The chicken wing is an incredibly common motion that a lot of amateur golfers make. Maybe you’ve heard someone mention your “chicken wing” and wondered what that meant.
Or maybe you know what it is, but can’t see to get rid of it.
No matter where you’re at in the great chicken wing struggle, I think this article will help you out.
What is a Chicken Wing in Golf?
If you’re still a little confused about why we’re talking about a food item commonly found at a tailgate and how it relates to golf, let’s address that.
When we talk about the chicken wing in golf, it’s not the food or even the literal part of a bird. Instead, it’s the position of your front arm (left arm for a right-handed player), specifically in your follow-through. It’s called a chicken wing because your arm sort of looks like a chicken wing. Makes sense, huh?
Anyway, the arm looks like a chicken wing in how it bends. Typically, a chicken wing means that your elbow starts to bend and lift up while your wrist also bends. Neither of those things are helpful if you want to hit a golf ball well.
Now, you might ask, why is that so important since it happens after impact. Well, anything that happens after impact is a result of something that happens before or at impact, so it’s extremely important to get this correct.
Why is it important to Fix the Chicken Wing in your Golf Swing?
Like I said, it’s a result of something you’ve done before impact. In previous articles, I’ve talked about what the proper impact position ought to look like. You want to be hitting down into the ball and ground while rotating your wrists through impact.
Now, if you’ve got a chicken wing going on, it means that you’re lifting up at the ball and flipping, not rolling or rotating, your wrists at impact.
The result of the chicken wing impact position is that you might hit the ball fat or thin a lot. It also may result in shots that go a lot shorter than they should. Both of those things are issues that most golfers want to get corrected.
If you can make sure that your chicken wing is gone, then it’ll almost automatically improve your impact position, when the club face in coming into contact with the golf ball.
The Chicken Wing Fix
Now, before we talk specifically about how to eliminate the chicken wing, I want you to get a good sense for the incorrect and correct positions of your front arm.
- Imagine or do this with me, stand straight up with your arms down by your side.
- Lift your front forearm (left for a right-handed player), so it’s parallel to the ground, but keep your elbow by your side.
- Hold your hand straight out like you are shaking someone’s hand.
- Then, simply rotate your arm towards an imaginary target, so that your arm is pointing straight left.
- Your entire arm ought to make a “L” shape if someone were to view your straight-on. That’s the correct follow-through position.
A chicken wing, or incorrect position, is when that elbow moves away from the side of your body and up in the air. A lot of times that elbow will also move behind you.
Next, bend your wrist and point your fingers towards the imaginary target. Those are the two moves that make a follow-through incorrect, like a chicken wing. Can you see how this complicated bending of the arm creates a chicken wing look?
Let’s focus on the correct position for a second. It probably seems fairly easy to do without a club, but once you jump in to an actual swing at full-speed, things change.
The key to a good positon is keeping your elbow close to your side until the very end of your follow-through and rolling your wrist without bending it.
Drills To Get Rid Of The Chicken Wing
Again, that’s easier said than done though, right?
Here are some drills you can use to stop your chicken wing follow-through.
Arm On Bicep Drill
- First, grab a club and hold it in your front hand (left hand for a right-handed player).
- Then, take your back hand and grab your front bicep against your side.
- At this point, you ought to have your back arm reaching across your chest to brace that front bicep against your side.
- Then, take some really slow, half-golf swings with the one free arm.
As you hit the golf ball, you’ll notice that you won’t be able to create the chicken wing because the hand that is holding your arm won’t allow it. Hit small shots over and over this way until it becomes second-nature to resist the chicken wing.
Weaken Your Grip Drill
This drill isn’t for everyone, but sometimes when people are doing a chicken wing it’s because their grip is too strong. This doesn’t mean the grip pressure is too strong, but the position is too strong.
- Take your hands and together move them more on top of the grip.
- This will allow the club face to come through impact in a more open position and stop you from needing to chicken wing it to hit the ball straight.
Another thing you can do is:
- Grab a glove or a headcover and stick it under your lead arm, pinning it to your side.
- Then, take some small, slow swings without letting the object fall to the ground.
If you have a chicken wing, the object will fall to the ground shortly after impact.
Video Check Drill
Finally, I would encourage you to check out your swing on video, preferably in slow-motion to see what your arm looks like after impact.
- Set up a camera, so it is face-on as you hit some golf balls.
- Then, when you go to look at the video, check out the area between your armpit and elbow on your lead arm after impact.
If there is a bent elbow and increasing space between there, then your chicken wing is not gone and you should go back to the drills above.
There you have it; everything you need to correct the chicken wing!
As you can tell, it’s a very common mistake that amateur golfers make when hitting a golf ball. It can be very frustrating to fix, but if you understand what is happening and how to fix it, I’m sure you can get it straightened out.
Give the drills above a try and see your ball fly straighter and farther than ever before.