How long should your backswing be?

how long should my backswing be

Golf Monthly Top 25 Coach Gary Alliss asks how long should your backswing be in golf and offers some simple advice on mistakes to avoid.

How long should your backswing be?

There are as many backswing techniques as there are golfers and the length is something that some players get very pre-occupied with. However, there are no technical rules related to the exact length itself - you can have a short backswing or a John Daly-esque overswing and as long as your mechanics are good, you’re fine. Having said that, there are some common faults that can make your backswing seem either very short or very long and without question, they all make it very hard to co-ordinate the downswing move. Here are the three most common backswing faults that lead to it either being very long or short - all are worth knowing and all are worth avoiding!

  1. Tension at address. This often prevents your writs from work effectively. Shortening the swing this will make it hard for your arms and body to work in harmony on the way down cheating you of both power and control.
  2. Levers. Some players introduce an extra lever into the golf swing by allowing their left arm to bend at the top. This makes the swing look very long and creates a very weak position. Again, co-ordination on the way down will be hard to find.
  3. Resistance. Some players cheat themselves of power by lifting the heel of their front foot to help them reach the top of the backswing. For right-handers, your top of backswing position will look like a left-handers finish position. This makes the swing look very long and destroys the resistance between your upper and lower body – a crucial element to power.

Obviously, we all have different physical attributes and some of us aren’t able to rotate as much as we’d like. So don’t get too preoccupied with your top of backswing position – just make sure you don’t fall foul of these errors.

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X