The Complete Golf Backswing Guide: 8 Tips To Hit The Ball Better

Your golf backswing is one piece of the puzzle. It is one part of a complicated sequence that starts when you address the ball and ends with your follow-through.

Your golf backswing sets the stage. It allows you to store energy that you will hopefully deliver back to the ball.

Golfers get very focused on their impact position, but your golf backswing can get you in a bad spot before you even reach the ball.

We want to help. Below we have 8 different swing thoughts for you to try related to your golf backswing.

A golfer mid-basckswing prepares to hit a shot

One of these swing thoughts could be the key that unlocks your game. Break 80, 90, or 100 for the first time.

Let’s get started.

What Are The Pieces Of The Golf Swing?

You can quibble about the exact number, but we have identified seven different components of the golf swing.

Each piece is important. You don’t have to be perfect to hit great golf shots, but you can’t have a critical breakdown in any component.

Interested in seeing a perfect backswing? We recommend you check out Adam Scott or Tiger Woods!

The below swing thoughts may not lead to you winning 15 majors, but we are confident they can help you improve your golf handicap.

A golfer prepares to take a shot from a distance

8 Swing Thoughts To Improve Your Golf Backswing

We don’t expect you to use 8 swing thoughts at once. This is a terrible idea. We simply want to give you options.

Different swing thoughts work for different players. The next time your practice on the driving range give these a try.

The goal should be to find the one that improves your ball striking and take that one to the course with you.

#1: Low & Slow

This swing thought describes how you should start your golf backswing. Low and slow.

The “low” is referring to your clubhead. A common mistake is to lift the club early in your golf backswing.

annotated gif of a golfer keeping his swing low

We recommend you take the club back low to the ground at the start of your golf backswing. This will promote a nice shoulder turn and keep your club on plane.

The “slow”? Don’t be in a rush. It is easier to keep the club where you want if you move slowly.

We love this swing thought because it is simple and a great way to get your swing off on the correct foot.

When it comes to your golf swing the beginning is just as important as the ending!

#2: Turn, Don’t Slide

Your golf backswing should be a turn around your spine. Your spine shouldn’t move much during your golf swing.

This is especially important if you want to cover the ball. A slide during your golf backswing makes it challenging to make consistent contact.

The best way to check for a slide? Ask one of your buddies to take a slow-motion video of your swing.

annotated gif of a golfer turning their swing properly

Be prepared, it may look different than you imagine. Pay close attention to your head.

If you are making a nice turn, your head won’t move much. If you are sliding, you will notice your head moves to the right during your golf backswing (right-handed players).

Take some swings focused on the turn and take another video. Does it look better?

#3: Activate Your Lower Body

A common mistake made by struggling golfers is their golf backswing is all arms. This will cause you to lose power and be inconsistent.

Inconsistent and weak shots are no way to play great golf. The answer to this problem is in your lower body.

As much as possible you want your lower body to control your golf backswing. Your hips and legs must turn.

One drill to try. Remove your arms from your golf backswing. Let them hang and allow your lower body to do all of the work.

This will feel strange, but you will be surprised how solidly you strike the ball. Most golfers would play better if their arms did less.

annotated gif of a golfer engaging her legs in her swing

#4: Get Your Weight To The Right Side

This tip assumes you play right-handed. If you are a lefty, reverse it!

We would argue the most important job of your golf backswing is to get your weight transitioned to your right foot.

Once your weight has been shifted, you have stored energy that you can direct towards the ball during your downswing.

annotated image of a golfer distributing his weight through his trail leg

The opposite move is referred to as a “reverse pivot” and this is a critical swing flaw. Do you ever lose your balance and fall away from the ball at impact?

If so, you probably have a reverse pivot and need to use this swing thought.

A quick drill. At the end of your golf backswing can you pick up your left foot? If so, you have properly shifted your weight to the right.

#5: Tempo – Keep It Smooth

All golfers want to hit the ball hard. And yes, you get more distance by increasing your swing speed.

Here is the key – you don’t want more speed in your golf backswing. More critical than how much speed you have is where is the speed located.

timelapse image of a golfer making a swing

You don’t want to swing fast during your golf backswing. You want your power delivered at impact.

With this in mind, keep your golf backswing nice and smooth. There is no reason to be in a rush on the way back.

Take it slow and give your body the chance to complete a full turn.

No reason to be in the rush, the ball sitting on the tee isn’t going anywhere!

#6: If Wild, Keep It Short

Do you struggle to keep the ball in play? We all know that hitting shots out of bounds can quickly ruin your scorecard.

If accuracy is a problem for you, try a shorter golf backswing. It is a fallacy that you need a long swing to generate power.

In fact, the opposite can be true. Check out PGA tour professional Jon Rahm. You will notice his golf backswing is quite short.

annotated image of a golfer with a short backswing

He must be short, right? Wrong. PGA Tour stats show that he averages over 315 yards with his driver!

In fact, a shorter golf backswing will force you to use your lower body and this could generate more power.

We believe that shorter is better!

#7: Tuck Your Shoulder

Personally, this is my favorite golf backswing tip. This is something I learned in my first ever golf lesson.

It is quite simple. During your golf backswing simply keep your head still and tuck your shoulder under your chin.

annotated gif of a golfer tucking her shoulder in her swing

We love it because it accomplishes several different things that are important.

It creates a turn, not a slide, forces you to make a full turn with your upper body, and stores plenty of energy for you to unwind during your downswing.

To this day, if I am struggling on the golf course, I will go back to simply trying to “tuck my shoulder” during my golf backswing.

Give it a try. You may be surprised by the results.

#8: Keep The Triangle Intact

You may hear other golfers talking about “staying connected” or working on a “one-piece takeaway”.

These are great concepts for your golf backswing, but may not be intuitive to you. To achieve the same results, simply keep the triangle intact.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t require you to understand Geometry. During your address position, you will notice that your arms and chest create a triangle.

To execute this swing thought, you need to keep that shape (the triangle) intact throughout your golf backswing.

Why is this important? It keeps your arms and chest connected. The more in-sync your body is during your golf backswing, the better.

annotated gif of a golfer keeping his triangle arm shape intact

The triangle will help you become a more consistent ball striker. The next time you watch golf on TV, look for the shape. You will notice it with every player.

Backswing Solved! How Is Your Downswing?

Ray Dingledine

Ray Dingledine

Ray has played golf for over 30 years and competed at the collegiate level. He enjoys growing the game of golf through coaching PGA Jr. and High School golf teams. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +1 handicap.

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