Axial or Large?

May 14, 2024 by
Axial or Large?
Motor Preferences Experts, Aurélien Van Stichelen
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Jack Nicklaus' distinctive flying right elbow backswing technique was defined as "unorthodox" and rarely endorsed by traditional golf instruction. Yet, it's widely acknowledged that this move played a significant role in his remarkable power on the course, as evidenced by his impressive record of 73 PGA Tour wins and 18 majors. In contrast, we have the esteemed player Ben Hogan, who famously championed the approach of tucking the right elbow in his swing technique.

In modern golf instruction, there remains a prominent focus on tucking the right elbow inward at the apex of the backswing. This emphasis is intended to improve connection and coordination by encouraging golfers to bring their arms closer together at the address position and sustain this connection throughout the entirety of the swing. This approach has led to the proliferation of training aids like belts and arm-positioning devices designed to maintain this connection throughout the swing. At present, the widely recognized ball inserted between the arms, specifically crafted to promote arm compression, emerges as a favored tool employed for this objective.

However, the reality is that both techniques are entirely valid. This is yet another preference that Motor Preferences Expert illuminates. Some golfers prefer to keep their masses close to the axis of the body, moving primarily in the sagittal plane. In contrast, others prefer a more significant movement away from the axis, favoring the frontal plane.

An axial golfer tends to direct their masses along the sagittal plane, moving back and forth akin to navigating a corridor. During the backswing, their right elbow typically shifts inward, folding early in the takeaway, along with an early wrist break. This leads to a narrower triangle at the top of the backswing, with the right elbow appearing more inwardly oriented.

Conversely, a large golfer favors movement along the frontal plane, characterized by more movement from right to left (or left to right). In their backswing, the right elbow tends to extend outward, with the fold occurring later in the takeaway, alongside a delayed wrist break. Consequently, this results in a wider triangle at the top of the backswing, with the right elbow exhibiting a more outward orientation.

Understanding and recognizing these preferences is critical for guiding golfers toward optimal coordination and sensation. Whether it's the timing of wrists or the position of the right elbow, these differences can significantly impact a player's game, allowing them to align their technique with their natural movement tendencies for enhanced performance.

It's important to reiterate that each individual traverses these preferences uniquely—we may lean more towards the large or axial end of the spectrum or fall somewhere in between. As we're all distinct, adjustments tailored to our specific tendencies are necessary to optimize movement efficiency. These adjustments are essential due to our individual internal processes, which shape our identities as humans.


It's worth noting that we haven't conducted direct tests on these players; instead, our analyses are based on expert evaluation of videos.

in Golf
Axial or Large?
Motor Preferences Experts, Aurélien Van Stichelen May 14, 2024
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