cleanly, consider deceleration as a possible cause of the issue.
  • Loss of distance. This one should go without saying. If you are not carrying all of your swing speed down through the ball and into the finish, you are going to lose distance. The loss of distance is going to be relative to the severity of your issue. If you are only decelerating slightly, you may lose just a couple yards on average. Or, if you are decelerating badly on the way down, you could lose 10 – 20 yards, or more. Also, it is worth keeping in mind that poor contact is also going to cost you distance, so you could be impacted in two ways with regard to this problem. You may lose a little distance since you aren’t swinging as fast through the ball, and you may lose a little more as a result of your diminished ball striking quality.
  • Unpredictability. Gaining consistency is one of the main goals of any golfer. When you play more consistently, your scores are almost sure to come down, as you will know where the ball is going to go most of the time. There is always going to be a degree of unpredictability in this game – that’s part of what makes it so much fun – but you don’t want your ball striking to be unpredictable. You want to be able to anticipate where the ball is going to go before you hit it, and that can only happen when you accelerate nicely through impact. If you are capable of hitting some excellent shots during your rounds while mixing in some ugly shots along the way, those bad shots may be a result of deceleration. Your basic technique is not really going to change from swing to swing, but you might find yourself decelerating from time to time for a variety of reasons. Later in the article we will discuss some of the potential causes of deceleration in the golf swing.
  • Loss of balance. If you have spent any time at all working on your golf swing or taking lessons from a golf pro, you already know that balance is one of the most important pieces of the golf puzzle. When you are properly balanced, it is relatively easy to strike clean shots. On the other hand, when your weight is leaning to one side or the other during the swing, hitting a clean golf shot becomes nearly an impossible task. Unfortunately, deceleration in the downswing is one of the mistakes that can lead to lost balance. As you swing down, your body is turning toward the target, anticipating impact to occur at a certain point in time. If you slow down and delay the moment that you actually contact the ball, everything else will be thrown off as a result. Most likely, you’ll wind up too far on your left side at impact, with the hands and club trailing behind and dragging through the hitting zone. To maintain your balance and keep yourself on track for quality ball striking, do your best to keep the speed of the swing up all the way through the ball.

There isn’t much good that can be said about deceleration in the golf swing. This is a major mistake, and one which is made by countless amateur players – and even a few professionals, from time to time. If you have goals of reaching higher levels of play in the weeks, months, and years ahead, getting rid of the tendency to decelerate the club should be near the top of your priority list.

Common Causes

Common Causes

So, we have established that decelerating the club in the downswing is a bad thing. You don’t want to make this mistake, as it is going to mean nothing but trouble for your performance on the course. But where does this mistake come from in the first place? Shouldn’t it be easy to just swing the club aggressively through the ball each time? As it turns out, doing so is not as easy as you might think. The list below highlights some of the common causes of deceleration in the downswing.

  • Uncertainty. Without a doubt, this is the root cause of most deceleration problems in the downswing. The way it plays out is pretty simple. As you stand over the ball getting ready to make your swing, you have a variety of doubts rolling around in the back of your mind. Are you using the right club? What is the wind going to do? Did you pick the right target line? The list can go on and on. As a result of all these doubts, your swing is going to lack the conviction it needs to tear through the ball with authority. You’ll probably make it through the backswing just fine, but things may come apart when you get into the downswing. The weight of those doubts will cause you to slow up in an effort to guide the ball toward the target. This explains why most golfers are able to avoid the problem of deceleration on the driving range only to have it pop up on the course. On the range, you don’t feel any pressure and are free to simply make your best swings. When you get out onto the course, you may start to feel nerves for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are anxious about playing in front of others, or maybe you are worried about that big hazard that is lurking just to the side of the fairway. Or, maybe you simply want to play your best and are putting pressure on yourself to succeed. Whatever the case, you need to be confident and rise above your doubts if you are going to accelerate the club properly. Don’t give in to the uncertainty that comes along with this game. It will always be there, so simply set it off to the side and do your best to make great swings. We’ll talk a bit more about how to get over this uncertainty later in the article.
  • Poor balance. We mentioned earlier in the article that decelerating in the downswing can have a negative effect on your balance. And that remains true, of course. However, it is also possible that poor balance can cause deceleration. If you were to lose your balance at least slightly during the early stages of the swing, you may be forced to decelerate just to ‘save’ the swing on the way down toward impact. For example, imagine a player who slides onto their right side during the backswing. This is a common mistake in the amateur game, and it can lead to a long list of problems. After sliding to the right, the player is going to be stuck on his or her back foot at the top of the swing. From there, an aggressive downswing is unlikely to be successful, as the balance problem is not going to take care of itself. So, as a result, the player will likely slow the swing down while trying to get back on balance at the same time. It is technically possible to still produce a decent shot while making these mistakes, but it will be tough. To give yourself a better chance to accelerate through your downswing time after time, focus on balance as a key building block of your technique. You may be surprised to find just how many other swing issues will iron themselves out when you learn how to balance correctly.
  • An early release. The last of the three common causes we have included in this list is likely the most difficult to fix. Countless amateur golfers struggle with an early release in the downswing, meaning they unhinge their wrists shortly after the swing has transitioned at the top. This is a classic mistake for a golfer who struggles with a slice, as the early release pushes the club outside of the proper swing path. Once the club has been released and there is no angle left between the lead arm and the shaft of the club, the only option the player has is to drag the club through the hitting area. It is almost inevitable that this kind of swing will feature deceleration, and even if the player manages to avoid that fate, the swing is still not going to live up to its potential. Holding the angle between the lead arm and the shaft of the club as far as possible into the downswing is one of the best ways to avoid deceleration and hit powerful shots.

The three points above are likely the most common causes of deceleration, but they are certainly not the only possibilities. As you work on improving your game in this area, take some time to think about what may be going wrong in your swing, and what you may be able to do to fix it. Speaking of fixes, our next section is going to provide some tips on moving your swing away from the deceleration habit and taking it toward a brighter future.

Potential Fixes

Potential Fixes

We’ve spent enough time at this point talking about how deceleration can impact your game, and how it can happen. Moving on, let’s take a look at some of the steps you may be able to take to get past this issue and improve your overall level of play. These tips are probably not going to be too surprising, as they basically address the root causes identified in the previous section.

  • Have a plan. The first point in the previous section referenced the uncertainty that can lead to deceleration and poor shots. To counter that uncertainty, try creating a very specific plan for each shot that you hit. This plan will need to go deeper than just which club you are going to use and which direction you are going to aim. Do your best to plan your ball flight in detail, and consider using visualization before hitting the shot. The more details of the shot that you plan out in advance, the more likely it is that you’ll be fully committed to the swing.
  • Shorten up to improve balance. Staying on balance during your swing is a good thing for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons you want to stay on balance is to avoid deceleration, as mentioned in the previous section. To work on your balance, consider tightening up your backswing turn just a bit. If you tend to make a long turn, think about shortening it just slightly so you can avoid moving too much of your weight onto your right side. Many amateur golfers try to force a long turn because they think that big turn will help them hit the ball farther, but often that is not the case. Of course, this tip does not apply to you if your swing already features a compact turn away from the ball, so only try this if you think your existing turn may be too long and forcing you off balance.
  • Learn to lag. We mentioned in the previous section that this is the hardest of the three issues to fix, and you will see why when you head out to work on your ability to lag the club into the ball. Basically, lag is the opposite of an early release. You are going to swing your hands down toward the ball while you let the club head lag behind and build up speed. This is a great way to swing because all of that speed can be unleashed into the back of the ball when you get to the bottom. To learn to lag your club, try making some one-handed practice swings with a wedge. Using only your left hand, do your best to make full swings with a bit of speed. To swing the club while using just one hand, you need to lag the club head properly in the downswing. Of course, be careful when doing this drill, as you’ll only have one hand on the club to keep it under control (in other words, don’t try to swing too hard). Once you’ve made a few one-handed practice swings, put your right hand back on the club and try to remember the feeling of lag that you just experienced. It’s going to take time and effort to learn how to lag the club correctly, but this is one of the biggest steps you can take in the development of your game.

We need to emphasize the fact that you should never expect anything to come too quickly in golf. This is a difficult game, and you’ll need to work at any part of your swing that you wish to improve. It is not impossible to eliminate your deceleration pattern, of course, but you shouldn’t expect to clear this hurdle without a few struggles along the way.

Deceleration in the Short Game

Deceleration in the Short Game

While we have dedicated the bulk of this article to the topic of deceleration in the downswing, it should be said that deceleration in the short game is probably an even bigger issue. Countless amateur golfers struggle with deceleration in the short game, both on and off the greens. Failing to accelerate all the way through your short game shots is a huge mistake, and one which can make it nearly impossible to succeed.

We are going to talk quickly about deceleration in two parts of the short game – putting, and chipping/pitching.

  • Putting. The telltale sign that you are decelerating during your putting stroke is leaving putts short. If you consistently find that your putts are not reaching the hole, there is a good chance that you are losing speed before you actually make contact. Not only will this error cause you to come up short of the target, but you may find that you miss to the right frequently, as well (although that can vary from player to player). To correct your decelerating stroke, try making a shorter backswing on your putts. With less distance between the club head and the ball, you’ll be better able to speed up on the way through without rolling the ball too far in the end.
  • Chipping/pitching. Do you hit a large number of your chip shots fat? If so, it’s highly likely that you are decelerating on the way forward. Many golfers simply get nervous about the outcome of the chip shot, and they slow down in an effort to guide the club into the back of the ball. Getting over this issue usually comes down to confidence. Trust yourself, believe in your technique, and swing through toward the target with an accelerating motion.

It can be frustrating to find yourself decelerating out on the course when you see to be performing just fine on the driving range. If that is where you find yourself currently, we hope the discussion in this article will help you get your game on track moving forward. This is a problem you can fix, even if it takes a bit of time and effort to do so. Good luck!