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Tyler Ferrell is the only person in the world named to Golf Digest's list of Best Young Teachers in America AND its list of Best Golf Fitness Professionals in America. Meet your new instructor.
Get More Distance

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Lengthening Your Backswing

The search for speed and distance is a common, but challenging goal for many golfers. For players that already strike the ball solidly, this can become even more daunting of a task as they must either make (1) improvements in their kinematic sequence or (2) create a longer backswing. Unfortunately, the first option requires a thorough and accurate analysis of a player's swing and power "leaks". However, our second option can be quickly improved as long as we know where and how to create this extra motion. The (3) main components for creating more length in the backswing are: 

  • Increased hip rotation (through knees & ankles).
  • Increased torso rotation (through extension of the spine).
  • Increased arm elevation (through the shoulders) & "set" of the wrists. 

Playlists: Get More Distance

Tags: Not Enough Distance, Backswing, Concept, Intermediate

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This video is discussing lengthening your backswing.

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So sometimes golfers come into the site and their main priority is distance.

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Well there are two main ways that you can increase distance.

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One is to take whatever club has speed you've already got and transfer more of that speed

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into the golf ball, get more ball speed out of it and get more distance that way.

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That's especially important when you're looking at the driver and in order to do so

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you typically have to work on making really solid contact with a club face that's not

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changing loft quite as much down at the bottom because you've got the club face a little

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more close to the path and a little bit more lag or shaffling.

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Those help create compression which drives the ball further.

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But if you're already doing a decent job with that and you want to increase the amount

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of club heads speed then there's really only two ways that you can improve your club

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head as speed.

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One is to take your current pattern and just lengthen it so that you have more distance

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to apply force onto the golf club.

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Or two, the second one is to improve the sequencing and the total contribution of how

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your body is creating force.

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Now oftentimes that second one is a little bit of a rocky road at first.

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Some golfers really struggle with changing the way that they power their swing because

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power is such a reflexive activity.

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So for some golfers especially if you have a tendency to get really short kind of like this,

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one of the easiest ways to increase your club head speed is to lengthen your backswing.

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There are a few different ways that you can lengthen your backswing.

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One is if you try to increase the amount of rotation happening from your lower body down.

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So basically using letting your knees straightened or bend, letting your feet rotate a little

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bit and letting your hips rotate.

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So that your pelvis is facing more away from the target.

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This works really well for golfers who try to kind of lock their lower body in place.

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You see that that limits the amount of shoulder rotation I could get because I'm limiting

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my hip rotation.

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When it comes to the longer hitters the average is somewhere around 45-50 degrees of

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lower body or pelvis rotation and a lot of that is happening from the knees and the ankles.

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The second option is more from your spine.

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From your spine the main two things that are going to lengthen the backswing are extending the spine,

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which is actually happening more from the hips but we see it kind of at the spine.

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And the second one will be getting more of this chest rotation.

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So the spine extension or the hip extension changes my look from here to more there.

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So if I have a tendency to look like my chest is still pointing way down towards the ground.

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Even though my shoulders have reached almost 90 degrees because my chest is pointed

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down towards the ground I'm going to be limited in how much of a backswing I can really

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The difference between that and that is more what I'm doing in my spine and it can

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have a significant impact in my ability to create speed by lengthening the top of the

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In fact that's one of my go-to's when I have especially older golfers looking to get a

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quick 10-yard improvement or so.

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Now when you change your pivot like that it can throw off your timing in the short term

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but often times it's worth it in the long term to pick up the extra speed.

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The last one so we got your lower body we got your core and then the last one will be

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the arms.

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The two different ways you could increase basically lengthening your backswing are typically

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going to come from the shoulders or the wrists.

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So if I lock my wrists in place kind of like this you'll see that my swing has more

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of a 3-quarter look to it and because my wrists are really rigid I'm going to have a hard

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time creating some of this downward load or some of this trail wrist extension and get

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into a really good delivery position.

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I'll typically get into more of a delivery position like this and I was limited in

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how long of a backswing I created so it kind of impacts my speed creation two different

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The shoulders are the other option which is some golfers tend to get more of their arms

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working too much around their body and not enough up so if your arms stay more in front

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of your body but you tend to kind of bring them around kind of like this as opposed to lifting

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them slightly up in the backswing then that can limit your speed creation capabilities.

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So one fun just kind of exercise that you can do is playing around with the different

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three ways of increasing the length of your backswing and see if one of them has an impact

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on your club at speed without messing up your contact.

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I do recommend doing this with a launch monitor if you have access to one just because

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it's going to be hard for you to balance out all the possible changes so you may not see

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that you're actually increasing your club that's made if you just look at distance.

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So this is one of the games that I typically do on track man or on any of the even

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a swing radar would be an okay one for checking this.

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But you can play around with letting your hips go, letting your spine go, letting your wrists

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set a little bit more at the top and see if one of those has a bigger impact in your

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ability to lengthen your backswing.

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Worst case scenario if you don't have access to a radar you can always look at it from

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a face-on camera angle and you can see where how high are my hands getting as long

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as I'm not compromising my position so either too much sway off the ball, too much early

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extension of the spine, too much breaking down in the elbows.

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As long as I'm lengthening in a good way it should help to create more club that speed.

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So if you're in that second camp of trying to create more clubhead speed, lengthening

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your backswing is one of the easiest ways to do it and this discusses the major components

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of how you can actually accomplish that.

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So now we'll look at two different ones.

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So this first one will be my stock, just kind of my normal length swing.

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And that's just my comfortable kind of iron distance there.

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But then what we'll do next is you'll see I get more of my length from my spine and from

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a little extra wrist set.

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Now you'll be able to see I hit that reasonably solid and I got enough an extra

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of say seven to ten yards of carry with my eight iron here.

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So now this is something that I will practice so that on part five is in things where I want

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to get a little extra clubhead speed out of my driver I can add a little bit extra length

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for the backswing and give it a go if the hole is wide enough or open enough.

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So it's a good skill to have even if you decide that it's not worth the risk and you want

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to play safe most of the time or a little bit more controlled most of the time.

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At least now by knowing what the options are you'll have a little bit you'll have more

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strategy options that you could choose when you're deciding what to do on the course.

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And we'll let my legs go just for fun.

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