Lead With Your Left Shoulder To Start The Golf Swing (Video)
Lead With Your Left Shoulder To Start The Golf Swing (Video)

So if we are going to work on an efficient takeaway motion, trying to generate the most power, we’ve discussed this idea that we want to rotate the shoulders as much as we cans to try and generate a nice loaded position and to try and generate a lot of power in the backswing. It’s very important we also understand the role of which shoulder does which during that moment. So from a good address position down the line here as I am turning my shoulders, my right shoulder is going back and my left shoulder is going forwards, my right shoulder is going up, and my left shoulder is going down. now I feel its much easier, much more important to focus on what your left shoulder is doing. Anytime people focus on what their right shoulder is doing we often see people stand up and out of the shot because they are thinking about lifting the shoulder, lifting this shoulder will often lift the head and the chest up as well. So I’d rather from a good position here you focus on turning the left shoulder down and under to create a good 90 degree angle and generate plenty of power without any real feeling of lifting the upper body out of the shot. So from a good set up position left shoulder comes down and under creating the tension, creating the power and then driving through the ball.

Now, if it’s easy for you to help a focus on that by having the club held over your shoulders and then think about pointing the handle end of the golf club down towards the ball and the backswing, and you notice this end comes down and this end goes up, but we are not actually thinking about the backend going up, think about more the left shoulder turning down to create the power winding up to then release generating plenty of power in the downswing. So from a good set up position left shoulder goes down and around and fully complete that backswing when that left shoulder comes round underneath your chin that’s when you would say you’ve had a completed backswing rather than lifting that left shoulder and then stopping at halfway. Also notice that not much happens with the legs and not much happens with the hands in that first motion, let that left shoulder complete its turn before you then lift the hands and the arms up, and if you can focus on your left shoulder turn during your backswing you are going to find much more success in hitting longer straighter golf shots.
2015-10-16

Here’s a quick question for you – how do you start your golf swing?

Lead with Your Left Shoulder to Start the Golf Swing

The natural response might be to say that you move the club head away from the ball. That’s true, but how do you make that happen? What action do you take to cause the club to start moving? This is where things get a bit tricky. It can be difficult to get the golf swing started property, especially if you are stuck over the ball, thinking about how to make it happen.

In this article, we are going to suggest the use of your left shoulder as the best way to get the swing started. That might not be the first part of your body that you consider for the job, as the left shoulder doesn’t touch the club during the swing. However, by focusing on your left shoulder as the starting point of the swing, you just might be able to get everything else to fall into place nicely.

Just like anything else in golf, it is going to take some practice to learn how to start your swing with your left shoulder. This is not something that you should just try on a whim during your next round. Plan on testing it out during an upcoming practice session so you can work out any issues that might arise before heading to the course. Fortunately, as far as changes to your technique are concerned, this one is relatively minor. With a bit of focused practice and the appropriate attention to detail, you can have yourself on the right track in short order.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Why It Helps

Why It Helps

In this section, we are basically going to ‘sell’ you on the idea of starting your swing with your left shoulder. We want to make it clear that this method has plenty to offer your game. Otherwise, why would it be worth your time to practice this technique? You need to have a clear picture of how your performance can improve if you decide to adopt this style of starting your swing. By the end of this section, you should have all the motivation you need to get started.

Let’s take a look at the key points –

  • Encourage good shoulder turn. You may already know that a good shoulder turn is one of the biggest keys to hitting quality golf shots. If you can turn your shoulders fully time after time, you will be setup for success once the downswing comes around. You don’t have to make the biggest shoulder turn in the world to play good golf – you just need to make a solid turn that looks the same time after time. Unfortunately, many golfers who start their swings with their hands never get the shoulders involved in the backswing properly. Those players struggle to make a full turn because they fall behind right from the start of the swing. By focusing on your left shoulder as the starting point of the golf swing, you can be sure your shoulders are engaged right from the beginning.
  • Avoid use of hands and wrists. One of the biggest mistakes you can make early in the golf swing is to let your hands and wrists take over the action. This is a problem for a variety of reasons. For starters, you are likely to rush the takeaway when using your hands to move the club, rather than your shoulders. This will throw your tempo off right from the start, and it’s possible that you will never manage to recover. Even if you do get your tempo back on track, it will still be difficult to straighten out your swing path. When the hands and wrists initiate the backswing, it’s typical for the club to be moved to the inside of the target line. That means an adjustment will have to be made somewhere along the way if you are going to get back in position. Most likely, you won’t be able to make that adjustment, and you will swing down on a bad path. You can stay away from all of this trouble simply by using your left shoulder to get things started while your hands and wrists remain quiet. It might seem a little odd at first to not use your hands to start the swing, but you’ll get used to it soon enough. Once you get comfortable, this type of takeaway will prove to be a solid and reliable way to get things going shot after shot.
  • An easy point of focus. Most golfers feel some degree of pressure while out on the course. Even if you are playing a solo round with no one else in sight, you still want to do your best in each round. That pressure will often come to a head while you are standing over the ball, getting ready to swing. There may be a number of different thoughts running together in your head, making it hard to focus on the task at hand. With so many thoughts in your mind, you may wind up just standing over the ball frozen, unable to get the swing started. This can happen to professional golfers just like amateurs, and it is a frustrating experience to say the least. If you’ve been struggling with the issue of freezing up over the ball, focusing on your left shoulder as the specific body part that is going to get things started is a great idea. Rather than letting a collection of random thoughts take over your brain, you can zero in on the idea of turning your left shoulder to the right. This is a simple movement, and one which should break you free of the problem of freezing over the ball. There is still going to be pressure when you play, of course, but at least you should be able to get your swing started properly.
  • Establish great rhythm. We mentioned the tempo of your swing in an earlier point, but this topic deserves a point of its own. When you start the swing with your left shoulder, it should be relatively easy to establish a smooth rhythm that can carry you all the way up to the top of the swing and down toward impact. Golfers who use their hands to start the swing tend to rush, forcing the club back too quickly. The shoulders aren’t able to keep up as a result, and the backswing becomes mostly an arms-only action. That’s a problem in terms of your tempo, and it’s also a problem in terms of building speed later on. The average golfer overlooks the importance of rhythm in golf, and you don’t want to put yourself in that category. Use the left shoulder to initiate the swing and see how quickly your overall tempo is able to improve.

It should be clear by now that your game can benefit if you learn how to start your swing with your left shoulder. Are you guaranteed to experience all of the benefits listed above? Of course not. Every golfer is different, so you may find that some of these points come into play for you, while others do not. With that said, it’s nearly certain that your game will be better off once you have made this transition. Like anything else in golf, you need to be patient with this change and give yourself time to adapt. Things don’t tend to happen quickly in this game, so some early struggles shouldn’t put you off. Stick with it, be patient during practice, and watch for signs that you are making meaningful progress.

Make It Happen

Make It Happen

Now that you are fully motivated and ready to get started, you’ll need to take a plan with you to the driving range if you are going to make this happen successfully. Too many golfers head to the range aimlessly and wind up with disappointing results, not surprisingly. If you know both what you are going to work on and how you are going to work on it, you’ll find it much easier to progress in a timely manner.

The exact way you go about putting this technique into use will depend on a number of factors, including what kind of takeaway technique you use currently. So, we can’t necessarily prescribe a specific plan that you can take to the range, but we can offer some general tips that will help you along the way.

  • Start slow and small. There is no reason to start out by hitting drivers as far as you can down the range. Sure, everyone loves to hit the driver, but you’ll be better served to start off by hitting shorter shots. In fact, for the first couple of trips out to the range, you may want to consider taking only your wedges for the practice session. This will force you to hit short shots where you can focus on your technique without having to worry about making a big, powerful swing. As your confidence grows and you get more and more comfortable with this type of takeaway, you can start to work your way up to the longer clubs. It will take some patience to practice this way at the start, but you’ll be happy you stuck with it when you see how things develop.
  • Keep your chin up. This is a small point, but it is one that can trip you up if you don’t get it right. When addressing the golf ball, be sure to keep your chin up away from your chest. In an effort to ‘keep their head down’, many golfers push their chin down into their chest unnecessarily. This is a problem because the chin will then be in the way of a proper shoulder turn. Shortly after the swing begins, your left shoulder is going to contact your chin, and you’ll have a problem. Either you will need to stop your shoulder turn at that point, which would not be good, or you’ll need to move your head along with your shoulders – and that would not be good either. To avoid this issue altogether, simply set up over the ball with your chin comfortably up away from your chest.
  • Don’t lift up. For some golfers, there can be an urge to lift up along with turning the left shoulder to the right. You need to fight back against this urge, as it is only going to cause you problems. The shoulder turn should take place while you maintain roughly the same posture that you created at address. If you lift up and out of your posture, you’ll create a long list of problems that will need to be dealt with later in the swing. To stay away from this issue, think about turning your left shoulder down and to the right. Since you are tilted forward from the waist at address, there is going to be a bit of downward movement in the shoulder as it rotates back. You should find that your ball striking becomes much more reliable once you work past this issue.

There are no shortcuts in golf. If you want to make progress, you have to put in the work – it’s just that simple. We hope the tips above are able to help you get on the right track as soon as possible with regard to starting the swing with your left shoulder.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting

We’d love to tell you that everything will go nicely from start to finish as you work on learning how to start your swing this way. That probably won’t be the case. There are almost sure to be some struggles, and you will need to stick with it through those struggles if you are going to come out successful on the other side.

If you do find yourself bumping up against some challenges during this process, the troubleshooting tips listed below may help.

  • Pulling the ball to the left. If most of your swings are resulting in shots that are pulled well to the left of the target, it may be that you aren’t giving your backswing enough time to develop. This is a common error, since your backswing will take longer to develop now that you aren’t using your hands and wrists as actively in the takeaway. To make a great backswing, you need to be patient with your turn, and patient with the club. This issue is a great reason to work on using wedges in practice first before moving on to longer clubs. The shorter swing that is used with a wedge doesn’t demand as much patience as you’ll need to show with the driver. By working your way up, you can gradually get used to how much time it takes to make a great swing.
  • Steep angle of attack. We mentioned earlier than you will need to move your left shoulder a bit down in addition to turning it away from the target. That is true, but it is possible to go too far with that piece of advice. If you wind up pushing your left shoulder significantly down toward the ground as the swing begins, your swing will get steep and you might wind up taking a big divot as a result. When it feels like your swing has become too steep, make a point to flatten out your shoulder turn going back. That might be as simple as turning your shoulder on a flatter plane, or you may need to adjust your address position to take some of the tilt out of your hips.
  • Lack of power. When done correctly, learning how to start your swing by turning your left shoulder away from the target should help add power to your game. Unfortunately, it is possible to lose power if you don’t wind up using your hands and wrists correctly in the swing. While you are trying to take away the use of your hands and wrists during the takeaway, they still have a job to do and need to get involved at some point. If you fail to ever let them get in on the action, it will be tough to produce the kind of speed that you desire. Once you are through the takeaway and roughly halfway done with the backswing, feel free to get your hands and wrists involved to set the club. Getting the timing right on when you involve your hands is one of the important things you’ll need to learn in this process.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that you will run into problems that are not included in the three points listed above. If that happens, keep working on the fundamentals of your swing and hopefully you’ll come out of it in the end. Should you really feel stuck, consider working with a local teaching pro to help get you over the hump. An experienced pro will easily be able to provide advice on how the takeaway should work, and how it should connect to the rest of the golf swing.

The Short Game

The Short Game

It can be just as difficult to take the club back in the short game as it can be in the long game. When facing a tricky downhill putt, for example, you might find yourself staring down at the putter, unsure of how to get started. This is a tough position to be in, as you might wind up using your hands to quickly slide the putter back and then push it through toward the hole. That’s a technique that will rarely work out in your favor, so you need to have a better plan in mind.

That ‘better plan’, as you might expect, involves using your left shoulder to get things started. Just as we have been talking about with the full swing, you can use your left shoulder to start your short game swings. Whether it is a putt or a chipping motion, the idea is the same – start the action with your left shoulder and let the rest of your technique take over from there. It’s just as troublesome to use your hands and wrists too actively in the short game as it is with your full swing. However, the problems you encounter will be different, as starting with your hands in the short game will lead to distance control problems more than anything else. The main challenge on putts and chips is hitting the ball the right distance, and that’s no easy task when your small muscles take over the action.

It does need to be pointed out that there are cases in the short game where it is okay to use your hands and wrists right from the start. You don’t want to make a habit of these kinds of shots, as the distance control issues mentioned above are a big problem. However, when facing a chip shot where you need to get the ball up into the air quickly and land it soft, hinging your wrists right from the start is a suitable option. Open the face of the club dramatically at address, hinge your wrists early, and then unhinge them on the way through to clip the ball cleanly. This is not an easy shot by any means, but it might be your only option in some situations.

Golfers who are able to start their swings with the left shoulder usually get through the takeaway without any major problems. That doesn’t mean that the rest of your swing is going to be a success, but it is nice to start properly. As is always the case in golf, you will need to be patient with this process, and you will need to work hard in practice before progress is going to be seen on the course. Good luck!

So if we are going to work on an efficient takeaway motion, trying to generate the most power, we’ve discussed this idea that we want to rotate the shoulders as much as we cans to try and generate a nice loaded position and to try and generate a lot of power in the backswing. It’s very important we also understand the role of which shoulder does which during that moment. So from a good address position down the line here as I am turning my shoulders, my right shoulder is going back and my left shoulder is going forwards, my right shoulder is going up, and my left shoulder is going down. now I feel its much easier, much more important to focus on what your left shoulder is doing. Anytime people focus on what their right shoulder is doing we often see people stand up and out of the shot because they are thinking about lifting the shoulder, lifting this shoulder will often lift the head and the chest up as well. So I’d rather from a good position here you focus on turning the left shoulder down and under to create a good 90 degree angle and generate plenty of power without any real feeling of lifting the upper body out of the shot. So from a good set up position left shoulder comes down and under creating the tension, creating the power and then driving through the ball.

Now, if it’s easy for you to help a focus on that by having the club held over your shoulders and then think about pointing the handle end of the golf club down towards the ball and the backswing, and you notice this end comes down and this end goes up, but we are not actually thinking about the backend going up, think about more the left shoulder turning down to create the power winding up to then release generating plenty of power in the downswing. So from a good set up position left shoulder goes down and around and fully complete that backswing when that left shoulder comes round underneath your chin that’s when you would say you’ve had a completed backswing rather than lifting that left shoulder and then stopping at halfway. Also notice that not much happens with the legs and not much happens with the hands in that first motion, let that left shoulder complete its turn before you then lift the hands and the arms up, and if you can focus on your left shoulder turn during your backswing you are going to find much more success in hitting longer straighter golf shots.