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Thoughts about backswing shortening

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nevets88

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Is making a shorter backswing harder than a longer one?

When coming back from not playing for awhile, the first noticeable thing on video is my backswing is longer. Both the big muscles and the small. Shoulders turn more and wrists hinge even more so.

It seems like if you look at swings at your typical driving range, you have more swings going past parallel than not. PGA Tour and good amateurs less so these days because the "modern" swing you don't see the shaft go past parallel as much w/exception of driver, longer clubs.

You'd think it'd be easier making a shorter backswing than a longer one, fewer moving parts but I think it's easier to make a longer one because a longer swing gives you more "time" to make a swing. Plus it feels more powerful because you're taking more of a windup. 

A shorter backswing, I intellectually know its advantages, easier to shallow, less opportunity for things to go wrong, simpler, but human instinct seems to take precedence over what you're brain "knows" is "right".

A shorter backswing is uncomfortable because you have less time to make the swing, it feels rushed if you're used to a longer backswing. Like you're trying to compress the pieces you want to implement in 1/2 the time. You hear so many times during a lesson that the shorter swing felt like a 1/2 swing or even 1/4 one.

I guess you could write this same piece saying the exact opposite, but if I had to guess, more people, 60/40, maybe more, would say shorter is harder, especially as the club gets longer.

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Making a shorter swing is harder than making a longer one. A lot of faults can lead to a longer swing. Especially if you struggle with allowing your right arm to retract behind your right side (right handed golfer). I would say these faults are harder to correct. 

You really never hear people say, "I struggle with making a long backswing." 

Quote

A shorter backswing is uncomfortable because you have less time to make the swing, it feels rushed if you're used to a longer backswing. Like you're trying to compress the pieces you want to implement in 1/2 the time.

For me what helps is slowing the backswing down. This allows me to feel the backswing length more. 

 

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Certainly a shorter backswing helps many of us.  As you say, it is hard to achieve without getting caught "hurrying" one's swing.

Welcome to the world of blogging, too.

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Shorter backswing is something ive worked super hard on over the last couple of years, every pro ive ever seen has told me if I could shorten my backswing id be more consistent. This year I think ive finally cracked it with my "long" backswings going parallel and even then I can feel it and know im compensating on the way down.

My 2 causes were common but hard to fix, 1) I was straightening my right (trail) leg during the backswing and 2) my left arm was breaking down.

To sort the arm issue was relatively easy, focus on relaxed hands arms and shoulders, particularly the shoulders! The leg issue was massive and probably the main cause allowing too much rotation of the hips (reverse pivots/sways etc). My feeling now is to start the backswing with my arm/hand/shoulder unit keeping the hips quiet and relatively square until the point where they need to break (for me its when the club is parallel to the ground. From there, remaining in posture, I feel the thigh and torso pinch together, like my hip is moving up and behind but I accept the resistance it provides and know that's the limit of my swing. I have found this feeling promotes a lot of the good points many of the main instructors talk about. just my two pennies.

I definitely think these two causes along with bad rhythm is to blame for the long swing in amateurs. That and pros making us think its possible to hit a 350 yard drive :)    

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20 hours ago, saevel25 said:

Making a shorter swing is harder than making a longer one. A lot of faults can lead to a longer swing. Especially if you struggle with allowing your right arm to retract behind your right side (right handed golfer). I would say these faults are harder to correct. 

You really never hear people say, "I struggle with making a long backswing." 

For me what helps is slowing the backswing down. This allows me to feel the backswing length more. 

Yes, for me, doing slow backswings at home w/mirror helps. Will do really slow, slow, regular, fast so as to feel the tempo of the whole swing.

20 hours ago, bkuehn1952 said:

Certainly a shorter backswing helps many of us.  As you say, it is hard to achieve without getting caught "hurrying" one's swing.

Welcome to the world of blogging, too.

The hurry part is magnified on the downswing. That's where you really have to turn off the brain imo.

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I found that eliminate the cause to too long a backswing helped me. My form would breakdown when I got past the correct point. My left arm would bend and my right elbow would get behind me. 

So instead of thinking of a shorter back swing, I used the exercise that Erik wrote about and Stephan demonstrated in this thread below. I use this feel a lot instead of thinking of the backswing length. I press my right palm on my left thumb. This limits the backswing.

 

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I think you have to define "long" and "short" backswings. Long with regard to clubhead travel? Hand movement? Shoulder turn?

Some people wrap the clubhead practically all the way around them but with very little torso turn--they lift the arms and bend the wrists excessively.

I think that all things being equal (meaning, athletically speaking....so, balance, and the 5SK elements), the longer your backswing, the better, because it should mean you will have more club head speed. All other things are rarely equal, however, and we probably all have a limit of how long or fast we can swing and still make decent, solid contact. So there is definitely a temptation to think that maybe if we shorten our swing a little, the action will be easier, and we will get better.

But I think this is dangerous thinking.

When we watch pros on TV, the commentary focuses quite a bit on how pretty their swings are....or, if they aren't pretty, then the focus is on some other interesting point on the shape or appearance or mechanics of the swing.

By contrast, when I go to a pro tournament, or play with a higher level professional, the thing that I notice most of all is how fast and hard the pros swing, and, usually, how much MORE they move their body than I do. It may seem "slow" because it is graceful and smooth....but usually if you time pros you find all of them swing faster than middle and high handicap golfers. It may seem like they have "short" backswings, because the motion is efficient, without extraneous movement, and also without overcocking of the wrists....but again, when you measure important elements of the backswing of a pro at any age versus an age-matched average golfer, the pro moves MORE, not less.  More shoulder turn, more hand travel, wider club head arc.

The telling feature is the swish at the bottom. I think in my club you can identify all of our top players blindfolded just by listening to their swish. It's not that their swings aren't also mechanically good - of course they are - but they are also FASTER than most people. I also notice that good players overall move their bodies faster than poor players, and certainly swing as long or longer, if you are measuring shoulder turn, arm travel, etc.

Maybe you need to shorten some aspect of your swing, maybe you don't. Everyone is different, so only your pro knows for sure. But my strong belief is that overall, average golfers like me and you need to learn to move our bodies MORE, not less.

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Why is shorter backswing better? Can you actually stop turning if you haven't reached your max range of motion for whatever swing plane you have set the club on? If you do, doesn't that lead to poor downswing sequence?

I think if your club movement is on shoulder plane, the BS is automatically 'shortened'. If it is on a steeper plane like Bubba or Phil, I think you gotta let the club go back as far as it needs to. Another check point is you can wind up as much as you need as long as you can maintain center/forward pivot. If you BS 'pulls' you off and let's you rock on to your right foot too much, you have over-swung for the respective swing plane. 

Good post @boogielicious. That makes sense to me.

 

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On 2/25/2016 at 9:29 AM, boogielicious said:

I found that eliminate the cause to too long a backswing helped me. My form would breakdown when I got past the correct point. My left arm would bend and my right elbow would get behind me. 

So instead of thinking of a shorter back swing, I used the exercise that Erik wrote about and Stephan demonstrated in this thread below. I use this feel a lot instead of thinking of the backswing length. I press my right palm on my left thumb. This limits the backswing.

 

After watching this video above, the video below showed up as related. Just thought I'd post it, because the tip of using an empty lead arm sleeve (rather than a rope shown by Stephan) seemed innovative. I'd seen this video above via Evolvr lessons (Stephan has been my instructor), and I think this has helped me shorten my backswing (which started as longer than Mickelson's)

 

 

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I often get so caught up in wanting to make a full shoulder turn, that I try to use my arms to help turn those last few degrees. The dumbest part of this is that when I make what feels a bit less than a full turn and with my club way short of parallel, I make better contact.

So why do I often revert to this bad habit? Probably the same reason I try to swing too fast with my arms. Just an inability to ingrain the things that work.

The golf swing is sometimes counter intuitive to me. When I'm playing well and hitting the ball farther, the swing feels effortless - very slow and completely controlled. I don't video record my swing on the course, but I'd bet money that my backswing is shorter during rounds of better play.

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I have to remind myself at the beginning of every season, and multiple times throughout, that I perform MUCH better with a shorter backswing. Way more distance and much tighter dispersion. I dunno why I keep forgetting, but I do. The backswing gets a little bit longer and the ball goes a little bit shorter, so I make a BIGGER backswing and block it a couple fairways over. Then I remember and shorten up and get back to where I always knew I needed to be.

I can be a bit of a dummy.

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