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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Powerful Swing of Stacy Lewis

Stacy Lewis holds KNC trophySince the Masters is this week, I'm postponing the April Ruthless Golf World Rankings post until it's over. Instead, let's take a look at the swing that took down the ladies' world #1 -- the swing of Stacy Lewis, the latest LPGA major winner.

Stacy's swing is particularly interesting because of her battle with scoliosis. It's no secret that she has a metal post with five screws in her lower back, although golf is known for the stress it places on your lower back. And it's not just that Stacy manages to play pro-level golf with this little addition to her anatomy; at only 5'5" tall, she still managed to keep up with long-hitting Yani Tseng.

If you have back problems, you can probably learn some things from Stacy Lewis!

There is relatively little video of Lewis on YouTube, but we're fortunate that posted this footage of her swing from the Honda LPGA Thailand earlier this year:

A huge key to Stacy's swing is just how upright her swing plane is. By swinging her hands high over her head -- as opposed to the more-rounded swing she would have if she used a lower plane -- she eliminates a lot of twisting stress on her back. It's also worth noticing that a large number -- not all, but a large number -- of big hitters, past and present, have had upright swings. Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Tiger all fit into this category.

Being upright automatically causes some changes in your swing that help ease back problems. Stacy has taken this "high hands" concept and adjusted it to take even more stress off her lower back.

For one thing, she stands taller to the ball. By not bending a lot, she eliminates much of the back stress that generating rotary power with a bent waist would cause; she can keep her back pretty straight throughout her swing. She flexes her knees enough to allow fluid movement, but not enough that she has to bend over a lot. This also lets her keep a steady height throughout her swing. See how little her head moves up and down during her swing? All of these little things take stress off her back.

Even though her head doesn't move up and down a lot, you should notice how much her head moves back and forth during her swing. At setup her head is just back of the center of her stance. As she nears the top of her backswing, her head gets almost (but not quite) back over her right knee, then she starts her downswing by moving it forward. Her head finally stops pretty much at her setup position and doesn't move any farther forward until her swing is nearly finished.

Have you ever tried to reach for something when you couldn't stand close to it? Your feet form a base for balance. When you have to move your upper body weight toward the outer edges of that base, the struggle to keep your balance as your weight moves over one foot puts more stress in your lower back. Stacy keeps her head (and therefore her upper body) well between her feet to eliminate stress on her lower back. Even in her finish position, her head doesn't get over her left knee.

She also has her ball back in her stance a little, even with her driver. (The angles of these videos are a little misleading. The ball is between her front heel and the center of her stance, not square in the center of her stance!) This does two things:
  1. It helps keep her ball flight lower for more distance.
  2. Since she keeps her weight more centered between her feet, the ball is located so she doesn't have to "chase after it." This also takes some stress off her back.
Finally, Stacy doesn't make a violent move with her hips to start her downswing. That's part of the reason her swing looks so smooth and simple. I've been recommending that you try to feel as if you start your upper and lower body at the same time to simplify your timing, but it also takes stress off your lower back. And as Stacy proves, it doesn't take any power away from your swing.

The result of all these little things is quite obvious. No matter what angle you watch her swing from, her back stays pretty straight all the way through. That means less pain and stress, even as she generates a huge amount of power.

Now, there is one caveat I should add. There is a flaw that upright swingers frequently fall into, and that's not finishing their shoulder turn. Because their swing plane is higher, there isn't as much momentum pulling their arms and shoulders around at the change of direction in the backswing. Please understand that it's not more difficult to get a full shoulder turn with an upright swing -- it's actually easier to turn your shoulders when you stand taller -- but you have to think about it a bit more. Stacy doesn't make this mistake; she gets a good shoulder turn. As a result, the payoff is less lower back strain during her change of direction, plus she gets plenty of power.

Stacy says she has patterned her swing somewhat after Karrie Webb. Personally, I think a lot of her mechanics are also very Annika-like. You can do a lot worse than copying two Hall of Famers.

Especially when it takes the stress off your lower back.


  1. It's really a tremendous share to let us know the powerful swing of Stacy Lewis which also help us to get some tips to correct our mistakes to draw perfect swing.Useful post!!!

  2. Proper training helps in getting the right swing technique. You can learn from how professionals do their game.

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