I’ve been sending quite a few lessons out recently where I’ve been talking a lot about keeping the head steady and it’s role within the swing, so I thought I’d write a short blog about it.

The head is in the center of the body and therefore is the center of our pivot. If the idea is to build a machine like movement then we must have certain principles that hold the swing together. Therefore, keeping the head relatively still is so important if we are going to make a repeatable swing.20130311_083653_Struve_0113 copy

If we can interpret the head as a fixed point in the swing, then we can move and turn our body around it. We don’t want it to move side to side or up or down. The steadier we can keep it the better chance of a good shot occurring. 

I know, I know, some tour players move their head! particularly from side to side. But my take on it is this, the golf swing already has plenty of moving parts so why add another. There’s absolutely no advantage to distance, direction, shape or trajectory and when you think about it can only cause other problems in the swing.

There’s plenty of drills you can practice to keep a steady head. One I particularly like is placing a straw in the mouth of one of my students and getting them to be very aware of the straw moving during the swing. This is a great drill to practice is slow motion because it really builds up your awareness. 

Use Your Eyes

Use your eyes to monitor what your head is doing. During the setup position your eyes are generally fixed on a view on top of the ball. If your eyes and the straw move during the swing you know you’ve moved your head. If your straw moves over your back foot during your swing your eyes have moved also. If your straw moves over your front foot, your eyes have moved also. So be aware of what your head is doing by paying attention to what your eyes are focused on. 

We only want to move our head when we’ve reached the follow through position in the swing. This is the position just after impact when the shaft is in a 45 degree angle to the ground. 20130311_083821_Struve_0130 copy

At this point your head should start rotating around with your body turn until you’re head and body are facing the target.

If you’ve kept your head still you should be able to hold a nice balanced finish position for a number of seconds. That’s something people generally miss. The quieter you keep you head during the swing the better your balance will be. If your head is moving side to side this makes the body move to much laterally and the balance aspect of the move under the feet with suffer.

Effects Of a Unsteady Head

When the head moves in the swing it generally leads to poor ball striking. If your head moves away from the ball for example you’re more likely to hit thin shots. If your head moves closer to the ball it leads to shanks and shots struck off the heel of the club.

If your head moves from side to side, then obviously your upper body is also moving from side to side. I like to explain ball position to people relative to their shoulders not in between their feet. Once your upper body moves from side to side then the ball position relative to your shoulders is different.

If your head is way back, then suddenly the ball position is now forward. This generally leads to some kind of manipulation with the hands and arms to hit a good shot. This also goes for a head position that is to far forward during the swing. the hands and arms will have to perform some kind of manipulation to strike the ball properly.

If your head has moved up or down at impact then this affects the radius of the swing. If you’ve moved up you’ll instinctively move down probably causing a fat shot, and if you’ve moved down you’ll instinctively move up which will probably cause a thin shot.

So you see, when you break it down and look at the cause and effect issues, keeping a still head during the swing is one of the most essential functions.

Let me hit you with some knowledge

Most golfers think that the weight should be mainly on the balls of the feet at setup. In fact it should be spread evenly between the balls and heels. During a good pivoting action with the body we are actually pulled more towards the ball so some weight on the heels allows for that momentum which keeps the head still.

The golfers who try and swing with their body to much try and get their upper body behind the ball at impact. If we position the ball in line with our left ear we’re already behind the ball at address. 20130311_083715_Struve_0118 copy

Trying to move the upper body back even further will move the head back further and affect ball striking.

People who hit the ball fat, and beginners, instinctively move their heads up in an attempt to either make better contact or try and lift the ball. As most beginners think that the ball has to be struck on the upswing. Both these types of golfers generally lift their head up and away from the target during impact.

Advice from the best

Jack Nicklaus talked at length in his book “My story” about his instructor Jack grout making absolutely certain that his head didn’t move. “The first and most important fundamental concerned your head. You had to keep it in place throughout the swing, not rigidly anchored, but steady” 

Jack Nicklaus describing his long time teacher Jack Grout, in ‘My Story’.


Another great drill would be to practice your move at home whilst resting your forehead against a wall. Practice moving your hands from setup to the top and through to impact. It may feel very awkward at first and restricted with the body. But have faith, this is a great drill and will help you understand keeping your head centered in your pivot.

All the best




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