Golf Lingo Moving Off the Ball

Golf is a game that comes with its own unique set of lingo and terminology. From birdies to bogeys, from fairways to greens, the language of golf is filled with terms that may seem unfamiliar to those who are new to the sport. One such phrase that often comes up in golf discussions is “moving off the ball.” In this article, we will explore the meaning of this term and its significance in the game of golf.

  • In golf, the term “moving off the ball” refers to the motion of a golfer's body, specifically their upper body, away from the target during the backswing. It is a fundamental movement that plays a crucial role in generating power and maintaining balance throughout the swing. When a golfer moves off the ball correctly, it helps create a wide arc and allows for a full shoulder turn, resulting in a more powerful and consistent strike.

Moving off the ball is typically associated with the driver or longer clubs, where distance and power are key factors. To execute this movement, a golfer starts by addressing the ball with their feet shoulder-width apart and the ball positioned forward in their stance. As the swing begins, the golfer initiates the takeaway by shifting their weight to the inside of their back foot while simultaneously turning their upper body away from the target. This movement helps load the swing with potential energy and allows for a full rotation of the shoulders.

However, it is important to note that moving off the ball doesn't mean swaying or sliding excessively away from the target. The goal is to maintain a stable lower body while the upper body rotates. Proper weight distribution is crucial to maintain balance and control throughout the swing. The golfer should feel a connection between their upper body rotation and the coiling of their torso against their lower body.

Moving off the ball also sets the stage for a powerful downswing and impact with the ball. As the golfer completes the backswing, the weight shifts back to the front foot, known as the transition, and then initiates the downswing with a controlled transfer of energy from the ground up. This sequence of movements, when executed correctly, results in a powerful strike with maximum clubhead speed.

It is worth mentioning that the concept of moving off the ball can vary depending on individual swing styles and preferences. Golfers have different body types, flexibility levels, and swing characteristics, which may influence the extent of their movement off the ball. While some players may have a noticeable lateral movement away from the target, others may have a more compact or rotational motion. The key is to find a comfortable and repeatable motion that allows for a full backswing while maintaining control and balance.

Moving off the ball, in golf lingo, refers to an undesirable movement that occurs during the golf swing when a player shifts their weight away from the target side (usually the left side for right-handed golfers). This movement can lead to various swing faults and affect the player's ability to deliver the club to the ball consistently and accurately.

Q1: Why is moving off the ball considered a swing fault? A1: Moving off the ball disrupts the golfer's balance and rhythm during the swing. It can cause an incorrect swing plane, leading to inconsistent ball contact and a lack of power and control.

Q2: What causes a golfer to move off the ball? A2: Several factors can cause a golfer to move off the ball, such as improper weight distribution, lack of flexibility, or over-swinging.

Q3: How does moving off the ball affect the golf swing? A3: When a golfer moves off the ball, it can lead to an over-the-top swing path, resulting in slices or pulls. It can also prevent the golfer from properly transferring their weight during the downswing, leading to a loss of power and accuracy.

Q4: What are some drills or tips to prevent moving off the ball? A4: To prevent moving off the ball, golfers can work on their weight transfer by practicing drills that emphasize staying balanced and centered during the swing. One useful drill is the “ball against the wall” drill, where the golfer sets up with their backside touching a wall and makes swings without losing contact with the wall.

Q5: Is moving off the ball more common among beginners or experienced golfers? A5: Moving off the ball can happen to golfers of all skill levels, but it may be more common among beginners or players who have not received proper instruction.

Q6: How can a golfer determine if they are moving off the ball during their swing? A6: Golfers can use video analysis or seek the help of a golf instructor to identify any movement off the ball during their swing. An instructor can provide valuable feedback and suggest appropriate corrections.

Q7: What are some other swing faults related to weight shift in the golf swing? A7: Other swing faults related to weight shift include “reverse pivot” (where the golfer shifts weight onto the front foot during the backswing) and “swaying” (where the golfer shifts their hips laterally instead of rotating).

Q8: Can moving off the ball affect different clubs in the golfer's bag differently? A8: Yes, moving off the ball can affect different clubs differently. It may be more noticeable with longer clubs like drivers and fairway woods, as they require a more consistent and powerful weight transfer.

Q9: How important is maintaining balance during the golf swing? A9: Maintaining balance during the golf swing is crucial for consistency and control. A balanced swing helps the golfer deliver the club to the ball with better timing and impact position.

Q10: Are there any specific drills or exercises to improve balance in the golf swing? A10: Yes, exercises that focus on core strength and stability can help improve balance in the golf swing. Pilates, yoga, and specific golf balance drills can be beneficial.

Q11: Can moving off the ball lead to other swing compensations? A11: Yes, moving off the ball can lead to other swing compensations, such as early release, flipping, or coming over the top, as the golfer tries to correct the swing path.

Q12: How can a golfer ingrain a proper weight shift and prevent moving off the ball during their swing? A12: Regular practice and feedback from a golf instructor can help a golfer ingrain a proper weight shift and prevent moving off the ball. Engaging in drills that promote a balanced and centered swing can also be beneficial.

In conclusion, moving off the ball is an essential aspect of the golf swing that involves the upper body's rotation away from the target during the backswing. This movement helps generate power, allows for a full shoulder turn, and sets the foundation for a strong downswing. It is important for golfers to understand and practice this fundamental motion to improve their game. So, the next time you hear someone talking about “moving off the ball” on the golf course, you'll have a better understanding of what they mean and why it's important.

A golfer’s feet remain planted throughout the swing – they’re supposed to, anyway – so what does it mean to “move off the ball”?

The term refers to excess lateral motion above the feet, particularly with the upper body. In fact, it’s often called “swaying” because the golfer appears to slide or tilt sideways as he swings.

Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? Usually, it’s bad. Let’s look at the backswing. The right-handed golfer who sways to the right will typically fail to rotate his shoulders sufficiently; he’ll then struggle to transfer weight to the left on the downswing and follow-through. The result: weak shots that slice or squirt to the right.


There are exceptions, of course. Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange swings with a pronounced lateral movement of his upper body away from the ball. Rory McIroy’s sway is less pronounced than Strange’s, but still outside the norm for a professional.

How do these greats get away with it? Their weight never shifts beyond the inside of the right foot on the backswing. This prevents them from losing the powerful coil between hips and shoulders, and allows them to shift easily to the left in the downswing.

Exceptions aside, most golfers are better off staying centered over the ball with only a small amount of side-to-side movement.

Watch this video to eliminate the sway from your swing:

Limit Backswing Sway to Increase Power