Cause And Cure Of Too Much Leg Drive, Golf Swing Tip

A golf swing with too much leg drive will typically see a golfer aggressively thrust forward with the hips and lower body coming into impact with a 'reverse c' body shape.

Many great golfers throughout the history of the game have used a powerful leg drive through the ball, such as Jack Nicklaus. However, better technology and new coaching techniques have allowed golfers to quieten the low body through impact leading to more consistent ball striking.

People tend to drive their legs through the ball to generate a greater amount of power or because their lower body has been unstable during the back swing. However, better distance can be achieved by simply rotating the lower body through the down swing and more consistency accomplished by keeping the lower body stable.

There are a number of different ways to help limit the amount of leg drive seen during the down swing; here are a number of ways you can practice to stop it from happening.

Solid Base

If the legs and hips rotate too much during the back swing they could also become too active during the through swing. To help keep them stable during the back swing, the hips, knees and feet should be kept as stable as possible; as the club travels back away from the ball, the hips and knees will turn slightly but the less the better.

One way to help build a solid base during the back swing is to practice hitting balls at a driving range with a soccer ball pinched in between the knees. Keeping the ball held in between the knees during the back swing and down swing will limit the amount of twisting and turning the lower body can achieve. It will help quieten the lower body and allow you to hit more consistent shots.

Turn The Hips

If the lower body has remained solid during the back swing and you have turned up to a full position at the top of the swing, you need to begin to rotate the lower body towards the target. A rotation of the lower body will see a slight lateral move towards the target and then a turn of the hips. Players who struggle with a large leg drive will see a big lateral move and a smaller amount of hip turn. To help encourage a turn rather than a big lateral leg drive, players can practice hitting shots with a tall box or bag resting just outside of their left hip at address. If players can turn through the shot with the hips avoiding the box, they will have turned without a huge leg drive.

Players of yesteryear used a big powerful leg drive to great effect but there are easier and more effective ways for you to swing the club using modern technology and new coaching knowledge.

The golf swing has a lot of moving parts.

Cause and Cure of Too Much Leg Drive

If you are an experienced player, you probably don't think about all of these parts very often. You just make your swing, in the same way you always do, one time after the next. Of course, if you did try to think about everything that is going on with your body while swinging the club, you'd never even make contact with the ball. The swing happens fast, and there is a lot of work to do between the takeaway and the moment of impact.

To improve your swing, you really need to break it down into components, and then work on those components one at a time. By addressing specific issues within your swing technique individually, you will have a real opportunity to improve. It will take time, but you can start to see signs of progress if you spend consistent time at the driving range working on parts of your technique.

In this article, we are going to address one specific part of your swing that may not have received much attention previously – the leg drive. This is a part of the swing which is badly misunderstood, as countless golfers don't really know what it does or how it is supposed to work. First, we are going to lay out why you need a good leg drive in the first place. Later, we will talk about what a proper leg drive looks like and how you will know if you've gone too far. Finally, we'll talk about settling in with a solid leg drive that neither goes too far nor comes up short. We have a lot of ground to cover on this topic, so let's get started.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Benefits of a Good Leg Drive

The Benefits of a Good Leg Drive

Before we get into the issue of using too much leg drive in the golf swing, we should first discuss why you need to include this element in your swing at all. While it is possible to take it too far, the leg drive is still something that plays a vital role in the swing, and you don't want to go without it. Failing to use your legs properly as you swing the club is going to make it nearly impossible to live up to your potential as a golfer.

To clarify, the term 'leg drive' refers to the rotation of the lower body toward the target during the downswing. As the club swings down, your legs should be turning toward your intended target aggressively, and you should continue that turn all the way into a balanced finish position. You know that classic 'golf pose' that most professionals hold as they watch the ball sail down the fairway? Reaching that position is largely a result of using the legs properly during the golf swing. If you never manage to get into a full finish, there is a good chance that your leg drive is coming up short.

Let's take a look at a few advantages which can be enjoyed when you use your legs correctly during the swing.

  • Build power. One of the main reasons you'll want to use your legs effectively during the swing is to build power before you reach impact. If you try to generate speed with your arms alone, you are almost certain to be disappointed in the results. The golf swing is a whole-body activity, and your legs have a lot to offer in terms of power generation. Once they are put to use correctly, the club will have the opportunity to accelerate rapidly between the top of the backswing and the moment of impact. This is how professional golfers are able to hit the ball so far while making what looks like an effortless swing. They use their legs effectively to produce speed, generating a smooth swing that unleashes incredible force into the back of the ball. If you've long been frustrated with your inability to hit the ball a considerable distance, there is a good chance that a poor leg drive is to blame.
  • Move your body into position. You need to have your body in the right position over the ball at impact in order to achieve a clean strike. This is true with all of your clubs, but it is particularly important when playing iron shots. There is a level of precision involved in playing an iron shot from the fairway that doesn't provide you with much margin for error. If your body is out of position even slightly, that mistake is going to show itself in the results you achieve. By using your legs correctly, your body will wind up in a nice position over the ball, and you'll have a good chance to be successful. It is common in the amateur game for the player to wind up too far back on their right side during the downswing, making it nearly impossible to get to contact probably. Those who find themselves dealing with this problem will almost certainly be helped by an improved leg drive.
  • Create rhythm. The last point on our list has to do with the overall rhythm of your swing. You may already know that rhythm is important, and you don't need to look any further than the PGA Tour for proof of that concept. When you watch golf on TV, you see players with beautiful rhythm, and that is not a coincidence. Rhythm helps improve many aspects of your game, but perhaps none more than your ability to produce the same kind of shot over and over again. It's nearly impossible to be consistent with poor rhythm, and consistency is vital if you are going to reach your goals on the golf course. There are a couple of ways in which using a proper leg drive will bring rhythm to your game. First, a good leg drive should smooth out your transition, which is where many golfers lose track of their tempo. Also, you won't feel like you have to work as hard with your upper body thanks to the effort that your legs are putting in. That means your arm swing can take place more naturally, without it being forced down through the ball. You should be left with a better overall rhythm as a result, and a swing that produces the results you expect more times than not.

It's hard to make a good golf swing without a proper leg drive. Sure, you might be able to hit some decent shots from time to time, but the quality and consistency that you desire are going to be elusive. If you can manage to master a reliable leg drive as part of your overall swing mechanics, improved results are almost certain to follow.

When It Goes Wrong

When It Goes Wrong

We spent the previous section talking about everything there is to like about using a leg drive in your golf swing. And to be sure, it is great when it goes right. When it goes wrong, however, you can get yourself into trouble. Just as this part of your swing can be a big asset when it is working, it can be a major liability when it's not cooperating.

In this section, we are going to talk about some of the ways you can get off track with your leg drive. If you think your leg drive is currently causing problems in your swing, some of the issues below may sound familiar.

  • Getting started too early. Yes, it is important to have your leg drive lead the way in the downswing. However, you do have to avoid getting started too early, as you can throw off the overall timing of your swing. If you start turning your legs toward the target before your upper body has had a chance to turn all the way back, trouble will be soon to follow. Be patient during the backswing, allowing yourself to get all the way up to the top before the leg drive begins. A common indication of starting your legs too early is missing shots out to the right of the target. We aren't talking about shots that are sliced off target, but rather shots that are pushed right immediately off the club face. If you've been having this issue lately, it's worth considering the possibility that your leg drive is to blame.
  • Letting your legs get out from under you. The leg drive is a delicate balance. You need to drive your legs toward the target in order to propel your swing forward, but going too far with this effort is going to cause your lower body to get away from you. That means your upper body will be left behind while your legs race away, and you'll wind up leaning to the right just to stay somewhat balanced. As you arrive at your finish position, you will be able to feel your upper body leaning back away from the target. This position is often known as the 'reverse C', as the profile of your body looks like a backward 'C' when viewed from the side. Ultimately, the issue here is moving your legs too much laterally, rather than rotating them toward the target. The bulk of your leg action should be rotational, rather than lateral. If you are moving too much to the left instead of turning around your left leg, it's almost certain that a reverse 'C' finish is in your future. Pay attention to this point and do your best to keep your upper body stacked on top of your lower body during the swing.
  • Giving up on the leg drive. In the title of this article, we referenced a leg drive that goes too far and leads to trouble. That is pretty much what was described in the point above – your legs move too far to the left, and you struggle to stay on balance. In this point, however, we are talking about the opposite problem. Your leg drive starts properly from the top, but you give up on it before getting all the way through the ball. Typically, this kind of mistake will lead to a hook. Without enough leg drive to help your body turn through the shot, the club will close down prematurely and the shot will turn quickly to the left. The solution here is simply enough – just stick with your leg drive all the way through until after the ball is on its way. You might have trouble committing to it right away, but you should gain confidence over time.

Unfortunately, there are a few different ways that the leg drive can go wrong. The three points above are possibilities, and there are other issues that could come up as well. You are going to have to pay attention to your swing and determine if something going wrong in your leg drive is causing your swing to suffer.

Getting It Right

Getting It Right

At this point, we are ready to talk about correcting any problems that may be present in your leg drive. We can't really tell you what needs to change in your current swing – since we've never seen you swing – but we can list the key ingredients that are typically present in a quality leg drive action. If you are able to hit on all of the points listed below, it is almost certain that your leg drive will be doing its job.

  • Feel the left leg straighten. When you arrive at the top of your golf swing, both of your knees should be comfortably flexed. This should be a pretty easy position to find, as long as you did a good job of flexing your knees at address before the swing began. When you start to swing down, you want to work toward a straighter position with your left leg. That doesn't mean you are simply going to 'snap' it straight immediately upon starting the downswing – that would be too abrupt and dramatic. Rather, this should be a gradual action, with your knee moving from flexed to straight as the club swing down. By the time you reach impact, your left leg should be either completely straight, or very close. Your right knee will retain some degree of flex, however, as you continue to drive through to the target. For some golfers, thinking about the gradual straightening of the left leg is a good way to understand the leg drive. Remember, you aren't going to straighten up right from the top – you are going to do it gradually as the downswing develops. In order to wind up with a straight left leg, you have to rotate more than slide to the right. If you slide laterally too much with your leg drive, that left leg won't straighten and you will wind up in an awkward position.
  • Transfer of power. Although it is an oversimplification, one good way to think about the swing is that the upper body controls the backswing and the lower body controls the downswing. Use your upper body to turn back away from the target and use the lower body to turn forward through the ball. At the top, there is a 'transfer of power' as your legs take over the swing. Learning how to transfer the power in your swing effectively is one of your most important jobs as a golfer. With practice, you should be able to blend the backswing into the downswing seamlessly, so the transition looks smooth and effortless.
  • Keep your feet down. This is a point which is easy to overlook with regard to the leg drive. As you start turning toward the target, do your best to keep your feet down flat on the ground. While swinging down, some players have a tendency to push up onto their toes, moving their heels into the air. That may not sound like a big deal, but it can cause a couple of problems. First, it can make it difficult to achieve solid contact, since you will be changing the overall level of your body. As you move up onto your toes, you will effectively be getting taller – meaning you'll have to reach down farther to get to the ball. In addition, coming up onto your toes will tend to slow down your leg rotation, since the energy you are using to move up could be used instead to keep turning. The swing will eventually feel simple and under control when you keep your feet flat on the ground, even if there is a period of adjustment while you get used to this technique.

When the leg drive is working nicely, it feels great. It propels your swing through the ball with both power and control, and you are able to hit quality shots. Of course, like everything else in golf, it takes work to get to that point. It certainly isn't just going to happen by walking out to the first tee and hoping for the best. If you'd like to have a reliable leg drive built in to your golf swing, plan on working at it on the driving range on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

There are a few more points we would like to touch on before wrapping up this discussion on how the leg drive works in the golf swing. Please find those points below.

  • One piece of a bigger puzzle. The leg drive is not the only thing you need to get right in order to hit good shots. You do want to have this piece figured out, of course, but not at the expense of other key fundamentals. Always view the golf swing in the big picture perspective when you are working on any part of your technique. In other words, make sure what you are working on at the moment is not going to negatively impact other parts of your technique – or, if another part of your technique is going to be affected, at least have a plan in mind for how you will bring everything together in the end.
  • Good shoes. Believe it or not, the quality of your golf shoes can have an impact on how your leg drive works on the course. Without good traction, your right foot may slip out from under you when transitioning from backswing to downswing. Obviously, that would not be a good thing. You don't need to buy the most expensive golf shoes on the market, but you should have shoes with good enough traction to keep your feet properly grounded as you make an aggressive swing. Traction is particularly important when you play on a day when the ground is wet, or when you find your ball on a slope, leading to an awkward lie.
  • Consistently hold your finish. If you fail to hold your finish position after each swing, it will be difficult to evaluate the quality of your leg drive. In many ways, a good finish position is proof that you've used your legs correctly – and a bad finish position is proof that something has gone wrong. Make it a habit to hold your finish position on full swings until the ball has landed back on the ground. This will give you a moment to make sure you are nicely balanced, and it will make it easier to watch the ball fly, as well.

While it may not get as much attention as some of the other parts of the swing, the leg drive is a key component of the overall construction of your swing technique. Without a good leg drive, it will be very difficult to hit the ball with any kind of authority, and your swing will lack consistency, as well. We hope the information provided in this article will help you make progress with the leg drive in your own swing during upcoming practice sessions. Good luck!