What To Do With Your Wrists in the Golf Swing, Explained

While most of us can quite happily hit a ball and make sure it lands roughly where we hoped it would, not all of us can say that we perfectly understand out own swing.

Many golfers might be surprised to find out just how important using your wrists in the golf swing can be.

Anyone who’s had a golf lesson from a tutor will have heard the terms ‘flexion’ and ‘extension’ in regard to their swing and their wrist set, but you might not know how to use both positions to your advantage, or which works best for you.

The golf swing is an elusive and challenging skill to master. It takes years of practice before you can start purposefully hitting fades or draws, or even just hitting a straight drive consistently.

So if you’re still stuck on the pitch and putt, not sure how to improve, and start playing some more challenging golf, keep reading, as we explain how important your wrists in the golf swing are, and how you can use them to your advantage.

a golfer uses their wrists in the golf swing.

Your Wrists in the Golf Swing Explained

As I mentioned earlier, you may have heard terms relating to your wrists in the golf swing before but not fully understand what that means. That’s what we’re here to help with!

Your wrists are the hinge that dictates how open or closed your club face is when you make a connection with the ball.

All you really need to think about when it comes to your wrists in the golf swing is whether your wrists are in flexion or extension, and whether they are pronated or supinated.

Those are some confusing terms so let’s go over them!

Flexion – A slightly bowed or flexed wrist. If you had your arm straight out in front of you, your fingertips would be pointing towards to the floor.

Extension – The same as ‘flexion’ but the opposite. If your wrist is extended, or in extension, your finger tips should be pointing towards the sky.

Pronated – Fairly similiar to flexion, except this refers to your palm. If your wrists in the golf swing are pronated, your palms would be facing the floor.

Supinated – If your wrists in the golf swing are supinated, your palms will be facing the sky.

an annotated image of a golfer using their wrists in the golf swing

How you use each of these wrist positions to your advantage is mostly up to you.

Flexion and Extension mostly relate to your wrist position at the top of your swing, and they’re not to be confused with early extension, which is a different beast altogether.

What they refer to is something called your ‘wrist set’, which is an invaluable bit of information for a great golf swing.

Your Wrist Set Explained

Your wrist set is how you hinge your wrists during your backswing.

As you pull your club away from the ball, many golfers have what is called a ‘late-set’, where your wrists will only hinge at the top of your backswing, moving the club behind your head with your lead wrist pronated and your trail arm supinated.

As you begin your downswing, your wrists will stay in this position and, depending on how much lag is in your swing, your wrists will switch postions to power through the shot and hit the ball squarely.

Sound simple? No, it doesn’t! But don’t be discouraged, if you watch videos of pro-golfers taking swings you can see this movement in action.

If you watch enough, you’ll also notice that different golfers use different wrist sets. Some, like Jordan Spieth, use an incredibly unconventional wrist set.

What I’m trying to say is that while having a proper wrist set is important, it’s also important to make sure that it works for you.

Now that we know that the way you use your wrists in the golf swing is unique to you, let’s go into a bit more detail on the different kinds of wrist set you can use.

a golfer at the peak of his backswing


While we’ve briefly gone over what a late set is, it’s always good to go into more detail. You can never know too much about golf.

To use a late set with your wrists in the golf swing, first, address the ball as you normally would.

This means having your shuolders relaxed and feet in the normal position.

Remember, you want your chin tucked in and your head more or less in line with your hands. If you spat, it should drop onto the backs of your hands.

Throuugh your backswing, your arms should be straight. It’s called a ‘late-set’ because your arms and wrists flex late in the swing!

When both of your arms are parallel to the ground and your shoulder is tucked underneath your chin, your club should also be parallel to the ground. Think about it like you’re pointing at something behind you.

Once your club is in this position, you can set your wrists. Your back hand will extend, so that your fingers are pointing at the sky, and your front hand will pronate so that your palm is facing more towards the sky.

If you’ve got this position right, your club should be pointing up at the sky.

At this point, the elbow on your trail arm will bend, bringing the club behind your head and into position for your downswing.

And that’s a late-set! The key to spotting or using a late-set for your wrists in the golf swing is to only set your wrists into position after both of your arms have pulled back to a position that is parallel with the ground and with the club in the same position.

an annotated image of a golfers swing.


An early-set for your wrists in the golf swing is, as you might have guessed, where your wrists are set much earlier in the backswing.

It’s also very simliar to the late-set, with one key difference.

Follow all of the above steps for the late-set until your arms are coming to the outstretched position parallel with the ground.

As your arms move into this position, you bend the elbow of your trail arm. This will naturally set your wrists into the upright position you need to bring the club behind your head for your downswing.

This is why it’s called an early set, you set your wrists as you come into the position, not after you have found that position.

an annotated image of a golfer using their wrists in the golf swing.

Some golfers like to use an early-set for their wrists in the golf swing as they feel it allows them to coil up more so that they have more power in their downswing.

Whereas other golfers prefer to use a late-set as they feel that it gives them more control over their angle of contact with their club face and the ball.

Your wrist set is an aspect of your golf swing that you will have to practice to find out which one works best for you. It all depends on what kind of golfer you are, and you can only know that from playing as much as possible!

While many may overlook how important your wrists in the golf swing are, we hope that we’ve convinced you to try out some new techniques, and hopefully discover something that you can help your golf buddies out with!

Now you know what to do with your wrists in the golf swing, here’s what to do with your feet!

Photo of author
Adam is a writer and lifelong golfer who probably spends more time talking about golf than he does playing it nowadays!

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