10 causes and fixes of the dreaded ‘chicken wing’

GOLF Top 100 Teacher Kellie Stenzel explains why golfers have a 'chicken wing' swing, and offers tips for correcting the issue

Many golfers have a 'chicken wing' swing, but why does it happen? We explain - and offer ways to correct the issue.

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Many golfers have heard about the dreaded “chicken wing” in their swing, but what makes it so bad? Well, a chicken wing is when your arms contract so that your elbows separate, causing the lead elbow to point up. When this happens — as anyone who has this issue can attest — the quality of the shot is negatively impacted.

But there’s hope! While the chicken wing motion often happens due to other issues in the swing, by following the below steps, every golfer can fix these mistakes for a more efficient (and productive) swing.

Home Practice: How to fix your chicken wing and eliminate toe strikes
By: Luke Kerr-Dineen

How to identify (and fix) your ‘chicken wing’ swing

If you’re a golfer who knows that you tend to chicken wing, you need to understand that you’re likely doing something earlier; which leads to the unnecessary motion. By pulling your arms in towards your body, you’ll shallow your swing, which will help correct the issue.

While advice from your teacher will also help, for those who don’t have a teacher, Skillest is a great app where I give online lessons. There are many great teachers on the platform, so it’s a resource many golfers should utilize as much as possible.

But before making an appointment with your teacher our downloading Skillest, give my tips below a look. They help explain why golfers chicken wing, and provide some ways to fix the problem.

1. Too crowded at the address

When a player is too crowded at address, this will cause the need to pull the arms in and “chicken wing” to avoid the club hitting too much into the ground. Crowded posture — where there isn’t enough room for your arms to hang — will almost always cause this pulling in.

2. Fix your posture and spacing

To correct your posture and spacing, be sure to bend forward from your hips so that your arms can hang directly below your shoulders. Avoid being so close that your hands are nearly touching your leg. If this does happen, you’ll become too crowded, and you’ll lose the bend forward from your hips.

3. Pay attention to your upward motion

Trying to lift the golf ball incorrectly can sometimes cause the chicken wing. How a golf ball gets into the air is a bit counterintuitive.

When the ball is on the ground, the club needs to hit the ground. But if you think you need to help the ball get into the air by lifting up, this will look like a golfer who has incorrect upward motion. The divot board is a great tool to teach players how to hit the ground in the correct location.

4. Don’t be afraid of making a divot

Making a divot and chunking the ball are two different things. So if you approach an iron shot with fear of touching the ground, you’re not going to hit the ball pure.

To correct this, you first need to be willing to hit the ground with the bottom of your club. If you intentionally straighten your trail arm on your downswing — sort of like you’re throwing a ball in your hand toward the ground — this will have the arms extending down, leading to better contact and flight.

5. Your downswing path may be out of whack

If you tend to slice the ball, this is often caused by a steeper downswing path — often described as “over the top”. This downswing path tends to be steep, so a chicken wing very often accompanies this as an effort to shallow the steepness.

6. Keep the lead arm close

In order to fully extend your arms — rather than using a chicken win to correct and shallow your swing — be sure to keep your lead underarm close to your chest. By allowing your arms to drop as you start your downswing, you’ll help improve this downswing path.

7. Try rotating through your backswing

A backswing that travels too straight back for too long can delay your turn. If you don’t turn on your backswing, once again, you would need to shallow this steepness by pulling in your arms.

8. Extend your arms coming down

Your lead underarm should remain close to your chest on your backswing. This will help rotate your upper body, and keep the swing from being too steep. Your arms can then extend down towards the ground.

9. Have a strong base for good balance

Balance is always important for good, solid contact. If you fall too far forward and your head drops down, this could cause the club to get stuck in the ground. This is often accompanied by players pulling their arms in and chicken-winging.

10. Have your arms and legs work in unison

Take practice swings with your feet together, which will help improve your balance. When balance is good throughout the full swing and your arms fall straight, like aspects mentioned earlier, you won’t feel the need to pull your arms in.

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