Note: The title was originally “Push & Pull,” however after receiving an email from a reader on the subject, I agree that the term should be “Pull & Push” based on the sequence of actions in this motion
Ken posted a great comment the other day that got me thinking to my old Swing Theory Golf Blog days, and I wrote a post on Harrison Sport’s blog section with the memories of the Push and Pull aspect of the swing.
First, the part of Ken’s comment that got me thinking:
For the golf swing we need to make one adjustment to this mental image. If that imaginary open door we are trying to slam could extent a few inches past the hinge into the wall, we would be able to grab that extension and pull toward us with the left side, while at the same time leaning into the right side and pushing the door closed. That is the golf swing. The fulcrum (hinge) on the golf club is the spot on the shaft that is right between your left and right hand, about 4 inches down on the grip.
It is really quite neat because as you near impact your body weight (through your relaxed left arm and hand) is basically pulling back on the butt end of the club AND your body weight is also driving your piston like right arm forward for the throw (push for short shots and throw for longer ones. You can feel the push part of the leverage easily in short chips.). If you can keep the left arm relaxed and feeling like nothing more than a taut string (so you can pull with your body weight, not muscle in the arm) through impact, you can throw with three right hands. Don’t lose the tautness of the left side before impact or the right side throw will overtake it and your dead.
When I was in the early stages of researching the golf swing back in 2007, I had an visual concept that one could either “pull” the swing using the leading side of the body (the left side and hand for right-handers), or one could “push” the swing using the opposite side and the right hand.
Looking at most golfers, especially the higher handicappers and those who struggle to create power with the golf swing, you’ll see that most of them are “pullers” or “pushers.” This usually manifests itself in various ways – a big head dip on the down swing, a strong over-the-top move and a great deal of upper body movement both going back and coming down.
What I didn’t realize for some time, until I began to look at the classic swing of long drive pioneer Mike Austin sometime in 2008, was that for a powerful and mechanically-sound golf swing, you had to combine the two into a motion that both pushes and pulls the swing. Looking at the impact and follow-through positions below in a Driver swing, I will try to create the visual picture for you that I use.
To use an analogy from another sport, the most efficient way to create power with the golf swing is to swing the club with the left arm and hand the way you would hit backhanded tennis shot, and to simultaneously swing the club with the right arm and hand the way you’d hit a forehand smash.
The key to this is to think of pulling the butt end of the club with the leading hand while pushing it with the power hand (the lower hand on the club). But you wouldn’t be pulling the club down with leading hand, you’d be pulling up on it! And this is where most people would look at the swing with completely new eyes.
If you think of the shoulders as turning vertically on a wheel axis (like a steering wheel or Ferris wheel, instead of a merry-go round), you will see in an efficient swing that the left shoulder comes up and back through impact, while the right shoulder moves down and forward. If a line was drawn through the shoulders, they would form a spoke, if you will, in a wheel that must turn counter-clockwise on the down swing (for a left-hander, the wheel of course turns clockwise looking at the swing head-on).
The leverage in the swing is created by the “pull” of the left side against the swing, and you add power and acceleration with the “push” of the right arm extending through the down swing. At impact the right arm is still bent, but in the process of extending in the “throw” action of a side-arm baseball throw.