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How to Cure the Shank!

This shot is arguably the most debilitating shot in golf as it can arise often out of the blue and cause a huge dent in confidence.  To put simply a shank is caused when the ‘heel’ of the club makes contact with the ball at impact.  This shot can be however confused with another kind of swing error where a ball is hit on an extreme ‘in to out’ swing path.  Meaning the two shots still go sharp right when the club makes impact but one is hit on the ‘heel’(the shank) and one is hit on either the ‘middle’ or the ‘toe’ of the club. To put simply, the shank is caused by the arms being separated from the body at the point of impact more than what they were at address.  There are a number of factors that can cause this increased separation from poor alignment, set-up, sequencing and swing path.  The first aspect that is important to get right is the alignment. Alignment with the shoulders that are too far positioned left or right of the target can cause compensations on the downswing that lead to increased separation.  Therefore it is imperative that alignment is positioned square of the target, meaning the body including hips, knees, shoulders and feet are parallel to the clubface. An incorrect set-up which places too much weight on the front foot can have the effect of allowing the downswing to be upper half dominant thus causing the arms to be thrown at the ball also causing increased separation.  The correct set-up should have the ball position just forward of middle of the stance with 50/50% weight on both feet with the irons with the driver being 60% Back Foot/40% Front foot.  This sets up the downswing to have the correct sequencing and ensuring the head remains stable just behind the ball until the ball is struck. Incorrect sequencing can cause the shank for example if the downswing is initiated by the upper-half then the arms will be thrown at the ball causing increased separation.  The correct way for the downswing to be initiated is by commencing with the left hip followed by the upper half.  This will often cause the swing path to shallow (Inside swing path) out as a result. The swing path is the last that can cause a shank.  The shank is most commonly caused by a swing path that comes ‘over the top’ on the downswing.  This is a swing path that is commonly initiated by the upper half on the downswing.  As the club moves down, the club starts moving away from the body which then invariably travels in a left direction presenting the ‘heel’ of the club.  There are also times when the shank is caused by an extreme ‘in to out’ swing path.  This means that the sequencing was correct however the swing is so far on the inside, meaning the club stays behind the body for a long time, that again the heel gets presented to the ball.  This last cause is the most common one with good players, sometimes even tour players!! To cure the shank for the long term just means being on top of these crucial areas but for the short term, a simple drill can help you get rid of the shank quite quickly.  Just place two balls on the ground.  See Picture Below One is the ball you will hit and the other is placed just outside the toe of the club.  If someone is shanking a lot, I will move the second ball as close as I can.  The goal is simple, try and hit the inside ball.  If you hit both balls, it means the club has moved away from the body and if you hit the one ball, then you haven’t hit a shank.  If you practice this drill you will train the arms not to move away from the body at the point of impact.

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