Steps Every Downswing Should Have: A Good Backswing

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that our sequence of posts focusing on the downswing, starts with the where we left off in the backswing sequence. But before we get started, its important to know that we’re omitting a very important section of the swing, which will be a post for another time – the transition – the most dynamic and difficult move in the swing itself, where the club slows to a stop for a split second at the top of the swing before picking up speed again and beginning its journey down to the ball. Stay tuned for that one, it’ll be interesting. Now, on to the downswing.

Our first topic of discussion on the downswing sequence is all about how the backswing effects it. It may come as a surprise but a vast majority of swing faults on the downswing are initiated by swing faults in the backswing. It could be your grip, setup, swing path, transition, but no matter what it is, faults in these areas set you up for failure on your downswing. Unfortunately, faults in these areas then cause you to try and make other fixes in your downswing that can, at times, seem like solutions to your swing faults (if everything works out). In actuality this is just a band-aid to backswing fault. Regardless of your altheticism, hand-eye coordination, timing or strength, fixing your swing on the downswing is near impossible, and it forces your swing to make unnatural movements that rob you of power, in hopes of you coming into impact square.

When you look at the pros too, you see many examples of this. Its usually a constant trade-off. You can try and swing beyond parallel like Dustin Johnson to get extraordinary turn and power, but then you’ll lack accuracy off the tee and into the greens. The reverse of that is a backswing that is too short, while you’ll benefit from better accuracy, you’ll lack distance. If your swing is inside on the backswing, you’ll tend to resort to an over-the-top motion on the downswing, the reverse is also true if you start your swing outside the line. Poor grip can affect your ability to cock your wrist and set your swing up to maximize your power on the downswing. Poor weight transfer to initiate your backswing will limit your turn, and reduce your extension and width on the backswing. No matter what minute swing fault you suffer from on the backswing, it will force you just to make some sort of ‘fix’ in order to have any hope of hitting a solid ball. This is not the way to get any sort of consistency out of your game. A swing riddle with faults and fixes will never be dependable, and is not the type of swing to build a solid game on.

Start with perfecting your backswing, and you’ll be surprised how much everything else falls into place on the downswing because of it.

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  1. Found your site and am very excited to be using it to put together a “golf 101” style binder for my 14 year old daughter who is just getting into golf and wants to be on the high school golf team this fall.

    I am using your series of articles from the golf fundamentals (stance, body position, aim & alignment, ball positioning and grip) to lead into your “7 steps every backswing should have” to the transition and then this article on downswing. I then have some sections on putting, chipping and sand play.

    However, the one area of swing technique that appears to be missing from your plans is the “follow through.” I went back through your main post roll to 2010 and did not see a single written article on the follow through. There is one video posted that you reference as the “perfect” follow through but I would love to see an article on your teaching points on: ball impact fundamentals and the follow through.

    Thanks for doing what you are doing. I am excited that I get to begin this journey into golf with my oldest child and hope that another voice (yours) besides my own will help her build a better golf game from the ground up than I did in my teenager years.

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