Control Your Elbows
Home Free Lessons
Controlling your elbows is the third part of controlling four critical body parts needed to establish a consistent, predictable whole "sling" motion. First, point your nose at the ball to establish a center for your swing. This is NOT the same thing as keeping your head still. The head moves laterally but should have little vertical movement. Where the nose points is where the eyes look is where the subconscious mind focuses. Second, turn your shoulders in a circle around your nose. The shoulders are the motor of the swing. The swing is not made from the ground up in a bio-mechanical sense. Your feet may be touching the big green ball, but the ground has no muscles ... it does not move your body or the club! Third, control your elbows or more technically your forearms. Finally, control your thumbs. Your hands should function as passive connectors and active "feelers". They should work as a pair of semi-rigid, semi-flexible, generally loosey goosey hinges. They will do the right thing due to the physics of the swing motion. You control your hands through the generation of centrifugal force by rotating your body.
How your elbows work back and through the swing motion controls your swingpath. In the "Sling the Handle" concept promoted by this website, the rotation of your body along with having one fully extended arm (at all times) will cause the handle of the club to follow a consistent, semi-circular swing arc ... from inside (the target line) to square to inside. The accomplishment of this desirable movement is the simple matter of folding the appropriated elbow on each side of the swing. The key is to mentally visualize the semicircular movement of the handle.
As your body rotates, ALLOW one then the other elbow to fold. The triangle or "Y" formed by the line of the two collarbones and both arms at address will naturally deform into a lowercase "y". At NO time during the whole swing motion should you be able to see the point of the folded elbow (from a face on view). Folding the elbow on the backswing side allows you to get full extension at the 1/2 way point and full shoulder turn at the 3/4 to top of the backswing. Rotating the chest and folding the lead elbow gives you a free flowing swing. The right hand images should communicate the concept of "slinging" the club.
In addition to controlling the horizontal aspect of the swing path, the vertical aspect is also under effortless control. The handle and subsequently the clubhead will follow a natural and consistent downward to bottom dead center to upward path.
The seminal work on this sling the handle concept comes from two sources. First was the work of Eddie Merrins who developed "Swing the Handle". Second was the work of Jimmy Ballard who developed his "connection" program.
There are two critical errors you can make regarding the use of your elbows (forearms). The first is to "hold" or "steer" the release. When the upper arm separates from the body the hands and clubhead will remain open causing the ball to curve to the right. The first image on the right is of Jamie Sadlowski the current long drive champion. The bowed left arm at the end of the early follow-through shows the problem. For a long drive competitor, this is not an error, but a valuable technique to prevent a severe hook. Hooking the ball is the arch nemesis of power players. The right hand image depicts the other error ... rolling the wrists. The "Sling the Handle" method is a process of removing the hands from the swing. The hands are passive connectors responsible for securely connecting you to the club and for providing feedback information for learning from both your successes and failures.
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