The Golf Swing – The Left Arm “Push” During the Backswing

In most of my golf instructional videos, I refer to “pulling” as the primary movement, as you can see in the “Push vs. Pull” video.

However, you should understand that when it comes to rotary motion, the muscles in the human body work in pairs. In other words, if one side is pulling, the other side is, in fact, pushing.

I don’t talk about it much because for the most part, most golfers WAY overdo the pushing motion and don’t pull properly, and that creates a lot of problems in the swing.

But, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed for those of you who do “pull” properly, particularly during the backswing, because there should be an equal pushing amount.

This pushing comes from the left side (in a right handed golfer) during the backswing in golf.

As you may remember from the takeaway video, we initiate a centered rotation by pulling the right scapula in toward the spine, or the center of your body.  This move starts you rotating around your spine and keeps your head from swaying off the golf ball.

This takeaway move totals about 2 inches or so.  In doing this, the left shoulder blade must protract, or move AWAY from the spine, during the backswing an equal or greater amount.

Remember, things work in pairs in your body when it comes to rotation.

Left Shoulder protraction in the golf swing
The green line represents the approximate location the center of the left shoulder would be if you didn’t protract the left shoulder blade in the backswing and left it where it was at address. The yellow line is the approximation of the center of the left shoulder at the top of the swing when it protracts to match the retraction of the right.


Again, because most golfers simply just push from the left side, they don’t make a full shoulder turn during the backswing, and the left shoulder gets fully loaded early, which you don’t want as this will cost you power.  However, you do want the left shoulder blade to protract, or move forward away from the spine, during the backswing.

The catch in online golf instruction is that unless you submit your swing for a free review as part of your Premium Membership or come down for an in-person lesson, it’s impossible for us to tell YOU exactly what to focus on, so you need to use this simple guide:

“If your right shoulder moves in toward center two inches, your left shoulder must move away from center a minimum of two inches also.”

I do have golf students who focus so much on just pulling the right shoulder back that they get “locked up” going back because they feel that the left shoulder must stay down where it was at address. As you know now, that can’t happen.

If that’s you, you may actually feel NOTHING BUT pushing from the left side during the backswing.

Of course, this isn’t what’s actually happening, it’s simply that your right side is already properly trained, and you no longer feel it.

So, if you feel very “restricted” at the top of your backswing, make sure that both shoulder blades are moving an equal amount.

You’ll feel more powerful as the left shoulder area gets properly loaded at the top of the golf swing, and you’ll be able to achieve a better position at the top.


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Chuck Quinton

is the founder of the RotarySwing Tour online golf instruction learning system. He played golf professionally for 8 years and has been teaching golf since 1995 and has worked with more than 100 playing professionals who have played on the PGA, and other major tours around the world.

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