If you’ve ever watched Anika Sorenstam swing a golf club, you may have noticed that she rotates her head toward the target during the follow-through.
Most golfers have been taught to ‘keep their head down’, not knowing that they might be the victims of bad advice.
In direct contrast to the ‘keep your head down’ advice shared between high handicap golfers around the world, there are a surprisingly large number of professional golfers who do the exact opposite.
Anika Sorenstam is probably most famous for this move, but she is closely followed by Swedish compatriot Henrik Stensen and former world No.1 David Duval. Dustin Johnson also allows his head to rotate during the follow through, but not to the same extent as Anika and Henrik.
The point is, this move can greatly improve your ability to rotate your torso during the follow through. For some players it will even feel like you have ‘taken the brakes’ of your torso rotation speed.
When Did Sorenstam Discover This Technique
According to certain reports, Sorenstam first started practicing this move in her teens after one of her coaches encouraged her to try it as a drill. However, she found it so much easier to follow through that she ended up integrating this move into every single swing.
(Please note – we don’t have a reference for the original article where Sorenstam talks about discovering this move. Apologies)
How To Practice Anika Sorenstam's Head Release
(1) Practice 'Letting Your Head Turn' After Impact
This is arguably the most subtle way to practice Anika’s head movement.
All you have to do is hit golf balls as you would normally on the range, but with one extra swing thought.
After you make contact with the ball, instead of ‘holding your head in place’ like so many golfers are encouraged to do, simply let your head turn.
You can still ‘keep your eyes’ on the ball while doing this move. You are simply allowing post impact head turn, which might feel strange yet freeing at the same time.
(2) Practice Turning Your Head & Your Torso At The Same Time During The Follow Through
For this move, the goal is to allow your head to rotate with your torso, from the very moment you start the downswing/follow-through.
It is exactly what Anika Sorenstam does.
Instead of trying to ‘hold her head in the same place’, Sorenstam allows her head to rotate in unison with her spine and her torso.
It is one of the reasons she has such a free, almost effortless follow-through. There is literally no tension as she turns through the ball. She removes any potential conflict between her head and her spine. As a result, there is nothing that can act as a hindrance to her rotation through the ball. When you do it properly, it will feel like you have taken the brakes of your torso rotation during the follow-through.
(3) Watch Videos of Anika Sorenstam, David Duval & Henrik Stenson
A) Anika Sorenstam Swing
B) Henrik Stenson Swing
C) David Duval Swing
You might be surprised by how powerful mirror neurons can be when trying to learn a particular movement pattern.
There is ample evidence to suggest that simply watching someone else perform a particular movement can enhance your ability to emulate that movement pattern. Your mirror neurons will fire automatically, and it literally becomes a case of monkey see monkey do.
Importantly, Sorenstam, Stenson, and Duval all share the tendency to employ an early head release. Watching videos of all 3 of them can give you a better sense of how to integrate this movement into your own swing.
Benefits of Anika Sorenstam Head Release Technique
1) It Facilitates Torso Rotation During The Follow Through
There is one primary benefit of doing this particular move. It removes all the tension that typically occurs when you attempt to ‘keep your head down’.
Sorenstam’s head release eliminates any form of resistance between your head, torso and spine. Instead, these body parts all work in unison, making it significantly easier to turn through the ball, especially if you aren’t very flexible.
2) It Can Alleviate Pressure On Your Neck, Spine & Back
Aggressively turning your torso while keeping your head down/still, creates two opposing forces. Your spine and torso rotate, while you ‘hold’ your head in place.
Creating resistance between your head and your spine is bad for your body. It’s one of the reasons so many golfers end up with back problems.
Sorenstam’s follow-through move removes all this tension and it can help reduce golf-induced back pain over time.
Drawbacks of Anika Sorenstam Head Release Technique
1) High Handicap Golfers Might Struggle To Make Good Contact
If a high handicap golfer allows for an early head release, it could lead to impact issues that are more harmful than helpful to their game.
If you are a high handicap golfer, it may be helpful to replace ‘keep your head down‘ with ‘keep your eye on the ball‘. This subtle difference means that you can still focus on the ball visually but without the need to keep your head perfectly still. It is a very gentle way to experiment with Sorenstam’s head release technique.
2) Doing It Wrong Can Lead To Early Extension Issues
If you watch Anika swing, you will notice that her head and her torso are perfectly in sync. They effectively move together during the follow-through.
However, when amateurs attempt this move, it is very common to turn your head before your turn your torso. This can lead to:
A) Early Extension: You essentially come out of the shot too early during the follow-through
B) Getting the club stuck behind you: If you turn your head before your torso, there is a strong possibility of the club getting stuck behind you. This generally leads to a weak slice out to the right. It’s very difficult to rescue a shot when your head isn’t in sync with your torso.
Why does Anika's head look so "open" at impact?
Anika’s head appears open/toward the target at impact because it is aligned with her torso and shoulders, which are both open at impact.
To verify this statement, it is worth noting that on average PGA tour players have a chest that is 25 degrees open at impact.
In the case of Sorenstam, she is rotating her head with her torso/chest in unison. Based on this, it makes perfect sense for her head to match the open position of her chest at impact.
Anika Sorenstam is arguably the greatest golfer to ever play the game. She amassed 10 majors by the age of 38, and her winning percentage in majors is better than Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
When you watch her swing, it seems almost impossible for anything to wrong. More importantly, you can potentially emulate her super efficient golf swing by copying her torso + head rotation move during the follow-through.
If you do decide to draw inspiration from Sorenstam, just remember to turn your head, spine, and torse in unison. That is the secret to this particular swing thought.