GOLF: How To Stay Centered During The Backswing

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How To Stay Centered During the Backswing

My swing philosophies are based on just watching the best players for a long period of time. When I first started analyzing swings I would do the old draw the circle around their head from face on and see where they would go relative to that circle. If you go back and watch great players throughout time, certainly some guys stay right in that circle. Some guys move off the circle a little bit more. I prefer a swing model where if you draw the circle around their head they remain relatively stable or a centered pivot.

So let’s talk about how to do that.

You have to realize that when you’re watching video, you see things two dimensionally and in reality, the movement pattern is three-dimensional. Andy Plumber and Mike Bennett from Stack and Tilt really popularized some of the terms and the three dimensional movements during the backswing. When you make a backswing in reality you turn to the right, there’s some amount of rotation, you are tilting to the left, and then you are extending.

If you start normal – or centered at set up – and you make a movement to the right or your head moves outside of that “circle,” you have too much forward flexion. That is, you are bent over too much from the top as you turn. You don’t have enough of the extension piece and typically not enough side bend. When you move off the ball, it’s typically forward flex. And a lot of times you guys and gals will pair that up with a very flat shoulder turn. The forward flexion is the part we have to get rid of.

One of the best drills that I have seen is to put a club across your shoulders. If I were to take my normal setup and I put the club across my shoulders when I make a backswing, I want to have the club point basically on the ball target line. This is more so for the left side bend part than the movement, but you’ll start to feel how that side bend goes in with your extension.

Maybe the best drill I’ve ever seen for keeping a steady head and eliminating the movement off the ball came from George Gankas. The sun’s got to be out for this shadow drill to work. Stand so the sun casts your shadow in front of you. Take a normal setup. You put a golf ball just below top of your head in the shadow. I put it right in the middle, meaning there’s an equal distance of the shadow to the left and an equal distance to the right. Now, when I make a pivot and I go up to the top, I want to keep that ball basically in the same spot as I go. So for me, that’s right in the middle. But for you, you might feel a drastic difference. You definitely can’t B.S. this drill.

Now, let’s go over some feels you can use. There is no right or wrong feel. Whatever produces the movement for you – If it produces what we want, then that’s good. If you’re someone who moves off the ball too much, the first thing that I would tell you to feel is more chest towards the sky. Some people like to feel a little bit more of a right shoulder, up and back. So, if I move off the ball, my right shoulder doesn’t really. If I stay more centered, I can feel my right shoulder going up and behind me right off the bat. There’s no movement to the right. Right shoulder goes up and back for me. I feel the chest go up towards the sky no matter what I do, so that’s my main feel, but right shoulder, up and back as a secondary way to do this.

If you move off the ball, typically your left shoulder is traveling to the right too much and usually too flat when you go back. So my right shoulder goes up and back. My left shoulder goes down and forward. But I’m saying if you move off the ball, you probably have too much of the forward motion, so you want to have a sensation to add the left side. Then like your left shoulder’s going almost down more down towards your left shoe.

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  1. The chest pointing to the sky drill creates so many good things in the swing.
    It produces more power, better turn, puts you on a more upright swing plane if it’s too flat
    which has been my crutch for years. The only thing that you would probably have to be
    aware of with the left shoulder pointing down is a reverse “C” on the follow through if you keep your weight on
    your right side too much. Shadow drill is genius. As usual, great videos Eric.

  2. Nice job. Very good explanation. Personally, i was lacking the extension part. Once i found it, i notice an increase in power too!

  3. Great video. Kudos for giving Gankas some well-deserved credit. You have a gift for explaining these modern rotational swing concepts in your own concise way. I would love to see more student lessons- particularly with adults. Thanks!

  4. This is an amazing video! Good work…. The shadow drill is something that my students will be using here in Denver! I never thought of this. Seriously, great video in getting shoulders on plane. This to me is one of the most critical concepts to sell students on.

  5. Hi Eric. Just went out side and did the shadow drill. I found I indeed moved right off the ball. Used the combination of extension of the thoracic spine, using the thought 'keep bent but chest higher' and left shoulder to the left foot and that worked great to keep me centered. So once again, a video with with great tips. Good job! Love it. Thanks for all you do for us amateurs struggling with the golf swing.

  6. Moving towards Stack&Tilt. That’s good because that’s a great way to play consistently 👍🏻

  7. I’ve gained a lot by this video. Greatly appreciate your content. You are at the top of my golf subscriber list.

  8. love the shadow drill, you can probably use that as a check mid-round too if the sun is out. Putting that one in the bag!

  9. The shadow drill is a great idea. In doors could use a spot light or light above and behind yourself. I just tried this in my garage and it worked well.

  10. I like the video. There is one thing that I think might go wrong while doing the steady head drill and that is moving the right hip away from the target. You got this down pretty good and internally rotate at the right hip socket causing it to slightly move towards the target.

  11. Great video. I am one who has constantly struggled with moving off the ball. As you mentioned my right side feels very passive and my right shoulder does not have a feeling off going up and behind me. I tend to collapse my right arm and get flat and restricted with the arms. I can make the move to stay centered without a club doing the drills you suggest but when I try to do it with a club, it is difficult in terms of my spatial awareness of the club/arms/hands. Could you offer a feeling of where the arms, hands and club should feel in space relative to the body as one tries to stay centered?

  12. Great video I have been working on this move it's made a difference. I wish I herd this thirty years ago.  ALL TIME BEST INSTRUCTION.

  13. So far this works great for irons. With driver, it's hard to do when I address the ball with a lean to the right. I'll keep working on that. With the irons, the contact is amazing.

  14. Thank you for your great videos. I really appreciate the concept of back extension in the backswing. I think that this concept combined with back extension in the follow through should prevent over the top moves. Could you make a video on that subject. Merci

  15. Hi Eric, it's a great info for me. And i think this wiil help me to hit behind. However, if my left shoulder aiming my left foot, I don't think I can have a 90 degree turn? Is that what I thinking is right? Thanks

  16. I have always had issues with being centred during my swings. Get's really frustrating! Thanks for the video and i have just subscribed to your channel

  17. G.Gankas adds also 2 balls at the hips level on the shadow (one on each side) to check that the hips also stay centered. It is no good to keep the head centered and let the hips moving away from the target for instance. It will help to have the complete feeling and not introduce a fault to succeed in keeping the head centered. Uh, at least, I think so… 😉