1. Don't stand too square: Most people tend to play the pitching shot having their feet squared as if they were having a complete swing. This is a mistake. To ensure a soft lob-pitch, you have to position yourself as in the sketch below:
Five Key Steps to Improve your Pitching
Correct Pitching technique
Notice how the left wrist remains along the same line as the rest of the arm (compare with the last photo on this page, where the left wrist breaks down)
Photo © Andrew Penner
Tip: make sure not to exaggerate the angle of the set-up (the imaginary line of your feet should be at 11:00 maximum, if 12:00 is the target in the "imaginary watch"). With the exception of long pitching shots, in which case you want to be squared !
2. Flex both knees: while the weight should be 60% over the left foot, just ensure that both your knees are flexed. And pivot on the left knee when impacting the ball.
Tip: Your legs are dead. They should move only within the momentum of the swing.
3. Position the ball a bit forward: when using the short irons, for a short pitching shot, the ball should be closer to your left foot. On the contrary, when performing a chipping shot, the ball should be nearer to your right foot. See the sketch below:
Tip: Sometimes it may help to open the clubface in order to give more loft to the shot, which will ease an upper trajectory of the ball. When opening the clubface, be sure that your feet are not squared (refer to step nr 1).
However, remember that the more you open the clubface, the more you have to compensate addressing your foot towards the "imaginary" 11 o'clock…
4. Always keep your hands before the ball: THE fundamental step in order to ensure a correct impact is that the grip of the golf club (i.e. your hands) stays in front of the clubface (i.e. the ball) as you strike the shot, never behind. It is very simple to check if you're doing this shot right: just check your left wrist at the finish, if it is bent you did it wrong !!!
See picture below for reference:
Tip: the position of your chest will determine the height, hence, the length of your pitching shot. If your chest is behind the ball, the ball will fly higher and stop earlier, if your chest is in front of the ball, it will fly lower but longer. Something to remember….
5. Get a symmetric and fluid "mini" swing: Your swing length (as well as chest position, see step 4) will control the distance of the shot. However, these short shots must be executed with a mini swing symmetrical in length. When doing the downswing you should feel a fluid movement that will hit the ball "down and through".
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Poor pitching technique
Notice how the left wrist breaks down
Photo © Andrew Penner
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Normal swing:the feet are squared versus the imaginary target line
Pitching swing: the feet are moved more towards the target
What is the most common mistake in pitching? The break down of the lefst wrist, with as a consequence a scooping action in which the right hand tries to scoop the ball up.
What is the second most common mistake? Raising your head (or your shoulder) at impact. This will make you lose the "level" of the shot with the consequence that the bottom of the club will hit the ball earlier than the loft causing a "fat" shot!!!