Four Drills to Improve Your Downswing
By: Jordan Fuller
Every golfer strives to improve their swing, especially when you are a beginner with a sub-par swing speed.
Yet, we all know that it is easier than done, and many of us simply don’t know where to start, and don’t know what we actually are doing wrong.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that power is the biggest factor determining your swing speed. In reality, the proper form, motion, and technique are more important, especially during the downswing, as well as the transition between backswing and downswing motion.
Why is that?
Because a golf ball only has a mass of 1.6 ounces, and it stands still on the tee. So, putting more power into your swing won’t give the same effect as, say, a batter hitting a moving baseball. Thus, hitting the ball precisely will result in better distance, rather than power.
So, here we will share a few easy drills to improve your downswing and transition motion. The next time you are hitting the driving range, you will be ready to perform these drills and improving your swing.
Drill #1: The Close Then Open
The transition from the backswing movement to downswing is one of the most crucial parts of the proper swing. It is the only moment during a swing where the club changes direction.
There is one common mistake many golfers make during the downswing transition: failing to transfer the body weight properly from right to left (for right-handed golfers). It is often caused by what we call the ‘reverse pivot’, where the body weight shifts left during the backswing, right before the downswing begins.
Thankfully, there is a simple drill to help you fix this issue:
- Assume your normal stance with the driver. If possible, tee up the ball.
- The key to this drill is foot position. Keep your right foot in your usual position. Move your left foot right next to it. Keep the clubhead right behind the ball as usual. This way, the ball will be positioned quite far on the left of your body. This will train you to shift weight properly.
- Perform a backswing, but just as you reach the top of your swing, return the left foot to your usual position.
- Finally, make your downswing. Notice that you will be forced to shift your weight from right to left.
This very simple drill will help you fix the most common problem for the downswing transition: shifting your weight properly.
Drill #2: The Right Heel Lift
Here, we will cover another drill designed to improve your downswing transition. As we saw already, the most common mistake during the downswing transition is the weight-shift, but there are multiple root causes for this issue.
The previous drill we covered early is designed to fix especially your feet positioning during the transition. On top of this, and this is what this next drill will address, another common cause for the weight-shifting failure is that we use too much of our arms and hands, while the proper weight-shift should start from the hips.
This simple drill is designed to fix that issue, and will train you to use your hips properly during the downswing transition. We recommend that you make sure to wear quality gloves for this drill. Here is how you do it:
- Assume your stance with the driver. If space is limited, you practice this drill without the ball, although using the ball is preferred.
- Make your backswing, and as you reach the top, lift your right heel a bit more than usual.
- Here is the key: your right heel will normally lift up as you make your downswing transition. Here, we exaggerate that heel movement, so pick up that right heel a little bit higher than usual
- Lift your right heel until you feel it is pushed off from the ground, and perform your downswing
As you can see, the main focus on this drill is your right heel, which will help you train the hip movement during the downswing transition. The exaggerated right heel lift can add an extra bit of weight transfer from right to left, and this drill will help you perfect that hip motion.
Drill #3: Improving Downswing Transition
Yet again another drill to improve your downswing transition, showing the importance to perfect that motion to improve your swing.
While the two previous drills are mainly focused on the weight-shifting mistake and how to fix it, in this drill we will focus on how to hit the ball properly during your downswing.
If you have the tendency to slice the ball often, there is a huge probability that it might be caused by the inwards motion of your downswing. Vice versa, hook shot are often caused by outwards downswing motion.
To fix the downswing motion, here is a very simple drill you can follow:
- Get a tee peg and place it in the hole at the end of the grip. Any length will do, but the longer the better, as long as it won’t disrupt your swing.
- Now, tee up the ball, and draw a straight line behind it. You may use vanishing chalk spray on the grass, as long as it is allowed on the course or driving range. You can use white tape if you are trying this indoor
- Perform a backswing, and pause when you reach the top of the swing
- Now, look at the tee peg, and as you perform the downswing, aim the tee peg at the straight line you’ve drawn/placed
- Try it slowly at first, and as you get more comfortable with the drill, increase the speed
Sometimes, aiming issues are simply caused by the fact that we never really put enough specific practice into it. This is true not only in golf, but also in other sports. This drill is designed specifically to focus on aiming, and with a few weeks of practicing this drill, you will definitely see improvements on your aim.
Drill #4: The Baseball Drill
For the last drill, we won’t be talking about the downswing transition, although we will still be focusing on swings.
Why are many golfers struggling to improve their swing? One of the most common reasons is failure to do a proper weight shift from the right side of your body to the left side.
This drill is designed to remedy that issue. Why do we call it the baseball drill? Everything will make sense to you very shortly.
Here is how you do it:
- Pick the club you are struggling with (for example wedges or the irons), and take your usual stance
- Now, as you are performing the backswing, pick up your left leg, similar to how a baseball pitcher prepare for a pitch
- As you complete the backswing, plant your foot back on the ground, and start the downswing (remember all the previous drills)
- As usual, start slow, and pick up speed once you are comfortable with the drill
Although this baseball drill can be used to train your downswing transition, it also remedies the proper form throughout the backswing, transition, and downswing.
The key for this drill is to maintain your proper stance as you are picking up your foot. This might be a little uncomfortable to do at first, but will become second nature as you keep practicing the drill.
Many aspiring golfers are having issues with their downswing and downswing transition. As we have seen, the main culprit is the failure to perform a proper weight-shift as we are performing the downswing.
The four simple drills we have shared above are very easy to perform, and you can simply use your existing golf equipment. With these four drills, you can easily improve your downswing and transition motion in no time.
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