There are a number of moves that cause golfers to leak power during the swing, including an exaggerated swaying motion.
This happens when the (right-handed) golfer shifts too much weight to the right side on the backswing. Typically, the head and shoulders will move well to the right of the ball. Part of the golfer's weight will shift to the outside of the right foot, causing the knee to bend slightly outward.
Often, the swaying golfer will leave too much weight on the right side during the downswing, resulting in weak, right-veering shots. Or, he'll sway back to the left, causing a multitude of mishits.
To cure this malady, first make sure your feet at are at least shoulder-width apart with the driver. If this doesn't cure your sway, utilize the “ball-under-foot drill”:
• On the range, place a golf ball under the outside of your right foot. The inside of the foot should still touch the ground.
• When swinging, this will prevent the body from shifting too far right, keeping you centered over the ball and turning around your core.
Practice this tip often to ingrain the proper weight shift and eliminate your sway during your golf swing.
Limit Backswing Sway to Increase Power
Increased power is something that every golfer would sign up for in a heartbeat. Power is helpful in a number of ways on the golf course, whether you are trying to hit longer drives or move your club head through the rough to get your ball back to the fairway. No matter what your motivation happens to be for finding more power, you will need to optimize your technique if you wish to add speed at the bottom of your swing. Powerful golfers not only are able to make a fast turn through the ball, they are also able to execute quality fundamentals time after time. It isn't as simple as just 'swinging hard' - you need to take the time to learn proper mechanics if you wish to hit the ball farther down the fairway.
One of those 'proper mechanics' is the balance that is needed to deliver the club consistently into the back of the ball the same way time after time. You probably already know that balance is important in the golf swing, but you may not know just how damaging a sway to the right (for a right handed golfer) can be in the backswing. Countless golfers sway away from the target as they swing back, which puts them out of position when the downswing gets started. If you can avoid this mistake and keep yourself centered over the ball throughout your backswing, you will be poised to make a significantly more powerful move.
There is a fine line between limiting the sway in your backswing and shortening your swing to the point of losing power. You need to make a full turn because that turn away from the ball is essential when it comes to building speed in the downswing. Therefore, it is your job as a golfer to find the perfect balance between the length of your backswing and an acceptable amount of sway. This is a task that will require plenty of practice, so expect to work on your balance and body positioning over a period of time on the range prior to seeing improvement in your power on the course.
This is not a move that is limited to your driver, either. Avoiding sway is something that applies across the board, meaning it is just as important with your wedges as it is with your long clubs. For the long clubs, avoiding sway will help you generate power, but it is key on the short clubs to ensure solid contact. By staying over the ball throughout the swing with your short clubs, you will have an easier time centering the ball on the club face at impact. Either way, avoiding sway is critical, so put this item at the top of your golf swing to-do list.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Hold Your Address Position
The importance of a good address position is something that every golfer should understand. Getting setup properly over the ball is key because it sets the stage for everything that is to come. You might want to think about your address position like the foundation of your house. If you build a great foundation, your house is far more likely to be steady over the years. With a poor foundation, however, there is a good chance that the house will fall to the ground. Unless you want your golf swing to fall to pieces, you will work hard to establish a great stance prior to every swing.
Of course, that address position will only benefit your swing if you are able to hold on it throughout most of the swinging motion. If you give up on your address position quickly after putting the club in motion, you will have wasted all of the hard work your did to build that stance originally. Many golfers, in a rush to hit the ball, lose their stance early in the backswing and are never able to recover. If you are going to ever live up to your potential on the course, you won't let that mistake happen to you.
One of the main keys to holding your address position is managing the position of your right knee. It is the right knee that holds the key to avoiding the sway, so this is the part of your body that you should be monitoring carefully throughout the backswing and into the start of the downswing. If your right knee moves significantly to the right early in the swing, you will know that you are swaying away from the target. On the other hand, if your right knee remains stable from the start of the swing all the way through your transition, you can be confident that the sway is staying away. There is almost no way to sway without moving your right knee out, so this is the only point that you need to watch for during the backswing.
While a stable right knee is a great thing for your swing stability, you have to make sure you aren't tightening up during the swing in an effort to remain balanced. Good rhythm and tempo is essential in the pursuit of good golf shots, and you just might lose track of your natural rhythm while trying to hold your knee perfectly still. This is where practice becomes so important. You need to rehearse your swing over and over on the driving range so that you can become comfortable with making a smooth golf swing while holding your right knee steady. It is certainly possible - but nothing comes easy in golf.
The beauty of focusing on your right knee is that everything else in your stance should remain steady as long as your right knee holds solid. For example, you should be able to maintain your spine angle over the ball throughout the backswing if your knee isn't moving around excessively. However, if your knee is sliding right or straightening out, your upper body may stand up out of the shot as well. It is important to keep all elements of your address position in place up to the top of your swing, but your mind can focus in on the right knee knowing that everything else will hold steady as long as you get the right knee correct.
Signs of Trouble
There are some common signs that you can look for if you are afraid that a sway has worked its way into your golf swing. If you notice any of the three issues above becoming a problem in your game, it might be time to check your swing for a harmful swaying motion.
- Pulling ball to the left. If you sway away from the target during your backswing, there is a good chance you will come over the top during the transition from backswing to downswing. When that happens, it is easy to pull the ball to the left of the target. This is also how a slice is produced, so you may pull the ball to the left only to see it quickly change directions and curve back to the right. Either way, whether the ball misses to the right or the left, the results are not going to be positive. If you have suddenly started to have this kind of 'two way' miss in your game - either a pull or a slice - there is a good chance you have developed a sway during your backswing.
- Loss of distance. Unless you have had some sort of physical issue which is limiting the way you swing the club, you shouldn't experience a sudden loss of distance in your golf game. If you do, it is a sure sign that something has gone wrong with your technique. Most likely, the sway is to blame. By swaying away from the target, you will be requiring your body to sway back toward the left during the downswing, which will reduce your ability to rotate toward the target. You should always view a loss of distance as something of a 'warning sign' that your game is getting off track. As soon as you notice your distances decreasing, take a careful look at the whole picture of your swing mechanics.
- Topping shots. Even worse than losing distance on your shots is losing the ability to hit them solid entirely. If you start miss-hitting the ball by topping it off the tee or from the fairway, you are probably swaying off of the ball early in your move. Swaying to the right puts your center of gravity behind the ball, meaning your swing will bottom out before it ever reaches contact. With the bottom of the swing taking place before impact, the club will be headed back up when it contacts the ball - meaning you will likely top the shot. If you have problems with topped shots coming up out of nowhere, review your swing to make sure you aren't swaying away from the target at any point during the swing.
Any of the three warning signs listed above should give you pause for concern. After all, anything less than quality ball striking should make you think that something is wrong in your swing, and these signs all point to the possibility of a sway being at the root of the issue.
Of course, there is one sure way to determine if you are swaying away from the target - record your swing on video and see for yourself. The camera doesn't lie when it comes to the golf swing, so just one quick look at the recording will tell you definitively if you have a problem with the slide. Ask a friend to stand to the side and record your swing while you hit a few balls on the range (make sure they are a safe distance away, of course). When done, watch the recording for yourself and pay close attention to that right knee that we discussed earlier. If the right knee is under control, you will know that your swing problems are coming from some other source. However, if the right knee is drifting away from the target early in the swing, it is the sway that you will need to correct in order to get back on track.
Making the Fix
Once you determine that you are swaying in your backswing, the next step is to get down to work making the necessary corrections. Anytime you make a change to your golf swing, there is going to be a chain reaction that affects other parts of your swing. That means it might not be as easy as simply stopping your sway - once you do that, there may be other changes that are required in order to straighten out your ball flight properly. With that said, it all starts with stopping the sway. Once you successfully take the swaying motion out of your swing, you can make any other alterations that become necessary.
If you take a trip to the driving range to work on eliminating your sway, start by hitting some short shots in order to make it easier to isolate the problem. By hitting some half wedge shots at the start of your practice session, you can focus on your right knee and your overall balance as you strike the shots. As you gain in confidence, feel free to start hitting longer and longer shots until you are all the way up to your driver. Patience is required when making any kind of golf swing improvement, so take your time and only move into longer swings when you are confident that you have made the necessary progress on your shorter shots.
As you work on this part of your swing, pay particular attention to the takeaway as that is when you are most likely to sway off the ball. If things are going to go wrong, they will likely go wrong immediately. It is unlikely that you will start your sway after the backswing is halfway completed, so focus on how your body is moving within the first few inches of the swing. It is easy to allow yourself to sway early in the swing, especially if you are trying to hit the ball as hard as possible on a given shot. To stop that early sway from taking place, focus your eyes directly on the top of the ball during the takeaway phase of your motion. Many golfers move their eyes behind the ball right when they are starting the swing, which encourages the rest of the body to move to the right as well. Discipline your eyes to stay on the ball and the temptation to sway should quickly disappear.
It is hard for many golfers to understand that increasing power is actually related to moving less in the swing, instead of more. You don't need to move dramatically from right to left during the swing in order to build speed - in fact, that kind of motion will take away from your ability to hit the ball hard. Golf is a rotational game at the core, so anything you can do to promote a great turn back and through is what you should be working on. While you get to work on stopping the sway, you are going to have to fight the feeling that you are making a weaker swing. At first, your swing will feel less powerful because you have simplified your motion, meaning less of your body is involved in moving the club. This is actually a great thing, but it may not feel that way initially. Stick with it, and you should soon see that the payoff for your adjustments is going to be additional yardage with all of your clubs.
There is a chance that you won't be able to make this fix on your own. Despite your best efforts, you just might not be able to get everything to work out like you need it to in order to hit good shots. If that is the case, you might want to consider turning to a professional for help. By taking a lesson or two from your local pro, you can get direct instruction from someone who is qualified to help you make the right changes. The pro will be able to watch your swing in person, and they can offer you tips and tricks based on their experience which are designed to solve your problems. While it will require a small investment of time and money to work with a pro, those investments should be paid back when your sway becomes a thing of the past.
Other Power Sources
Getting rid of the sway in your swing is one great way to increase your power. However, finding better balance in the backswing is not the only way to turn up the speed in your swing. There are plenty of other ways in which you can find a few extra yards on your shots, and you should explore all of them in your effort to become a better player. If you are interested in seeking extra power in ways beyond fixing the sway, try the tips below.
- Take your time. Simply by giving yourself a little more time to finish the backswing, you can add power to your swing. Rushing is a common problem among amateur players, as hurrying through your swing will rob you of the time it takes to produce swing speed. At the top of your swing, take a slight pause as your lower body gets into action moving toward the target. This pause will give your legs the head start they need to generate power coming down into the ball.
- Find the right clubs. Believe it or not, you actually can add power to your swing just by finding the right clubs for your game. You can't buy a perfect swing, but you can buy clubs that are well-suited for the technique that you use to hit the ball. Ill-fitting clubs can rob you of distance, so take the time to sort through all of the options on the market in order to pick out a set of clubs that will play to your strengths. Don't be surprised if you start hitting the ball farther just by improving the set of clubs that you take with you onto the course.
- Free up the right hand. There is no substitute for an aggressive and powerful right hand through the hitting area. During most of your swing, you want your hands to be quiet as you position the club for the strike. However, when you get near the ball, all of that work is done and it is simply time to let it all go into the back of the ball. To get the most out of your swing, use your right hand to fully release the club through impact. If you have done everything else correctly in your swing, this aggressive release should give you the additional power you are craving without any loss of accuracy. If this release causes trouble, you will know that there is a hole somewhere else in your swing that needs to be fixed. Many players fail to release the right hand through impact, and they never are able to maximize their power as a result.
There is nothing good about swaying away from the target during your backswing. Not only will you lose power when you make this move, you will also be making it more difficult to hit the ball solidly. Lateral motion is a major source of problems in golf, as you should be focused solely on rotation rather than sliding from right to left. If you are currently swaying during your swing, take the time on the range to isolate the cause of the problem and then get to work on removing it from your technique. With some hard work and smart thinking, you can add yards to your swing simply by getting rid of the sway once and for all.