Short Vs Long Backswing For Golf – Key Benefits Of Shortening The Swing
The golf swing is an extremely complicated movement. The length of your backswing has been a massive debate for years, in this article we will hope to answer any questions you have regarding the backswing length.
Your hands on the backswing should never be shorter than parallel with the ground and the clubhead should never travel past your left shoulder (right handed golfers).
My perfect spot would be when the shaft is parallel to the ground.
How Is Backswing Length Going To Affect Your Game?
Backswing length can affect a number of things in your swing, from distance, consistency, strike and height.
Short Backswing Overview
A backswing that is too short can affect a number of things in your swing.
Distance is heavily affected when your backswing is too short, you won’t be able to generate enough power to hit the ball a decent distance, a knock on effect from that would be height, without generating enough speed you won’t be able to get the ball up in the air, this will also cause the ball to not go very far.
Consistency and strike are also affected but not as much as distance and height.
Long Backswing Overview
A long backswing will affect your consistency and strike.
When the swing is too long it puts your timing and body out of sync. This will cause you to strike the ball poorly and in turn your consistency will drop.
Your distance will be affected too. Because your striking of the ball will be off it will affect how far you hit the ball.
What Causes You To Have A Short Backswing
For beginners the cause for having a short backswing is being hesitant, the golf swing can be a scary thing when starting off.
Beginners usually have a short backswing because they are hesitant to hit the ball.
In general, the main cause for having a short backswing is your physical ability. This is either from injury or mobility.
Shoulder, back, hip and leg injuries can all limit your ability to turn, your body needs to be able to turn to complete the backswing. Through injury if you cannot turn your body effectively it will be very difficult to get into the correct positions.
The other cause is mobility, this is basically the effects of range of motion in your joints and muscles. Some of us are born with limitations or limited range of motion.
Through stretching this can potentially be beneficial in gaining more range of motion in your joints and muscles, from this it will be easier to complete your backswing and get into better, more powerful positions.
If you have a short backswing I suggest seeing a Bio Kineticist that specializes in golf, or see someone that is TPI trained. They will be able to identify any physical issues you might have and suggest ways to improve.
What Are The Benefits Of A Shorter Swing
I would never suggest having a backswing that is too short, there are no benefits to it at all, however having a backswing that is slightly shorter has a few.
There are a few Tour Professionals that have shorter than normal backswings, they are Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia just to name a few. This is not to say they have a backswing that is too short, it is just slightly shorter than normal.
The benefit of this would be consistency, having a slightly shorter swing is going to produce more consistent shots, however you may lose distance as you aren’t able to generate enough power, the way to counteract this is to use your lower body really well.
By using your legs and the ground you are able to generate the power lost if not more from having a slightly shorter backswing.
What Are The Disadvantages
The clear disadvantage of a short backswing is the loss of distance, the lack of ability to generate speed and height will cause the ball to lose distance.
Inconsistency and strike will also play a role but not as much as distance.
Having said that, the Tour Players that have swings that are slightly shorter than normal do not struggle with any of these things.
Firstly their swings are not too short and they use their lower half of their body extremely well.
What Causes You To Have A Long Backswing
The misconception in golf and especially in beginners is that, the longer you swing the club the further you will hit it.
This can never be so far from the truth. Yes a longer swing can generate more speed, but it can cause inconsistencies in timing and strike, and actually cause loss of distance.
It’s been proven that most of the speed in the downswing is generated from when the hands get parallel with the ground, to impact. This means having your backswing past parallel won’t have any benefit in helping you hit it further.
The other cause is actually being too flexible, this is seen more in juniors and women golfers more than men. Flexibility in golf is incredibly important, but over extension can cause poor timing, inconsistent strikes and loss of distance.
What Are The Benefits
To be brutally honest, there are no benefits to having a backswing that is too long.
Having a swing that is longer than a short backswing will probably lead to more distance though.
From all the years of playing I have never seen someone that over swings the club to have any advantage on the course, the only two exceptions are John Daly and Bubba Watson.
What Are The Disadvantages
The disadvantages outweigh the advantages by far, loss of distance, inconsistency in strike and poor timing are all disadvantages of having a backswing that is too long.
Who Should Use A Long Backswing?
We do not recommend a long backswing to anyone, there are no benefits at all to having a backswing that is too long, it can only harm your game.
Having a swing as long as possible while keeping your form will be great for distance.
Who Should Use A Short Backswing?
If you struggle with control, shortening your backswing can have some good benefits, your timing might be out for a while, because your body will have to move completely differently, but once you get used to it you will see a big difference in consistency.
Remember not to go too short or it will start to harm your game more than benefit it.
A short backswing can also benefit senior golfers. This will put less strain on their bodies, helping them play pain free golf.
Benefits Of A Short Backswing For Seniors?
A short backswing for seniors can be extremely beneficial for physical reasons, senior golfers generally have poor flexibility, and trying to have a full swing could cause health problems.
Making sure you have a strong clubface and use your lower body as much as possible will help with distance.
A senior flex shaft can also create more speed if you are really struggling to lengthen your backswing with old age.
Who Should Use A Super Short Backswing?
We do not recommend this to anyone. As we have mentioned above, having a backswing that is too short has no benefits and can really harm your game.
What Kind Of Backswing Do Pros Use?
Generally Tour Professionals’ backswings go to parallel with the ground.
This is the most common backswing and gives you the best combination of power and control.
Tips To Lengthen Your Backswing?
A common cause of a backswing that is too short is when your swing is too flat.
Your hands and clubhead are too far behind you, this doesn’t allow you to swing all the way back.
Try to get your hands and clubhead more in front of you, this will allow you to turn your shoulders more and complete your backswing.
Not hinging your wrists can also affect the length of your swing. Hinging your wrists correctly is a quick way to lengthen your swing.
Lastly, not rotating your upper and lower body will cause you to have a short backswing, you need to rotate your shoulder and turn your hips, this automatically will help to lengthen your swing.
Stretches That Might Help?
- Take a golf club, while standing use the club to balance swing your left leg back and forth
- Repeat 10 times
- Switch the club over and do your other leg
This drill is great to improve your flexibility and open up your hip flexors, this will improve your hip turn on your backswing. It will also improve your balance.
- Kneel down on the ground
- Place your right foot forward
- Move your pelvis forward, this should stretch your muscle in your left thigh
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 4 times
- Switch legs and do the same on the other side
This will increase your flexibility in your thighs and stretch your hip flexors, again, this will help your hip turn and lengthen your backswing.
- Hold a golf club parallel to the ground with two hands out in front of you
- While standing in your golf posture, place the club behind your shoulders
- Rotate your shoulders like you would in a backswing and follow through
- Repeat 5/6 times
This helps stretch your shoulders and opens up your back muscles. Again this is going to help your turn more and lengthen your backswing.
Strong Grip For A Short Backswing?
Having a strong grip will help in most instances.
The stronger grip will help with less spin allowing the ball to roll out more. This in turn will give you more distance.
Because the short backswing will give you less distance naturally, having a strong grip can help you get some distance back.
How Can I Get More Distance With My Short Backswing?
Use those legs! To gain distance with a short backswing you need to use your legs.
When you watch the Tour Professionals that have a short backswing, you will see they use their legs really well. This helps with gaining power and distance.
When you use your legs you push off the ground, this action increases your clubhead speed. More clubhead speed means more distance.
Are There Training Aids Or Shafts To Shorten Back Backswing?
Unfortunately not. There are not really training aids or equipment that can help shorten the backswing.
The best thing you can do is a drill, here are two drills you can try on the range, course or even at home.
When your swing gets too long, a common cause is your right elbow (right handed golfer) bends to much.
On your backswing try to keep your right elbow as straight as possible, it is ok for it to bend a little, this will prevent you from over swinging.
Another way to think of it is, try to keep your hands as far away from your head as possible on the backswing.
Over rotation in the shoulders is another common cause of over swinging.
This is when the shoulders turn past 90 degrees. Grab an alignment stick or golf club, place it across your chest with your arms crossed.
Turn your shoulders and don’t let the left side of the stick cross the middle of your stance. This represents the perfect shoulder turn.
This drill gives you a visual representation of how much your shoulders should be turning. After a few turns, try to do the same movement while hitting a shot.
There are so many things that affect your golf shot, many of us forget that the length of your swing has a big impact too. Having a backswing that is too long can impact your strike, consistency, timing and distance.
Many people think that swinging longer will increase distance, but it actually has the opposite effect. It affects your timing and strike which will in turn cause you to lose distance.
A backswing that is too short can also have a negative effect on your game. A backswing that is too short will mainly affect distance as you cannot generate enough power.
Somewhere in the middle is the optimum place to be. The rule of thumb is to at least have your hands past parallel to the ground and not have the clubhead past parallel to the ground once you get to the top.
This gives you some room to work with.