Golf Swing With Shoulders Not Arms
Golf is a game of technique rather than raw physical power. Whether hitting that long distance drive or just a putt on the green, how you swing the club determines whether it will be a successful shot or not.
A common mistake among beginners is to use the arms to apply force during a swing. This force is usually excessive and either drives the ball too far when putting for example, or completely off target on longer shots.
There is a better approach to how you perpetrate your golf swing which involves factors like body posture and position as well as the correct use of muscles and joints, especially the shoulders.
Standing In The Correct Position
The game of golf heavily relies on precision in every movement of the player. Correct body movements are important in getting the ball, shot by shot, into the hole. The primary foundation for a good swing is your footwork. As the thigh muscles are some of the biggest muscles in the body, their small movements substantially contribute to the perfect shot.
Before making a swing, it is important to make sure that you are standing at an optimum distance from the ball. If you are too far away or too close, however good your swing might be, you will not hit the ball in the right direction. You can achieve this by making little adjustments in your position and taking practice swings without actually hitting the ball.
In the lower-most position of your swing, when the center of the face of your golf club is aligned with the center of the ball, you are at the ideal standing position. For beginners, this requires making some back and forth adjustments, but becomes almost automatic with more practice.
Which Muscles are Used During a Golf Swing?
When you really think about it, you will realize that several muscle groups go into swinging a golf club. From the lower body and the hips to the torso and shoulders; both small and large muscles contribute to drives, iron shots on the fairways, chips on to the green and ultimately the final putt.
The larger the muscle, easier it is for it to generate energy. This means that the legs, torso, and shoulders add more power than the arms and wrists. The shoulders are situated above the torso and have a huge influence on shots. This is due to their high power and direct connection with the golf club through the arms.
To achieve distance, it is very important to gain the maximum power from large muscle groups. The best players employ their whole body in their golf swing, especially for longer shots. The best way to implement this is to have:
- steady feet placement;
- uniform arm movement; and
- use the whole lower body as much as possible by moving it forward as you swing.
This will lead to your back foot being raised when you complete a shot with the arms at the top-most position. This is often an indicator of a successful long shot and a good way to make the most of the energy in your lower body.
For shorter distance shots, such big movements are not always required. In that case, you can still involve the body while making the swing, but the arms primarily guide the motion and the wrists maintain a stronghold on the club throughout the swing.
If you're really serious about achieving the best shoulder turn possible for your golf swing you should follow a golf strength and conditioning program.
Executing the Swing With the Shoulders
After you understand the positioning of the body and involvement of various muscle groups, execution of the swing itself is of enormous importance. If you try to generate power using your arms alone, you are likely to have a loose and uncontrolled shot. This is where the shoulders come into play.
The first step is taking the club backward. It is important you do this with the shoulders and not with the arms. Be careful to let the shoulders stay in the same position when you are moving the club back as well as when bringing it forward to hit the ball.
The arms do not have a fixed position while making a swing and only account for the connection between the shoulders and the club. A good golf swing analyzer can help you determine the motion of your swing and how the arms and shoulders are moving.
As the shoulders provide this steady position, the stability of the club during a shot will increase. The arms are to be used carefully for guidance along with a stronghold from the wrists such that the club does not turn away. In this way, the shoulders act as a pivot for the entire motion of the club.
According to the laws of physics, the further the pivot is from the point of application of a force, the higher the amount of force generated. This is the primary reason why shoulders are used while keeping the arms passive in a golf swing.
Understanding Shoulder Movements
It's also important to understand that your left and right shoulders will move differently in the golf swing. Although the shoulders need to work well together the common misconception by many golfers is that the shoulders just move as a single unit. This is not the case. Let's look at each shoulder's movement in turn with the help of some computer modelling.
Left Shoulder Movement in the Golf Swing
How the left shoulder moves into and out of transition will play a big part in how much control you'll have over the golf ball.
In the video below courtesy of Athletic Motion Golf, they zero in on a couple of key differences in how a typical pro moves his lead shoulder compared to a typical amateur. The left shoulder movement is an important element in the golf swing, and if you can understand and visualize how it should move it will improve your golf swing.
Right Shoulder Movement in the Golf Swing
Now we'll look at how the right shoulder movement differs from the left in the swing. This video looks at the common differences between how pros versus amateurs typically move their right shoulder in the swing. The blue arrow on the video traces the movement of the right shoulder whilst the red arrow traces the left shoulder.
End of a Swing
The end of the swing is one of the most overlooked factors in relation to the correct golfing technique. It includes decelerating the club as it makes its way to the top after hitting the ball.
After the connection is made with the ball, your brain naturally gives a signal to your muscles that the swing is over, and the club should be slowed down. The motion of the club takes it to the top as it possesses a high momentum gained from the different muscles during the initial part of the swing.
Golf experts say that a swing should be carried out in such a way as if the ball is hit at the end of the swing and not while on the ground. This tricks you into making a full-range swinging motion which results in a powerful yet accurate shot.
Practicing the full motion of a swing goes a long way to becoming a better golfer. You should keep in mind that the shoulder is still the most important muscle in making such a full swing motion.
A proper shoulder turn in golf is a skill that is achieved through knowledge but more importantly requires a tremendous amount of practice on the player’s part. Finding a good golf instructor can also help you perfect the right technique.