Stretching... A few key points
by Dan Frost
Working on your swing with resistance
bands can quickly produce results – not
only do they enable you to train with the
benefit of enhanced sensations as you
rehearse the exercises but you also enjoy
much greater freedom of movement when
the band is then removed.
I'm going to
show you a few relatively easy exercises
that will greatly improve your positional
awareness in the swing, the feeling of 'coil'
as you turn and load your bigger muscles,
and thus simplify the learning experience,
adding a kinesthetic element to your
The beauty of these drills is that they can
be rehearsed either at home, in the office
or out on the range. In as little as 20
minutes you can design a valuable
work-out and see immediate improvement.
For those of you who feel up to the
challenge, a few of these exercises lend
themselves to hitting shots.
Learn to 'load'
You may have heard about the importance
of 'coil' and 'resistance' in the swing. Well,
this exercise quickly wakes you up to the
dynamics involved as you turn and rotate
your upper body against the resistance of
a strong leg action to get 'loaded' at the
top of the backswing. To get started, tie
one end of the resistance band just
above your left knee, knotting it in place,
and wrap the other end around the
upper part of your left arm. Adjust the
band so that it is nicely taut when you
then assume your set up position – get
your left shoulder up a little as you create
a good spine angle (above). A good
posture pre-sets good motion: all you
need to do is resist from the knee and
stretch the band as you turn your left
shoulder under your chin. You will
feel a fantastic coiling up of the big
muscles in your torso as you reach the
top – hold it there for a few seconds to maximise
the benefit of the exercise, then repeat.
Related to the 'load' exercise, this one is
designed to improve the foundation of your
swing – i.e. the quality of your leg action.
It's simple: loop the resistance band just
above the knees, and draw it tight enough
so that when you are in the address position
your leg muscles feel 'engaged'.
In a good
posture (thigh muscles flexed) the key then
is to keep your left foot grounded for as long
as possible as you make your backswing.
As long as you keep that band in position,
your legs will be encouraged to maintain a
solid base to the swing (they are prevented
from swaying about) and this enables you to
turn and coil your upper body effectively
over a resisting lower body action. At the top
there should be more of an 'X'-like shape
between your lower and upper body – one
of the key ingredients to a powerful swing.
Ben Hogan was famous for rotating his
forearms inwards as he set up to the ball,
to the extent that his left elbow pointed at
his left hip and his right elbow pointed at
his right hip.
This distinctive position has
been studied and copied by great players
down the ages, and you can replicate it
by looping a resistance band just above
your elbows and tying it in place. This will
encourage the arms/elbows to work in
harmony with each other and with your
body throughout the swing – as Hogan
displayed to such devastating effect.
Getting the band in position at the setup
can be quite tricky, and it might be a
good idea to have a practice partner help
you. Make sure that you rotate your forearms
gently inwards as you settle into the
address position, adjust the band until it's
taut, then maintain that tension throughout
your swing, checking your position
back and through in a full-length mirror.
Not only will repeating this help you to
develop a compact and reliable technique,
but getting the arms working
together will synchronise your arm and
body motion so that those two components
move at the same speed, which
helps the arms to stay on plane.
One final thought that can help you –
when you rehearse this exercise, remind
yourself 'left arm back, right arm through'
as you make your swing – i.e. the left arm
should be straight on the way back, the
right arm should be straight on the way
Identify your 'inner circle'
The golf swing is most effective when the arms work
in a simple circular motion around the body – the
spokes spinning around the hub of the wheel, if you
like. This drill instantly improves your awareness of
your own golf swing's 'inner circle'.
As I have here
, loop the resistance band around your belt
buckle and then take up the slack with your left hand,
fixing the band on the club as you take your left hand
grip. The key is then to resist with your middle, your
belt buckle, as you swing. This will encourage better
width and a nice circular shape to your arm swing.
Maintaining this width (and keeping the band taut) as
you transfer from backswing to downswing and then
on into the follow-through will massively improve the
kinetic chain of movement in the body. Rehearse this
drill correctly and you'll find that the body naturally
wants to support the arms, helping you to rotate
more strongly all the way through the swing.
Resist with your belt
buckle to create this
dynamic tension in the
backswing, and then
maintain that feel as
you move down into
the transition. Note the stability in the
lower body as the
reversed. The body rerotates
target, the arms fall
into a good hitting
position. Width is maintained
all the way through
impact and into the
arms extending to
No more 'flying right elbow'
Good players control the shape and
structure of their backswing with the
position of the right arm/elbow. One of
the big problems many amateurs struggle
with is what's known as a 'flying
right elbow', which occurs when the
right arm fails to set correctly, the angle
at the elbow is lost and the forearm
flails all over the place. This drill trains
the right arm to fold away correctly in
the backswing so that the angle of the
forearm does not exceed the spine
angle. Attach the resistance band just
above your left knee and loop the other
end around your right arm at the elbow.
Initially, I'd suggest starting out with
comfortable one-armed swings to isolate
the feeling of the right arm folding
and setting correctly. After a few minutes
apply your left hand to the grip and
replicate that same feeling.
Clear the left hip
I'm sure you've heard the phrase
'clear the left hip'. It's easy to say
but can be quite difficult to feel or
put in to practise – hence the beauty
of this exercise. Tie the resistance
band through a belt buckle on
your left hip and position the other
end under your left hand grip. Then
rehearse small swings or hit half
shots with your focus on clearing
the left hip so that the band is taut
through the impact area and
How will this help your swing?
Learning to clear the left hip will not
only give you more space and freedom
to swing through, it will also
improve the quality of your leg
action through the impact area,
helping you drive more power into
the back of the ball.
Backswing check: the plane truth
The backswing is usually the most difficult position to get right in the
swing as we are looking at the ball and our arms are behind us.
Without a mirror you can't see whether you are on plane, but with the
help of a resistance band you can at least learn to feel the correct
position. Wrap the band around the centre of your left foot and place
the other end under your left hand grip.
In the backswing you are
looking for the band to brush the inside of your right thigh and your
arms will work in front of the chest. You will instantly know if you
have got this wrong as the band will either have no contact with the
thigh, indicating that you have a steep arm plane, (below left) or will
wrap over the leg creating a flat arm plane (below right).
Stronger ball striking
Golf is a game of opposites – yet few of
us have the confidence to trust in that
knowledge when it comes to the impact
position. To make the ball go up, your job
is to strike down, and you have to learn
to trust it.
Trying to help the ball into
the air is one of the most damaging
faults in golf – and one this final
exercise is designed to correct.
Wrap one end of the band around
your right foot and take up the
slack as you secure the other end
beneath your left hand grip.
key then is to repeat simple half-swings,
ensuring that the shaft leans forward at
impact (similar to driving a hockey shot
along the ground). Notice here that my
left arm and the clubshaft form a straight
line immediately after impact (not before!).
The more often you rehearse this and
enjoy the sensation of being in a strong
position post-impact the better your ball
striking will become. You will enjoy exerting
more pressure on the ball, the transfer
of energy will be more efficient and you
will hit the ball straighter and further.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine