Do you seem to be lacking power in your golf swing?
Maybe your ball striking isn’t consistent?
Or do you have both problems?
It could be that you’re hanging back on your downswing. Maybe not as much as in the image above, but hanging back even a little can affect your distance and ball striking ability.
There are several possible causes, these include weaknesses in the trail leg, the core, hip abductors, or glutes.
Limited hip mobility can also cause you to hang back during the downswing.
These limitations can be corrected by increasing hip mobility and strengthening your core and lower body.
In this article, I will define and discuss the hanging back swing characteristic, how to identify it and address corrections that will reduce or eliminate the swing characteristic from your golf swing.
As a bonus, I have also created a Free Guide that lists exercises and links to videos that correct the physical limitations causing you to hang back.
The exercises included in the guide are linked to the Titleist Performance Insitute (TPI) video library so you can see how to correctly perform each exercise.
If you are tired of topping or hitting behind the ball or need more distance, you need to download this guide.
This free guide provides you with exercises that will increase coordination between the hips, legs, and upper body as well as improve the stability of your trail leg so you can keep your weight forward during the swing.
What is Hanging Back?
Hanging back occurs when a golfer doesn’t correctly shift their weight from the back leg to the front side on the downswing.
It is pretty much as it sounds, the golfer hangs his weight on the back leg and doesn’t transfer power forward into the swing.
The lack of weight shift causes a huge loss of power and a lack of distance on golf shots.
To make matters worse, the golfer might have to release his wrists early to get the clubhead to that ball, The combination of characteristics robs even more power from the swing.
Hanging back also causes poor ball striking, with the weight back it’s hard to hit down on the ball, which often results in fat or topped golf shots.
With the driver, the opposite occurs, the ball is launched high, with little power, and it often fades or slices.
Another issue is that golfers that hang back find it hard to hold their balance after the shot. They end up stepping back, similar to stepping in the bucket in baseball.
How Prevalent is Hanging Back?
A little under one-third of amateur golfers have the hanging back swing characteristic.
Usually, there are physical limitations that hinder the proper swing, and these limitations need to be addressed to eliminate hanging back.
Hanging back can also be caused by other swing faults such as reverse pivot and sway.
But before we talk about physical limitations, I need to discuss how to identify hanging back in the golf swing.
Percentage of Amateur Golfers that Hang Back
How to Tell if You Hang Back
The best way to determine if you hang back is to take a video your swing from the front-on view.
In my post How to Video Your Golf Swing, I describe the best way to take video with your smartphone.
Remember to use a tripod, so the camera doesn’t move; aim and focus the camera on the hands.
Below you will see a photograph of me at my address position. I have drawn a vertical red line up from the ankle of my lead leg.
For the next step move through the video to the impact position.
The diagnosis is simple.
The gap between the hip and the line at address position should be gone.
If there’s a gap between the hip and the line at impact, or if the trail foot is still on the ground then you are hanging back.
You should note, that your hip shouldn’t move toward the target. That is called slide.
In the photo below you will see that my trail foot is still completely on the ground, and the distance between my hip and the line has increased.
I’m hanging back.
The images below are two stop-action photographs of Dustin Johnson.
The left is at address, and the right is at impact.
Notice how he has closed the distance to the line with his hips without moving past the line at impact.
DJ most definitely doesn’t hang back.
Swing Results Due to Hanging Back
The biggest problem with hanging back is the loss of power in the golf swing.
Energy stored during the backswing remains on the back leg and fails to be transferred to the golf ball.
Hanging back also forces the body to lean away from the ball, and your wrists need to extend before impact instead of at impact; this early release causes more loss of power.
You will also have a tendency to open the club face causing the ball to slice.
From this hanging back position, it’s impossible to hit down on the ball with your irons. If you can’t hit down on the ball, your ball striking will suffer, and your shots will be hit either fat or thin more often than not.
Below are physical screens used to determine if you have the hanging back swing characteristic.
Having a positive screen for a physical limitation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a particular swing characteristic, only that you have a limitation in that area.
However, people who fail any of the tests below have a good general correlation for hanging back.
These limitations should be corrected if you want to eliminate hanging back from your swing.
Lower Quarter Rotation Test
For a right-handed golfer, internal rotation of the right hip is key in the backswing, otherwise, your body will turn around your hip and not force the lower body to move away from the target.
The Lower Quarter Rotation Test assesses the glute medius, which aids in internal rotation of the hip.
Hip rotation is best evaluated using the lower quarter rotation test.
Bridge Extension Tests
Lack of strength in the back leg can prevent a proper weight shift in the golf swing.
If the glutes or core are weak, it’s hard to transfer the weight to the lead leg during the downswing.
The glutes are king in the golf swing, and weakness of these muscles can cause many swing faults.
To evaluate the strength of the lower body, use the single leg bridge with extension test.
Another screen, the single geg balance test also evaluates the strength of the glutes.
Other Possible Causes Leading to Hanging Back
There are some non-physical issues that may cause hanging back. These are:
- Not enough loft on the driver, players are trying to high the ball higher by hitting up on it more.
- Having the ball too far back in the stance will cause a player to hang back; and
- Having the reverse pivot swing fault puts the body in an incorrect position from the start of the swing. There is no way to recover from this starting position.
If you hang back during your swing, don’t worry.
There are exercises that will strengthen your glutes, increase the mobility of your hips, and improve balance.
I have prepared a free guide listing those exercises for you!
Each exercise is linked to a video to show you how to do the exercise correctly.
Click the button below and enter your first name and e-mail address so I can e-mail you the free exercise guide!
Swing Assessment Program
Are you slicing or hooking the golf ball? Do you think your swing is costing you distance? Are the common swing faults, like early extension, over the top, and loss of posture costing you frustration and strokes?
Did you know that your golf swing can provide clues to swing faults?
Using two videos of your golf swing recorded with your smartphone, I can identify which of the swing characteristics you may possess.
I have developed a Swing Assessment Program to assist in determining swing faults. Correct swing faults with simple corrective exercises.
Use the buttons below to learn more.
The “Learn More” button will take you to a page on this website that describes the program in detail.
The “Visit Course Website” button will take you to the area of my website where I host my golf conditioning programs.
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