If you struggle with a flat shoulder plane and poor contact, we’re here to help with advice on how to add side bend in the golf swing.
Having the right amount of bend will help you reduce your slice, add more distance, and become a better ball striker… which will likely have a massive impact on your golf game.
Most golfers take the club shaft too far back on the inside plane on the backswing. This leads to moving the right shoulder up and away from the target. Which can make it nearly impossible to rotate properly and swing from the inside to compress the golf ball.
We’ll address how to fix this issue and a few training aids you can use on the driving range to fix it quickly.
Side Bend in Golf Swing
Here’s how to think of side bend… start by standing upright with your arms at your sides. Then, move your left arm down past your left hip to reach your left knee without moving your hip forward.
The key is to not move your hips laterally at all or let your chest move forward either. It should feel similar to an oblique crunch and lengthens the other side of your body.
Then, rotate your body so your left hand is touching your right knee – this position represents side bend. But keeping this bend throughout the swing is easier said than done.
- Side bend is needed during the swing to make solid contact consistently.
- Most golfers lose side bend early in the backswing which leads to a steep downswing and poor ball striking.
- When you have proper side bend, it makes it easier to have a steeper backswing, which leads to a more shallow downswing.
- Too much head movement – both laterally and away from the ball – is a sign of losing side bend in the swing.
Keep reading to learn more about side bend and the impact it has on your golf swing.
Side Bend is a Backswing Killer
According to Eric Cogorno Golf (who has amassed more than 250,000 subscribers on YouTube) the number one backswing killer move is a lack of left side bend. So if you don’t like your ball striking – side bend (or lack thereof) might be to blame.
Think about it, we start off in the golf posture with our back bent over the golf ball. Some players are more upright than others while others prefer to have a lot more spine tilt. But regardless of how much you’re over the ball, good contact comes from minimizing the spine moving during the swing.
If you rotate around your body, you will most likely make the correct weight transfer, load up on your backside, and hit the ball flush. However, if you move your spine angle during your backswing or downswing, this can lead to some serious issues – such as thinning or topping shots.
As Eric demonstrates in the video, most everyday golfers take the club too far inside on the takeaway which leads to no left side bend. Which causes players to make adjustments on the downswing to even hit the golf ball and not whiff it entirely.
Left Side Bend vs. Right Side Bend
Since 90% of people are right-handed, let’s focus on these players to understand the importance of side bend. Because it’s not just one side of your body – you need right and left side bend.
As Eric and the other coach said in the YouTube video above, “For you to have good right side bend, which is so key during the downswing, you have to in fact have left side bend during the backswing.”
This is arguably the most important part of this article… without left side bend in the backswing, you won’t have right side bend on the downswing. Which is the key to making consistent contact and finding the sweet spot.
After writing countless articles and playing golf for 20+ years one thing is for sure – the backswing sets up the downswing. If you want to hit it better on drives, approaches, and even chip shots, fixing something in the backswing is the key to success.
Think about it, the backswing takes 3X as long as the downswing (in terms of perfect tempo and timing). Yet, golfers try to fix their downswing when it happens in a flash. As mentioned in the book Tour Tempo, most professional golfers have a swing that takes a second or less!
Needless to say, it’s nearly impossible to try to change something that is happening that fast. But since the backswing takes more time, there is more opportunity to address and issue that can lead to a better downswing.
Incorrect Side Bend
As Eric mentioned in the video, most golfers have a “bad” side bend which happens from the left high shoulder on the takeaway. This leads to no side bend and can move the head off the starting position which will require perfect timing during the downswing to get it back.
From this position it’s almost inevitable to get steep, over the top, and/or drop the head. Which can lead to thin and fat shots that don’t have nearly as much distance as possible.
Proper Side Bend
The opposite feeling is having a good side bend throughout the swing. This starts with feeling left side bend on the backswing (feeling almost a left side crunch).
The best way to see if you’re in this position is to record your swing with a face on view. Your left shoulder should move toward your belt line so you’re rotating around your body… not swaying. Which is another move that takes your head away from the original position and requires timing to make good contact.
From this angle, you can also see the head position. While it’s okay to move your head slightly, it shouldn’t be moving laterally back and away from your target. Draw a circle around your head and watch it during the swing to see if you’re losing side bend on the backswing.
Shift Your Lower Body First
As Luke Kerr-Dineen pointed out in Golf Digest, most golfers suffer from a pesky slice from incorrect sequencing. “Pros generally shift their weight toward the target during their transition and begin rotating around their lead leg, but many amateur golfers start their downswing not with a shift, but simply by turning too soon.
With their weight still on their trail leg, turning too soon with their upper body drags the club over the top, and when paired with an open clubface, carves the ball out to the right.”
I think this happens because so many of us hear, “Start the downswing by rotating your hips.” Which isn’t bad advice – but one important piece is left out… you need to transfer your weight at the same time. Otherwise, if you rotate but don’t transfer your weight, you’ll spin out of the shot and lose out on tons of power.
Having the right amount of side bend can help. As Luke elaborated in the same article, “That’s the magic move that creates side bend. Shifting your lower body toward the target on the downswing while keeping your torso back. It’ll be a lot harder to slice the ball from that position.”
Try These Training Aids
While there are a ton of great training aids for your full swing, these two can help with proper right shoulder and left shoulder movement.
If you struggle with your weight transfer, the Pressure Plate from Why Golf might help you out. This board – which I refer to as an adult teeter totter – makes it easy to feel the right weight shift in your swing.
As you balance on the board, you will press down the right side on the backswing. To start the downswing you will push down with your lead foot which ensures you transfer your weight properly. From this position you can transfer your weight, maintain side bend, and hopefully shallow the club in the process.
Learn more about the Pressure Plate here.
Planemate Swing Trainer
I think the Planemate can help with side bend the most. This aid – which was created by Tour Striker Academy, founded by Martin Chuck – is a game changer for the everyday golfer. While the device is a little bulky, it can do wonders for your swing.
The way it’s designed makes it easier to take the club back more on an outside plane. Which makes it easier to get steeper on the backswing (aka keep your left side bend) so that you can shallow with right side bend on the downswing.
Plus, the device is easy to use, works when hitting golf balls, or a practice swing session at home. If you lose side bend in your swing, try this device out 50–100 practice swings a day and see how much it can help get you into better positions.
Check out the full article here.
When executed properly, using the tips and training aids from above here’s how everything should look if you want to analyze your swing.
- Minimal head movement in the swing.
- Lead arm helps more of an outside takeaway to keep left side bend. This leads to more right side bend on the downswing.
- Weight off trail foot and into the left leg left foot to start the downswing for better compression and better rotation at impact position.
FAQs About Side Bend and Golf Posture
Do you have more questions about getting the right amount of bend and ideal posture in the swing? If so, keep reading to learn more now.
How important is side bend on the downswing?
Right side bend is crucial in the backswing and downswing. It’s one of the keys to making an in-to-out swing and hitting it straigther than ever.
How do you add a side bend in the golf swing?
Side bend is something that occurs at the beginning of your swing and needs to stay during the entire swing. When golfers get out of posture, this is when side bend leaves and bad shots occur frequently.
Is side bend good or bad?
Side bend is needed in the golf swing. To shallow the club and compress your irons, you need right side bend on the downswing. However, this is only possible if you have enough left side in your backswing.
Too many golfers pull the club back on an inside plane, which leads to a high shoulder, and a steep downswing. To maintain side bend you need a more neutral takeaway which makes it easier to produce an inside out downswing.
Side bend isn’t talked about nearly enough but it plays a big role in your ball striking – especially with irons and wedges. If you hit a lot of thin shots or get very steep on the downswing, make sure to evaluate your side bend.
The easiest way to check this is using the method mentioned above by recording your swing from a face on angle. You can easily see if your head moves which is typically a sign of lack of side bend.
If you notice this is an issue, make sure to feel it even more in practice to keep your head in a neutral position. As a lot of instructors like to say, “Feel isn’t real.” Even if it feels like you have a ton of side bend, you might not have as much as you think.
In practice, it’s important to feel more of whatever you’re doing -whether that’s side bend, outside takeaway, stronger grip, etc. – so you can get in the correct positions.
During the backswing don’t forget you need to get steep with the golf club so that you can get shallow. Unfortunately, most everyday golfers struggle and get shallow on the backswing, which leads to a steep downswing.
But as the Golf Digest article mentioned, early extending and slicing the ball isn’t always a right hip or right elbow issue. A lot of times it’s from not leaving weight back on their right leg! You must shift your weight forward and rotate your lower body like a PGA Tour player
So many amateurs can benefit from better posture and maintaining it throughout the swing. Soon enough you’ll be swinging like Tour players and create a reliable, great golf swing.