Drill 302. Backswing: Making a Full Shoulder Turn
Making a full, powerful turn in the backswing is easy once you know how. We’ve never met a golfer, of any age, who couldn’t learn very quickly how to make a full shoulder turn using this drill.
Once again, apologies to the lefties out there, but for simplicity these instructions are given for a right-handed golfer.
First of all, let’s make it clear what we mean by a full shoulder turn. Most amateurs don’t understand it, it’s often not well taught, and this misunderstanding has ruined many golf swings.The term “shoulder turn” is misleading. You can easily make what looks like a full turn by pushing your left shoulder under your chin and lifting your right shoulder behind your head. That’s a full shoulder turn, isn’t it?
Maybe, but it’s far from what you need to make a great golf swing. Pulling your shoulders out of posture this way might make it feel like you’re getting plenty of coil, but you’re “disconnecting” your arms from the powerful muscles in your coreThe muscles of the core run the length of the trunk and torso. A strong core reduces back pain, improves athletic performance, and helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries., making it impossible to efficiently transfer energy up the kinetic chainThe kinetic chain is the different parts of your body acting as a system of chain links to transmit energy from the ground to the golf ball. to the golf club. This will force you to try and “muscle” the golf club with your upper body. The result will be a weak, “armsy” golf swing that lacks power and consistency.
Another very misleading concept that is taught to amateurs is “turning your shoulders perpendicular to your spine”. Well, your spine isn’t straight, even when you’re in the perfect “straight back” posture, far from it. Your spine has several curves in it (see Full Swing 103 – Setup: The Perfect Golf Spine Angle), and these curves must be positioned correctly to provide the required mobility for a stable, efficient and powerful turn. What’s more, although we use the concept of rotating around the axis of your spine, the curves in your spine will actually change during the golf swing, as we’ll see in later articles.
So, which part of your spine are you supposed to turn your shoulders perpendicular to? Many instructors simply draw a line through the shoulders, and another through the back at an arbitrary angle that isn’t directly related to any of the spine’s many angles, angles that are changing as the spine twists during the golf swing. They don’t teach you (they probably don’t know) how to actually move your spine for a more effective golf swing. Using the spine correctly is crucial for a great golf swing, but it’s rarely, if ever, taught — it’s one of those things that great golfers do “instinctively” that sets them apart. In this section, together with the transition and downswing sections, we’ll teach you how to use your spine correctly, and it will transform your golf swing forever.
Turn Your Back to the Target
What you really need to do is to make a full chest turn, turning your whole upper torso a full 90 degrees so that your back faces the target, and your sternumThe sternum (or breastbone) is an elongated, flattened bony plate, forming the middle portion of the thorax (chest). faces directly away from the target. When done correctly, this will create a high degree of separation (the “X-factor”) between your hips and your shoulders, stretching the large, powerful muscles of your coreThe muscles of the core run the length of the trunk and torso. A strong core reduces back pain, improves athletic performance, and helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries., generating lag and putting you in the correct position to execute a fantastic transition and downswing sequence. And, as you’re about to learn, you can do this easily while still keeping your shoulders in good posture, enabling the efficient transfer of energy from the coreThe muscles of the core run the length of the trunk and torso. A strong core reduces back pain, improves athletic performance, and helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries. to the golf club.
We’ll stick with the term “shoulder turn”, because it’s in common use, but when you see this you should think “turn your back to the target with separation”.