How to Stop Shanking the Ball

By Steve Silverman

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Most golfers will tell you that there is nothing worse than shanking the ball. Former U.S. Open winner and TV analyst Johnny Miller doesn't even consider the shank a golf shot since it is hit so badly and the results are awful. "You hit the ball where the face of the club meets the shaft," Miller explained. "That's not a golf shot." The ball invariably squirts right and then rolls for a few yards before coming to a dead stop. The good news is that you can learn to stop shanking the ball.


Difficulty: Moderate
  1. Relax when you walk up to the tee. A shank is usually the result of high anxiety caused by nervousness. A too-tight grip and too-fast swing are almost always the signs that precede a shank.
  2. Grip the club at about a "5" on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of tightness. If you grip the club tighter than that, you lose the ability to put the club face on the ball. You want a full rotation of your hips and shoulders when you swing, but you can't get that if you are squeezing the club too tightly. If your fingertips turn white from lack of blood flow, you are squeezing the club too tightly.
  3. Don't crowd yourself when you address the ball. Many times a golfer will get too close to the ball during the process of swing preparation. This will lead to an awkward swing and most likely cause you to hit the ball poorly. If you feel cramped as you stand over the ball, back off and fix your stance.
  4. Keep your head down and don't make an attempt to watch the ball fly off the tee. Picking your head up almost always results in poor contact, possibly resulting in a shank.
  5. Breathe normally when you tee off or hit from the fairway or the short rough. Inexperienced players often hold their breath when facing a tough shot and that's not natural. Breathe normally and take a smooth, slow swing to avoid shanking the ball.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice regularly at the driving range. It takes time to build a repeatable golf swing.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.