Did you know that a high handicap golfer has an average of 24.3 degrees of extension in their lead wrist at the top of their golf swing? Lower handicap golfers have about 14.5 degrees at the top of the backswing.
Why is this important?
A cupped or bowed wrist at the top of the backswing makes it much harder to square the clubface and hit a straight shot. In fact, after analyzing more than 1,000,000 golf swings, we know that a flat or even slightly bowed wrist at the top is a better position to be in.
Let’s take a look at what a cupped wrist is, how it will impact your golf game, and what you can do to fix it.
- What is a Cupped Wrist at the Top of the Backswing?
- What Does a Cupped Wrist Look Like?
- Wrists in the Golf Swing Explained
- What is the Proper Wrist Position?
- How Do I Stop My Wrist From Cupping in the Golf Swing?
- Drills and Tips to Fix Cupped Wrist Position
- Final Thoughts
If you don’t have time to go through our entire guide on wrist cupping at the top of the backswing, here are the key takeaways to consider.
- A lead wrist at this cupped at the top of the backswing has too much extension; the less extension you have at the top, the easier it is to fire through impact with speed and better body rotation.
- Amateur golfers make mistakes in their backswing, and even at setup that leads them to a position with a cupped lead wrist (backswing too upright, grip too strong, using hands and wrists instead of larger muscles to take the club back).
- Using HackMotion audio feedback in combination with hitting golf balls and developing feel is the most effective way to get a flatter or more bowed wrist at the top of the swing.
- A cupped wrist at the top of the backswing will directly impact total distance, consistency, and ball flight at impact.
- There is a direct correlation between the extension at the top of a backswing and the extension (cupping) at impact.
Take control of your golf game by learning wrist mechanics with our FREE wrist motion online guide.
What is a Cupped Wrist at the Top of the Backswing?
A cupped wrist is a position where the back of the hand (left hand for a right-handed golfer) has an arch to it. The arch is upwards, towards the forearm, so the wrist makes almost a concave shape.
A cupped wrist is not in a good position.
The cupped wrist can lead to an open clubface, inconsistency in the ball striking, and a definite loss of power.
Taking a video of your swing and looking for this position is one way to tell if you have a cupped wrist; in addition, you can put the HackMotion sensor on and see if your wrist is too extended at the top.
What Does a Cupped Wrist Look Like?
To see what a cupped wrist looks like, you often have to compare a golfer with a flat wrist to a golfer with this cupped position.
Although the cupped wrist can cause problems with consistency and clubface control, some players have played with a cupped wrist their entire career. For instance, Ben Hogan and Webb Simpson have been known to have some cupping in their wrists at the top of the backswing.
The opposite of this would be a player like Dustin Johnson, who has a bowed wrist at the top.
Wrists in the Golf Swing Explained
Before we can explore exactly how to fix this cupped wrist position in your backswing, we have to look at how the wrists work in the golf swing.
There are three basic movements that you must understand:
- Radial deviation/ulnar deviation
The bowing and cupping or extension and flexion of the wrists will open and close the clubface. More specifically, the extension opens the face, and flexion closes it.
If you want more control of your golf shots, this is the first place to look.
Radial Deviation/Ulnar Deviation
Radial deviation and ulnar deviation refer to the cocking and uncocking of the wrists. If you think of flexion and extension as an up-and-down movement, the radial and ulnar deviation would be more of a side-to-side movement. Radial and ulnar deviation impact power in the swing.
Rotation is the last of the three wrist movements, and you may hear of this as pronation or supination. Most golfers feel this more in their forearms as a twisting movement because the entire arm can rotate, not just the wrist.
What is the Proper Wrist Position?
As we often talk about when we analyze HackMotion and what it has to offer, there will never be one specific wrist position that is perfect.
It would be great if we could tell you that 15 degrees or 10 degrees of extension was perfect, but that is not the case. Instead, we need to look at trends that we see from the best players in the game.
The significant trend here is less extension or cupping of the wrist at the top of the backswing.
Proper Wrist Extension Patterns
Many amateur players start with too much extension and then add it as they go up to the top of the backswing. From this point, with a cupped wrist and open clubface, there is so much work to do to return a clubface to square.
Take a look at the chart below and notice how the lower handicap golfers and even mid-handicap golfers decrease extension from the address to the top of the swing.
As a result, they have less cupping at impact and a more square clubface.
For the higher handicappers, you can see that extension (or cupping) is increased from the address to the top, and therefore at impact, it’s just much harder to lose this extension.
What does this do to ball flight?
It almost always creates inconsistency, but in addition, the clubface is often open. Your swing, setup, and body will make your wrist positions unique. However, at the top of the swing, a flatter wrist leads to a more consistent impact, more distance, and a square clubface.
|Handicap||Extension at Address||Extension at Top||Extension at Impact||Change Address to Top||Change Address to Impact|
|Less than 10||19.3||14.5||3.6||-4.8||-15.6|
|Between 10 and 25||19.6||17.0||9.0||-2.5||-10.5|
|More than 25||18.8||24.3||10.7||5.5||-8.1|
How Do I Stop My Wrist From Cupping in the Golf Swing?
The hardest part about stopping a cupped wrist at the top of the backswing is feeling this position. Most of the time, it’s difficult to feel what the clubhead is doing, and we often have other swing thoughts keeping us from focusing on this point.
Therefore, the best possible way to stop a wrist from cupping in the golf swing is to:
- Practice drills that allow you to feel where the clubhead should be.
- Get a perfect setup, stance, posture, and takeaway to ensure you get yourself in the right position at the top of the swing.
- Use biofeedback tools and technology like HackMotion to analyze the wrist position.
- Take a video and analyze the swing after the fact to check on the results.
Drills and Tips to Fix Cupped Wrist Position
If you have identified that your wrist is, in fact, in a cupped position at the top of your backswing, here are a few of the best drills to help you get it straightened out.
The simplest thing to check on first is to ensure that your grip is not causing this problem.
Yes, the grip can throw off the entire golf swing. A golfer with a strong grip (too strong) often has a cupped wrist at the top of the backswing. The stronger grip tends to make getting that flat position or even a slightly bowed wrist more challenging.
If you are still determining how your grip should look, here is an excellent example of a neutral grip, something that most players should aim for when they set up to hit.
HackMotion Wrist Sensor (Measure and Troubleshoot)
One of the most critical features of the HackMotion wrist sensor is the ability to use audio feedback mode. Not only can you first measure your data to see if wrist extension and flexion are a problem, but then you can use the tool to troubleshoot as well.
In this video below, you will see golf instructor Jake Thurm demonstrate how he uses audio biofeedback to help himself and his students with a cupped wrist at the top of the backswing.
The process is very simple, and you can follow these steps to ensure you do the same thing in your practice session.
- Check your extension position at the address; remember that all golfers will have a different amount here based on the strength of your grip and your positioning of the clubhead.
- Set a maximum extension for your wrists at the top of the backswing, and keep the minimum extension very low. Keeping that number low will ensure you can have as much flexion as you want in the backswing while working out this issue.
- The biofeedback tool will play a sound throughout your backswing and downswing to let you know that you are within range. If the sound stops, you know that you have left that range and, therefore, cupped your wrist a bit too much.
Many golfers ask if there can be too much flexion in the golf swing at the top. This is, of course, a possibility.
As we have studied tour players and their data, we have learned that the flatter the lead wrist is, the easier it is to hit consistent and straight golf shots.
Feel the Trail Wrist Bend Backwards
The following three drills are based on a video and expert advice from golf professional Alaistair Davies. One of the most critical points that Alaistair brings to the table is the fact that wrist position is a feel thing, and for some golfers, the feeling will be slightly different.
You may feel this in your wrist, in the shaft, or in the club head.
For the first drill you will feel your trail wrist bending backwards.
- The main intention of your swing should be bending the right wrist (trail wrist) backward at the top of the backswing. You will feel like your right wrist (for right-handed players is bending more toward your forearm. In doing so, you will remove the extension from the lead wrist.
- Make a slow rehearsal and feel how the position of both wrists changes. Look at the live data from HackMotion – have you achieved the desired position?
- Make a full-speed shot and look at the results in HackMotion data: is your swing improving?
- Repeat the drill a few times and track improvements.
Rotate the Shaft at the Top
If the feel in the right wrist is tough for you, then it may be easier to think about the golf shaft and how it moves throughout your golf swing.
This drill requires you to take a tennis ball and place it on the golf shaft during the swing; sometimes, these added visual aids trick our brains into doing what is necessary.
- To have a better illustration of how the shaft is positioned throughout the swing, add a tennis ball to the shaft.
- Make a slow rehearsal; at the top of the backswing, rotate the shaft in a more closed position. Feel like you are moving the tennis ball during this so that it is turned away from you. Look at the live data from HackMotion data to check the lead wrist position.
- Make a full-speed shot and see if the lead wrist position has improved.
Rotate the Clubface
This last drill is for golfers who are good at picturing and moving the clubface in their swings. Some players like thinking about the grip, and others like thinking about the clubface. If you are good at thinking about the clubface, it often leads to a quicker improvement.
- Make a slow rehearsal. At the top of the swing, try to rotate the clubface to a more closed position.
- You can exaggerate the move at this point to train the lead wrist position.
- Make a full-speed shot, and look at the results in HackMotion data: has this drill improved your wrist motion pattern?
HackMotion data makes the process of improving and fixing the cupped wrist at the top of the backswing all that much easier.
Here are a few of the most common questions golfers have about the cupped wrist position and what it could do to your golf swing.
Does a cupped wrist cause a slice?
A cupped wrist is not the only cause of a slice, but it is a leading one. With a cupped wrist at the top of the backswing, there is more extension in the wrist. The extension opens the clubface. If that clubface remains open throughout impact, the ball will go to the right.
Does a strong grip cause a cupped wrist in golf?
A strong grip can cause a more cupped wrist in golf. However, this depends on the overall strength of the grip.
Some players with a slightly stronger grip can use the grip to keep the clubface more square through impact, avoiding creating a weak grip as it could have other issues with wrist position in your swing.
What are tour players with cupped wrist?
If you are looking for an example of a golf professional with a cupped left wrist, Webb Simpson would be one to look at. There are also some pictures and videos of Ben Hogan where you can see a cupped left wrist. These golfers are very talented and still were able to square the clubface.
Can you play golf with a cupped wrist?
You can play golf with a cupped wrist. However, you may make it harder on yourself to generate the speed and squareness you are looking for at impact.
How measuring wrist angles can help you improve?
When working to get better at golf, there is a lot of feel involved. The feel is important, but it is also tough to measure.
Measuring wrist angles gives you a general idea as to whether you are making real changes in your game and how those changes are impacting your ball striking.
We gave you a lot of information to go and implement in your golf game. These actionable tips can be practiced without HackMotion.
However, if you want to see the differences in your game and improve faster, the HackMotion wrist sensor should be included in your practice routine.
Your feedback shapes the future of our articles. Help us deliver the best content for you.
Great to hear! But what could we add to make it even better? Share any suggestions to make this post top-notch.
We're sorry to hear that. Could you share what was missing or off?