Why You Need This: In this video, you’ll learn the perfect elbow motion in crazy detail.
I get tons of questions about the elbows, so I want to show you what your elbows should be doing throughout the swing.
Your elbows at address, backswing, downswing, impact, and follow through are all covered.
Note that you should treat this video as an informational video, meaning that you don’t need to hit every single checkpoint perfectly in order to have a solid swing.
But if you’re way off from one of the main points, then that’s something you need to work on.
Below, you’ll get an overview of the main points of the video:
Elbows at Address
Make sure your elbows are relaxed in a natural position at address.
Some instructors recommend that both elbow pits pointed open, but there’s little evidence to support doing that.
Also, I haven’t seen many pros force their elbow pits open either.
Just keep your elbows in a natural position and don’t worry about it.
Elbows in the Backswing
A good check for your elbows in the backswing is to look at the angle of the club.
If the club is vertical, your right elbow is likely flailing out a bit and that’s an unnecessary move.
If the club is too flat and nearly parallel with the ground, then your left arm is starting to roll over the right arm.
If you’re swinging at these extremes, then adjust accordingly by rotating your arms.
Elbows at the Top of the Swing
Generally, I recommend you have your right elbow pointing down.
It doesn’t need to be pointing straight down, but it helps to have it in that position.
However, if you have a flying elbow, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a good swing.
Jack Nicklaus had a flying elbow and John Daly’s flying elbow is even more extreme.
So do your elbows matter much at the top of the swing?
Having your right elbow pointed down is more under control and will make it easier on you when transitioning to your downswing.
The more your elbow flies out, the bigger the move you’ll need in your downswing.
Elbows in the Downswing
In the backswing, you have some leeway on how you take the club back.
However, in the downswing, you need to tighten up the range of your movements.
Your right elbow needs to be close to your body otherwise you’ll come over the top with your club.
Elbow at Contact
Your left elbow should face towards the target at impact.
Elbows in the Follow Through
As you’ll see with big hitting pros like Adam Scott…
The left elbow points almost directly back at the end of the swing.
Adam Scott is very flexible, so note that you don’t need to have your elbow pointing back as much as he does.
But try to finish with as much rotation as you can without straining yourself.
Watch this video…
And compare the checkpoints to get a better understanding of how your elbows should move throughout the swing.
Golf Pros Featured:
Instructors Featured: Clay Ballard
Video Duration: 12:20
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Hey guys, I’ve got a great video for you. Today I’ve got a video where I’m going into unbelievable detail with the elbow.
I get some questions about the elbows oftentimes, and I want to go from the setup, backswing, downswing, impact, follow through, the whole thing. We’re going to talk about the position of those elbows throughout the entire swing.
It’s very important to be able to swing the club relatively well on plane. It’s very important to be able to compress the golf ball to have those elbows in a pretty good area.
This isn’t a video where we’re necessarily talking about you have to hit every single one of these spots or you’re not going to be able to play great golf. That’s not what this is about.
This is more of an information video. I recommend that maybe you try a few swings just in your living room, work along with this video to see if you’re in about the right spots. It’s just going to answer a lot of questions for you.
Let’s start out with address, and let’s imagine I’m going this way. As I set up to the golf ball, you’ll hear some different things.
I believe there is a Hogan video where he talked about having his elbow pits facing forward, so your elbow would be facing this way, or the back of my elbow would be facing directly behind me.
He didn’t actually do that, I have seen his videos. Some people recommend to do it that way, but that’s not really very comfortable, and I haven’t seen good players doing that.
Hogan himself didn’t set up that way, I’ve seen a lot of videos of Hogan, and I’ve never seen one where his elbow pits were completely forward in his front arm.
If I relax my left arm, that left elbow, if you can imagine kind of a laser shooting out of the back of it, should basically just be kind of going down and out in front of my left hip.
If I’m setting up here, my elbow’s kind of pointing that way. It’s not completely toward the target like this, and it’s not completely back toward my body like I was mentioning before like that.
It’s going to be a little more than 45° forward. Now my right arm, it will be a little bit more under. A lot of times I see people get that right elbow kind of pointing out down the target line, or away from the target line, and now I’m going to be starting to pick the club up and coming over the top.
So if I’m doing this, and I’m lined up and my right elbow is too out like that, you see how my shoulders are open, and my tendency is going to be to pick up that club.
I want to get that elbow under to where it’s just kind of pointing just outside my right hip at address. SO again, if there’s a laser shooting out of this elbow, it’s kind of going just barely missing my right hip. That’s getting it to where now as I come back, I can be on plane and get that club moving back correctly.
These aren’t exact things, you can have a little bit of variation there, there’s no problem with that. But if we’re in that general ballpark, we’re going to be set up for a good swing.
Now when we get about halfway back, or when my club gets parallel with the ground. So as my club starts to set, you’ll notice that my elbows are pretty much level if you’re looking from face on.
I’m not here where my right elbow would be way under, and I’m not here where my right elbow would be way on top. When I do this, as I swing back and I’ll do my best job to get them fairly level here as I’m pausing.
But as I do this, you’ll notice the club is swinging at an angle. I’m not straight up and down like this. If my right elbow was to get higher, then you’ll see how that would steepen the club shaft.
If I was to pull the club back too far inside and get the club flat and inside, you’ll notice how my right elbow gets low.
So having that about level where I can kind of set a club across my elbows at that point of the swing, and that would be fairly level, would be about where you want to be halfway in the backswing position, or when that club is kind of perpendicular to the ground when you’re looking from face on.
Again, that will be at an angle. I’m not saying to do this way, but that’s a good checking point.
Now as we go all the way to the top, ideally you’d like to have your right elbow facing pretty much down toward the ground. So I’ll kind of force it here. I’m going to give you a good test to see if this is even possible for you.
As I swing all the way to the top here, my right elbow ideally would be kind of pointing down more toward the ground. If you have a flying elbow, kind of like a Jack Nicklaus, something like that, it’s not a big deal.
Again, you don’t have to hit these things perfectly, but it is good to be in these kinds of ranges.
So if I have my elbow down, I have to be fairly flexible in my shoulder. If my elbow is out or flying a little bit, that’s not the end of the world, because I’m going to make that correction like Jack Nicklaus did to get the elbow back in as he starts his downswing.
So nobody has the elbow flying and then continues to have the elbow flying in the downswing, they have the elbow kind of flying out in the backswing, and then drop it in on the downswing.
Either way is fine. Textbook perfect, if you want to look at like Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, a lot of guys that have really good-looking golf swings, they have that elbow more down.
The good way to test this now, is if you take your arm, put it out in front of your body, just your right arm like this. Then I’m going to bend from the elbow joint, so my arm is at a 90° angle and it’s directly in front of my shoulders.
So my forearm and my shoulders are matching each other. If I rotate, keep this still and rotate that outwards as far as I can go, if I don’t have a lot of rotation – so you see my shoulder’s pretty tight, and my angle is in.
That means I don’t have a lot of external rotation. That means that as I go into the top of the backswing, that I’m going to have my elbow out a little bit more. I’m not going to be able to get into this position. I’m having to force my arm in to get into that position, because I’m not very flexible.
Some of you guys out there, it doesn’t hurt or anything like that, it doesn’t mean you have an injury in your shoulder, it just means your less flexible.
Some of you guys can get that elbow going way out there like this, and you’d be able to have that elbow in kind of like you’d see with an Adam Scott, or Tiger Woods, somebody like that.
That would be fine for players that are more flexible. If you’re not very flexible when you do that test, then you’re going to have a little bit of an outward facing elbow, nothing wrong with that.
Now the left elbow which is really important as you go to the top, it has to rotate. If you imagine if I had this club in my hands like this, as I go to the top, I have to rotate that club on the plane.
Notice how my left elbow is pointing out away from me a little bit. I don’t want to get that elbow straight down like this where it’s pointing down to the ground.
That would be me kind of picking this club up, and that would be not very much rotation. I want to get that elbow out a little bit. So if I had a doorknob, I’m turning that doorknob to the right from my upper arm.
That would be from your shoulder joint, that’s your humerus, it’s turning your arm that way. Also your forearm is turning that way a little bit too.
When I do that, that allows me to set that club on plane at the top of the swing. So if you’re across the line, for example, that elbow may be pointing too far down. You get that elbow more out, you get this one more under, now all of a sudden you’re on plane.
So that’s a big misconception I see a lot of people struggle with. They get that elbow too down, and then at the top of swing they are way across the line like that. That’s pretty common. It just means we’re going to have to reroute it some, which wouldn’t be ideal in the downswing.
Now halfway down, here’s where the other things are more preferences. I would say that the ways I was talking about there, I would recommend them being that way.
In the downswing, it gets a little bit tighter. As this club moves through the ball, we need to have it moving through contact a certain way. These are going to be more specific and more uniform for everybody.
Now as I start my downswing, what’s going to end up happening is as I’m about halfway down, as I look at my shoulders and everything’s going to be rotating.
As my hands are about halfway down, this would be what we call the max lag position, or when you have the most amount of lag in your downswing in the Top Speed Golf System.
This is very important, because I’ve got to release that lag into our Straight-Line Release like we teach in the System, in order to get that speed and really have this club accelerate and whip on through contact.
When I’m in that max lag position, if you look at my right elbow, it’s going to be pretty much in line with my shirt seam. It could be a little bit behind it, or a little bit in front of it, but I don’t want it way back behind me.
So if I have good lag in a max lag position, my hips will be square and my elbow will be kind of on that seam or a little bit in front of that shirt seam.
If I’m coming over the top and I’m steep, so a big of piece of hitting a ball really well is having The Move, or shallowing out this club.
If I start down with that club steep, my elbow gets tucked in behind my body, my club starts to come down over the top, and all of a sudden I’m chopping down into the ball. I have to get that elbow under.
Again, my left arm, my left elbow has to be out a little bit more. If you guys are coming in steep, you’re over the top, you need to get that elbow kind of coming down by your shirt seam.
If I’m looking from face on from that max lag position, very important that as I’m coming down, notice how you can see my right elbow underneath my left elbow, that’s that move.
We talk about how to shallow that club like PGA Tour players are doing, compress that golf ball, that’s what we go over in The Move in our Top Speed Golf System.
But I’ve got to be able to see that elbow under my left elbow if I want to have some speed. Jack Nicklaus, guys that had a flying right elbow in the backswing up here like this, doesn’t matter how high you get it there, it’s got to get tucked under as I start my downswing to shallow that club out.
So really important to practice that move, and that’s going to help you a lot with lag, and to create speed in the golf swing.
Now let’s talk about contact. As I’m making contact, I’m going to go ahead – again, my hips are going to be open, my shoulders are slightly open, my left arm is across my body which makes them look pretty square.
My chest is slightly open, and from there, my left elbow is going to be facing the target, roughly down the target line. That’s as I hit the ground and that shock comes up through my arm. I want that to be absorbed this way.
I don’t want to turn my elbow out this way, because now I’m absorbing it sideways across my joint, and that’s going to give me some elbow pain.
So as long as my elbow is facing toward the target, or like this at impact, then I’m going to be OK. My right elbow will be facing a little bit more forward, that’s because my right arm is kind of tossing that club, or getting rid of that club to the straight-line release we talked about.
Now let’s go ahead and talk about the finish. This is a big one for keeping speed going, keeping momentum going in you swing.
If you watch guys like Adam Scott, or Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, big hitters, super-flexible guys, Dustin Johnson is a good one on the PGA Tour, when they come all the way around to their finish.
If I’m going this way, when I come all the way around to my full finish, I’m going to have my left elbow almost pointing back toward the camera, and my right elbow’s going to be facing kind of shoulder-height and pointing into the left rough.
Not everybody watching this video’s going to be that flexible. I’m not really that flexible, so don’t feel bad about that. What you want to do is come all the way around until you feel like you’re at your biggest range of motion.
I don’t want to force anything, I don’t want to feel tight. You may feel a little tight, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re straining t get to that position.
If you’re looking at it when I’m going this way, you’re just going to go as far as you can. This right elbow’s going to be pointing behind my body.
So if there’s a golf ball, my right elbow’s going to be pointing as far this way as I can. My left elbow’s going to be pointing as far that way as I can to make sure that I’m coming through and getting that full finish, all the way on around.
Again, everybody’s going to be a little bit different as far as their flexibility. I’m not quite as flexible as you’d see with those top tour players, wouldn’t expect you guys to be either. But you want to try to get as much of that as you can.
The reason there is, and a lot of times people will ask me this, they say, “Well I’ve already hit the golf ball, why do I care where I finish up my swing if the golf ball’s well down the fairway at that point?”
The reason is, whatever you do here in your downswing is affecting what shows up later on in the swing. Wherever I build momentum in the swing, it’s showing up much later in the swing.
So if I’m getting a good acceleration through the ball, if that club is taking off, my body’s in a good position, my arms are going to naturally kind of finish in this position.
If I’m slowing down back here, I’m casting, I’m burning up all my speed way before I hit the golf ball, and I’m going to see more of this type of a finish.
A lot of players, you’ll see that they do that, they don’t even really rotate their hips through. I want to get all the way on through there, that means I’m accelerating through the ball, I’m getting that great speed.
So check those elbow positions, I hope this has helped you out, helped clear up a lot of ideas. I’ll see you guys soon.