Achieving the correct weight shift during your golf swing will help you to achieve much longer, more accurate and more consistent shots.
The weight shift though is not something that should be forced. It should be a product of you moving well through the swing.
Generally as you swing the club head away from the ball, your weight (for right handed golfers) should shift more to your right foot so that you have approximately 70% of your weight on your right foot at the top of your backswing. As you swing back down on your downswing, your weight should move on to your left side and you should finish your swing with 90% of your weight on your left foot when in your finish position. As the club moves away to the right, your weight should shift right and as the club moves back to the left, your weight should move left.
If you find this is not happening in your golf swing, focus on the target line - a line from the target back to the ball. If you extend this line from the target to beyond the ball, work on moving the club head along this line for longer so that you feel you are stretching out along the target line more. Be careful to keep your head static as you do this, it is your arms that need to stretch away from your body not your head and body that need to sway to the right. Keeping you head in it"s start position, stretch your hands and arms along the target line as you make your takeaway. You should find that if you have moved the club head out along the target, your centre of gravity has shifted to the right to help you stay balanced and as a result of this, your weight will have shift subtly over to your right foot. You can now complete your backswing.
On your downswing, again the shift of weight from your right to left foot should be a product of your body moving correctly during your swing. Work on starting your downswing by rotating your knees and hips towards the target. If you are not sure of how to do this, then stand with your back next to a wall. Take up your address position as though you had your golf club in your hands and make sure that your backside touches the wall as you do this. Make a backswing movement and you should notice that only the right side of your backside is now touching the wall. To move correctly on your downswing, roll your backside along the wall to your left, so that the left side of your backside moves back on to the wall and the right side now comes off and finish with your feet in the correct finish position. This will mean that the left seam of your trousers is now touching the wall.
Practice rolling your backside along the wall and this will encourage you to move your lower body more correctly on your downswing and will produce a weight shift to the left.
Introduction to Golf Weight Shift
When your weight shifts during a golf swing it is a reaction to balance, to the turning of the upper body and the body’s initiative to create power. The weight shift in golf, as in most athletic motions, goes from back to front. The transfer of weight makes it easier to propel the arms and it also allows the body to be involved with the transfer of power from the club to the golf ball. Pretend you had a tennis ball in your right hand like you were going to throw it. Stand facing a wall and throw the ball using just your arm. The throw would most likely come out as a toss. There won’t be much power behind it.
Stand facing the wall again and then turn your shoulders to the right as if you were going to throw the ball. You will feel your weight shift slightly to the right. Next, pull your arm back in a throwing motion and more weight goes to your right side. Just as the arm is about to finish going back, step forward with the left foot and throw. This motion produces much more power and in turn will transfer this energy to the ball. If you were to put the sequence above in a fluid motion, the ball could be thrown even harder.
It doesn’t take a lot of motion to create weight shift. In order for weight shift to be helpful it needs to happen at the right time in the swing. Because the golf swing is one motion the best way to ensure this happens is to start from the top. To help you sort out this concept you need to slow down and create some awareness.
BACKSWING- Stand in your address position holding a club
First, move only your arms and the club and initiate a take away. You should feel a little bit of weight on your right foot. Turn your shoulders and let the club start to set. You will feel pressure on the right foot and resistance in your right hip and leg.
1. Now turn your shoulders against your right hip until you reach the top of your backswing. You should feel up to 80% of your weight on the right side. The downswing works on unwinding the pressure built up on the backswing. It’s important to remember that like the backswing, each section of the body has its own place in the sequence and will hastily release any tension built in the backswing if a section moves out of turn. For instance, if the shoulders and hips move on the downswing at the same time and rate, your weight will not shift forward and sometimes will even shift back to the right side. Let your hips start shifting forward as you finish the backswing with your arms. Your hips should start pulling the right shoulder down and both shoulders around. Your should have more weight on your left side at impact and about 80% of your weight on the left side when you finish. Don’t overthink the movements. Keep everything simple at first using the smallest motion necessary to create your weight shift back and through. Once the movement feels fluid then add a little more turn. It’s better not to force a weight shift. The motion could throw you off balance. Shifting your weight is a reaction to the movement of your arms, torso and hips. Swing the club back, shift forward just as the arms finish going back and then release the power. Your golf weight shift can work in a positive way for your swing as long as you don’t let it roam around aimlessly.
Flaws That Inhibit a Good Golf Weight Shift
- Over swinging will result in your weight being stuck on the right side during the downswing. As you swing past the end of your desired backswing length your weight will either shift to the outside of your right foot or to the back of the heel. Because your weight is moving overwhelmingly to the right it take more time for your body to get back in control and move your weight to the left. Your arms will beat your body back to the ball because your weight doesn’t shift forward.
- Under swinging means you never got your weight back to the right side in the first place. If you don’t get turned behind the ball you don’t have momentum built up for your downswing. Your downswing will consist of you trying to create power that isn’t there, usually by throwing the weight back to the right side on the downswing. Can your grip prevent you from having a good weight shift? If your left hand grip is weak it will be difficult to set the club in your backswing. When your left arm is parallel with the ground during the backswing your club should be set at least at a 45 degree angle to the arm. When you have a weak left hand the club will not be much higher than the left arm. The result will be what feels like a very heavy club. Your arms will try to lift the club while your body struggles to move. Your weight will shift to the left to give your arms more leverage to lift the club. On the downswing your weight will need to shift to the right to try and create an angle for power and to close the clubface. Needless to say this is one of the least powerful positions you could be in for a golfer.
- There are many reasons why you could have a left knee collapse during the backswing.
- The club could feel too heavy. (See above)
- You could have flexibility problems with your hips or back that prevent you from shifting your weight to the right.
- The ball could be too far back in your stance or your stance could be too wide. When the left knee collapses your weight will shift to the left leg and then the right leg instead of right leg to front leg.
- A sometimes overlooked element of the set up is shoulder tilt. Your right hand is lower than the left on the grip. The right shoulder should be lower than the left and the spine tilted slightly to the right. This position makes a weight shift to the right leg much easier. However, if your arms are even that means your shoulders are even and your spine is straight. Before your swing you are set up to take the club back steeply and your weight will shift to the left during the backswing. This is another power leak and is easily fixed by simply adding a bit of shoulder tilt at address.
- Some players have such a strong left hand grip that it prevents them from taking a full backswing and getting their weight shifted to the right. It’s something you really have to watch with women because most teachers promote a very strong left hand grip for women in order to set the club earlier in the swing. These are some of the most common swing flaws that inhibit a good golf weight shift. If you are still having problems after going through the list, start from the beginning. Take a very slow swing and make sure your weight is going from right to left and that you are staying between your feet.
Improve Your Golf Weight Shift at Address
The phrase setting yourself up to hit a good shot extends well beyond having a good grip and ball position. By positioning your body so that it can maximize the use of your weight shift you will use less effort in your swing for better shot results. Here is a checklist for your setup to help you decide if your body is allowing you the most productive weight shift possible during your swing.
Is your upper body positioned over your lower body?
Your shoulders should be positioned over your hips, and your knees over your ankles. If you cannot position your joints correctly your weight will probably shift, but not to the places you want or at the time you would like. Many players battle this problem, mainly because of tight muscles, injuries or alignment issues. Players with back and knee problems will find it is difficult to get into a position that is both comfortable and playable. If you simply cannot set up with your upper body over your lower or your knees over your ankles, you need to adjust your foot alignment and foot flare until you can shift your weight to the right side on the backswing and then the left side during the downswing.
Is your posture too upright or bent over?
If your are bent over too much at address it’s very possible your weight will shift to the left while the club is swinging back. If you are standing too upright the tendency is to over swing causing your weight to shift to the outside of your right foot on the backswing and possibly back over to the left at the top of the backswing.
How wide is your stance?
A wide stance will restrict your weight shift and cause you to move your hips up and down, not around. The result is your weight shift will be moving in the opposite direction on your club. A narrow stance promotes rotation. Too much rotation causes an over swing which can force your weight to the outsides of your feet. If you grossly over-rotate then your weight will be shifted to the left foot on the backswing then the right foot on the downswing.
Are you too close or too far from the ball?
Standing too far from the ball will prevent a good rotation and your weight will not get all the way back to your right foot. Standing too close is similar to standing too upright. The tendency is to over swing which will cause your weight shift to the outside of your right foot.
Where is your head?
At At times it’s tough to remember that your head is at the top of your spine and your spine controls your tilt during the swing. Tilt your head to the right too much and your spine tilts to the right. Your weight will stay on the right foot unless your head moves in the other direction. If your head tilts to the left at address then you will have a difficult time shifting your weight to the right side.
How is your balance at address?
Have you ever found yourself rocking back and forth while addressing the ball? It’s not exactly a feeling that instills confidence. If you rock forward at address your weight will shift to your heels on the backswing, then back to your toes on the downswing. Indicators would be fat shots or chicken wings. Your setup is your key to success in your golf swing. By ensuring your weight is properly balanced from the beginning you will develop better timing and increase your power. The golf swing needs to be efficient and you can improve by taking inventory of your golf weight shift position at address.
Golf Weight Shift Drills
Before you dive into these drills designed to help you work on proper weight shift, let me make a clarification. In few circumstances would a player actually move the mass of their body back and through in order to transfer weight during the golf swing. In most cases a weight transfer happens in the lower body as a result of the upper body turning. Once in a while a teacher may have a player practice drills that actually have the golfer move his/her mass to FEEL how a proper weight shift works. Keep this scenario in mind as you work to implement these drills into your game.
1. The Walk Through-
Purpose: This drill is for players who have trouble shifting their weight to the left side on the downswing and the follow through.
How to Do It? Take a normal swing. After you hit the ball allow the momentum of your downswing to pull your right foot up off of the ground. You should finish the swing with your chest facing your target.
Application: Take a normal swing making sure your chest faces the target at your finish position and your weight is on the left heel.
2. Baseball Drill-
Purpose: This time tested drill is similar to a golf swing but makes it easier to to produce a pure rotary swing.
How to do it? Stand straight with the club held out perpendicular to your chest. Swing the club back and through, ensuring your hands swing behind each shoulder.
Application: The golf swing is still a rotary motion, it’s just your spine is at a different angle. Feeling the rotary motion in a baseball swing and how it forces your weight smoothly to shift back and through helps you simplify the motion of the golf swing. A golf swing is comprised of a mainly rotary motion of the upper body that is balanced on top of the lower body, the feet receiving the weight shift.
3. Start Swing From Post-Impact Position
Purpose: Using gravity this drill helps the player feel the weight shifting to the right on the back swing. Your backswing will have momentum which means you don’t have to initiate the backswing from a static position.
How to Do It? Take your address position. Turn through to the position where the club and body will be about 18 inches past impact. Hold that position for a second before starting your backswing from there.
Application: One of the keys to a good weight shift is having a continuous, fluid motion in the swing. This drill creates the backswing motion for you, initiating the weight shift to your right side.
4. Balance Board or 2x4
Purpose: By working all of your muscles from the torso down to your feet, a balance board teaches you to react to movements from the upper body and not lose control.
How to do it? A balance board is a circular piece of wood that essentially sits on half of a ball. Stand normally until you can control your lower body, then stand with your arms out. If you feel stable, turn your shoulders, chest and arms back and through gently. If you don’t have a balance board then stand with the middle of your feet over a 2x4 that is parallel to the target line.
Application: After standing on a balance board standing on the ground will never feel so easy. The muscles in your feet, legs and torso will be very sensitive to the movements of the upper body and therefore will be able to control the weight shift in the golf swing much easier.
Dynamic Golf Weight Shift
Your body is in a constant state of balance correction during the golf swing. Even at address your brain is sending out feelers to your body to make sure that you are balanced. Once you start your swing you initiate dynamic balance, which is balancing while in motion. Every move you make during your swing requires feedback from your body to your brain. If your weight shift is thrown off by a mechanical mistake your body starts playing catch up and the fluidity of your swing disappears. Balance is the great equalizer in sports and golf is no different. Your brain is getting constant feedback as to whether you are in balance or not. Add a golf club and trying to swing at a 100 miles per hour from a static position and you have a recipe for balance disaster. Fortunately we have a whole arsenal of helpers in our bodies that work together to send feedback to your brain. Here are some of the sensors working on behalf of your brain to keep you balanced during the swing and more specifically during the shifting of weight.
Eyes- Eyes are extremely important because they give your body a target to move towards. They see the ball and guide your body towards hitting it. Then at some point your field of vision includes the target you are hitting towards. If you swing like Annika then your field of vision during the swing will be much wider.
Ears- Your ears help determine in what direction you are moving. They help you balance while you swing.
Muscles- Muscles will tell you if they are stretched or have tension. They will also give your brain a status report as to how your joints are moving. Good athletes are target oriented, which means that instead of concentrating on the mechanics of a motion they simply let their bodies take over and guide them to the position they need to be in. Take for instance a basketball player driving to the basket. Going full speed several defenders try to stop the player but even in mid-air the player can change his/her body position in order to find a way to get the ball into the basket. You will find that even while good players are knocked off balance, they still maintain a center or balance that the body works around. The balance is anchored around the eyes, the head and a spot in the body that stays centered (but not necessarily fixed.) Your body is constantly looking to balance itself while you move your upper body and shift your weight. Power from the weight shift is created by the turning of the upper body against the lower body and that can’t happen if your weight doesn’t shift to the right spots at the right time.
Kinematics in golf refers to the sequence that your body moves to create power. The reason it is important in the dynamic balance of the golf swing is because the energy released on the downswing is created from the ground up. The weight shift begins the downswing and the stability of the lower body during the weight shift allows energy to be distributed higher to the torso, arms and finally the golf club.
It’s apparent that there is an interconnection between weight shift, dynamic balance and the sequencing of the body during the swing. In order for all of these elements to coincide there needs to be a script for them to follow. The best way to write the script is to practice and strengthen your stabilizers. Become aware of the sensors that work for you and train them to be sensitive of imbalances during the swing. The more often you train them the faster your golf weight shift will fall into place.