Swing Analysis Videos
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In this analysis video, we discuss what makes a quality back swing movement, and what are the signs that something critical is off. We will cover the movements of the body, and the arms, and how they work together to correctly and consistently get you prepared for a proper transition.
Playlists: Swing Analysis Videos, Beginner Program
Tags: Backswing, Analysis, Concept, Intermediate, Beginner
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In this analysis video, we're going to look at the back swing.
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So this is the first movement of the golf swing and it basically goes from set up position,
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which we've talked about over here on the left, all the way up to the top of the swing,
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which you can look at on the right.
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Now we're going to divide it into two sections.
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First, this is going to be the takeaway, which ends roughly when the shaft is about parallel
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to the ground and following will be setting the club, which you'll see over here on the
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left, from takeaway position until you go into transition.
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Now the takeaway position or the takeaway movement is going to be controlled mostly by
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the big muscles of your body.
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And then between the takeaway and setting the club is when the smaller muscles of your arms
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start to get a little bit more involved.
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So first, we'll cover the takeaway and then we'll cover the setting the club.
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So in theory, the takeaway is one of the easiest moves that we do in the golf swing.
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It should simply be a rotation of the spine to bring the club into this waist-type position.
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Essentially, you're not going to do very much with your arms and hands at all.
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And the way that we can look at this or the way that we can check this is if we were
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to extend the line out from your shirt buttons, you would see that the hands would roughly
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be somewhere in that space.
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So if Iron Man had his light shining, they would pretty much be pointing at your hands.
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Here we can watch Justin Rose with both the driver and the Iron.
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And as we go through this movement, you will see that there is a slight shift back of the
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upper and lower body.
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The lower body is going to be lester-matic.
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It happens typically a little bit more during the set of the club.
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But if you were to look at the center of the shirt in the center of the chest, there will
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be a slight shift about a half inch away from the target.
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Now we'll take a look at a few amateurs to see where this move can go wrong.
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So as we start going back, you'll see the club gets roughly in that same shaft parallel
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and pointed in the target line.
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But you can see that his chest is still pointed more out towards the ball instead of at
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If we look from the face on view as he goes through that movement, you'll also see him
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get to the outside of the foot.
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So watch the angle in the knee or watch kind of this general area as he goes through that
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And you'll see that the knee in the pelvis starts shifting a pretty good amount over onto
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that right side.
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The majority of the weight shift is going to be accomplished mostly through rotation and
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the weight that the pelvis is shaped, not so much through an actual weight shift.
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So I focus more in the second half of the backswing but also here on the early stages of
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keeping the weight and the pressure more on the inside of the foot instead of letting it
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go to the outside of the foot.
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But this has already started a cascade based on what he thinks he needs to do during
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transition and during the release.
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So we don't look at backswing as a cause of problems of the release.
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It's more a sign of what they're going to do on the downswing.
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Here is another golfer demonstrating a little bit more of a lateral movement where
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movement where the swing is controlled mostly by the knees and hips and the arms but not
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doing very much in the actual thoracic spine.
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Here from down the target line you'll see a similar movement where his chest is pointed
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more out towards the golf ball.
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Even though his hands reach that ideal chef parallel and pointed at the target position
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because it's getting there in a way where it's not being driven by the spine.
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He's already setting himself up for some trouble during transition and then ultimately
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But again this is a sign of what his brain thinks it needs to do to load what he is going
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to do on the downswing.
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This is not a cause and effects that because he shifted his weight to the outside of his
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foot he only had one option.
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So we look at the takeaway and then we can correct it but not until you fully understand
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the transition and downswing will it all makes sense.
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Now let's start looking at the second phase of the backswing and then we can put it all together.
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So during the second phase of the backswing if you look over here at Adam Scott you will
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see that the spine is going to continue rotating as well as extending which I talk about
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in the cons of video.
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At the same time that the spine is bringing the hands up into position the right arm is
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going to begin folding and positioning the hands for what we want to do during the transition.
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We'll look over here at Jason Duffner and you can see he has a little bit of a shorter
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swing but he has gotten into a similar position with his spine.
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So when we're looking at the spine at the top of the swing if you were to draw a line
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down from the back of the neck to roughly the belt line that's going to give you a pretty
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good indication of the amount of flexion or extension in the spine.
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So you'll see is that most good golfers will reach this neutral position where it's a fairly
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Even if you see this golfer here over on the right which is Jason Duffner it looks like
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he has a very short swing and that his chest is stayed pointed down towards the golf
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ball but he has extended his spine back to neutral and got it ready for what we want to
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do during transition.
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Here are a couple more examples so that you can start really visualizing what's happening
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with the spine.
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So as we approach the top of the swing with Graham McDowell over here on the left you can
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see that his spine is still somewhat flex because there's a little bit of a curve right
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there or an angle or a hinge.
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Now as he approaches the top of the swing and starts in that transition you will see that
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he finishes his spine extension to where the point is roughly that straight line that I've
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Here's another golfer on the right with a camera that moving all over place but there's
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Tommy Gany and you can see that even though he is very much flexed forward from the hips
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which we'll talk about his spine as very much approached and extended or neutral position
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he's lost the curve that he started with.
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That curve is generally going to be replaced by side bend which we'll look at from
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the down the line view.
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But from this face on view you can pay attention to how much the spine has actually
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extended and whether or not the person shifts off the ball or onto the outside of the
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During this second phase you will frequently see different looking positions at the top
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of the swing.
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While they're reaching the same rough spine angle or spine position that I'm talking about
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the reason why Graham over here on the left looks like he's very much vertical and
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Tommy over here on the right looks like he's bent over a lot is because of the amount
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of flexion in the knees and the hips and that's a much bigger issue than what's actually
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happening at the spine.
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I'll show a couple examples of amateurs so that you can see what I'm talking about.
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Here you can see Jason Duffner as he's approaching the top of his swing and you can see that
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his spine has reached that straight position.
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Now over here on the left we're going to see a golfer who reaches a similar arm and club
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He actually goes a little bit further towards parallel.
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If you were to draw that same line from the base of the neck to the belt line you can
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see that his spine is still flexed forward.
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The way that he was able to get the club to reach that high of a position was more from
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a lateral movement of the lower body not so much an extension of the spine.
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Here's another example of an amateur.
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This golfer is a single-digit handicap so he's a pretty skilled golfer but you will
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still see that he reached that actual longer arm position than Jason Duffner while maintaining
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flexion in his spine.
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Now he has a really rigid ribcage so that's going to be something that's a little tricky
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for him to work on.
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Instead what we would typically work on is getting the arms to be a little bit more in position
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and minimizing the shift of the weight into the outside of the foot.
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I just wanted to provide a few examples so that you can see that not everyone who gets
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into the three-quarter position or everyone who gets in the full swing does it the same way.
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And so as a golf smart academy member I want you to start paying attention as you watch
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golf swings for looking for how they're getting into these positions not just what positions
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they're getting into.
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As we look from the down the line view we can focus on a couple other things.
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So let me take both Jason and Brant's Seneca into their takeaway position.
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Just like so.
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And now you'll see very different lower body actions.
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If you look at Brant's Seneca you can see that his lower body is barely moved at all.
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If you look at Jason Duffner you can see that his legs have rotated quite a good bit.
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But they both maintain the alignment of the club pointed in front of the chest.
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Brant Seneca just tends to have a little bit more upright swing.
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Jason Duffner a little bit flatter.
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Neither is better or worse they're just a little bit different.
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So now as we go up towards the top of the swing you'll see that as he completes his shoulder
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rotation the alignment of his spine appears to maintain a pretty consistent angle.
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Now we know that this is a combination of side bend.
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Whoops let's bring it going to go.
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We know that this is a combination of side bend and that loss of flexion that gives that
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gives this appearance.
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And you'll see that his shoulders have turned on an angle there or his spine is rotated on
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an angle that's roughly perpendicular to that initial spine angle that he created.
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We take Jason Duffner up towards the top of the swing.
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And remember he didn't have quite as much hip extension.
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But his shoulder plane is kind of in that same similar area.
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This is a little flat.
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He uses the flatness the shoulder plane to help flatten out his swing.
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Now you'll also notice a very different looking right arm.
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So I don't speak of whether you keep your right elbow up against your chest or whether
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you let it come off away as one of the key fundamentals.
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But I do talk about the rotation of the arms between the take away and setting the club
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as one of the fundamentals.
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So you'll see that as he goes up that right elbow is staying more or less in front of his
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And though it's come up off of it.
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As in, if you were to look at his shirt seam or you were to look at his shoulder blade,
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he hasn't let his right elbow drift too far behind his back.
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Same thing you'll see even in an exaggerated position or an exaggerated fashion over here
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with Jason Duffner.
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Now here we have a couple of amateurs that are demonstrating the loss of posture during the
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second phase of the take away.
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So you'll see that as we get to here, he's pretty close.
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His chest is pointing a little bit more towards the golf ball than at his hand.
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So he's he's done a little bit more arm movement than I would like to see.
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But so as a result, the shoulder is pretty much reached the end range of movement and the
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only way he can get elevation is to then stand up.
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So you'll see his ear come back into a second.
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So I'm going to explain angle at the top of the swing as opposed to what he started it.
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Now over on the left, we have a higher handicap golfer and we'll see his ears relatively
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close, but you can see his chest pointing pretty much straight out at the golf ball while
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his hands have gotten into that take away position.
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So we know that he's done that mostly by the arms and then as he goes to finish his backswing,
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you'll see very much he's using the extension of his hips.
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He's using the extension of his legs in order to create this top of the backswing position.
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If you were to have his hips more tilted and his spine a little bit more left side bent,
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instead of this pointing out at the ocean, it would be pointing roughly down at the golf
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ball and he wouldn't have to make his big adjustment during transition in the down.
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The real key takeaway to understanding the takeaway in setting the club is that what you do on
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the backswing gives us insight into what your brain wants to do on the downswing.
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So working on the top of the backswing position or working on how you set the club and how
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you take the club away can help you understand even better what we're then going to do during
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transition, which is going to be the next analysis video that I'll watch you to watch.
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But for right now it's pretty much a simple spine load during the backswing and an arm movement
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that helps set the club at the top of the backswing. I don't want you to be focused on trying to hit
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an ideal-looking position because the movements are much more important than having a picture
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perfect look to the top of your backswing.