THE EARLY EXTENSION SWING FAULT

Bob Forman
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
MS, Exercise Physiology


Poor swing mechanics can have a deleterious effect on your playing performance and, in some cases, increase the potential for injury.  The early extension swing fault is one of those.  It can cause a variety of miss hits for the estimated two-thirds of golfers who unknowingly do it and ranks in the top two for swing-related back injury.

Characterized by a forward movement of the hips toward the ball, early extension is more common in the downswing than the takeaway.  This forward hip movement (hip extension) can block or trap the descent of the arms in the downswing causing a push (ball shoots out to the right for right-handers and left for left-handers).

As a compensation, some golfers will roll their wrists in an attempt to bring the ball back into the middle of the fairway.  This often results in the dreaded duck-hook.  Nowadays, with club technology, I'm sure there are some who are rotating the head of your driver to see if it will fix the problem.  But will that really solve the problem?

Early extension can be accompanied by a lifting of the head and front, target shoulder.  This loss of posture may impact the swing plane and result in either fat shots (divot behind the ball) or topped shots (worm burners).

In a few cases, the golfer will lower the head as the hips move forward.  This generally causes the upper spine to bow out in order to accommodate for the hips and head coming closer together, which could, over time, result in neck and shoulder discomfort.

Early extension is difficult to spot by the naked eye in real time and the unwelcomed movement pattern is almost always undetected by the golfer who is doing it.  The only real giveaway is the shot pattern and perhaps low back concerns.

A slow motion or frame-by-frame video review of the swing is very effective in picking up this common swing fault.  A perpendicular line drawn at the golfer’s backside while at address creates the landmark from which the golfer does not want to move away from.  If separation occurs, as seen in the photo, early extension swing fault is apparent.

Keeping the hips back is crucial for swing efficiency and, as is the case for many touring pros, moving the hips back behind “the line” aids in power generation in the swing.  For most amateurs, though, the struggle is staying on the line.

Anatomically, early extension can be correlated to tightness in either the calve and/or hamstring muscle groups.  This can be easily detected during a physical assessment of the golfer.  Another factor could be the recruitment of the lower back and/or hamstrings during the downswing due to weakness in the glutes.

A corrective exercise program will be needed to address the muscular deficiencies.  In addition, one or two drills should be incorporated to help rewire the neuromuscular pathway between the brain and body in order to correct the negative movement pattern.

golf fitness exerciseA good stretch for the calves is a simple calf stretch (photo right).  Position a ½ round foam near a wall or counter for support (a calf board, phone book, 2x4, street curb, or other object can be used in place of the ½ round).  Place both toes up on the ½ round and, keeping heels in contact with the floor, lean forward till gentle stretch is felt.  Hinge from the ankles and keep the entire body stiff, don’t bend at the hips.  Hold for at least 30 seconds and remember to breathe!

golf fitness stretchFor the hamstrings, sit on a flat bench (photo left), solid coffee table, or two armless chairs placed side-by-side.  With one leg up and your foot relaxed and extended over the edge, slowly reach down that raised leg with both hands till a gentle stretch is felt.  Don’t bend the knee and make sure you hinge from the hips, keeping chin up and back straight.  Don’t bow the back!  Hold at least 30 seconds and repeat with other leg.  Again, remember to breathe!

Weak glutes can be strengthened by doing bridges (top photo right).  This entails lying on your back on the floor with feet together and heels close to the body.  Raise the hips as high as comfort allows and hold for 15 to 30 seconds.  Repeat 2 to 3 times, breathing normally throughout.

Once this exercise gets easy to do, advance the exercise and isolate each glute independently by doing bridges with a leg extension (bottom photo right).  This is a functional progression as some people tend to be weaker on one side  of the body.  While in the bridge position, raise one leg so that the thighs are parallel to each other.  Hold for a 10 to 15 second count and then switch legs.  Hold that for 10 to 15 seconds and then return your hips back to the floor.  Repeat 3 to 5 times.

A good drill to help rewire the brain-body connection and to get you out of the early extension habit is to wrap an exercise band around your waist and anchor the ends in front.  Step back so as to put some tension on the band and get into your golf posture with hands folded across your chest.  Go through the golf swing sequence and resist the pull of the band on your hips.  This will force you to keep  the hips back as opposed to moving them forward.  Repeat the drill as often as you can so that the better habit can be reprogrammed.


Correcting early extension is a good way to help boost those “fairways hit” and “greens in regulation” percentages and prevent a trip to the chiropractor.  A certified golf fitness instructor can assess for both anatomical integrity and swing mechanics as it relates to this very common, imperceptible fault.  Once identified and fixed, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your ball contact and flight.

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Quad-Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a progressive stretch for the quad-hip flexor area.  Be cautious as you lean back on the bench as it will challenge the knee if the quads are tight.  Avoid this stretch if you've had knee replacement.  Tight quads/hip flexors will impede hip mobility and that may rob you of power and distance.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- the common physical deficiencies most golfers have, how to detect and correct with over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills
- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults 
- how to put together an inexpensive home gym

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

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or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures,  


August 28, 2014
We talk about Shan's golf fitness assessment results

 


June 26, 2014


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury