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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unlock Your Trailing Side

I'm always looking for new ways to describe old problems. Generally, we all have the same handful of problems, over and over, but we do them in slightly different ways. Today we're looking at what happens you come over-the-top, but from another angle.

Some players, even if they use a one-piece takeaway, can still find themselves locking their trailing leg and hip. For some, this is just poor footwork; for others, a sway; or maybe even some other problem. At any rate, locking your trailing side causes you to pivot around your trailing hip joint instead of your spine.

I found this quick tip at called Take a Seat. You can read the tip to see how it works; I want to focus on the problem it's intended to help you solve.

The key line I want to look at is this one:
If your lower body isn't in the correct position at the start of your downswing, the left side of your backside will make contact with the chair prematurely.
Chair drill at top of backswingLet me explain why this happens. When you lock your trailing side, you can't shift your weight forward as you start your downswing. Instead, your lead hip (your left hip if you're a right-hander) will immediately swing back away from the ball. That makes your lead hip move backward too much while your trailing hip doesn't move toward the ball at all.

To put it another way, since your trailing knee is straight, it just acts like a post stuck in the ground. When your trailing side locks, it pushes your trailing shoulder up too high. Then, when you start down, your trailing shoulder twists forward, over the ball, and your lead hip twists backward too soon. The result is that your downswing plane is changed from straight toward the target to a pulled shot.

Now, if you try the drill in this tip and you find that your trailing hip is locked, the simplest way to fix it is to make sure your trailing knee stays slightly bent all the way through your swing. If you don't straighten your knee, it won't lock.

If your knee don't lock, your hip won't lock.

If your hip don't lock, it won't push your shoulder up too high.

And if none of that happens, you're much less likely to make an over-the-top downswing.

Keeping that trailing knee flexed is one of those key points in your swing that, if you do it, it takes care of a whole load of other things automatically. Just making sure you have a one-piece takeaway and a flexed trailing knee during your swing can work miracles.

Oh yeah... and if you've ever heard teachers talk about "firing your right side" (for right-handers, that is), keeping that trailing knee flexed is the primary key to that move as well. You can't fire a gun with the safety on (a safety is just a lock), and you can't "fire your trailing side" if it's locked in place.


  1. Great work again Mike,

    Funny, I read that "Take a seat" drill only last week and thought it was really helpful, although after reading it again I noticed it didn't mention about the flexed right knee. Therefore when attempting the drill I found it quite hard to stop my left side from dropping back too early. Thanks to you I will now be making the effort to keep my right knee flexed throughout, cheers Mike, keep up the good work.


  2. It's always those little things, isn't it, Lee? I knew about that flexed knee position because of my own struggles.

    BTW, that flexed knee will also help prevent swaying off the ball. As your knee tries to twist outward during your backswing, it pushes your hip in the opposite direction -- toward the target.

  3. Here's another video about the hip movement in the downswing

  4. Thanks for the link, Peter.

    And I had included a video of Hogan himself demonstrating his arm swing drill from Five Lessons -- which is how he taught the move -- in this post from last October:

    Another Lesson on Connection

    Between those two links -- Peter's and mine -- you guys should be able to get the movement down without any problem.