SOLUTION 7 in our golf article series addressing swing faults found in our free EBOOK: Swing Evaluation for Golfers Over 50
At the apex of your back swing, the trail elbow needs to be pointing downwards so that your trail fore-arm is in line with your torso, instead of an elbow like a baseball players, otherwise known as a chicken wing position. We see this most often in golfers over 50 due to increasing stiffness in their right shoulder.
Here is the correct forearm alignment with the elbow pointing to the ground:
Examine Your Shoulder
With more senior golfers, full shoulder external range of motion is commonly limited. To achieve the “perfect” position, you need 90 degrees of external rotation. However, even if full motion is out of reach, the closer you can get to it the easier it will be to swing on plane and eliminate the steep, pulling/slicing swing caused by a flying back elbow.
You can test yourself by standing with your back against a wall. Extend your arms straight out to the side along the wall like a cross.
From this position, can you bend your elbows, making a 90 degree angle at the elbow while keeping your elbows AND wrist touching the wall? If you are able to attain this position WITHOUT arching your back, you have full motion. If not, keep reading because we can help!!
Here is a golf stretch that will fix your swing fault:
Check out this short instructional video
From a pure mechanics perspective, the best way to fix a flying right elbow is to:
1. Take your normal backswing and stop at the top of the backswing
2. Point your right elbow down straight down to the ground
3. To help you feel the correct position, you can tuck a rolled or folded hand towel under your right armpit. If your right elbow is flying out, the towel will fall at the top of your backswing. Try to keep the towel in place. The towel SHOULD fall out on your follow through swing.
Here is a picture of Tiger in ideal backswing position. Notice the right elbow is pointing to the ground.
Training Aid Fixes
There are many training aids that will help you correct this deficit. However, one in particular will help you correct the problem much, much faster than the others. Lets start with the ones that are not my favorite.
The training aids that I DO NOT LIKE are ones that STRAP your forearms or upper arms together. I have found them to be less effective because golfers tend to train the wrong muscles in response to the force placed on them by the training device.
The Impact Ball
The best training aid I have used to correct a flying elbow is the Impact Ball.
You place the ball in between your forearms and have to use the correct muscles to hold it in place during your swing. It is simple and easy to use.
In addition, I have played a round with rolled up towels, squish balls, and dog toys (true story) to find a cheaper way to fix the issue. But all of these have been frustrating to use. The Impact Ball is form fitted and will safe you a lot of stress!!
Thanks for reading!!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of PHysical Therapy
Licensed Golf Performance Specialist