Seventy percent of all golfers suffer from early extension, but 99% of Tour players don’t according to the Titleist Performance Institute. That should tell you something about just how big of a swing killer this bad habit can be.
Early extension in the simplest terms is any movement of the lower body toward the golf ball during the downswing. It causes your arms to get “stuck” behind your body and forces your torso to rise up as you come through the ball striking zone, resulting in a two-way miss.
Before you can go about correcting early extension in your swing, you have to determine whether it’s due to a physical limitation or a technical issue with your swing.
When early extension is a physical issue, it usually means you have limited mobility in your ankles, knees, hips and/or spine.
Diagnosing early extension is easy — a simple squat test is all it takes. To perform this squat test, stand with your feet pointing straight forward, about hip-width apart and with your thumbs on your shoulders and hands behind your head. From there, squat down as far as you can.
If you can’t break parallel, or get your thighs past your knees in this position, without rounding your back or leaning forward, you are likely an early extender.
Once you’ve diagnosed your early extension, there are a ton of simple drills and exercises you can do to address it.
One of the easiest drills you can do to address early extension is to get physically closer to the golf ball in your setup. If you take a golf ball-sized step closer to the ball, your hips will be forced to move away from the ball to create space for your arms. This is the exact feeling you want to train to rid your swing of early extension.