How to Create the Perfect Golf Backswing

Mar 29, 2024
golf backswing

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Crafting the perfect golf backswing is a never-ending pursuit. It takes a balanced combination of skill, technique, kinesthetic awareness, mobility, flexibility and strength. An athletic cocktail, to say the least. But the payoff, an elegant backswing that preps your shot for more power, distance and accuracy, is something we’re all constantly yearning for. 

This article will give you some simple bits of advice on how to perform a perfect golf backswing.

Golf Backswing Technique & Muscle Action

A good golf backswing starts with a proper address position. This is the starting position of your swing. Here’s some tips on how to approach it:

  • Feet are a bit wider than shoulder width apart and square to the ball; toes facing forward
  • Knees are slightly bent to load the hips and thighs; arms are straight
  • Back and neck should be in a straight line with your eyes affixed on the ball

If you’ve followed everything above, you’ll be in something approximating the position pictured below:

Address position. (Credit: Adobe Stock)

From here, you're ready to start your takeaway—the initial pull away from the ball and start of the golf backswing. Your shoulders initiate this movement, so if you're a right-handed golfer (which most of us are; for lefties, simply reverse what follows), they will begin rotating to the right, with the arms, torso and hips trailing behind in one smooth and coordinated sequence. 

Muscles in your core, particularly the obliques (located on the side of your abdomen), twist your torso in this direction. The muscles that run along your spine (erector spinae) resist this rotation, helping you to control the movement. It is the balance between these opposing forces that determines the smoothness with which your backswing is executed.

The lower body should remain relatively stable during this time. Weight begins to shift from your front to back leg as the motion continues. This loads the back leg’s hamstrings, bending the knee slightly, supporting it, and stabilizing the hips, at the same time. All of the above combined characterizes what is sometimes referred to as the loading phase

Carried to their natural ends, you reach the top/end of the backswing—the final moment before the downswing begins (pictured below).

Top of the backswing. (Credit: Adobe Stock)

Short Backswing vs. Traditional Backswing

Traditionally, golf instruction emphasized a full backswing, where the club is brought parallel or even beyond parallel to the ground. While this approach can generate significant power, it also introduces complexity and can lead to inconsistency, especially for beginner-amateur golfers.

A short backswing focuses on a more compact motion, where the club is brought back only as far as necessary to generate sufficient power and maintain control. This approach minimizes unnecessary movements and promotes consistency in the swing, and is often employed by golfers at all levels; sometimes intentionally, and sometimes inadvertently.

There are several advantages that come with the short backswing in golf, especially in the short game. But it’s less versatile overall, and has a lot of limitations on longer-distance shots. Apart from golfers being less experienced, mobility restrictions in their necks, backs and hips are often responsible for choosing a short backswing over a full one.

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Golf Backswing Mobility

A common area of tightness that golfers have, especially as they age, is in their thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is your mid-upper back, which is often rather hunched or rounded forward in people nowadays. Office work, driving, and sitting in general put our spines chronically into this position, and the muscles around our vertebrae tighten up as a result.

Having a stiff thoracic spine has a number of negative effects on your golf backswing. A lot of rotation should be coming from your mid-back, but if it’s too tight to do so, the rotation has to come from somewhere else. What usually happens is an overreaching and overstretching of the shoulders, a mechanism of many shoulder injuries in golfers.

The same thoracic spine tightness can cause problems in the lower back and neck, so let’s do something to fix it. Here’s 2 stretches you can try today to help loosen up your back for better mobility, both on and off the course.

Tabletop Thoracic Twist

Instructions:

  • Start on all fours in a kneeling position
  • Raise one hand and place it behind your back (picture 1)
  • Open your chest, rotating through the thoracic spine and raising your bent elbow to the sky
  • Once you reach your end range, pause for a split second before reversing the movement
  • As you bring your elbow back down, reach it underneath you slightly to flex and twist the thoracic spine in the opposite direction
  • Repeat this movement back and forth for 10 reps or 30-45 seconds on the same side
  • Switch arms and repeat

Child’s Pose Twist

Instructions:

  • Get into child’s pose by sitting back onto your heels with splayed knees, arms outstretched in front of you
  • Move your hands to one side and reach away from your hips, bending the spine and opening up that whole half on your torso
  • Hold here for 30-60 seconds
  • Move to the other side
  • Hold for another 30-60 seconds

Strength Training for Your Golf Backswing

Since flexibility and mobility tend to provide the most benefits when it comes to improving swing technique and power, your strength training should reflect this, as well. Intelligent exercise selection is key to the success of any training program. Here’s an example of an exercise that both strengthens and mobilizes the mid-back simultaneously.

Dynamic Y-Raise w/Pole or Golf Club

Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding a pole (such as a broomstick) or one of your clubs
  • Hinge at the hips and bend forward with a slight bend in the knees until the pole reaches just past them (picture 1)
  • While holding this position with your torso, reach the pole overhead as far as you can (picture 2)
  • Then, stand up, finishing with the arms extended and pole straight overhead
  • Bring the pole back down to your hips, then repeat the sequence
  • Perform 10 times

Mobility, Strength & Injury Prevention for Golfers

We’ve only just barely covered the golf backswing and some ways to go about improving it. If you’re looking for tailored training to help you stay injury-free and golf better than ever before, then you need Dynamic Golfers. Our app and online platform is used by thousands of golfers worldwide—why not be one of them? Sign up for a 7-day free trial by clicking here!

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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