I was recently asked by one of my students what my thoughts on the left arm were, and it’s role in the golf swing.
I thought it was a great question and a very interesting one because there are not many sports or skills where the left arm (non-dominant arm) plays such a big role in the overall movement. Think of tennis, squash, writing or throwing a ball, the non-dominant arm would hardly ever perform the majority of the overall function or skill here.
Please note if you are left handed, all of this needs to be reversed for you!
1. Left arm controls the backswing
From your address position, both arms hang naturally, initial take away is generated by the left arm pulling straight back from where it hangs (there should be no feeling of rotation from here) as the left hand gets to waist high, this is where rotation starts to occur but the rotation occurs more through the upper body more so your chest, shoulders and thoracic spine.
The left arm continues up your chest, the left wrist naturally hinges (not rolls) and the right arm naturally hinges (tucks in to the right side) as the left arm continues further up the chest.
The higher the left arm moves up, the more room you are giving your right arm to push down your chest.
The left arm is relatively straight going back but I don't want anyone to ever feel like it has to be locked straight.
Again, rotation is created more through thoracic spine as opposed the left shoulder. I think that if someone feels like the left shoulder has to do all the rotating, it can cause a very flat swing on the way back, causing many plane problems!
What is the thoracic spine?
The thoracic spine refers to the upper- and middle-back. It joins the cervical spine and extends down about five inches past the bottom of the shoulder blades, where it connects with the lumbar spine.
2. Left arm gives way on the downswing
Once at the top of the swing and after a fully completed backswing, the hips initiate the down swing allowing the left and right arm to fall down the chest and the hinged wrists to naturally unhinge.
Through the tension free right arm, it straightens from its hinged positions and naturally pushes the left shoulder out of the way. Natural rotation continues the momentum of the swing towards the left.
3. Left arm always stays close to chest
There should always be a feeling that the left arm stays connected to the chest, any movement away affects the plane of the swing. In a way, the left arm is the controller of the club face.
Try pick the club up with just your left arm and as you swing the club back, feel like the left elbow points to the ground going back and through.
You will find that the club naturally doesn't move around too much. Now try and get your left elbow to move around a bit and you will see how much the club opens up too much and closes too much as well.
4. Left arm/elbow position in the follow through
After the swing has been completed, you should find the left elbow pretty much pointing down at the ground.
If you find the elbow pointing away from the ground, there is a good chance the left arm has tried to overpower the swing.
Where is your left arm?
I hope this gives you more of an understanding of the left arm’s role in the golf swing, and as always I am happy to help you with these feelings and how they relate to your swing!
Where is your left arm at each point of the swing?
To get a visual reference, book in for a lesson today where you will receive video analysis as standard. It is a great tool that can help to pick out exactly what your left arm is doing.
See you soon.
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