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Friday, July 13, 2012

All About Pushes, Part 4

Today I'll just fill in a few bits and pieces of knowledge about pushing the ball. Knowing these little things may help you eliminate your pushing problem more quickly.

A quick note, just to make sure we're all on the same page: Rather than try to use left and right all the time when I have both left-handers and right-handers reading this, I simply use the terms lead and trailing. If you're left-handed, your left side is your trailing side; if you're right-handed, your right side is your trailing side -- and obviously your other side is your lead side. Got that? Good. Let's move on.

As I said, there are two primary mistakes that cause players to push shots:
  • Leaning away from the target during your downswing
  • Letting your lead elbow drift away from your side during your downswing
And of course you can do both of them at the same time, which will probably result in a push-slice. If you do both of them, you're more likely to twist your forearms and open the clubface on the way down.

In the third part of this series I told you how twisting your arms during your takeaway can cause your elbow to drift away from your side. Today I'll tell you about some of the mistakes that can make you lean backward during your downswing.

One thing you should do during your backswing is brace your trailing knee. You've probably been told this before, but you don't know why. If you don't brace that knee, your hips will slide away from the target. Then, when you start your downswing, you'll have to slide your hips back toward the target in order to make good contact with the ball. But you'll probably slide your hips too far forward and mis-hit the ball. And yes, when you slide too far forward, the clubface is open at impact and you either slice or push the ball.

The drill that most instructors recommend (and it's a good one) is placing a ball under the outside of your trailing foot. That forces you to push down with the inside of that foot... and that braces your knee. The idea is that a line dropped from your trailing knee would hit the ground inside your foot, no matter where in your swing you check it. Remember: The ball drill teaches you to keep your weight on the inside of your trailing foot.

If you're afraid you're sliding too far forward during your downswing, check out this swing drill video from an earlier post. If you're sliding too much, this drill will tell you really quick and the only equipment you need is a chair.

Another place you can get into trouble is when you start your downswing. When you come over-the-top you'll tend to straighten your trailing knee and that gets your trailing hip too high. The opposite often happens when you push the ball -- your trailing knee collapses and your trailing hip drops too much. You need to keep your trailing knee flexed at all times during your swing, but it shouldn't collapse. Your hips should stay level when you make your downswing.

The best drill for learning this is the "body movin' drill" from the More Indoor Practice post mentioned in the second post in this series. Since you don't have the weight of the swinging club to counteract the drop, you'll move your knees correctly.

I also wanted to explain how bending your lead elbow at the top of your downswing -- especially if you twisted your forearms on the way to the top -- can make you lean backward.

Your natural tendency, especially if you're trying to hit the ball hard, will be to use your lead bicep to create power. That also involves your back muscles, and once they get involved you'll try to brace your trailing leg and push with your trailing knee. And then there's only one thing that can happen -- your lead hip gets pushed forward. If you doubt this, just set up in a doorway in your top of backswing position, grab the doorjamb with your lead hand, bend your lead elbow, and try the move. It's almost impossible NOT to shove your lead hip forward.

If you keep your elbows pointing toward the ground at the top of your backswing and think about hitting the ball with the back of your lead hand, it will help you keep your lead elbow close to your side and also help you keep your address posture. It's basically the same feel as throwing a Frisbee™ or hitting a tennis backhand. (That's also a good thought if you have trouble with slicing the ball. Many players slice the ball simply because they twist their forearms away from the target on the way down, and this thought helps you avoid that problem.)

One last thing: I'm sure many of you have heard or seen some really good players who used a "reverse C" swing, which is basically all the things I'm trying to help you avoid doing. (Johnny Miller is one classic player I can think of who used it.) All I'll say is that (1) a reverse C can eventually cause some serious back problems because of all the stress it puts on your back and (2) you won't have any success with it unless you really twist your forearms hard toward the target during your downswing, which would cause a duck hook if you were making a normal swing. I don't recommend a reverse C, no matter how many players may have been successful with it, so if you want to do it you're on your own.

I think that pretty much covers everything. Like I said, if you have any questions, just leave me a comment and I'll try to answer them. And if you study and understand these last 4 posts, you'll have the knowledge you need to eliminate the vast majority of your pushed shots.


  1. Hi! U just stumbled on your website. Really, really interesting! I myself seem to be struggling with push shots... i will try to implement some of your ideas!
    I suppose you don't use apps like ubersense or something where people can send their swings?

    Greetings from belgium

    1. Sorry for the delay, Djeee -- we have guests coming for a visit and we've been busy cleaning the house. I'll give you instructions in the next day or so. Just check back on this post!

    2. No problem! Look forward to it.

    3. Alright, Djeee -- thanks for you patience!

      While I haven't set up some of the swing apps you mentioned, I find that we don't always need them. Modern technology (and instructors) have often convinced us that every problem requires a video study. That's simply not true.

      But I do need some basic information from you. You can find my email address on my bio page (just click the 'Email' link under my picture) and send me the following answers:

      1) Do you play right-handed or left-handed?

      2) Go to this page:

      You'll find two images there -- one for righties, one for lefties. They show 9 possible shot shapes. I want you to tell me the one that best describes your ball flight.

      3) Do you have this problem most of the time or only some of the time? And iyou're only pushing the ball some of the time, tell me more about it. Is it only on tee shots? Is it when there's a hazard on just one side of the fairway? Is it only when you have to hit over a hazard? Or if it happens randomly, can you predict when it's about to happen while you're addressing the ball? Each of these is a different problem than when you push almost every shot.

      4) Do you have this problem with every club in your bag or just with certain clubs? If you only push certain clubs, tell me exactly which ones.

      5) Finally, take your normal address position with the club you push the most, and have a friend snap three photos:

      a) a face-on view of your address position

      b) a down-the-line view of your address position

      c) a close-up of your grip while in your address position

      Send all of those to my email address and let me take a look at them.

      I would need this info no matter what the problem is... but the problem may turn out to be something very simple. If it is, this email may be all I need.

      I'll be watching for it.

    4. Thanks Mike, i've sent you an e-mail!