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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Using Your Hands in the Takeaway, Part 2

In yesterday's post we looked at the theory behind adding some hand power during your takeaway. Today I'll give you a drill that will help you apply that theory.

I hope you spent some time using your hands to position the club over your trailing shoulder WITHOUT turning your shoulders, as Manuel de la Torre explained in the book quote and Steven Bann demonstrated in the video. We'll start with that, then we'll add the rotation.

If you take your address position and just raise the club until your hands are roughly waist high and the shaft is parallel to the floor, that's a very simple move to do. If you avoid excess tension in your hands and forearms, you'll probably find that your upper arms stay pretty close to your chest and your forearms move upward and outward a little.

While de la Torre says that your wrists don't move when doing this, that's not entirely true. The reason is that your wrists actually flex downward a little at address, because of the weight of the clubhead. When you lift the club, your wrists return to more of a neutral position -- which means that, if you straightened out your fingers, you'd see them move upward so they form a straight line with your forearms. That's the natural position for your wrists when your arms and hands are relaxed.

Now, if you click on the Some Useful Post Series button up under the blog header, you'll find that one of the listings is Dexter's Coming Over-the-Top and the third post in that series is labeled as the one-piece takeaway post. (I'm just going to abbreviate one-piece takeaway as OPT from here on out.) While that post has a picture of Paula Creamer after an OPT, there is no diagram showing the drill itself.

Here are copies of the drill diagrams from my Stop Coming Over-the-Top Quick Guide, one for righties and one for lefties. This drill is intended to help you learn what the correct position feels like. But you'll notice that the first thing you do is lift the club, the way you just did when you copied Steven Bann.

Right-handed diagram of one-piece takeaway drill

Left-handed diagram of one-piece takeaway drill

You should also notice that the toe of the club still points up at the waist high position in this drill. That's intentional. Believe it or not, this position has actually rotated the clubface open just a little. You don't want much clubface rotation during your swing because the natural bending of your elbows creates more rotation than you realize.

This position matches the "lifted" position you created when you imitated Bann's video. If you use the instructions from the Dexter's Coming Over-the-Top #3 post to get used to this halfway back position, AND THEN you start swinging the club back while imitating Bann's "lift" as you turn, you'll start creating a lot of motion with your hands.

Here's an important thing to note: When you add the rotation during the drill, it should still feel as if you're lifting the club straight up, toward your head. It will probably feel weird at first, but this is how your hands SHOULD feel if you're turning and lifting correctly. (Remember, your trailing elbow bends to create the necessary rotation during a full swing. It will feel as if your forearms aren't twisting at all.) Many players rotate their forearms during the takeaway, which messes up your swing plane. The technical term is that the club gets "laid off."

You may wonder how you'll know that you're doing it correctly. It's very simple, actually. When you lifted the club without turning, the club probably started to feel heavy as the shaft became more parallel to the ground. BUT when you do this OPT drill with the hand lift, if you try to stop at the position shown in the diagrams, YOU'LL PROBABLY HAVE A LITTLE TROUBLE DOING SO. Your hands will stop but the shaft may swing on up to a 10:30 or even an 11 o'clock position. That's from the extra momentum your hands are creating.

Why is this important? There are several reasons I could give, but this one should suffice for now. Many of you have trouble keeping your club on plane during your backswing. That's because your takeaway is too slow... but the trick is that you don't increase the speed by turning faster. You create the extra speed with your hands. Practicing this drill will help you learn to do that.

It will also make the club feel lighter as you reach the top of your swing, which makes it easier to change direction at the top, which helps increase your downswing speed, which can increase your distance. But that's a whole 'nother topic, which the old-time players called "feeling the clubhead."

So there you go, Dana. That's the way you learn to use your hands properly in your takeaway. If you have more questions, just leave a comment and I'll try to give you a usable answer. ;-)

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