Without a doubt, the most common mistake I see in my daily golf lessons is golfers over swinging their arms during the backswing.
The source of this fault can be several different things:
- not loading the body correctly,
- letting the right leg straighten during the backswing, or
- simply not understanding how the arms should actually move during the golf backswing.
Why You Need to Load Your Body Correctly
Without the body loaded correctly during the early stages of the backswing, you'll get to the top of the swing and feel like you don't have any power.
Because of this you'll continue to swing your arms farther in an effort to feel that your muscles are loaded so that you'll have some power during the downswing.
Of course, this just leads to over swinging and the frustrating problem that most golfers have of not being able to shorten their backswings no matter what their instructors tell them.
The key to fixing this problem is to properly load the right leg and core muscles during the backswing, and it's critical to start doing this during the takeaway.
What this does is give you the feeling of muscular tension earlier in the swing and a sense of loading so that when you get to the top of the swing with your arms, you have something to cue you to start the downswing.
This sensation of load, particularly in the right glute and right leg, is what triggers your brain to start moving in the other direction at the beginning of the transition. Without this cue, you will continue to swing long and across the line, no matter how hard you try and stop.
A Drill to Shorten Your Swing Forever
So if you struggle with swinging past parallel at the top, try this:
During the takeaway, make certain that your right knee remains flexed and you feel that you're rotating on your right hip socket in such a way that your right glute and your right thigh feel a sense of tension immediately during the takeaway like I describe in this video.
If you feel the tension early in the golf swing, by the time you get to the top, you'll be unable to swing back any farther with your arms. At first, you'll probably want to exaggerate this and really feel a lot load so that you can get the sensation.
But with time you can back this down and not need to feel such an over aggressive use of the lower body during the backswing. You'll find that, as you work on this drill, you'll feel your swing biomechanically get shorter and shorter, and your brain will have the proper cues it needs to transition the downswing at the right time, which is critical for sequencing.
What About the Arms in the Backswing?
Here's where nearly every golfer destroys their golf swing - in the first 6 inches of club movement!
That's right, most golfers' swings are set off on the wrong track immediately.
Here's the simple reality you need to burn into your brain is that your arms are going to feel like they don't really move much at all during the entire backswing!
If you feel that, you'll likely move them the right amount.
In the image above of my golf takeaway the red triangle represents the position of my arms in relation to my chest. Most importantly, they're very close to where they were at setup.
I've got countless drills on how to learn this proper takeaway, my favorite is covered in the video 5 Minutes to Master Rotation. That's because it's your upper torso rotation that moves the club during the first half of the swing as the primary mover.
This golf instruction video emphasizes the part of the takeaway where most golfers struggle because the tendency is to immediately just move the arms to get the club moving. This makes perfect sense as we do just about everything in our daily lives with our arms and hands.
So much of our tactile feedback in the world comes form our arms and hands and our hands are the only thing actually making contact with the golf club.
Because of this, we have to learn to overcome our instincts to rely on just our arms to move the club. You need to "feel" the exact opposite during the backswing.
To understand how the arms work during the backswing, check out this video: How the Arms Work in the Golf Backswing