early extension in golf

What is Early Extension in Golf?

Early extension is a technical anomaly that a significant majority of golfers suffer from. The term early extension alludes to the lower body moving toward the golf ball during the downswing.

While we don’t want the lower body movement to stop completely, we want to make sure that the movement happens in the right way.

The hips should move toward the target (the direction in which you intend to hit the ball) rather than toward the ball. Hence, the term early extension.

By moving the hips toward the ball, you are moving them too early.

What you really want is for the hips to move toward the target in the later part of the swing rather than before you hit the ball. Early extension usually turns into a habit over time and it affects the swing of a golfer.

How can I find out if I have an early extension problem?

One way is to film yourself from behind, either by asking a friend or placing a phone camera somewhere behind you.

Another way to find out if you are at fault for early extension is to do a squat test. Keep your feet pointing forward and place your hands behind your head. Stick your thumb out and touch your shoulders while your hands are behind your head.

Now, squat down without leaning forward too much or rounding your back. If you cannot go lower than your knees, then you could have an early extension problem.

The longer the club, the more it will reveal early extensions in your game. A longer club makes you adjust your stance and your distance from the ball.

Therefore, there is a higher chance that your body will try to make adjustments which may end up with an early extension. So, if you are unsure about whether you suffer from early extensions, pull out the driver and analyze your shot.

Why does an early extension happen?

There are multiple reasons why early extension happens. Firstly, if you are bringing the club down after your backswing at a steep angle or if the club extends out (away from your body) too much, then the natural adjustment your body tries to make to compensate is to push the hips towards the ball. This is an attempt to bring the club back inside and closer to your body.

An incorrect stance while positioning yourself for the swing is also another common reason for an early extension.

If your knees are bending too much and you are lower close to your heels, then the body tries to push higher up to allow the club to swing without hitting the ground. This pushing-up movement ends up making your hips move toward the ball, thus causing an early extension.

There are certain drills that a golfer can do to correct their early extension problem. These drills are all about positioning, balance, and club swing.

Golf Drills to Fix Early Extension

Find A Wall

Find a wall or door frame. Then, stand close to it in your golfing stance. Even interlock your fingers as you would while holding a golf club.

Position yourself such that your head is just about to touch the wall while you are in the position where the club is about to begin its backswing.

Then, practice your swing in the air and try not to push yourself back in the fear of touching the wall. Start with small, half swings and begin to move freely.

One way to get a good swing is to let the head come down while pushing the hips out a bit. Doing so gives you a lot of power and also enables you to stay in balance. Once you have done the wall drill explained above, you will know how far you need to stand from the ball.

Place A Chair Behind Your Hips

The next drill is to place a chair just behind your hips, leaving a small gap for them to extend at the peak of your backswing. You want your hips to touch the chair gently and then power through the swing.

Try To Stay In Posture As You Hit The Ball

If you are filming yourself, analyze your lower body movement as you swing. The idea is to try and stay in posture, as you push your hips out, and move the hips only in the follow-through.

The longer you try to stay in posture, the lower the chances of you getting into an early extension. The hips should not move toward the ball.

Use Your Ball Basket

Similar to the chair drill, you can work on your posture by putting your golf ball basket to some use. Get in your golf stance and then place the ball basket behind your front calf. The front calf is on the leg that is closer to the target where you intend to hit the ball.

Keep about an inch of gap between your calf and the basket. Then, practice your swing in the air and try to ensure that you move your hips towards the target (forward) and not towards the ball.

Doing so will automatically make your front calf touch the basket. Do half or partial swings initially and make sure the calf touches the basket while the hips move forward.

Pay Attention To Your Heels

A golf swing with an early extension usually will involve the weight of the body transferring more toward the front of the lead foot. This is because your hips move towards the ball, thus making you lean forward and transfer your weight to the front part of the lead foot.

A correct swing will involve weight getting transferred more toward the heel of the front foot. So, if you feel more pressure toward the heel, you are on the right track.

We hope that you now understand what early extension is, why it happens, how you can identify it, and then fix it. Good luck with the drills.

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