The key feeling to have during the backswing phase of your swing, is the feeling of coiling and loading up behind the golf ball, in order to generate power for your downswing.
As you turn your body weight to the right, for the right-handed golfer, you should feel how your right leg loads up with power. The right leg should remain flexed to the same degree at which it started in the setup position. The bodyweight should be loaded to the inside of the right leg, as the shoulders turn above the right knee.
In the downswing phase of your golf swing, if the weight has been loaded correctly, it can now be powerfully unloaded by driving the right foot into the floor, which will in turn shift the body weight to the left hand side and allow the hips to unwind quickly towards the target. This action can feel similar to a sprinter pushing out of the blocks and running towards the target.
If your body weight is loaded to the outside of your right foot or your right leg is extending and locked out in the backswing, it will feel significantly reduced in the amount of power that can be generated using your legs in your downswing.
If you feel that you suffer from a lack of power, poor balance or are often leaning back after you have hit the golf ball, consider how the incorrect loading and unloading of your right side maybe the main area of concern.
Correct Back-Leg for Power
To hit powerful golf shots, you have to bring together a number of different pieces of the golf swing 'puzzle' together successfully. It isn't as simple as just swinging hard and hoping for the best – you have to have all of your various fundamentals in order if you wish to consistently unload a powerful blow into the back of the ball. Power isn't everything in the game of golf, but it certainly is nice to have on your side. Hitting powerful drives allows you to shorten even the longest par fours and fives, and powerful iron shots tend to fly high through the air before landing softly on the green.
In this article, we are going to focus in on one specific part of your body within the golf swing – the back leg. You might not have thought much previously about the role that your back leg plays in the swing, but rest assured that it is quite important in the process of developing power. When your back leg works correctly, it will help you both control your backswing and get your downswing off to a great start. On the other hand, if the back leg is not doing its job, you will struggle to stay on balance and your downswing will likely be a weak slide to the left rather than a powerful rotation. Spend some time working on the performance of your back leg in the swing and you can look forward to hitting more powerful shots almost immediately.
It should go without saying that – in addition to using your back leg correctly - you are going to need to do many other things right in your swing before you can live up to your power potential. You will need to lag the club in the downswing, you will need to make a great shoulder turn, you will need to have the right equipment, and more. Feel free to use the content included in the article below to learn how to use your back leg the right way, but don't forget to move on to other important topics when you have checked this one off your list. The golf swing is a complex and ever-changing action, and your work is never done. The best golfers are continually looking for ways to improve their technique, and you should approach your game in the same way.
Before we get into the specifics of how your back leg should be working in the golf swing, it is important to point out the fact that you don't need to swing as hard as you possibly can in order to produce powerful shots. Many amateur golfers feel like they need to swing with 100% effort on every shot in order to hit the ball long distances, but that simply isn't true. It is far more important to execute your fundamentals properly than it is to swing out of your shoes. If you are able to execute solid fundamentals time after time, you will hit consistently more powerful shots than if you swing as hard as possible with little regard for your technique.
All of the instruction below is written from the perspective of a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Preparing for Success
Your stance is a crucial piece of your overall golf swing. If you don't use a solid stance, you are always going to struggle to produce a reliable golf swing. Most golfers fail to work on their stance during practice, which is a big mistake. If you are serious about your game, and you want to make better swings during each and every round, you will work on your address position on a regular basis.
One of the important parts of the stance is getting your back leg – your right leg – into a good position. The back leg needs to do its job properly from the start of the swing on through to the finish, but it is only going to be able to do that if you position it correctly at the start. There is no time during the golf swing to make up for mistakes that you made at address, so take the time necessary to get this point right. With a great stance in place, the rest of the game will get just a little bit easier.
As it relates to the position of your back leg, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Those points are listed below –
- Your knee needs to be flexed. At address, you need to be sure that your back knee has plenty of flex as you settle in to your stance. Of course, that means your front leg needs to have the same amount of flex in the knee, as you will want to be setting up in a level and balanced position. Knee flex at address is one of the key fundamentals in the game of golf, as you need that flex to make sure your legs are engaged and ready to support the swinging action. Without knee flex, your swing will be stiff, you will struggle to make a full turn, and you will never be able to deliver a powerful blow to the back of the golf ball.
- Your knee should be just inside of your foot. This is an important point that is often overlooked by the average player. When you set up over the ball, you want to make sure that your right knee is just to the left of the position of your right foot. In fact, both of your knees should be slightly to the inside of their respective feet. Taking this kind of stance will help you to balance properly throughout the swing, and it will also give you a great chance to drive yourself toward the target when the downswing begins. To make sure you are hitting on this point, take your stance in front of a mirror and look at the positioning of your knees compared to your feet. As long as both knees are at least slightly inside of your feet, you should be good to go.
- Your right foot should be at least as wide as your shoulder. At no time should you be making a full swing with your feet inside of shoulder width apart. It is important to have a balanced, solid base during your golf swing, and you are only going to have that when you keep your feet at least at shoulder width. The stance that you use should get gradually wider as the clubs get longer. So, playing from a shoulder width stance is just fine when hitting a wedge, and you should move out from there until you are outside of the shoulders when hitting a driver.
Building a solid all-around stance is about more than just positioning your back leg correctly. Yes, you need to get your back leg in position, but you also need to put the rest of your body in the right place as well. Spend some significant practice time working on your stance and you will notice the benefits in your game almost immediately.
Hold It Steady
During the backswing, your back leg has an important job to do – it needs to hold still, doing absolutely nothing. That might not sound like an important job, but it is. If you allow your back leg to give way during the backswing, even to a minor degree, you will quickly lose your balance and you will struggle to rotate through the shot properly. As you swing back make sure your leg is holding steady as you prepare to use it aggressively in the downswing to come.
The best way to monitor to the position of your right leg during the backswing is to focus on your knee. At address, take note of the position of your right knee cap within your stance. Then, as the backswing develops, do your best to keep the right knee cap exactly where it was to start the swing. If you are able to accomplish that simple task, you can be confident that your right leg is holding steady all the way to the top. Should you find that your right knee cap is moving – most likely to the right – you will know that there is work you need to do. Of course, you don't want to be thinking about this technical point while hitting shots out on the course, so focus on this tip during practice. By making any necessary changes to your backswing mechanics during practice, you can forget about this point when you get to the course and instead simply focus on playing your best golf.
For some golfers, it may be difficult to make a full backswing while holding the right knee in place. If that is the case for you, try turning your right foot slightly open at address. This modest change in your stance can go a long way toward improving the way you are able to turn back away from the target. With your right foot open, you should find it easier to turn your shoulders without putting so much pressure into your right leg. In the end, you will be left with a bigger turn that was achieved without having to sacrifice the position of your right leg as a whole.
You are likely to struggle with this tip when you first head out to the practice range, so give yourself an easy start by hitting some short shots with wedges before working up to your long clubs. If you are used to allowing your right leg to drift away from the target – as is the case with most amateur golfers – it will take a bit of time before it feels comfortable to hold your right leg steady. Hit soft shots with your wedges while working on this tip to get a feel for how your swing is going to work. Then, as you gain confidence in the shorter clubs, gradually work your way up into longer and longer swings. With any luck, you will soon be swinging your driver beautifully while keeping your right leg firmly in position throughout the backswing.
The All-Important Transition
If you have done a good job of following along with the instruction up to this point, you should have yourself in a very nice position at the top of the swing. With that said, your job is only now getting started. Once you reach the top, you need to make a powerful and controlled transition into the downswing. This is where the swing really gets started, so you need to execute this part of your action perfectly in order to create powerful shots.
Unfortunately, the transition can go wrong in a number of ways. And, for most amateur golfers, it does go wrong. Rather than swinging down powerfully into the back of the ball, the majority of average golfers make mistakes in the transition which lead to weak, inaccurate contact through the hitting area. To help you identify the possible problems currently taking place in your transition, we have listed some common mistake below –
- Rushing. This is the most common mistake made by the average golfer during the transition from backswing to downswing. There doesn't need to be any rush at this point in the action, yet many players can't wait to get through the transition and on down to impact. Tell yourself to take your time in the transition as you reach the top of the swing in order to give your body a chance to move into position. When you rush your hands and the club through the top of the swing, your body will fall behind and your shots will lack power. The ball isn't going anywhere, so there is no need to rush – take your time and let your swing build power naturally.
- Hands only. Often, golfers will use just their hands and arms to transition the club at the top. While that might seem to make sense on the surface – after all, your hands are the only part of your body touching the club – you are going to quickly get into trouble with your swing if you take this approach. Instead, you should be creating a powerful transition through the use of your lower body, including your back leg. Golfers who slice the ball frequently are often guilty of making a hands-only transition, as this kind of action moves the club up and over the proper swing plane. Ideally, your hands will play a passive role in the transition while your lower body and torso do most of the work.
- Coming up on your toes. One of the surprising ways in which you can ruin your transition is by moving up onto your toes as the downswing begins. Many golfers find that this move gives them the feeling of adding power to the swing. However, in reality, it is only going to make it more difficult to make solid contact at the bottom. When you raise up off of your heels and onto your toes, you are changing the level of entire body. Therefore, you will have to make some other kind of adjustment during the downswing in order to strike the ball cleanly. Obviously, the best idea here is to simply eliminate this unnecessary move. If you keep your feet flat on the ground throughout the transition and into the downswing, your body won't change levels and you won't need to make any kind of adjustment in order to strike a solid shot.
If you are having trouble with your transition currently, there is a good chance that one of the points in the list above is to blame. So, as you work on the driving range, think about these points and do your best to identify the problem. Once the problem is located, you can get down to work on making sure you correct it as quickly as possible.
With that out of the way, we still need to discuss a proper transition. It stands to reason that if the points above are present in a poor transition, that doing the opposite would make for a good transition. And that is largely the case. If you can avoid making those mistakes, and instead include the points listed below, your transition will be a big asset to your game as a whole.
- Start with your legs. This is where your back leg is going to become so important in your swing. As the club reaches the top of the swing, it is going to be up to your legs and your hips to start the rotation toward the target. With your back leg still in the same strong position that it was in at address, you are going to drive toward the target in a rotational manner. You don't want to slide to the left – instead, you want to turn left, quickly opening your hips to the target as your legs power the move. When done correctly, this is a dynamic move that has the ability to transfer a great deal of speed up into the club.
- Keep it moving. Sadly, many golfers manage to make a quality transition from backswing to downswing – only to ruin it by failing to keep their rotation going all the way through the shot. Once you start down properly by using your hips and your legs, you need to keep everything moving until you arrive at a full, balanced finish. Don't give up on your swing halfway through, or you will never live up to your power potential.
- Watch the ball. It sounds so simple, but you can waste all of the other good work you have done simply by taking your eye off of the ball. You don't have to keep your head 'down' necessarily, as it is going to move some naturally as part of the swing, but you do need to watch the ball all the way through impact.
The transition just might be the most important single part of the golf swing. If you can master a smooth and powerful transition, you will be able to hit quality golf shots on a consistent basis. Your back leg plays a big role in the transition, along with many other parts of your body, so work hard on this skill on the range before you head out to the course.
Power is Found in the Sweet Spot
To wrap up this article, we need to point out that the best thing you can do for the power of your golf game is to hit the sweet spot as often as possible. Sure, you want to swing hard, and using your back leg correctly is a big part of generating speed, but you will waste most of that swing speed if you miss the sweet spot.
As you hit shots, no matter what club you are using, emphasize accuracy and control over sheer power. Even when standing on the tee of a long, wide-open par five, you should still be thinking first and foremost about putting the sweet spot of the club on the back of the ball. If you can do that, you should find that you already have plenty of power to make your way around the course. You are never going to hit the sweet spot each and every time, but strive to find it as often as possible if you wish to take your game to a new level.
Using your back leg correctly is going to be a big help in your quest for a better golf swing. Is this the only thing you need to do right in order to hit powerful shots? No – of course not. However, it is one important piece of the puzzle, so add this to your list of things to work on during your upcoming trips to the range. Good luck and play well!