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Wrists at the Top of the Backswing (The Secret Cure to Square The Clubface)

HackMotion
Last updated on February 19, 2024

Is your clubface square at the top of your backswing? Are your wrists in the right position? Do you even know what the right position is?

The wrist position in the golf swing (especially at the top) is often misunderstood.

I’ll show you the importance of proper positioning, how you can measure your wrist position at the top, and what it will do for your game to have the wrist in the right place.

We have analyzed more than 1,000,000 golf swings of the best players in the world, and it’s given us some tremendous insight into what works and how the wrist at the top can make or break your success at impact.

Wrists at the Top of the Backswing – Key Takeaways

If you have to come back to this complete guide of wrists at the top of the backswing later, here is some information to take with you for now.

  • The position of your grip at setup will impact your wrist position at the top of the backswing. The weaker your grip, the easier it is to get into a bowed position at the top; the stronger the grip, the more extended your wrist will get.
  • A flat to slightly bowed wrist is the best position for achieving a square clubface at impact and higher speeds through the ball.
  • There is no perfect wrist position at the top of the swing. Instead, you must ensure that there is not too much extension to inhibit the clubface squaring at impact.
  • The HackMotion will measure your wrist angle in real time and help you determine the exact position you need throughout your golf swing.

Wrists in the Golf Swing Explained

Before we get into fixing your wrist position at the top of the backswing, it’s essential to review what that wrist position looks like.

There are three motions of the wrist that you must know: extension/flexion, radial deviation/ulnar deviation, and rotation.

wrist positions in golf

Extension/Flexion

If you hold your arm out in front of you and pull your hand up so you see the back of your hand or push your hand down so your fingers are no longer visible, you are extending and flexing your wrist.

Why are extension and flexion (cupping and bowing) so important at the top of the backswing?

The extension/flexion is what directly controls the opening and closing of the clubface. Extension will open the face of your golf club; flexion will close it.

Radial Deviation/Ulnar Deviation

The radial deviation/ulnar deviation is the cocking and uncocking of the wrists. Cocking your wrists in the golf swing will show the thumb of the lead hand moving closer to the forearm. When you uncock, the thumb moves away from the forearm.

If your backswing has more radial deviation, it increases the amount of wrist cock; ulnar deviation decreases it.

Rotation

Rotation is the process of turning the entire wrist. Pronation and supination are the technical terms we use for wrist rotation. When looking at these positions, you will notice that it is more the forearm turning than the wrist.

Pronation is the rotation of your wrists when your thumb is moving down; supination is when your thumb is moving back up, and more of your palm is visible.

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How Should the Lead Wrist be at the Top of the Backswing?

The left wrist is the lead wrist for right-handed players (for lefty golfers, this information would apply to the right wrist).

To determine the proper left wrist position at the top of the backswing, we have to look at professionals and what they are doing with their wrists.

Professional Data

The first and most important thing you need to know about the wrists at the top of the backswing is that professionals have less extension (or cupping) than amateurs do. How they get to this position and what they do after the top of the backswing differs. However, too much extension in their lead wrist can make it difficult to square the clubface.

From setup to the top of the backswing, a tour player does not increase extension in their wrists.

At the top of the backswing, the player is typically in a flat wrist position, and from this point, they bow the wrist or flex slightly until after the impact position.

Why is professional data different from amateur data? Control.

Golf professionals know what it takes to control a golf club face, and to do this, they know the wrists must be in the proper position. You can see from the chart below that even golfers in the scratch to 10 handicap range have about 14.5 degrees of extension at the top, as compared to a higher handicapper with at least ten more degrees of extension.

Amateur Data

Most amateur golfers start with some extension in their wrists, then continue to add the extension as the club moves to the top of the backswing. If you extend too much at the top of the backswing, squaring the clubface at impact takes quite a bit of manipulation.

Sure, many players can accomplish this, but can it be done every time? Is it repeatable? Most of the time, the answer is no.

If you look at the chart below, there is a direct correlation between the amount of extension at the top of the backswing and the player’s handicap. It is not to say that all professionals have no extension or flexion instead of extension.

The key is that when you can control the extension in the lead wrists, you can get closer to that slightly flexed position at impact.

HandicapExtension at AddressExtension at TopExtension at ImpactChange Address to TopChange Address to Impact
Less than 1019.314.53.6-4.8-15.6
Between 10 and 2519.617.09.0-2.5-10.5
More than 2518.824.310.75.5-8.1

What is the Correct Wrist Position at the Top of Your Golf Swing?

If we could say that a specific amount of extension allowed for perfect impact, it would make this learning curve quite a bit easier.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The wrist position is not the same from one player to another. We all have different positions our hands are in during the grip, and our bodies are different with our hand and wrist connection.

What we have learned, however, is that there are patterns seen in the world of golf that help us to understand what works and what doesn’t work in the golf swing.

flexed vs flat vs extended wrist positions in golf at the top of the backswing

Cupped

The cupped wrist is the wrist that has a bit more extension. It’s common to have extension at the top.

Many amateur golfers have the same amount of extension at the top that they did at setup, and that’s entirely fine. The goal isn’t necessarily to get rid of all extension; it’s to get to a position where you can recover from.

In other words, can you take that extended wrist and still get to a flat or slightly flexed position at impact?

If you have noticed that your wrist is too cupped, working with HackMotion can help to get it in the correct position.

Bowed

A bowed wrist is the opposite of a cupped wrist. Golfers like Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa have a bowed wrist at the top of their backswing. When the wrist is bowed, the clubface is more closed.

A closed clubface at the top can lead to a closed clubface at impact. However, with the proper body rotation through the ball, a slightly closed clubface can ensure a square and powerful strike. A bowed wrist position, when timed correctly, is a good thing, but many golfers struggle to get to this bowed position.

In fact, after studying more than 1,000,000 golf swings, we have found that golfers bowed at the top get to impact with more power and consistency.

It takes a lot of flexibility in the wrists to reach a bowed position as extreme as Dustin Johnson’s. For some golfers, exaggerating this bowed wrist position can lead to a wrist injury, as the motion is unnatural.

Start by working on getting a flat lead wrist position, and from there, see how much of a bowed wrist position feels comfortable and achievable to you.

wrist position at the top of the backswing and hackmotion app

Flat

Finally, there is the flat wrist at the top of the backswing. The flat wrist is considered to be an ideal position simply because it’s easy to square the clubface at impact when you know it’s square at the top.

The flat wrist position is hard to achieve for some golfers. There are times when the initial grip position can lead to the wrist at the top being bowed or cupped.

A strong grip often leads to a more cupped position, and a weak grip leads to a more bowed position.

Why Does Wrist Position at the Top of the Swing Matter?

All of these data and insights about the wrist position at the top of the swing can make a big difference in your game; here’s why:

  • Golfers with better wrist positions at the top get more distance.
  • Having the right wrist position at the top leads to a straighter shot.
  • When the wrist position at the top is correct, you can learn to work the ball and control the ball flight of the shots you hit.
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How to Get the Right Wrist Position in Golf

Working on the wrist position at the top of the backswing can be a little tricky. In addition to it being impossible to see where your wrist is located, you also can’t feel it.

Check Your Grip

The grip position is the first place to start when working on getting the right wrist position in golf. Your grip should be as close to neutral as possible.

With a neutral position of the hands, a flat wrist position at the top is much easier to achieve. Take a look at this video explaining the differences between different grip positions.

Experiment with grip changes on the range and use a forgiving club like an 8 iron or 9 iron to test if the new position works for you.

Take a Video

It’s easier than ever to take a video of your golf swing.

Have a friend help you take a few swings, and then watch these in slow motion to see what position your wrists are in at the top of your backswing.

If your wrist looks extended or flexed, you can then develop a practice plan to help you feel that you can get your wrist to the proper position.

Use HackMotion

The best way to work on your wrists at the top of the backswing is to use the HackMotion audio feedback tool.

The HackMotion audio feedback feature allows you to establish a baseline for your wrist position and monitor all swings to see if you are making the appropriate changes.

Step 1

Take a few swings to measure the wrist movement.

Pay close attention to the differences between extension (cupping) at address, the top of the backswing, and during the transition.

For example, the player has a 20-degree difference in extension, 30 degrees at the address and 50 degrees at the top. Decreasing the extension at the top of the swing can make squaring the clubface easier.

Step 2

Set the audio feedback range for wrists based on your data. In this example, with flexion/extension (bowing/cupping), we suggest setting the range between 10 and 30 degrees.

Step 3

Do slow rehearsals with real-time feedback. After you get used to the new feel, take some full-speed swings.

Wrist Position Drill

The great news about finding the proper wrist position in the golf swing is that once you find it, it’s much easier to repeat. The drill shown in this video has you separate your hands on the club to feel the proper position of the wrist during takeaway and then at the top of the backswing.

When your hands are separated in this way, you will have difficulty overextending the lead wrist (which is a good thing!).

Pipe Cleaner or Gear Tie Drill

For this drill, you will attach a gear tie to your shaft and ensure that part of it is pointing up. The video explains the importance of this visualization and how it helps you as you swing the club back and eventually get it to the top of the backswing.

When working on fixing your wrist position, combining visual, auditory, and kinetic learning is incredibly effective.

FAQs

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the wrists at the top of the backswing.

Remember that there is no perfect wrist position; instead, pay attention to patterns and what helps you get the clubface square at impact.

Should your wrist be flat or cupped at the top of the backswing?

A flat wrist at the top of the backswing is a very consistent position to have your wrist in.

From the flat wrist position, you can usually square the clubface up and hit a straight shot. With a cupped wrist, more work is needed to get the clubface flexed at the ball.

Should you bow your wrist at the top of the backswing?

Golfers like Dustin Johnson and even Jon Rahm have a lot of luck with bowing their wrists at the top of the backswing.

A slightly bowed wrist at impact is generally a good position to be in; we also know that professional golfers can get their wrists less extended on their downswing.

How should club face look at top of the backswing?

A square to slightly closed clubface at the top of the backswing is the best position for most amateur and professional golfers.

Final Thoughts

At this point, you should know how the wrists at the top of your backswing should be positioned, how to fix errors in your game, and why wrist position matters.

Don’t expect to fix your wrists overnight. The process will take some practice on the range. When you work with HackMotion, you will see quicker results.

Golfers with a square clubface at the top of their swing have so much more confidence in their ability to hit straight golf shots. Time invested in perfecting the wrist position is worth it!

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