Golf Swing Forward Bend – The Concept

What is Forward Bend – PGA Professional Robin Symes explains forward bend, and how understanding this could help cure, head movement, tilting and improve your angle of attack.

Hi Robin here. There is three ways your body will move in the swing. One, rotation, second one the side bend which I explained, and the third one is forward bend. I briefly mentioned that but didn’t go into too much detail, how your body’s bent forward at address, and then that’ll change during the golf swing.
In the comments of that video, a lot of people expressed an interest in me explaining the forward bend in more detail, so I’m going to give that a go. But let me just say right now this is quite an advanced golf lesson, and I wouldn’t want too many people out there getting too confused with the detail of this. There’ll be some people this will be relative to, some people not, so if you don’t think it’s for you don’t get too confused here, put this down to helping your understanding about the golf swing, and perhaps at some point in the future when you’re having a lesson, this understating, this knowledge might help you relate, it might help you improve.
So what is forward bend? Let me explain. At address, your body is bent forwards about 40 degrees, approximately. Everybody will be slightly different, but about 40 degrees.
During the backswing, this forward bend will reduce. You can see it’s now gone up just to below parallel. So its, I say between five and 10 degrees in the positive.
If you were to keep 40 degrees of forward bend, same angle of club, you could see your head would get away of the golf ball, your angle of your upper body would be far too far to the right.
If you were to decrease your forward bend too much, into the negative this clubs above parallel, that would be a reverse span angle. You’d be tilting back towards the target. So those are two quite common swing faults. If you’re getting too far off the ball with your head, you’re probably keeping too much forward bend. If you’ve got a reverse span angle, you’re reducing your forward bend too much.
That could be a simple drill, setting up 40 degrees, and learn to rotate that parallel in the mirror. I can’t really tell you which one you’re doing, but again it might help your understanding.
So from the top of the backswing, you’re just, I say below parallel, this forward bend will increase again, coming back to about 40 degrees. This will happen just before impact when your body’s square to the target. But then through the ball, that forward bend will start to reduce again.
So at impact you are less than what you were at address, as a slightly straighter angle of your chest. This is quite crucial in creating the correct angle of attack. If you’re somebody who hits too much down on the golf ball, you’re probably keeping too much forward bend, that’s going to encourage you to hit too much down. There has to be a slight raising of your chest, increasing your forward bend, to create that upward hit with a driver or create that nice angle of attack with your irons.
If you’re keeping too much forward bend, again your head would probably be getting in front of the golf ball, there has to be a slight straightening, just that extending of your body. Again it’s quite advanced, but for some people this might be the missing part of the puzzle.
As we continue into the follow through, that forward bend will almost become opposite to what you were in the back swing, even straighter. So your upper body’s extended into a nice position where your back is nice and flat, not arched back, that would be decreasing too much, not particularly bent forward, your head would be way in front of the golf ball.
So that’s the detail of forward bend. So some people it’s going to be relative to, could be the missing piece of the jigsaw. Some people I think, don’t worry about it, I think you’re not probably at the stage where you need to think about that too much.
But if there’s one part of that, that’s a very general description, I’m not focusing really on one area. But if there’s one part of that which you think that could be the missing part to you, maybe the way your body’s moving in the backswing or the extension through the ball, don’t be afraid to leave a comment, ask me maybe, let me focus in on one area if you think that’s you. Because I’m interested to know what information you want, what information you think will help you, and let me know and I’ll try to put a video together for you.


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  1. Hi, Robin. Thanks for another great lesson.
    You mentioned suggesting what one might need help clarification with. If you don't mind, I have an issue I'd really like you to address.
    I have one flaw that leads to a couple of others.
    My right shoulder isn't in sync with my left shoulder. By that I mean, my left shoulder does a full turn behind the ball and my right shoulder doesn't go as far back. It doesn't turn freely unless I focus my turn on my right shoulder only.
    That leads to two other major flaws.
    My right elbow will often bend too much at the top on a full shot. 45%.
    And that extra bend means my left arm gets a bit too close to my body and my arms can't really fall freely. So during my downswing I need to put most of my focus on speeding my hands up so they get in front of my chest earlier instead of stuck behind, left arm close to the chest all the way down… My lower body out races my arms, poor compression.
    The best swing thought I have to counter this issue is keeping my hands on front of my chest for as long as possible on the way up.

    Would love to hear your opinion.


  2. This could be missing link for me is impact where my chest is too much forward bent. I need to do this drill

  3. Robin I really enjoy your videos and you know what your talking about! If the lowest arc of the swing is 4 inches past the golf ball why would I raise my forward bend at impact?

  4. great bit of instruction. understand  the principles; didnt really understand the changes in the degree of forward bend. can now appreciate it better. thank you.

  5. Great lesson as always…My problem is I straighten up at impact.
    Then I will hit towards the toe or even the heal of the club.
    When I try to keep my body angle at impact I sometimes hit it fat.
    If you can help me with this…I know its difficult without seeing my swing.
    thank you

  6. Robin, I'm a big fan and I appreciate your knowledge and communication style. I struggle with far too much secondary axis tilt (upper body leaning back) on the downswing. I hit a lot of blocks and hooks. Would you please offer some guidance on working my way out of the problem. Thanks very much, Mark

  7. Hello Robin. I am a bit too upright in my address and take away, however it results in compensating for it with an excessive forward bend through impact and after. This results in my chest and head quite a way ahead of the ball or ball position after impact. I like your thought of raising the chest a little at and after impact. Is there a drill that can help me work on this? Thanks for giving this some thought and look forward to your comments.

  8. Really clear explanation Robin! as you said it is advanced but that's what we have to do to swing consistent

  9. Thank you Robin. I am regularly revisiting "Forward bend and Side bend video" , since I found those are the crucial elements of power and consistency in golf swing. The more I understand the principle the more I could have the confidence in my swing. TopSpeedGolf by Clay Ballard made very similar videos. I think those are very important elements for beginners.

  10. Great video golf tips and lessons. I have tried pushing off my back foot to assist with the transfer of my weight. It certainly does that but all of my shots slice to the left. Do you think this has something to do with my head moving ahead of the ball as a result of the push (i.e. my head goes with my weight Shift. Thomas McDonald

  11. I like the videos on side and forward bend. Would like to see something on consisting chipping. Where do you teach.

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