Role of Wrist Angles in the Golf Swing

Wrist Angles Control the Clubface

Consistent golf requires consistent contact of the clubface to the ball. The clubface angle determines 80% of the ball flight direction, according to launch monitor data. Your wrists directly control the clubface angle.

Learning to measure and optimize wrist motion is a shortcut to better golf. Wrist related swing faults like too much extension (cupping) in the downswing, over hinging wrists when trying to create lag, or flipping wrists at impact are common among golfers.

As a result, golfers often struggle with open clubface, it causes slices and other inconsistencies. With correct wrist motion and better clubface control, most golfers can improve the accuracy and consistency of their golf shots. 

Let’s now take a look at how each type of wrist motion influences the clubface!

How the wrist moves

First, you need to understand how the wrist can move.

There are 3 types of wrist movements you should be able to identify:

  • Flexion/Extension – also called Bowing/Cupping, Arching/Bending the wrist
  • Radial/Ulnar deviation – also called Cocking/Uncocking the wrist
  • Rotation – global rotation of the forearm

Lead Wrist Extension/Flexion opens and closes the clubface

Wrist extending (cupping/bending) and flexing (bowing/arching) are the motions that open and close the clubface. Extension opens the clubface, flexion closes the clubface. The more control over flexion/extension you have, the better you will control the clubface and shot direction.

Increasing wrist extension in transition steepens the club while more flexion shallows the club.

The most common problem for amateurs is having too much lead wrist extension at the top and during the downswing, which leads to open clubface and slicing.

You can read more on how to measure and correct excessive extension by following this link.

Image 1: more flexion (bowing/arching) – closes the clubface earlier and helps to square it to target

Image 2: more extension (cupping/bending) – opens the clubface and delays squaring it to target

Radial/Ulnar deviation is the amount of wrist cock

Radial/Ulnar deviation is often called cocking and uncocking. This motion is an important power source in the swing. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood parts of the swing. On video, it looks like tour players are adding wrist cock during downswing. Many amateur players try to mimic tour players, adding wrist cock in hopes of increasing their lag and distance.

However, 3D wrist data shows that most tour players are not adding massive amounts of wrist cock during downswing, but are actually keeping it constant or decreasing it. This happens because radial/ulnar deviation is a “coupled” motion with extension/flexion. The more you add radial deviation, the more the wrist extends, which opens the clubface and makes it harder to control.

Image 1: Increased radial deviation cocks the wrist

Image 2: Increased. ulnar deviation uncocks the wrist

Rotation is important for squaring the clubface

Rotation is a key motion, responsible for closing the clubface as it approaches impact with the ball. Not enough rotation before impact can leave the clubface open, resulting in slices that push the ball to the right. Too much rotation will close the clubface, resulting in the ball pulling left.

Hackmotion sensor’s 3D data shows that tour players are rotating through impact quite a lot, contrary to the belief that they have a minimum amount of rotation. The difference with tour players is that they rotate consistently – repeating the same amount of rotation in each swing. Pro golfers match rotation with flexion/extension, squaring the clubface. Using the Hackmotion sensor, you can track the amount of rotation you have, keeping it consistent from swing to swing.

Image 1: Lead forearm rotated open (clockwise motion) before impact

Image 2: Lead forearm is square

Image 3: Lead forearm rotated closed (counter-clockwise motion) after impact

Short game and putting

Wrist angles are also crucial for the short game. In pitching/chipping, understanding how the clubface behaves helps create different ball flight trajectories and spin levels. HackMotion also measures short game shots.

In putting, every degree of wrist angle change can influence the clubface. Consistency in your wrist angles is key for consistency in putting. Read more about using HackMotion Sensor for putting HERE!

All of our information is based on carefully analyzed pro player data, developed together with leading golf instructors.

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How measuring wrist angles can help you improve

HackMotion allows you to precisely measure and optimize wrist motion. After each swing, you get both a precise measurement and sound feedback, allowing you to track progress from swing to swing and from lesson to lesson. Data can be compared to previous swings and to tour players to better understand what you want to work on.

Take a look at the video below, where coach Martin Chuck gives a short introduction on how the HackMotion sensor works.

Martin Chuck PGA, Explains HackMotion

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Please note that HackMotion Player sensor offers only extension/flexion data in full swing and extension/flexion + radial/ulnar deviation in putting. The complete set of data is available with HackMotion Pro sensor.

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The 3 Tour Wrist Patterns

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Learn from      SCOTT COWX      PGA Canada coach of the year

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