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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Trailing Arm Arc Is Important

I know you probably expected a post about the Presidents Cup but we've got plenty of time for that this week. Instead, I want to look in more detail at something Michael Breed discussed on Monday's Golf Fix. (I looked for a video clip at the GC website but it's not up yet.)

Breed called that something TRAIL ARM ARC but many players and teachers refer to it differently. Annika Sorenstam, for example, has talked about how she tried to feel as if she was pushing her trailing hand away from her shoulder when she reached the top of her backswing. Breed's 'trail arm arc' is the same thing.

The reason I decided to write about it is because this 'move' helps you create more clubhead speed, although the logic behind it may not be readily apparent to you. But the concept itself is really simple to understand.

To help explain this I'm using another of my stick figure drawings. The reason I use stick figures and not photos is because ten people can be in the exact same position and all will look different. However, stick figures always show the same angles, and those angles are what you need to understand. So here's the drawing:

Trailing Arm Arc drawing

Let's focus on the top two figures first.
  • The thick dark lines represent your shoulders and the thin black vertical line represents your spine. The letter 'b' represents the angle your shoulders turn.
  • The straight blue line represents your lead arm, which is straight of course, and the small black circle represents your hands.
  • The bent black line represents your trailing arm, which is bent at the elbow. The angle of that bend is labeled 'a'.
  • And the thin green line extending across the drawing represents where your hands are at the top of your backswing. The club shaft would be pointing down this line, over your shoulders and toward your target.
The drawing labeled '1' is the SHORT trailing arm arc, and the drawing labeled '2' is the LONG trailing arm arc. And remember, the term 'trailing arm arc' is just a fancy term to describe pushing your trailing hand a bit farther away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing.

Are you with me so far?

Now, you may have heard that the 'textbook' amount of bend in your trailing elbow (that's 'a' in the drawings) is around 90 degrees. And if you look at my drawings, you'll see that the LONG arc is just a little over 90 degrees. That's because it's really hard to push your hands very far away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your swing.

You should be asking yourself, "Why?" The answer to this question is why pushing your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder creates more clubhead speed.

When you push your trailing hand away from your trailing shoulder, you force yourself to make a bigger shoulder turn -- or 'coil' if you prefer that word.

Look at the difference in 'b' between those two drawings. The SHORT arc gets the hands to the top of your backswing without out creating very much shoulder coil at all! However, the LONG arc creates a much bigger shoulder coil, which lengthens your swing and gives you more time to build speed during your downswing.

And if you look at the bottom drawing in the the gray box, you'll see a drawing with the SHORT arc's shoulder turn but the LONG arc's hand position. See how the hands are nowhere near the top of the backswing? That's because the swing is so much shorter, and that's why it doesn't create as much swing speed.

So let me sum this up: The reason you want a LONG Trailing Arm Arc is because it forces you to make a bigger shoulder turn, and a bigger shoulder turn helps you create more swing speed.

I hope that helps you understand why Breed made such a big deal out of this, and why so many players and teachers talk about pushing your hands away from your trailing shoulder at the top of your backswing. It's all about creating a big shoulder coil.