Is your game stagnating? Are you getting frustrated that your shots aren’t as consistent as they once were?
Perhaps you’ve pulled a muscle with a particularly powerful shot, or maybe you just need some pointers about how to improve your overall game.
These things will happen to all of us at some point in our golfing careers. A lot of the time, these setbacks are caused by holding tension in the golf swing sequence.
Golf is about easy flow. Being able to consistently and smoothly guide the ball to its destination, rather than tensing and smacking it as hard as they can down the fairway.
However, as most golfers know, this is easier said than done. Tension in the golf swing can be tricky to overcome, so we’ve formulated a few simple tips to help you on your way.
Let’s get into it!
7 tips to eliminate tension in the golf swing
Time to look at our tips for relieving tension in the golf swing!
Underpinning each of these tips is the goal of relaxing before you swing. Not an easy feat, but one that pays off in bucket-loads if you’re able to achieve it.
Further, these simple tricks are bound to improve not only your shot consistency but your longevity with the sport, as holding tension in the golf swings you make is likely to lead to injuries, studies show.
While this might seem obvious, relaxing during your game is arguably the most useful change you can make.
Once you’re teed up and ready to get into position, take a deep breath in and out and feel the air leaving your body.
The rise and fall of your chest as you breathe deeply will naturally relax your shoulders, which is where most of the tension in the golf swing is held when taking a shot.
Just taking the brief moment to take a deep breath and refocus on the flow of your swing will calm your nerves and do wonders for relieving tension.
#2: Hold a Wooden Tee between your teeth
This tip may sound a little silly, but trust us – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
At times that you feel your pre-swing or swing is becoming increasingly tense, a useful indicator of how much tension you’re exerting is to take a tee between your teeth.
If you take a couple of practice swings with the tee in your mouth, you’ll instantly become more aware of how you’re clenching your jaw and mouth. This then tells you how much tension you’re holding and how this is creeping throughout your body.
(Pro tip – try not to bite down so hard you chip a tooth . . .)
The idea is to relax your jaw, which will in turn take some of the tension out of the rest of your swing.
#3: Take A long look at where you’re aiming
Rather than taking a long, focused look at the goal, many golfers tend to instead take multiple, quick glances at the flag, or down the fairway to where they’re aiming.
We might expect a golfer to look like this while taking a shot, but how helpful is it?
Taking one long look at where you want the ball to go, rather than constant glances, will allow you more time to focus on your form and keep your eye on the ball.
A long, focused look will keep you present and focused, allowing you to retain where the hole is, rather than having to keep looking up to remind yourself.
Longer, relaxed glances will also reduce the tension that can build up in your arms and shoulders, caused by repeated glances and head-turning.
Tension in the golf swing often builds when taking a tricky shot due to anxiety about it going wrong. Spending a moment to relax and focus on your goal and your form will ease this, and do wonders for your swing consistency.
#4: A shot without a practice swing is a wasted shot
This step is especially true for putting, or if you’ve unfortunately found yourself in the rough.
Taking a practice shot or two will help you realize any adjustments you need to make before you’ve committed to hitting the ball. Perhaps you need to recentre your feet, or maybe, your backswing could be shorter.
Just like the previous step, this tip will help to relax your mind. You want to feel confident going into a shot, especially a tricky one.
Taking the time to practice your swing in whatever position you’ve found yourself in can help alleviate worries before they turn into muscle tension and rigid shots.
If you’re just working on eliminating the tension in the golf swing outside of a competitive round, you might want to try a one-armed practice swing.
To do this, just let go with your back hand and keep hold with your leading hand (for me, it works best if you keep your back hand behind your back).
The majority of golfers overuse their back hand during the swing. The back hand is also usually the dominant hand, used to generate power, rather than the pendulum swing motion that we’re supposed to use.
This exercise will refocus you on the motion of the swing, rather than the force.
It might feel unnatural or uncomfortable at first, allowing your front arm to swing through your shot, rather than powering through it with your back hand, will help to relieve the tension in your two-handed swings.
#5: Allow the Club to Swing, don’t force it
It’s natural to use our back and dominant arm to generate more force through the ball and increase the power of our swings. However, overdoing this is a common cause of tension in the golf swing.
The more tension you hold in your swing, the more energy you waste per shot, and the more technique you lose.
A good swing is a smooth swing, which doesn’t fight against the club to hit the ball harder. Instead, it takes advantage of the club’s natural momentum.
So, when you’re next taking a practice swing, allow the club to swing around you as your body moves in harmony with the club, swinging around with your chest to follow the motion of the ball.
By avoiding exerting unnecessary pressure and allowing the club to move naturally, you’ll also relieve tension in the shoulders and neck during the swing.
#6: Hover your club before you take a shot
This tip can also be applied to all of your shots but is most useful when using your driver.
When taking your practice swings, remember to hover the head of your club slightly off the ground.
You might not realize it, but when you rest the head of your club on the ground, you exert pressure through the club. Even though you might not feel yourself doing it, by exerting pressure through the club, you’ll be increasing the tension in your shoulders.
When you hover the club, you eradicate the chance for this kind of tension build-up.
Most of the physical tension we feel when swinging comes from our shoulders and arms and relieving that tension can aid in improving our technique.
#7: Pull, don’t push
A good golf swing focuses more on the pulling through of the swing rather than pushing it through.
Committing to pulling your club on the upswing and then pulling the butt of the club towards the ball on the downswing is one of the more challenging ways to eliminate tension in the golf swing, and again comes down to the way we use our front and back arms during the swing.
Our dominant arm naturally wants to power the club through the ball by pushing, and the anticipation of this movement can build tension in our shoulders and back – the muscles we use for that kind of motion.
If you instead focus on pulling the club back with your back hand and then the butt of the club through the ball with your front hand, that muscle tension is lessened, and it will also keep your swing smooth and straight.
There we have it! Seven tips to eliminate tension in the golf swing. Taking some time to relax and focus before you take a shot will help you make the most out of every round you play – let us know how you got on in the comments!