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Forearm Rotation in the Golf Swing: A Detailed Guide to Optimizing Your Swing

Forearm rotation in the golf swing confuses golfers.

The good news is forearm rotation does not need to be incredibly confusing. The bad news is you have to learn forearm rotation if you want to play great golf.

How should the forearms be moving throughout the swing? What is too much? What is too little? What happens due to each of those potential outcomes related to your forearms?

After analyzing more than 1,000,000 golf swings with HackMotion, we have learned exactly what the forearms do, how they rotate, and how you can get your golf shots longer and straighter with the help of proper forearm rotation.

Forearm Rotation in the Golf Swing – Key Takeaways

Don’t have time to read my entire article? Here are the key takeaways:

  • Forearm rotation in the golf swing needs to happen; the amount of forearm rotation will depend on the golfer’s takeaway and their position at the top of the golf swing.
  • Proper forearm rotation will encourage a straighter shot with more distance.
  • It’s crucial to understand the difference between forearm rotation and shoulder rotation; you can rotate the forearms without over rotating the shoulders.
  • The correct amount of lead wrist extension throughout the downswing will make it easier to rotate your forearms.
  • To make it easier to rotate the forearms through impact correctly, start with a takeaway that has very little or almost no forearm rotation.
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What is Forearm Rotation in the Golf Swing?

The quick answer is that forearm rotation is the amount of rotation that happens with your lead and trail forearm during the golf swing. Rotation of the forearm is referred to as Pronation and Supination.

  • Pronation – The inward rotation of your forearms. To picture this, you can imagine your palms rotating down towards the ground.
  • Supination – The outward rotation of your forearms. To picture this, you can imagine your palms rotating up towards the sky.

Forearm rotation will directly impact the shape of the shots you hit and how much speed and power you can produce through impact. The timing of the forearm rotation and the actual amount of rotation are both factors that need to be considered.

rotation example on HackMotion app iPad view

Wrist Action and Forearm Rotation

Your wrist and hands, which are responsible for holding the club and controlling the clubface, are connected to your forearms.

So, your forearms play a significant role in influencing the wrists and hands and vice versa.

Since the movement of the forearms directly correlates to your wrists and hands, you need to keep in mind terms relating to them as well.

  • Wrist Extension – The movement of the back of the hand towards the top of your forearm.
  • Wrist Flexion – The movement of your palm towards the underside of your forearm.
  • Wrist Radial Deviation – The side movement of your wrist towards your Radius bone.
  • Wrist Ulnar Deviation – The side movement of your wrist towards your Ulna bone.
wrist positions in golf

How Your Forearms Should Rotate During Golf Swing

Let’s break down how the forearms work in the four most important parts of the swing: the Backswing, Downswing, Impact, and Post-Impact.


Setting up your forearms correctly in your backswing will make getting the proper forearm rotation through impact much easier. As you take the club back, here are the things to remember.

  • Forearms stay in front of you and are connected in the backswing.
  • The idea is to take that one piece takeaway where there is no real forearm rotation happening for the first part of the backswing.
  • The trail forearm will move into supination, rotating up towards the sky at the same time your lead arm moves into pronation, down towards the ground.

Your lead forearm should rotate about 45 degrees in pronation on the backswing and the trail forearm 45 degrees in supination. With proper backswing rotation of the forearms, the wrists at the top of the backswing should fall into the right position.

As you reach the top of the swing, your lead wrist should be flat and in line with your lead forearm. Your trail wrist should be slightly extended, and your trail forearm should be vertical, with the elbow pointing down toward the ground.

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Downswing and Impact

As you transition down from the top of your swing, you want to have the feeling of steadily releasing or “rolling over” the forearms. The amount you need to rotate your forearms depends on how much body rotation you have.

Players who rotate and clear their body very well on the downswing and through impact will not need as much forearm rotation as someone who doesn’t. Additionally, how your club face is orientated as it comes into the ball will influence how much forearm rotation you need to square up the face at impact.

I want to return quickly to the idea of “rolling over” the forearms moving into impact. This movement is the working of the lead forearm into Supination and the trail into Pronation.

Remember, this is a moment in time, and considering the swing only takes 1.2 seconds from start to finish, you have zero time to think about this while in action. This is precisely why HackMotion has become an optimal tool for measuring forearm rotation in real time.

Post Impact

What happens after impact should happen because everything else is in place on the downswing.

If your forearms and wrists have continued to rotate properly on the downswing, your lead wrist and arm should be slightly ahead of the club head at impact and the face square as it strikes the ball.

As you follow through and fully release the club, you must allow your forearms and wrists to rotate as the club extends toward the target and moves left (for righties). Ultimately, you will finish well-balanced and in a strong finish position.

Your trail forearm will get to a point of being over the lead forearm, the opposite of what it looks and feels like in the backswing.

Poor Forearm Rotation – Too Much and Too Little

Many amateur golfers, especially beginners, have a few preconceived ideas about hitting a golf ball.

Let’s look at three of these…

Not Enough Forearm Rotation on the Backswing

First, many golfers understand the relationship between the clubface, the ball, and the target when trying to hit a straight shot.

The mistake many make is keeping the clubface as square as possible to the target for as long as possible.

These individuals often ignore or do not understand that the swing is a rotational movement around a fixed point. If you test this for yourself right now and work on keeping the clubface pointing straight to the target for your entire backswing, you can quickly see it limits your forearm rotation.

Instead, once the club gets to near your trail hip, the forearm rotation needs to start. Having that one piece takeaway is ideal, but then you must make that transition into rotation to be able to move the club up higher and around you.

Poor Timing of Forearm Rotation

Maybe you know that you need to rotate your forearms, but you can’t quite figure out the timing of it. Some golfers who are a little late to rotate their forearms will actually overrate the arms. They rotate them too soon on the takeaway, leaving the club behind.

Golfers must understand that the golf club is designed to require the toe of the face to rotate around the shaft. With that in mind, it is necessary to rotate the club and allow the clubhead’s weight to work how it was designed to.

The video below shows an example of issues that can happen because of poor forearm rotation.

Due to an early and exaggerated rotation of the forearms, this golfer has created problems elsewhere in his swing. He gets the face of the club too open on the takeaway and too much behind him.

With the HackMotion golf swing analyzer, you won’t struggle to find the proper ranges for forearm rotation; HackMotion will do this for you.

Not only does HackMotion measure and track your wrist movements, but it also looks at your forearm supination and Pronation. Having data, as well as biofeedback, can help in ingraining new and proper feelings. In the video below, Coach Zach Allen uses HackMotion to discuss forearm supination. This video is well worth watching.

Rotating Shoulders and Not Forearms

To rotate your forearms correctly, you must be sure you are not rotating your shoulders. Shoulder rotation and forearm rotation are two different things.

Without a club in your hand, work on rotating your forearms. Now rotate your shoulders.

Do you see how these two movements are different? The issue is that many players, in trying to rotate their forearms on the downswing, will actually try to rotate their shoulders. This can cause an over the top motion and a host of other golf swing errors.

This video from Golf Smart Academy gives some good insight into proper forearm rotation and its impact on your golf game.

The Role of Wrist Extension and Flexion in Forearm Rotation

Forearm rotation in the golf swing is impacted by the extension and flexion in the lead wrist. One of the best ways to use HackMotion is to measure the lead wrist extension from the address to the top of the swing to impact.

When the wrist is too extended, it becomes very difficult to rotate the forearm correctly throughout the swing.

If you find that your forearm rotation is lacking or happening too late behind, check to ensure your wrist is not too extended at the top of your swing.

Amateur golfers tend to add extension from the address position to the top of the swing and then neglect to reduce that extension through impact.

correct golf swing sequence

Drills to Work on Forearm Rotation

Now that we have a better idea as to how the forearms are supposed to work in the golf swing, let’s go through three different drills that can help with your forearm rotation and get you into the proper position.

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1. What do you want to improve in your full swing?

Hit it Hard Drill

In this video from Zach Allen, you can learn about a drill that Jon Rahm used to try and hit the ball further, rotate the forearms and ensure that his swing was in the proper position. One of the things that great forearm rotation can do for your golf swing is increased power and speed.

To do this drill you start the club back in a one piece takeaway that involves no forearm rotation. When the club gets parallel from the ground, you stop, rotate, and then hit the ball as hard as you can. The theory here is that you will have no option but to rotate your forearms and rotate them efficiently.

HackMotion Drill

Feeling forearm rotation and measuring forearm rotation are two different things. With HackMotion you can measure the specific forearm rotation you have in your backswing and your downswing.

Remember, there is no perfect amount of forearm rotation. However, you can look at forearm rotation patterns of the professionals and compare your swing to it.

You will notice that the swing starts out with almost no forearm rotation. Then, the forearm rotates to take you to the top of the swing. Finally, the forearms switch and start rotating in the opposite direction to take you through impact.

Use HackMotion audio feedback to help get your club on the plane and ensure you are rotating your forearms correctly.

Club in Line with Shoulder Drill

For this last drill, you can watch this video from Eric Cognoro, where he explains the importance of forearm rotation and addresses the fears that people have with proper timing and consistency.

With this drill, you will set up as if you are going to hit a shot and then stand up and hold the club out in front of you. From this point, you will bend your hands up a bit so that the club looks as though it’s going to tap your lead shoulder.

Now rotate through to your target and then add in a little pivot or tilt to get the position you would normally be in for your typical shot. This drill shows you exactly how your forearms will rotate as you move through the ball and the position you will need to be in as you get toward impact.

Summing It Up

Improvement in any of the little nuances that make up the golf swing requires a few things.

First is having an understanding of all aspects of the game. From set-up to the in-swing fundamentals, having a clear grasp of key concepts is your starting point.

Next, you must understand what your current tendencies are and what faults you may have. Working with a coach and dissecting a video of your swing will help you in this regard.

The last step is practicing what you and your coach decide as the best course of action to tackle your imperfections.

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Brendon Elliott
written by Brendon Elliott

PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert.