SOLUTION 7 in our golf article series addressing swing faults found in our free EBOOK: Swing Evaluation for Golfers Over 50
There is one more position that we want to check at the top of your backswing. We need to check the alignment of your right forearm and elbow.
At the top of your backswing, the right elbow needs to be tucked in so that your right forearm is in line with your torso, or primary spine angle, instead of an elbow up or chicken wing position. We see this most often in golfers who grew up playing a lot of baseball…”keep your elbow up” as my dad used to tell me.
Here is the correct elbow position at the top of your backswing:
With golfers over 50, this can be a difficult position to get into because you need nearly 90 degrees of right shoulder external rotation.
If you have ever experienced a rotator cuff injury or surgery, you know that 90 degrees of shoulder rotation can be difficult to reach.
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 unable to get into that position, you will be physically unable to align your forearm correctly in the backswing and golf lessons may not help you.
Here is a golf stretch that will fix your swing fault:
Check out this video Increase Golf Swing Speed with This Backswing Fix on my merchant youtube page to train the correct right arm position in backswing.
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
Ok, there are several golf training aids out there to help you correct a flying elbow. I will show you one I don’t like and one that I like.
Without naming any specific product, 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 Swing Extender
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 and retails for only $39.95
Thanks for reading!!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of PHysical Therapy
Licensed Golf Performance Specialist