There’s a fairly common issue that amateur golfers run in to that isn’t talked about a whole lot. It’s often referred to as “getting stuck in your down swing.”
You might’ve heard it mentioned on television when watching a professional event or an instructional show.
Basically, it means that a player has gotten the club too far behind them, or to the inside, and there isn’t enough time or space for them to get their hands to the correct impact position.
We’ve talked about it a little before in other articles, but I’ll say it again, the impact position is one of, if not the number one, most important parts of the golf swing. If a player can get the impact position correct, then chances are almost 100% that they’ll hit a good shot.
Now, that being said, it’s also almost impossible to have a good impact position if your hands get stuck in your down swing.
Now, you might be asking, “How do I know if I’m getting stuck in my backswing?”
One is an overcompensation and the other is a failure to execute at all. Another thing you might see if you’re getting stuck in the down swing is the dreaded shank. Getting stuck will often lead to hitting the hosel of the club rather than the face.
Why People Get Stuck In The Down Swing
So, if any of those things are your issue from time to time, then this article may be perfect for you. The first thing we need to discuss is why people get stuck in their down swing. There are a couple reasons why a golfer may get stuck in their down swing.
- Standing Too Close to the Ball
- Too Much Weight on the Back Foot
- Closed Alignment
The first one is that they might be standing too close to the golf ball at address. For some reason, this is super common in amateur golfers. A lot of people naturally feel more comfortable standing too close to the golf ball. One thing to remember, it might be comfortable at the address position, but we’d all rather feel a little uncomfortable at address if it means hitting a solid shot.
Next, a golfer might get stuck in their downswing because they have too much weight on their back foot. This is also a super common thing for amateur golfers to do. Most people’s natural thought is that, in order to get the ball up in the air, I need to get behind it and lift it up in the air. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, it’s very wrong.
When a player gets their weight too much on their back foot in the down swing, they tend to tilt their spine back as well. This spine tilt doesn’t allow the hands to release through the ball at impact. Without the releasing, or rotating through of the hands, the club gets stuck and it results in one of the bad shots I mentioned above.
Finally, you might be getting stuck if your alignment is closed. When I say “closed” I mean that your front foot is typically too far forward, or closer to the ball than the back foot. This positioning of your feet allows your hands to rotate too far inside and not close down on the other end, therefore getting stuck in the downswing.
How To Stop Getting Stuck In The Downswing
Now that we know why a golfer might get stuck in their downswing, let’s discuss how to stop getting stuck. I think you’ll find that the fixes to these issues are fairly simple.
Setup the Correct Distance from the Ball
First, since one of the reasons you might be getting stuck is that you’re standing too close to the ball, you may need to take a step away from the ball at address. Be careful with this one though! Since not everyone is the same, it’s not as simple as just saying, “step away from the ball.”
Instead, you want to make sure that you’re the right distance from the ball. For your irons, you want to make sure that you can pass your back hand between your front thigh and your front hand. I’ve heard other instructors say that there should be a pop-can sized gap between the butt of your club and your front leg. They are both about the same distance.
This distance away from that ball will allow your hands to come through impact without much trouble. If you’re hitting your driver, the distance will be about double the distance of an iron from club to leg.
Getting Your Weight Forward at Impact
Next, probably the most difficult change to make, is getting your weight moving forward on to your front leg through impact. If you can make sure you have at least 50% of your weight, if not more, on your front foot at impact, then you should be in a better position to release the club in the downswing and not get stuck.
Since we also talked about spine tilt in the section above, that’s another thing to consider. You want to maintain your spine angle throughout the entire golf swing until impact. If you can keep the same spine angle, you’ll have a better chance of getting unstuck in your downswing.
You can also think about keeping your spine straight. The moment you tilt it backward, more than you were at address, is the moment you’ll get stuck in the downswing and hit a push, duck-hook, or shank.
Finally, you want to make sure you’re aligned properly. Alignment, in my opinion, is one of those things that is super important that people don’t talk about enough. Not only that, but you can set it and forget it.
If you get aligned properly at the beginning of the swing, you don’t have to think about it anymore. Just set it and forget it!
There are a lot of people out there that say you should get aligned to the target by pointing your shoulders towards the target. This is 100% false. Your clubface should be pointed at the target, but because your body is to the left or right of the ball (depending on your dexterity), then your shoulders will be pointed parallel left or right of the target as well.
When we align our shoulders to the target, our feet tend to follow suit. This only causes the feet to set closed. So, we want to make sure that the shoulder and feet line are pointing parallel left of the target (for a right-handed player). Both those lines should be parallel to each other and parallel to the target line.
Drills To Avoid Getting Stuck In The Downswing
Now that we know the what, why, and how of getting stuck in your downswing, let’s discuss some drills you can use to learn these concepts and hit better golf shots.
Arm Hang Drill:
The first drill is a simple arm hang drill. What’s nice about this drill is that you can do it before every shot if you need to. We talked about the proper distance between the leg and the butt of the club above, but another way to make sure you’re the right distance from the ball is to let your arms hang naturally.
- Basically, for this drill, set up to a shot like you normally would.
- Then, drop your club or rest it against one of your legs. Keep everything in your address position the exact same.
- Next, relax every muscle from your shoulder down to your fingertips.
- Let your arms hang naturally down to the ground. When your arms hang naturally, that’s where you should grip the club.
This will also promote a proper spine angle. If your spine is too straight-up, then your arms will hang next to your sides. If your spine is too bent, then you’ll have more than a pop-can size between your hands and legs. Lastly, grip the club, keeping your arm muscles as loose as possible.
Spine Angle Drill:
For this drill, you need to take a video of your swing from a down-the-line angle and a face-on video.
- Try to take a slow-motion video if possible.
- Then, when you watch your swing from the down-the-line angle, either draw a line on your spine or imagine a line there.
- That line ought to stay the same the entire time until after impact. For the face-on video, you’re looking for the same thing, but the spin will be a straight line up and down. In order to fix a bad spine move, stand at address without a ball or club.
- Then, take a club and hold it against your spine. It ought to touch your spine in three places, your head, middle of the back (between shoulder blades), and tailbone.
- Make a rotation, simulating a swing, and check your spine at different points to make sure you are staying straight.
Finally, the alignment drill is one that every golfer should be doing when they practice on the range, whether they have alignment issues or not.
- Lay a club down your feet line and just outside the ball, down the target-line.
- Hit some shots, making sure that both of those lines stay parallel.
- Also, occasionally lift your club across your shoulders to make sure that your shoulder line is also parallel to the other two lines as well.
Ask a friend to view the three lines for you to make sure they are all parallel. Sometimes it’s easier for another person to see that in the moment than yourself.
There you have it! If you have a problem with big push-slices, duck-hooks, or shanks off the hosel, you might be getting stuck in your downswing.
Getting stuck is an issue that a lot of amateur golfers have and it can be super frustrating because it feels like you’re doing everything correct, but the ball isn’t flying correctly.
So, if that’s you, I know these tips will help improve your game, almost immediately. You’ll see that, in no time at all, your ball is flying farther and straighter than ever.