Before diving into what the Malaska move is all about, it might be valuable to take a quick a look at this video with Mike and Margarita Ramos. It contains some great visuals which can help you understand ‘the move’ without getting too technical.
Explaining the Malaska Move
The hands move down, the clubhead moves outMike Malaska
More specifically, the hands move down during the follow through (to where they started at address), and the clubhead moves out toward the ball.
One of the biggest mistakes that amatuers makes is that they move the hands toward the ball on the way down. This almost always puts you in a ‘stuck’ position, which forces you to flip the club just before impact in order to make contact with the ball.
Mindblowing Fact Alert – There are 2 Malaska Moves
- The First Malaska move occurs during the backswing
- The Second Malaska move occurs during the follow through
- Everyone focuses almost exclusively on the follow through move
- But the backswing move is arguably just as important, and most people ignore it entirely
- Don’t worry, because I’m about to explain both
1. The Malaska Backswing Move
To explain the backswing move, I’m going to reference another video.
The whole idea here is to stand the club up (vertical wrist hinge toward the sky) on the way back. You can achieve this feeling by pushing the handle down, as if you are trying to point the butt of the club at your right foot during the takeaway.
One of Mike’s biggest flaws (in my opinion) is that he doesn’t focus enough on this key move, at least in his public Youtube videos. It was only by joining his membership site that I started to wrap my head around it (he has several drills to help you develop the correct backswing movement patterns).
Why Is the Backswing move so important?
You will hear Mike talk about ‘the weight of the club’ a lot in his videos. In fact, you could say that his whole philosophy is about learning how to balance the weight and momentum of the club at every moment during the swing.
My real point is this. If you fail to control the weight of the club efficiently during the backswing, how can you expect to gain control over that weight during the transition and follow through? In other words, if you don’t employ a backswing that is conducive to the Malaska follow through move, you might be doing more harm than good!
In my case, I’ve definitely been guilty of taking the club way too far inside on the way back. This is a direct contradiction to the Joe Nichols swing theory, which is the intellectual platform for most of Mike’s instruction.
During the backswing, you have to take the club back outside the ball, and stand the club up by hinging your wrists vertically
This video also explains the backswing move that I’m referring to. Annoyingly, there are embedd restrictions on the video, so I can’t place it in this post.
In the video above, Mike is demonstrating the ‘tear drop drill’. He uses this on 80% of his students, so it could be very helpful if you’re serious about learning his recommended backswing.
This image shows where Joe Nichols and Mike want the the club to be going back. Notice how the butt of the club is pointing down toward the ground at this point. When you do this, the club should feel very light, and it should be fairly easy to get into a nice position at the top of the swing from here. This is also a cure for swinging too flat, which can be destructive for people who try to use Malaska’s ideas.
Also, you might be thinking, wow that is a steep backswing. But you just have to trust it. As someone who is prone to swinging way too flat, practicing this move has been a gamechanger for me.
2. The Malaska Follow Through Move
This is the move that gets most of the attention. He often calls it ‘tipping the club toward the ball’ as you intiate the follow through. In my opinion, the best way to feel the Malaska move is by practicing the hockey stick split grip drill.
Sometimes, I’ll start this drill with my right hand at the bottom of the grip, do a few swings, reduce the gap between my hands, and do a few more. When the gap gets super small, I then transition to my normal grip, and try to emulate the same feeling/movement that the hockey stick split grip drill promotes.
Ultimately, this drill is definitely the easiest way to feel the Malaska move. You can’t actually deliver the clubhead back to the ball, without moving the hands down and the clubhead out.
Word of caution: If your backswing is too flat, and you ignore Mike’s “Joe Nichols” inspired backswing move, you could easily end up with a case of the hooks. This is because you can’t really do the move efficiently with a super flat backswing. I strongly recommended that you watch his full series on ‘Momentum’ if you are still uncertain about his backswing move.
You can get access to the Momentum skill pathway for free, if you sign up for the 14 day trial on his site. I highly recommend that you do so, if you’re serious using Mike’s techniques to improve your game. It includes 2 drills that he uses on 80% of his students to help create a Malaska friendly backswing. The drills he talks about have revolutionized my ability to implement the Malaska move on the follow through.
Does Tiger Woods Practice the Malaska Move?
I was very surprised when I saw this video of Tiger Woods, essentially endorsing the very move that Mike has popularized. In this case, Tiger literally describes the problem that a lot of elite amatuers have, which essentially means:
- They fire the hips too hard
- The club gets stuck behind them on the inside
- They have to rescue the shot by flipping the club with their hands at impact
In this video, Tiger literally describes how he works on ‘getting the club in front of him’ on the way down. That is exactly what Mike Malaska’s method is all about. It’s the ultimate cure for getting stuck behind the ball.
I firmly believe that people who swing too flat may have difficulty implementing the Malaska move, if they don’t adopt some of his backswing ideas. To this extent, I’ve emphasized the need to break it down into 2 moves, one which occurs during the backswing, and one which occurs on the follow through. If had to boil it down into 2 simple bullet points, you could say that:
- Backswing: The hands move up, and the clubhead moves out, away from the ball
- Followthrough: The hands move down, and the clubhead moves out, toward the ball
When it is put like this, it’s plain to see that the backswing move is the mirror version of the follow through move.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the backswing component of his swing theory. It is just as essential as the follow through component.