Keeping the Head behind the ball

We always hear in instructional golf and buddies you play with to keep your head behind the ball if you hit a bad shot. As a hitter, how important is it? and what are the results if you don’t?

I have heard that keeping the head behind the ball maintains spine angle. I have also heard it helps keep your body stationary and helps prevent throwing the club out going into your downswing.

What is your take on this and how is it effective in our swing as a hitter? Clearly if you watch all the greats, their head is behind the ball all the way thru impact.



Good question!

Follow the advice of George Knudson and forget about where the head goes. It is irrelevant, as the head isn’t the center of the swing. The “chi” or “dantien” is. Let the head go where it may. If the other more significant actions are correct, the head will be just fine.

That being said, if the head moves ahead of the ball as opposed to behind it, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to come from a deep slot and have good lower body work. The head moving itself though is really more of an effect than a cause.

As far as hitters, check out this guy:

his head stays “behind the ball” long after the ball is gone:

Just remember though, it really is not a cause, so don’t get too caught up in it. If it moves ahead of the ball, it is because of another fault, and isn’t the fault itself. It serves as more of an indicator.

"During the downswing, there is a significant amount of force
being applied in the forward direction. To maintain balance
and posture, it is necessary to keep the head still and behind
the ball at impact. “Chin it; chin it,” I tell my students. I am
attempting to have my student’s chin point at a spot several
inches behind the ball until well after contact with the ball.
In this way, I am insuring that the student holds his/her head
still and behind the ball during the downswing. A Picard
student can usually be identified by the excellent head position
during the downswing.

“Chinning it” becomes a way of life for most students. It
is my belief that the head rises slightly during the downswing
to apply maximum power at impact. The head moving slightly
up and back results in excellent posture at impact." --HG Picard

Everybody keeps their head behind the ball at impact when they take a full swing unless they are manipulating it so they purposedly don’t do it.

What happens usually with people who say ‘keep your head behind the ball’ is that things like the sequence of the downswing are done out of sequence (for a variety of different reasons) and it feels like the head is in front of the ball, but in reality that’s not the case.

It’s the same way with ‘looking up.’ My dad complains about him doing that all of the time. The last time we played 18 holes together he probably mentioned it about 30 different times. I took a video of him hitting some balls and got some of the bad shots he hit where he said ‘I looked up’ and in slow motion, high speed video…he was looking directly at the ball. He just feels like he’s not because we really cannot ‘see’ the ball as it’s hit and because he’s out of sequence and has other body parts doing things that put him at a disadavantage swinging the golf club.

If you want to ABS hitting, thinking about ‘keeping your head behind the ball’ is pretty unwise to do for the most part because if the head hangs back, the shoulders won’t turn like they need to perform the ABS hitting procedure. The shoulders generally dictate the head motion, but if you forcing yourself to keep your head behind the ball…then it’s going to be tough to get those shoulders to turn like they need to in the downswing and into the follow thru.


I don’t think you should ever think about the head at all. I agree with Knudson.
I have a pretty stationary head, but I am trying my best to get it to move around a lot more than it does!

However, in defense of Picard, his teaching method includes a lot of elements that must be working together into an entire package, and until you know the entire approach, it’s hard to second guess piece meal suggestions because often they are based upon opposing forces, feelings or other sensations that when added to the mixing bowl, suddenly work.

For example, keep your chin behind the ball initially sounds horrific to me… but combined with some other sensation it might very well be an opposing force anchoring point to something the feet are doing (rolling the feet) or some other action I am not aware of. Most often you need to feel “this AND this”. So the other “this” needs to be defined before judgment can be passed.

In ABS I am a big proponent of a very flat, even laid off shallow entry… but if one just looks at that or takes that out of context, it might not make sense or could even damage someones golf swing immeasurably. But if I then show them where to go with that on the other side of the ball post impact, then suddenly it all makes sense, and other things fall into place regarding ground pressures, and other detailed muscular training such as active forearm rotation that is put forth in the work we do here.

When I study another instructor, I feel an obligation to look at the whole picture, not just the pieces and assess it from as objective a standpoint as possible. Certainly at a bare minimum you need to properly consider if they are teaching swinging or hitting… especially if they can walk their talk like Moe and Picard did.

Try the “chin it” move. You’ll see. I should add that what I’ve found works best in “chinning it” is not the thought of where the head is at impact, but in using it as a tool right prior to takeaway. So, in essence, I agree w/Lag to not think about the head at all (if that makes any sense), because I had a hard time when focusing on where my head was at impact.

Thanks for the replies everyone! Most of the time i do not even notice or think where my head is during my swing. But someone i was playing with recently said something about it, and I wanted to see what everyone thought about it. But I do agree that trying to keep my head still that it restricts my whole body, especially in the backswing. Its a tension that i dont like.

I do notice that hogan always points his chin towards the right, right before he takes his back swing. If you watch him closely, almost 99% of the time after Hogan waggles, he will tilt that chin back and then move into the backswing.

I have noticed that, and I’ve seen a lot of other good players do that. I know part of Mac O’Grady’s MORAD research had to do with jaw alignments in relation to the golf swing, and I’d love to hear about the findings.

Gee, boys, wonder if he’s chinning it!!!
You can learn a ton from reading this, and I don’t say it because I wrote it! … -hurricane

Mr. Picard asked Hogan once, What does the chin do in the golf swing. Hogan replied, the chin always points at the foot relieving itself of weight. Henry said, That’s great, Ben. Why didn’t you put that in the book? Hogan responded, I didn’t think of it.

If this is true…

and this is also accurate…

Then Hogan would be loading his left side on the back swing. Interesting and as I tried it in the office…a pretty athletic move! Load the left, bend the knees for transition and use module 2 with the weight heavy on the inside of the right foot. Pivot moves weight back to the left. My feeling is that I’m presetting where/how I want to finish while starting the back swing and then loading even more weight onto the inside right foot in a dynamic manner during transition.

(This also brings to mind the reasoning for the “reverse pivot” look that Hogan shows us at the top of his swing)

Any thoughts, John?

Captain Chaos

I don’t see a reverse pivot look at all with Hogan because his backswing was very quick… therefore having to initiate transition while the club is still going back… I do that to a lesser degree. This is where sometimes still shots can be deceptive because people then see them as stagnant positions rather than dynamically moving forces around.

I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t think about the head. During the swing I would agree. At address is a different story. For example, we see in the ‘modern’ swing all these golfes with their chins up, but now they have to look down with their eyes. To me, a really bad idea. So if you’re doing that and have it ingrained, then I think you need to get away from that. Other than that, I think the head is more of a reference as to what the shoulders are doing. If the head hangs back…then your shoulders are turning very upright in the downswing and you are ‘swinging’ by ABS terminology. if the head doesn’t hang back, then your shoulders are not turning too upright.

Hogan doesn’t have a reverse pivot because a reverse pivot would require him to go backwards in the downswing. And if you look at Hogan’s swing, he had as much if not more lateral movement than anybody.


ben hogan.jpeg

R3J - I mentioned “reverse pivot LOOK”… I’m not saying that Hogan had a reverse pivot.

I was trying to generate some discussion on the pointing the chin at where the weight is leaving. Nothing more…nothing less. I’m going to play with this a little bit only because initially it feels more dynamic/athletic to move more weight to the left side in the back swing and really dump it into the inside right during the transition rather.

I’m not sure if I’m explaining what I’m attempting to do very well, but the end result feels more natural and like I’m not sitting on the right so long before I’m ready to fire.

Captain Chaos.

Oops…didn’t catch that word ‘look.’

yeah, I could agree with that. There was a photo of Hogan hitting a driver from the caddy view in an old Time Magazine photo, but I can’t find the thing at the moment.

To me it has to do with the straightening of the right knee. Popular, modern day golf instruction tells us to not straighten the right knee, even though just about every famous golf from pre-1985 straightened their right knee in the backswing.


I think "El Capitan is right on the money. It isn’t a reverse pivot…it is rather in my mind simply going in 2 directions at the same time. It’s a balancing mechanism for the dynamics at play.

I have never heard of this before put in this way…pretty cool stuff when it is examined for what it is. As always, trying out the good things I read at ABS is one of the first things I do in the morning. Put this to the test today and it works well and I think has a lot to do with stabilizing low point and keeping the R arm inert past impact.

What it did for me primarily is to get a consistent trajectory on things.

Can still “hit” ABS style with this. Here’s what I found: At address the chin was basically directed to a central area around the hands. At the top the chin points to the L foot area in feel, and during transition the head swivels a touch so that now the chin points to the R foot area…and stayed that way until firing out of P3 which then felt like the chin followed forward the arc of the hands…until low point at which time the chin was back again pointing to the left foot area.

Are these close to your feels Captain?..maybe I should ask that question without leaving the door open! :laughing:

Didn’t catch this at first reading. I’m not feeling the weight going left going back…even though the Hogan photo seems to look that way. I think the chin points a little leftward toward the L foot area, but the weight still goes to the right and back.

One of the things I personally do for checking this is: At the top, if I can lift the left foot straight upward without first having to shift weight to the right foot in order to do this, then I feel I have loaded on the right side properly. On the other hand, and it’s a very small and subtle feel and awareness, if I have to shift any amount of weight to the right foot first, then it means I have too much loaded on the left in order to pick it straight up in the air.

When I get to the top already loaded onto the right side and back, the transition to me feels like I am then loading more weight downward onto the right leg in a kind of squashing feel which lowers my COG.

Good stuff Captain :sunglasses:

This is a topic that has been a concern of mine for a while now. While I never bothered worrying what my head does in my swing, the head is however attached to your body and gives some indication of what your body is doing.

I’ve made great progress with ABS and my swing has improved 10 fold.I havent bothered filming my full swing at all this year, although my local pro and a few others have noted my quick improvement they all say I have far to much lateral shift before hips clearing. They mentioned hip only lateral shift before turning is fine as this increases spinal tilt, but when your head and sternum also shift forward you lose distance and can sometimes lose your low point. You still maintain spinal tilt doing this but you do not increase your tilt.

Sure enough after videoing my swing, aside looking really sexy :smiley: my sternum shifts laterally the same amount as my hips. Im unsure if I should try and change it? as it doesnt look quite right when compared to other good swings.

i tried concentrating on keeping my head behind the ball. This “felt” like I was spinning out. But upon review it looked much better with an increase in spinal tilt at impact and the golf ball liked it to…

No idea if this is the correct thing to do,I can hit the ball well either way…

I read that eye dominance can play a part in this as well. For a right handed golfer who is left eye dominant it is much more natural to get the head behind the ball. Here is an old article from Richie3jack that goes into more detail: … -golf.html

I am very right eye dominant …(as a result of someone swinging a club and almost smacking my left eye out when I was 12 years old)
I find it difficult to get too much head tilt away as I need to see the ball with my strong eye…eye dominance has a lot to do with the extremities we can go.
Nicklaus was very left eye dominant so he could turn his head away in a pronounced manner and still keep focus on the ball