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Elbow Position and Its Effects on the Downswing

post #1 of 184
Thread Starter 

Take a look at these P5 (left arm horizontal, downswing) positions. The left is bad, the right is good. I've subtly marked this with RED for bad and GREEN for good. Yeah, I'm feeling a bit sarcastic today, too. ;-)

 

Elbow Position.jpg

 

Anyway, if we had to give these two elbow positions TGM terms, the left would be more of a punch elbow position and the right would be more of a pitch elbow position. I'm striving for something more like what you see on the right, but it's not quite all the way to pitch, so I call it "pinch" elbow.

 

Now, the swing on the left is the result of a few things (backswing gets a little long, clubhead goes from slightly under plane and tips out to go slightly over the plane), but the focus for me is on the elbow position.

 

First, a detailed list of the differences.

 

  1. On the left, note the relative height of the right elbow as shown by the two-headed arrow. On the right, this gap between the right elbow and the belt is almost non-existent.
  2. Note the elbow positions relative to each other. On the left, the right elbow is still higher than the left elbow. On the right, the right elbow is lower than the left elbow.
  3. Note the relative height of the right shoulder. This makes sense, of course, since our upper arm isn't exactly going to expand or contract - so if the right elbow is higher, the right shoulder will stay higher.
  4. Note the angle of the right upper arm - over 25° difference.
  5. Most importantly, note the change in shaft plane. You've heard of keeping your elbow up in a baseball swing? Well, the dumbass on the left looks a lot more like he's playing baseball than golf.

 

Make no mistake about it - I've been able to play really good golf from the position on the left, just as I could play good golf from some so-ugly-you'll-vomit positions from a few years ago - but the motion on the right is much better.

 

Bonus question: what's the biggest (most important) difference I didn't mention in the list above? I'll tell you at the end. Think about it.

 

Now, there are a bunch of ways to feel this or fix this or get into this position. And, bear in mind, not everyone needs to get their right elbow lower or go "pitchier" in their motion. But if you do, try some of these feelings out to see if you can change the picture for the better:

 

  1. Obviously, fixing your backswing is going to help. Though it was terrible advice for Ray Romano, Hank Haney made a big deal out of "loop it the other way." Think of Tiger Woods - steep backswing, shallow the club through the transition. Rickie Fowler, too. If you're coming in from under the plane and the club tips out, good luck - sometimes fixing the backswing will allow you to make a better downswing. Jim Furyk swing (I've previously employed this feeling too).
  2. Squeeze the elbows together. In the left image, my right elbow is getting behind my body, but if I actively squeeze them together during the transition and first stages of the downswing, my right elbow will get more in front of my body (i.e. where my left elbow is).
  3. Try to get your right elbow to your belly button in transition. You won't get anywhere close, but get it as close as you can.
  4. Employ more right forearm fanning from P2.5 or so onward and don't let your right elbow get behind (or near) your shirt seam to begin with.
  5. Point your watch (on the back of your left wrist) to the sky.
  6. My favorite, because it works pretty well for me (came up with it on the golf course while practicing #2), is to feel like my right shoulder gets as far away from my right ear as possible starting at P3.8. Firmer wrists help - if the clubhead is flopping around it'll tend to tip out a little as the swing gets a bit sloppy-long. This works because, again, your upper arm doesn't collapse or expand, so if you drive the right shoulder down the elbow will go down as well.

 

There are just a few feelings. I can't give them all away! a3_biggrin.gif

 

I hope this information helps you. I look forward to the discussion around this topic.

 

 

Answer to Bonus Question (Click to show)

Here's the answer to the bonus question:

Elbow Position 2.jpg

The left arm is a few inches (or degrees) further "in" - it's still riding down the plane rather than being slightly on top of it, which will of course require compensations to hit the ball relatively squarely.

 

 

Golf Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 184

This is nerdy even for you, Erik! a1_smile.gif

 

I'm going to go get another beer and employ some right forearm fanning to get it down my neck while I think about this.

post #3 of 184
Thread Starter 

It occurs to me that I didn't really mention what was "wrong" with the position on the left. Basically, it's this: the hands and the clubhead are lined up too steep. One or both are thus going to be off-plane, and are going to require compensations of some kind to get the clubhead onto the ball.

 

That's all.

post #4 of 184

Siiiiick, this is something I work on. Thanks for the post a1_smile.gif

 

And "pinch" elbow is hilarious. Well done there.

post #5 of 184
Quote:

Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

  1. Obviously, fixing your backswing is going to help. Though it was terrible advice for Ray Romano, Hank Haney made a big deal out of "loop it the other way." Think of Tiger Woods - steep backswing, shallow the club through the transition. Rickie Fowler, too. If you're coming in from under the plane and the club tips out, good luck - sometimes fixing the backswing will allow you to make a better downswing. Jim Furyk swing (I've previously employed this feeling too).
  2. Squeeze the elbows together. In the left image, my right elbow is getting behind my body, but if I actively squeeze them together during the transition and first stages of the downswing, my right elbow will get more in front of my body (i.e. where my left elbow is).
  3. Try to get your right elbow to your belly button in transition. You won't get anywhere close, but get it as close as you can.
  4. Employ more right forearm fanning from P2.5 or so onward and don't let your right elbow get behind (or near) your shirt seam to begin with.
  5. Point your watch (on the back of your left wrist) to the sky.
  6. My favorite, because it works pretty well for me (came up with it on the golf course while practicing #2), is to feel like my right shoulder gets as far away from my right ear as possible starting at P3.8. Firmer wrists help - if the clubhead is flopping around it'll tend to tip out a little as the swing gets a bit sloppy-long. This works because, again, your upper arm doesn't collapse or expand, so if you drive the right shoulder down the elbow will go down as well.

 

I have printed this list out and will take it to the range with me on Monday! ;-) I really like the idea of #2. I haven't had a lot of success with #1 and #5, and need to work on the firmer wrists in #6 for sure.

 

A drill I'm working on is putting an alignment stick in the ground at the same angle as my shaft at address and 3-4 feet to the right, so that when you are looking at your swing DTL the shaft of your club and the alignment stick look on top of each other (check out my avatar). The idea is to take the club back OVER the alignment stick and come back down UNDER it. It is a lot harder than it looks. I've topped loads and actually missed the ball a couple of times. I can't manage to get back under the stick... yet!

 

If your hands are programmed to start your downswing, you'll come OTT before you even think about dropping your hands. You have to re-programme your hands by really exaggerating the movement. Right now, I feel a MASSIVE loop in my swing out then in, but am still coming OTT slightly- What I've noticed is that I get closer the more I tilt left in my backswing and slide my hips forward to start the downswing! ;-)

 

I think it is worth a try if you are suffering from a really steep downswing. Immediate feedback is guaranteed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 184

Pharaoh,

 

#2 on that list might be great for you actually, since you were saying you uncock early, right? Elbows together, per my teacher, helps increase and retain wrist cock longer.

post #7 of 184

Thanks JetFan1983! Yes, the uncocking of my wrists is a desperate attempt to hit from the inside even though I am over the plane. I was just practicing the move in the mirror and it felt and looked good. However, I know what happens when I try to do anything with a little ball on the ground waiting to be whacked!

post #8 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

Thanks JetFan1983! Yes, the uncocking of my wrists is a desperate attempt to hit from the inside even though I am over the plane. I was just practicing the move in the mirror and it felt and looked good. However, I know what happens when I try to do anything with a little ball on the ground waiting to be whacked!


a3_biggrin.gif I know what you mean... except I assure you, it's worse when I practice it.

 

post #9 of 184
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

I have printed this list out and will take it to the range with me on Monday! ;-) I really like the idea of #2. I haven't had a lot of success with #1 and #5, and need to work on the firmer wrists in #6 for sure.

 

More tough love Philip: DO NOT DO THAT if you're not working on that piece right now. Stick to the program. It's customized to you, after all. You get no credit for skipping ahead. I saw your video… I know what you're supposed to be working on. This is not a cure-all, and it's something you only work on when it's the highest priority item on your list. Please, for your sake…

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

A drill I'm working on is putting an alignment stick in the ground at the same angle as my shaft at address and 3-4 feet to the right, so that when you are looking at your swing DTL the shaft of your club and the alignment stick look on top of each other (check out my avatar). The idea is to take the club back OVER the alignment stick and come back down UNDER it. It is a lot harder than it looks. I've topped loads and actually missed the ball a couple of times. I can't manage to get back under the stick... yet!

 

So that this doesn't turn into another "My Swing" thread, I'm putting what I have to say next in a spoiler. No quoting it - it's off topic.

 

 

More of Pharaoh's Personal Swing Advice ;-) (Click to show)

I'm not the biggest fan of that drill. I get what you're after, but be really, really careful. You don't want to learn to deliver the club from under the plane, and that problem can actually be tougher to solve than coming over it, particularly for better players (look at how long it took Tiger and how severe his practice moves are).

 

A pair of images. First, consider where Charlie's hands and clubhead are relative to your stick on the backswing and downswing:

 

 

Charlie Wi Stick Comparison.jpg

 

Next, consider changing to this drill instead, which comes to me from Mike Bender via Dave. Put a traffic cone on your toe line and right near the hosel of the club. Your goal is to take the clubhead back outside of it (while taking the hands IN). If you roll or suck the clubhead inside, you'll hit the traffic cone. On the downswing you don't have to worry about hitting it because you'll have moved forward, will have more wrist cock/hinge, etc.

 

But do this drill in moderation. Work ONLY on what you're given in your customized evolvr stuff, dude. C'mon… ;-)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

If your hands are programmed to start your downswing, you'll come OTT before you even think about dropping your hands. You have to re-programme your hands by really exaggerating the movement. Right now, I feel a MASSIVE loop in my swing out then in, but am still coming OTT slightly- What I've noticed is that I get closer the more I tilt left in my backswing and slide my hips forward to start the downswing! ;-)

 

I don't like the word "dropping." I prefer to see a swing where your hands are "in the slot" at the top of the backswing. "Dropping" implies that you're above the slot somewhere, and energy is wasted in an "out of plane" motion to "drop" them into the slot. No thank you.

 

I don't personally feel that the hands do anything in the downswing, really. Granted, mine are fairly "educated" but still - your hands can only do "bad things" at the start of the downswing. The start down needs to be controlled by your legs and hips, and then your chest, and perhaps your shoulders or elbow for "feel". Not the hands.

 

That's why I talked about making a better backswing. It's easier to go steep to shallow than shallow to shallow. Why do you think Ryan Moore's swing or Rickie Fowler's swing almost look more "normal" than Matt Kuchar's swing?

post #10 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

More tough love Philip: DO NOT DO THAT if you're not working on that piece right now. Stick to the program. It's customized to you, after all. You get no credit for skipping ahead. I saw your video… I know what you're supposed to be working on. This is not a cure-all, and it's something you only work on when it's the highest priority item on your list. Please, for your sake…

 



My fault.... I forgot about the first rule of fight club: prioritize! a1_smile.gif



Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
  1. Obviously, fixing your backswing is going to help. Though it was terrible advice for Ray Romano, Hank Haney made a big deal out of "loop it the other way." Think of Tiger Woods - steep backswing, shallow the club through the transition. Rickie Fowler, too. If you're coming in from under the plane and the club tips out, good luck - sometimes fixing the backswing will allow you to make a better downswing. Jim Furyk swing (I've previously employed this feeling too).

This is possibly veering off topic, but maybe not....

 

Why exactly is it good to go from steep to shallow on the backswing and downswing? 

post #11 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

DO NOT DO THAT if you're not working on that piece right now.

 

OK, I'm fine with that. I wasn't trying to turn this into my swing thread, just offer a good drill to help players FEEL the sensation of hitting more from the inside. It was meant as an over-exaggeration to correct the flaw. You don't like it, fine, but it might help others.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

I don't like the word "dropping." I prefer to see a swing where your hands are "in the slot" at the top of the backswing. "Dropping" implies that you're above the slot somewhere, and energy is wasted in an "out of plane" motion to "drop" them into the slot. No thank you.

 

I don't personally feel that the hands do anything in the downswing, really. Granted, mine are fairly "educated" but still - your hands can only do "bad things" at the start of the downswing. The start down needs to be controlled by your legs and hips, and then your chest, and perhaps your shoulders or elbow for "feel". Not the hands.

 

I fully agree with you that getting the backswing right is important for a good downswing, but things can still go very wrong even if you are in the perfect top of the backswing position. If you have "educated" hands then you are lucky they simply move down into the correct position as your legs/hips initiate the downswing. I still maintain that poorly educated hands need educating even if it means educating them to do nothing.



 

 

post #12 of 184
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JetFan1983 View Post

Why exactly is it good to go from steep to shallow on the backswing and downswing? 


It's not good. It's just that what feels steep to shallow will probably be less shallow to steep. Ya feel me? ;-)

 

(You saw my Jim Furyk swing. At the time it felt like the club was straight up in the air on the backswing and horizontal on the downswing. How'd it actually look? :-D)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

I fully agree with you that getting the backswing right is important for a good downswing, but things can still go very wrong even if you are in the perfect top of the backswing position. If you have "educated" hands then you are lucky they simply move down into the correct position as your legs/hips initiate the downswing. I still maintain that poorly educated hands need educating even if it means educating them to do nothing.


FWIW when I talk about educated hands I'm talking about in the foot or two before and after impact, typically. I'm not talking about the start of the backswing or P4 or even really P6. More like P6.5 to P7.5.

 

Anyway, this thread isn't really about the hands, it's about elbow position.

post #13 of 184

Great post Erik.  The right elbow being more pitch or pinched makes it a lot easier to get into your Secondary Axis Tilt.  I personally use #'s 2,3,4 and 6 to get that elbow in a more down and forward position

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pharaoh View Post

I have printed this list out and will take it to the range with me on Monday! ;-) I really like the idea of #2. I haven't had a lot of success with #1 and #5, and need to work on the firmer wrists in #6 for sure.

 

Yes you can Philip, 10% of the time on this and 90% on side tilting a2_wink.gif  Like this
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JetFan1983 View Post


This is possibly veering off topic, but maybe not....

 

Why exactly is it good to go from steep to shallow on the backswing and downswing? 


 

Check out Erik's Bonus Question

 

post #14 of 184

Excellent topic. Is it possible to get animated gif's of the P3.5 to P5. I think the transition is so critical to getting this right and just seeing your still it is hard to see how you got there. Maybe there is some secret stuff there, if so no worry's.

 

What about some pros you think do this well? Lucas Glover is the first one that pops into my mind. Any others?

post #15 of 184

Thanks, Erik, and Mike for the follow up explanations a1_smile.gif

post #16 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by mchepp View Post

Excellent topic. Is it possible to get animated gif's of the P3.5 to P5. I think the transition is so critical to getting this right and just seeing your still it is hard to see how you got there. Maybe there is some secret stuff there, if so no worry's.

 

What about some pros you think do this well? Lucas Glover is the first one that pops into my mind. Any others?



Could make the case all pros do it well, or well enough.  Here's some that come to mind

 

Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner P5 dtl.jpg

 

Mac and Luke P5 dtl.jpg

 

Dustin and Zack Johnson P5 dtl.jpg

 

post #17 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

  1. Note the elbow positions relative to each other. On the left, the right elbow is still higher than the left elbow. On the right, the right elbow is lower than the left elbow.
  2. Note the relative height of the right shoulder. This makes sense, of course, since our upper arm isn't exactly going to expand or contract - so if the right elbow is higher, the right shoulder will stay higher.
...
  1. Squeeze the elbows together. In the left image, my right elbow is getting behind my body, but if I actively squeeze them together during the transition and first stages of the downswing, my right elbow will get more in front of my body (i.e. where my left elbow is).

These points in specific were really helpful. And well-timed too, today and yesterday at the range I was trying to figure out what sort of connections I should look for between the left elbow and right elbow. I kind of realized that I wanted them pulled towards each other (although "squeeze" is probably a better term), failure to do so let the right elbow stay too disconnected from my body and promoted awkward OTT moves.

My swing thought was that at about P5 I was pulling both of the elbows toward a point on the ground below my left shoulder -- implying that, as two points moving toward the same goal, they should be sliding closer together the farther down their journey they went. If nothing else it seemed to help a little bit with my flipping.
post #18 of 184
I've been working on this for a long time. The feeling that has worked best for me: For a righty, feel that the right forearm is vertical at P4 (top of the back swing). When I'm working on this at the range, I imagine the distant target (flag stick). When I swing, I imagine my right forearm getting vertical and parallel with the flag stick. Then, in the transition into the down swing, feel that your right arm skips a flat rock (side arm) across a pond.
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