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Drivers Ed

Justin Thomas Swing Analysis: Use the ground to power your swing

In a new video series, David Leadbetter unpacks the secrets to tour player's swings

Year after year, Justin Thomas plays his way into the top 10 of the World Golf Ranking, and that is partly because of his ball-striking abilities. According to Fantasy National, Thomas is third in strokes gained/ball-striking over the past three seasons. In this swing analysis from Golf Digest Teaching Professional David Leadbetter, you’ll learn the secret behind Thomas’ power and distance. If you copy his keys, you might boost your performance off the tee.

As Leadbetter dissects Thomas' swing, he jumps right into the player's setup.

During his takeaway, you can see Thomas move his head, which, contrary to what you’ve been taught, Leadbetter says isn’t always a bad thing. In this case, it’s helping Thomas turn his upper body.

“If you rotate the head, it actually encourages a full shoulder rotation,” Leadbetter says.

Leadbetter's next focal point is Thomas’ downswing.

“I want you to look at the move and really pay attention to the area around his belt buckle,” Leadbetter says, “You can see how that movement, the coil, is really starting to move to initiate the downswing.”

Leadbetter says that many golfers think the downswing is initiated by the weight transfer, the lead knee or the lead hip.

“It’s actually the core moving back to the left [lead side],” Leadbetter says. Because the core is such a broad term, Leadbetter says to visualize your lead oblique muscle pulling the rest of your body through impact. To feel this movement in your own swing, try making a few slow rehearsal swings.

Despite being 160 pounds, Thomas is able to generate a tremendous amount of clubhead speed by pushing into the ground hard. He leverages it so well, his feet nearly leave the ground as the club moves through the impact zone, Leadbetter says.

“Even though he’s up on his toe, his pressure is still on his right foot,” Leadbetter says, “That’s interesting because he’s not kicking the foot in. It’s just simply raising up.”

By starting in a “sitting-down” position and maintaining pressure in his trail foot, Thomas is able to increase his energy and speed by pushing off the ground with his back foot.

“We can see how much force is being applied here as he starts to stand up in the shot,” Leadbetter says.

Takeaways

The first key to try from Thomas’ swing is using your core to initiate the downswing. As you rehearse your swing, remember Leadbetter’s image of the lead-side oblique muscles pulling the rest of your body forward. This will prevent your hands from getting ahead of your hips and improve your sequencing. The second key is pushing off the ground for power. While practicing your driver swing, focus on pushing into the ground as the club moves toward impact. Push hard, like Thomas' does. If you can learn to better utilize ground-force production, an increase in speed and distance will follow.