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Speed from the Arms in the Golf Swing

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This is something that I have always wondered about!  Thanks for making a thread about it.

I don't want to turn this into a "Member Swing" thread (I already have one of those!) but below is an image of my downswing with a six iron.  Is the picture of my swing an example of what not swinging the arms fast enough would look like?  I ask because the arms are lagging so far behind my body and I don't have much distance at all.  Only about 220 consistently with my driver and with a six iron I probably only get 160 consistently.  

IMG_1004.PNG

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2 hours ago, aarogb said:

This is something that I have always wondered about!  Thanks for making a thread about it.

I don't want to turn this into a "Member Swing" thread (I already have one of those!) but below is an image of my downswing with a six iron.  Is the picture of my swing an example of what not swinging the arms fast enough would look like?  I ask because the arms are lagging so far behind my body and I don't have much distance at all.  Only about 220 consistently with my driver and with a six iron I probably only get 160 consistently.  

IMG_1004.PNG

Not sure if it's the angle of not, but it looks like your upper center is moving ahead of the ball, when that happens you almost have to throw out the club head in order to be able to make contact, hence the casting.

Edited by colin007
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On 4/12/2018 at 1:29 PM, iacas said:

In another topic, the idea that the arms contribute (significantly) to clubhead speed was discussed. Some feel the arms are "passive" or exert no "effort" while others feel they are anything but passive and exert a great amount of effort. The video and the discussion below is meant to continue that conversation.

Is this scientific? No.

Am I able to do each of the three variations perfectly? No, but I tried as hard as I could, and was completely willing for the "turn only" swings to demonstrate a higher speed than they got (and, TBH, I was surprised at how much speed I could generate with just the arms).

Does it make clear that the arms contribute (and significantly so) to clubhead speed with a golf club? I think so, yeah.


I tried my best to make three different kinds of swings:

  • All arms, and not an exaggerated one, but one where the left arm goes across the chest, the right elbow folds to about 90°, the wrists hinge a normal amount, etc. Very little to no torso rotation. Speeds were 87 to 102, with a 100 and a 95 on the "short" swing thrown in at the end.
  • Body turn only. I tried to go 90°, and then to pivot as hard as I normally would. The wrists, due to the acceleration of the pivot, do "load" slightly, but I got speeds of 52 MPH, 63 MPH, and 59 MPH.
  • Body turn only with loaded arms. I tried to let my arms be "loose" here and you can see that they lag well behind - the left arm stays loaded across the chest, the right elbow gets pushed behind the shirt seam, etc. Speeds were 63 MPH, 66 MPH, and 74 MPH when I turned well beyond the 90° that I'd normally turn.
  • Bonus of "wrists only" showing about 44 and 45 MPH.

Again, these aren't "additive." I don't swing 100 MPH + 66 MPH because I use my arms AND rotate my body.

But I do think this video demonstrates that the arms "do" things in the golf swing. That they're a key and significant source of power and speed.

That, quite often in my teaching, I have to tell someone to "swing their arms down faster," because they aren't doing enough with their arms:

RM.jpg

And yes, there are times when the body lags (though quite often when the body isn't working properly, it's because the player needs more time to drop the clubhead down or they'd just wipe across it… so they stall out so they have a chance of hitting it a little more from the inside than they otherwise could) and I have to teach them to swing with their body more. Those times are much more rare, though, in my experience.

I put two other golfers through the same tests. The third golfer kept rotating even when he was just trying to do the arms thing, and when he did the arms thing, he was much slower than I was. He was still faster than his body rotation only motion, but because he also bent his elbows during that drill, I can't really vouch for any of his results as they were not very well done.

The second golfer swung with the arms only test in the mid 80s. With the body turn only, he was in the upper 60s. So, closer than I was. The loose arms and turning only was about the same as his arms only - mid 80s. This golfer, I would suggest, derives more of his speed from his rotation than I do, but the arms alone were still the highest speeds, so they still contribute quite a bit to even his swing.


Now, there are golfers out there and worse yet, instructors out there teaching that the arms do nothing on the downswing. That they just get dragged along by the body's rotation, that they're "passive" and that the arms are not supplying any "effort".

I've seen a bunch of actual scientific studies which show the folly in that line of thinking. Heck, consider a kinematic sequence - each segment further out accelerates and reaches a peak speed later than the segment prior. If you truly just moved your arms to the top, and then just spun your body… your arms would lag WAY behind. Kinda like this:

Analyzr Image Export.jpg

On the left, one of my attempts at using just my arms. On the right, my attempt to make a normal backswing and then swing down with just my body. Guess which was faster? The left, by a lot.


This isn't "proof" and it's not scientific. I'm sure I didn't do any of the things I attempted to do perfectly.

However, I do feel that this illustrates just how much speed the arms alone can generate.

Now… Here's what I'd like: try to swing each of the three ways yourself:

  • Only arms (in front of you, no turning).
  • Body turning only (backswing and downswing).
  • Body turning only (downswing only).

Report back. Have a friend record you (because he can also tell you whether you cheated and turned when you weren't supposed to, for example).

Where do your arms generate speed from?  I have yet to see a MLB pitcher throw without a windup.  What are you trying to accomplish here?

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3 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Where do your arms generate speed from?  I have yet to see a MLB pitcher throw without a windup.  What are you trying to accomplish here?

What wind-up did Dave make in hitting the golf balls in the initial video (in the related topic)? He's sitting in a char. His shoulder turn is virtually non-existent. He's not using his legs at all.

How much did I turn when I swung with just my "arms" in the video in this topic's OP? Yet I was able to swing 100 MPH.

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1 minute ago, iacas said:

What wind-up did Dave make in hitting the golf balls in the initial video (in the related topic)? He's sitting in a char. His shoulder turn is virtually non-existent. He's not using his legs at all.

How much did I turn when I swung with just my "arms" in the video in this topic's OP? Yet I was able to swing 100 MPH.

Do you have any video's of average golfers who are able to swing 100 mph all arms...no lower body?  

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26 minutes ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Do you have any video's of average golfers who are able to swing 100 mph all arms...no lower body?  

That really doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that anybody can generate a lot of speed using only their arms. If my max normal swing is 95mph...then I’m probably not going to achieve 100mph with only my arms. @iacas can but his max speed is higher than 100mph on his normal swing.

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8 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Do you have any video's of average golfers who are able to swing 100 mph all arms...no lower body?  

Not at all the point.

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Left arm active, right arm more passive, but not too passive.

Edited by GOATee

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11 minutes ago, GOATee said:

Left arm active, right arm more passive, but not too passive.

For some people. For others, they feel it in their right arm. Ben Hogan said he wished he had three right arms (or hands?), or something like that.

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13 minutes ago, iacas said:

For some people. For others, they feel it in their right arm. Ben Hogan said he wished he had three right arms (or hands?), or something like that.

Absolutely. In tennis we have this concept of both push and pull strokes which can describe all ground strokes but is extra applicable when we speak about something like a 2-handed backhand. Simply put some people feel like they generate the majority of the power with a 2-hander with the right hand by using it to pull the racquet quickly around the body while others feel their left arm is responsible by being setup to push effectively (hence the two different push and pull strokes).

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53 minutes ago, iacas said:

For some people. For others, they feel it in their right arm. Ben Hogan said he wished he had three right arms (or hands?), or something like that.

Very interesting.  It seems different people have different choice or tendency between left and right arm activeness.

What Grizvok said about push and pull strokes sounds like the "swinger" and "hitter" concepts for golf!  For example, compare Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson!

Maybe there is no single "correct" stroke that suits everybody.  After all in this game, we have Jordan Spieth winning majors with a chicken wing!  Hah.

Edited by GOATee

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On 4/12/2018 at 4:29 PM, iacas said:

Does it make clear that the arms contribute (and significantly so) to clubhead speed with a golf club? I think so, yeah.

That right there might be “the point.”

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I would venture to guess that if you took a snapshot of the average golfer's swing it would look a lot like your arms only swing. It sure looked familiar to me, very similar to some of my swings when I started recording. Even now, I know that when I don't play or practice for an extended period of time I revert to more of an arm swing.

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1 hour ago, Jeremie Boop said:

I would venture to guess that if you took a snapshot of the average golfer's swing it would look a lot like your arms only swing. It sure looked familiar to me, very similar to some of my swings when I started recording. Even now, I know that when I don't play or practice for an extended period of time I revert to more of an arm swing.

Sure it will look more like an arm only swing but that point here is that EVEN IN THE BEST GOLFERS IN THE WORLD the arms are the biggest contributor to the speed at which you are swinging the club and it isn't really even close.

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3 minutes ago, Grizvok said:

Sure it will look more like an arm only swing but that point here is that EVEN IN THE BEST GOLFERS IN THE WORLD the arms are the biggest contributor to the speed at which you are swinging the club and it isn't really even close.

I'm not arguing that, just making an observation.

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1 minute ago, Jeremie Boop said:

I'm not arguing that, just making an observation.

Yeah I didn't think you were. Just using it as an opportunity to get the point across to @Puttin4Dough

It's a pretty clear cut point so I'm not too sure what he's arguing about.

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On 6/21/2018 at 7:58 AM, Grizvok said:

Yeah I didn't think you were. Just using it as an opportunity to get the point across to @Puttin4Dough

It's a pretty clear cut point so I'm not too sure what he's arguing about.

I'm not arguing anything.  The other OP made an observation about it "appears" the arms are swinging, but the speed of the arms is amplified by the unleashing of torque.  Think about hitting balls with your feet together....sure one can hit the ball, but nowhere close to the distance with maximum coil.

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