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Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to Stop Flipping, Part 2

Here, as promised, is another post on how to stop flipping your hands through impact. (The first post can be found here.) In case you've forgotten, Stephen left a comment on an earlier post asking for some help with the problem and, since it's a fairly common one, I decided this problem deserves some "blog time."

This time I want to look at some of the things that cause flipping.

Flipping can happen with any club -- many players flip their wrists when they putt, some when they chip, and some at impact during their full swing. Simply put, flipping is when the head of the club passes your hands before you hit the ball. The first post I did includes a video of Martin Hall showing how you want your hands to stay ahead of the club head; it's sometimes called "forward shaft lean."

There are a couple of things that most "flippers" do. One is using incorrect grip pressure; the other is stopping their turn through the ball too soon.

Most of you know that if you grip the club too tightly, you slow down your swing. But you also know you have to keep a good grip on the club so you don't unintentionally throw it! So here's your key thought: You want the tightest part of your grip to be the ring and pinky fingers on your lead hand. (Remember, the lead hand is the one closest to the target at address.) By focusing your grip in those two fingers, you get a firm hold on the club -- after all, those fingers are at the end of the shaft where it's easier to control it -- and it only tightens the muscles on the "bottom edge" of your forearm. It also creates more control with your lead hand while allowing you to really whip that club through impact.

Grip pressure is just a matter of practice, and you can practice while you're sitting in front of the television. Just hold the club and focus on tightening those two fingers while the others stay more relaxed.

The other problem, stopping your turn too early, needs a little more explanation. I'm going to give you a little drill using a one-piece takeaway. (I explained how to do that in this post from way back in 2010. Just use the instructions there to learn how to do one if you don't already know how.)

Got it? Good. Here's the drill:

A one-piece takeaway keeps both arms pretty straight (but not stiff) until your hands reach nearly waist high on your backswing. For this drill, you can swing from there back down through the impact area until your hands are around waist high into your finish. I don't want you to cock and uncock your wrists because that will just make it harder to tell when you make your turn correctly. This isn't a power swing, so don't feel like you have to swing hard. Just make a rhythmic swing.

Now, if you make a waist high backswing, pause slightly, then swing down and through to a waist high finish (your trailing knee will bend, just like in a regular swing), your wrists should stay in the same position all the way through without much effort on your part. The butt end of the shaft should point toward your body (if you want a smaller target, it should point at your belly button) all the way through. You can swing back and forth like a pendulum if you want; many of you will find that helpful in getting the feel of a complete turn.

Michael Breed has a special version of this drill he uses to teach this called the Lucky 7 Drill. Here it is (use the link if you can't get the embedded video to run):

The Breed version doesn't point the butt end of the shaft toward your belly button. Rather, it points it to your side. His version focuses on full swings while my version will help with "putter flipping" as well. Obviously both will help but his will hurt if you do it too badly. (If you need negative reinforcement to learn...!)

Lee Trevino used to use thick rubber bands to teach this same technique in chipping. He would have his student grip down almost to the steel of the shaft, then put a couple of thick rubber bands around their lead wrist to hold the club's handle against it. That way they couldn't flip their wrists at all.

Those are the two biggest causes of wrist flipping. If you work on these drills, you should start learning what a "non-flipping" swing feels like.

And if I find some more drills that I think will help, I'll do another post. ;-)

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