SwingGolf Basics

Early Wrist Hinge: Boost Your Swing with 3 Simple Drills

In this Article

Developing an early wrist hinge in your golf swing can provide tremendous benefits like increased lag, speed, and power through impact. This guide defines proper early wrist hinge technique, when it should occur during the swing, common mistakes to avoid, and includes 3 simple drills to help master this vital move. Learn how the wrist hinge drill, towel drill, and preset wrist drill can help any golfer ingrain earlier wrist hinge for better ball striking, consistency, and lower scores.

A proper wrist hinge during the golf swing is crucial for generating power and ensuring solid contact with the ball. But what exactly is an “early wrist hinge”?

An early wrist hinge refers to hinging or cocking your wrists back relatively soon after starting the backswing. Normally, the wrists will hinge naturally when the left arm reaches approximately hip height or parallel to the ground. An early wrist hinge occurs even sooner than this benchmark position.

Developing an early wrist hinge can provide several benefits for your golf swing technique and performance. It helps store power in the wrists that can then be released into the downswing. It also promotes proper clubface control, ball striking, and compression through impact.

Conversely, a late wrist hinge reduces power and consistency. Failing to hinge the wrists at all leads to very weak, ineffective shots. That’s why mastering early wrist hinge is so important.

In this article, I’ll define exactly what an early wrist hinge is and when it occurs during the swing. I’ll discuss the advantages it provides along with common mistakes to avoid.

The key focus will be on three excellent drills you can do at home or the range to improve your early wrist hinge. I’ll provide the setup, execution, and tips for each drill. I’ll also share additional advice for fully developing this crucial move.

With the help of these simple golf swing drills, you’ll be on your way to more power, better ball striking, and more consistency on the course. Let’s get started!

What is an Early Wrist Hinge?

early wrist hinge

In the golf swing, the term “wrist hinge” refers to the cocking or bending back of the wrists during the backswing. An early wrist hinge simply means you are hinging your wrists sooner than usual.

Hinging the Wrists Early in the Backswing

During a normal backswing, the wrists will hinge naturally once the left arm reaches about hip height. This occurs when the shaft is close to parallel to the ground.

An early wrist hinge means cocking the wrists back even before this point. Often it happens when the hands are still very low, around thigh or knee height.

At this early stage, the rotation of your body away from the target initiates the hinging motion. As your shoulders and torso turn back, the club also starts to move back. This rotation causes the wrists to hinge if they are relaxed.

Clubface Rotation as a Result of Body Turn

Due to the wrists hinging so early, the clubface will also rotate open sooner. This is a result of the body coil rather than any manipulation of the wrists or forearms.

Keeping the wrists relaxed allows them to hinge naturally based on the rotation of your torso. Forcing or flipping the wrists leads to problems.

When Early Wrist Hinge Occurs

Among professional golfers, an early wrist hinge typically happens when the hands reach between thigh and hip height in the backswing. The exact timing varies based on aspects like arm length.

Lots of tour pros like Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott are great examples of early wrist hinge. Watch videos of their swings to get a visual for when and how it happens.

Recreational golfers often make the mistake of hinging too late. Work on starting the hinge action earlier for increased power.

Early vs. Late Wrist Hinge

Hinging the wrists too late reduces your ability to generate clubhead speed. It also hampers the proper release of the club for solid impact.

Conversely, an early hinge allows more time to load the wrists on the backswing. This stored power can then be released naturally through impact for better energy transfer to the ball.

Developing an early wrist hinge takes practice but pays dividends in the form of added distance and improved ball striking.

Benefits of Developing an Early Wrist Hinge

Learning to hinge your wrists early on the backswing provides numerous advantages for your golf swing and performance. Here are some of the key benefits you can gain from mastering early wrist hinge technique:

Generates More Power and Clubhead Speed

The earlier you hinge your wrists, the more time you allow to load them fully on the backswing. This stored energy can then be released forcefully into the downswing.

Having your wrists cocked sooner generates greater clubhead speed. This equates to more powerful shots that travel farther.

Improves Control and Consistency of Ball Striking

With an increased wrist hinge, you achieve greater control of the clubface throughout the swing. This leads to more solid and consistent ball striking.

The early hinge allows your wrists to release naturally through impact. You’ll make more flush contact and find the sweet spot on the clubface repeatedly.

Creates Lag for Powerful Release

Lag refers to the angle between the club shaft and your lead forearm. Increased lag stores more power to unleash.

An early wrist hinge helps create this lag, or stretch, both at the top of the backswing and approaching impact. This builds tremendous energy for a forceful release.

Enables Maximum Arc in Swing

Cocking your wrists early allows for a bigger shoulder turn and fuller arm swing. This creates an extended arc with the driver for maximizing distance.

The bigger swing arc also promotes compression and solid contact with your irons and wedges.

Promotes Proper Angle of Attack

Having a sufficient wrist hinge is key for a proper angle of attack, especially with the irons. Too little hinge often leads to hitting down too steeply.

Early wrist hinge encourages a shallowing-out move through impact. This allows you to strike iron shots with ideal trajectory and backspin.

Provides Solid Impact and Compression

Finally, an early wrist hinge pays dividends in the form of tremendous compression at impact. With the wrists fully cocked, you can strike the ball before releasing.

This leads to a positive attack angle, pressed contact, and maximum energy transfer to the ball. It’s the secret sauce for distance and accuracy.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While an early wrist hinge offers many benefits, it must be executed properly. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Hinging Too Early Causes Loss of Control and Slice

It is possible to hinge your wrists too soon before you establish proper posture and begin the backswing. This leads to disconnection and loss of control.

Hinging too early often results in an open clubface and over-the-top downswing. The likely result is a slice to the right for right-handed golfers.

Hinging Too Late Reduces Power and Causes Hook

Failing to hinge your wrists by the time your left arm reaches hip height is a frequent error. This late hinge costs you power.

It also makes it hard to square the clubface through impact. Holding off the release too long leads to a closed clubface and a hook to the left.

Not Hinging Enough Leads to Weak Shots

Some golfers make the mistake of not hinging their wrists enough during the backswing. This leads to very restricted, compact swings.

Without sufficient wrist hinge, it’s almost impossible to create good lag or fully release the club for speed and power. The result is weak, spinny shots that lack distance.

Avoid these common early wrist hinge mistakes. Learn to hinge your wrists at the optimal time for maximum control and power. The next section will cover some great drills to improve your technique.

3 Simple Drills to Improve Early Wrist Hinge

In this section, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions for 3 excellent golf swing drills that can help you improve your early wrist hinge technique. Let’s start with the classic Wrist Hinge Drill.

Wrist Hinge Drill

video: MalaskaGolf

The Wrist Hinge Drill isolates the specific motion of hinging your wrists back on the backswing. Practicing it repeatedly will help program the proper timing and feel.

Setup and Execution

Set up in your normal golf stance holding a club. Pick an intermediate target just a few feet in front of your ball to focus on.

Make your regular backswing up to the point where the shaft is parallel to the ground. Focus on keeping your wrists relaxed and letting them hinge naturally based on your shoulder turn.

Don’t manipulate or consciously cock the wrists. Allow the rotation of your body to initiate the hinging motion.

Checkpoints and Tips

At the completion of the half backswing, check the following:

  • Wrists are hinged to approximately 90 degrees
  • Clubface remains square and is pointing toward the sky
  • No tension or manipulation in wrists or forearms
  • Shoulders and torso rotated fully to create wrist hinge

Make slow, smooth swings feeling the wrists hinge effortlessly. Don’t force it. Repeat the motion to ingrain proper sequence and timing.


Perform the basic drill first without a ball to get the feel. Once comfortable, do it while hitting balls. Focus only on the wrist hinge, not full swings or contact.

For a challenge, pause at the top and hold the wrist hinge briefly before slowly lowering into the downswing. This engrains keeping the hinge.

This simple yet effective drill has helped many golfers improve their early wrist hinge. As one reader named Hung yen Sung reported after trying it:

I done it today on course, and yes it works. I never hit my iron so well lol.

Hung yen Sung

The Wrist Hinge Drill is an excellent way to perfect early hinge timing. Next, we’ll cover the Towel Drill.

Towel Drill

video: GolfChannel

The golf towel drill is another excellent way to ingrain proper early wrist hinge. Let’s examine how to perform it correctly.

How to Perform This Classic Drill

To execute the towel drill, take a golf towel and place it under your lead arm just above the elbow. Keeping your wrists flat, grip the club and address the ball normally.

Make your regular backswing, focusing on maintaining the connection of your lead arm to your body. Hinge your wrists naturally based on your shoulder turn.

The goal is to swing back without having the towel fall out from under your arm. It should stay tucked the entire time.

Ensuring Proper Wrist Hinge

If the towel drops during the backswing, it indicates an improper sequence where you’re breaking the arm-body connection too soon.

To keep the towel in place, focus on turning your shoulders and torso fully to create the wrist hinge. Don’t actively flip or cock the wrists.

The towel drill engrains the feeling of keeping your trail arm connected to your chest as you hinge the wrists. This promotes proper sequencing.

Variations to Practice

As with the wrist hinge drill, begin by rehearsing the motion without a ball first. Once it feels natural, perform the drill while hitting shots.

You can also pause at the top of the backswing to ensure the towel hasn’t slipped before continuing the downswing.

Finally, try inserting an alignment rod under your lead arm instead of a towel for an added challenge.

Mastering the towel drill will help make early wrist hinge part of your normal backswing motion.

Preset Wrist Drill

video: DanWhittakerGolf

The preset wrist drill is great for reinforcing proper wrist hinge positioning at the top of the backswing.

How to Preset Wrists in Backswing

To perform this drill, begin by addressing the ball normally with a relaxed grip and posture. Before starting the backswing, go ahead and preset your wrists into a hinged position.

Cock both wrists back so the clubface rotates open slightly. The shaft should form roughly a 90-degree angle with your lead forearm and point toward the sky.

From this preset hinged position, make your normal backswing trying not to manipulate the wrists further. Keep them hinged as they are.

Maintaining Wrist Hinge in Downswing

As you transition into the downswing, focus on maintaining the wrist hinge angle for as long as possible.

Let your body begin to uncoil before releasing the wrists. This engrains holding the angle of lag through the downswing.

Time the release just before impact, squaring the face to strike the ball solidly. Keep the preset hinge intact until the last moment.

Reinforcing Proper Technique

Setting your wrists fully at address helps reinforce the proper hinged position they should be in at the top.

Having to swing from an exaggerated preset wrist hinge also keeps you honest about maintaining the angle as long as you can.

This drill promotes lag and the late release of wrist hinge for maximum power. It’s an advanced move to try after mastering early hinge.

The preset wrist drill, towel drill, and wrist hinge drill are 3 great ways to perfect your early wrist hinge technique. Try them each and notice your ball striking improve.

Additional Tips for Mastering Early Wrist Hinge

In addition to the drills covered, here are some more tips to help master early wrist hinge:

Smooth Takeaway and Transition

Focus on a smooth, flowing takeaway to start the backswing. Avoid any sudden movements or manipulations. Build momentum gradually allowing the wrists to hinge naturally.

Make a slow, rhythmic transition shifting your weight and initiating the downswing. Don’t force the wrists to unfold too quickly.

Don’t Force It

Let gravity and centrifugal force hinge the wrists rather than consciously doing it yourself. Stay relaxed and don’t muscle the club back aggressively.

Forcing or flipping the wrists too soon will throw off your sequence and timing. Be patient and let it happen naturally.

Importance of Wrist Mobility

Inflexible wrists make it hard to achieve proper hinge. Regular stretching and exercises can improve mobility over time.

Massaging and swinging a weighted club pre-round also helps loosen up the wrists and forearms.

Early Release Drills

If you tend to release too early, practice pause drills holding the wrist hinge longer into the downswing. Feel the stretch build torque.

Hit balls and focus only on maintaining lag and delaying the release through impact. Don’t worry about distance or accuracy.

Use Training Aids

Wrist hinge trainers like the Skillest provide great feedback. Golf gloves with hinges can also help establish the proper angle.

Whichever aids you use, avoid becoming too dependent on them. Focus more on feel and reps.

Stay committed to improving your early wrist hinge. It’s one of the most vital keys to an efficient, powerful golf swing.


Developing an early wrist hinge can really help boost your golf swing and ball striking. Let’s summarize the key points:

An early wrist hinge refers to cocking your wrists back sooner in the takeaway – often by the time your hands reach thigh or hip height. It happens naturally based on the rotation of your body.

Mastering early hinge promotes lag, speed, compression, and overall power. It also enhances control for more solid contact and consistency. It differs from the more extreme bowed wrist position that some golfers like Lee Trevino utilized effectively.

However, you must hinge at the optimal time. Too early leads to slices while too late causes hooks and a lack of power. Insufficient hinge also leaves shots well short.

The wrist hinge, towel, and preset wrist drills provided are excellent ways to ingrain proper technique. Focus on smooth motion and not forcing the wrists aggressively.

Be patient in the transition as well, maintaining the hinge as long as possible before unleashing through impact.

Proper early wrist hinge takes practice to master but is crucial for efficient, repeatable golf swings. It translates directly into better ball striking, more greens in regulation, and lower scores. The drills in this guide will help develop proper technique over time. Beginner golfers in particular can benefit from ingraining an early wrist hinge from the start.

Trust the techniques outlined in this guide. Do the drills regularly to make early wrist hinge feel natural in your swing. Film yourself to check your sequencing and make adjustments as needed.

You now have a blueprint for developing this vital move that many recreational golfers struggle with. So boost your driving distance, dial in your iron play, and improve your scoring with these tips for early wrist hinge success!

Andrew is a 38 year old golf enthusiast turned instructor from Chicago. For the past 7 years he has offered private golf lessons, helping students refine their skills. Andrew shares his passion for golf through instructional articles for GolfersGist.com.

Leave a Comment