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Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Bent Trailing Elbow Drill, Part 2

By now many of you have messed around with the drill I gave you in Thursday's post and decided that I am a total crackpot. Well, I have a confession to make: I only gave you a part of the first drill. Today I'll discuss why I did that and what it should have taught you, because you'll get more from the full drill once you understand these fundamentals.

HaNa Jang entering the impact zone

As I said in that post, how you THINK about your swing is very important, and the way your trailing elbow moves during your backswing is badly misunderstood by most players. I isolated that elbow move -- as well as the lead shoulder move -- so you would focus on them. I put you in a position that virtually all pros get into -- the bent trailing elbow position -- and eliminated your body rotation so you could see exactly what your arms and hands are doing as the clubhead moves down to strike the ball.

And DOWN is a key concept here. Many of you are trying to 'hit down' on the ball, and you've tried everything. But this drill should have shown you that your hands -- and therefore the club -- are moved down to strike the ball in large part by rolling your lead shoulder and straightening your trailing elbow.

UP is also a key concept. Your wrists don't cock away from the target; they cock upward. It's because many players don't understand this that they insist on using such strong lead hand grips. You may think that this 'upcock' makes your swing plane too vertical, but swing plane is created by a combination of factors that include the shoulder roll in addition to your shoulder coil, leg action and overall body movement. The upcock eliminates unwanted forearm twisting and actually makes it easier to square the clubface. I'll explain that more fully when we get to the full swing drill in the next couple of posts.

And let's not forget ACROSS. Given the modern emphasis on leg and body action, you may have gotten the idea that the club is dragged through the impact area totally by hip action. It's true that hip action plays a part, but the drill you've been doing should have shown you that your hands -- and therefore the club -- are moved across your body in large part, again, by rolling your lead shoulder and straightening your trailing elbow.

It's very possible that the whole idea of  'rolling your shoulder' seems a bit confusing. Have you ever cleared off a table by laying your forearm on it and dragging it across the tabletop in a huge arc to sweep things off into the floor? That's the result of rolling your shoulder, and that feels very similar to the move you should make during your downswing.

You may have noticed that many instructors -- and players, when they're asked about what they're trying to do when they swing -- have begun to talk more about arm and hand action. That's because they've realized that something is getting lost in modern instruction -- the truth that a golf swing is a whole body action. You don't immobilize one part of your body while another part makes huge moves -- at least not while you're making a full motion swing. That's how you get hurt. (Exaggeration during a limited-motion drill is different. Every instructor uses that technique.) And the importance of arm and hand action has been overlooked because of the emphasis on lower body action.

Go back to the drill I gave you in the first post and try it again, trying to feel the things I've discussed in this post. This time you should have an 'A-HA!' moment or two. Tomorrow I'll give you the whole drill, which is a slightly longer pitching motion complete with some added shoulder turn and lower body action. You'll get a whole lot more out of it now that you better understand the partial version of the drill.

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