Weight Shift in Golf Swing

The reverse pivot is one of the most common – and easily diagnosed – golf swing flaws.

The golfer who reverse pivots suffers from poor rotation and weight shift on the backswing and downswing. Typically, his upper body leans toward the target on the backswing, then away from the target on the downswing – the opposite (reverse) of a proper motion.

A variety of weak slices, pushed, fat and topped shot ensues.

If you feel more weight on your left foot (for right-handers) than your right at the top of the swing, and finish with weight on your right foot, you've got a reverse pivot. Here's a drill that will cure it by engaging your shoulders, torso and hips in unison:

  • Place a club along the target line with the butt end of the grip about two inches behind the ball.
  • Using any club, take your normal address position.
  • Make a low takeaway, so that your club pushes the club on the ground back and away.
  • Complete the swing.

If you reverse pivot during this drill, you'll feel more resistance from the obstacle club than you do when making a correct takeaway.

Understanding and Solving the Reverse Pivot

Understanding and Solving the Reverse Pivot

The reverse pivot is a term that you have probably heard somewhere along the way during your golf journey. You probably know that it is a bad thing to have in your swing, even if you don't know exactly what it is. Golfers who use a reverse pivot are often unaware that they are doing it, which is one of the reasons it can be so difficult to correct. Once you know about the problem, however, you can get right to work on making the proper adjustments to your technique to get your swing on the right track.
So what is a reverse pivot?

Basically, it means that you are moving your body in the opposite manner to what would be considered a mechanically correct golf swing. For a right handed player, the proper order is to turn your body away from the target in the backswing and allow your weight to move slightly onto your right leg in the process. Then, on the downswing, everything turns to the left and you end up with a balanced finish position over your left leg. In a reverse pivot swing, it is just the opposite. During the backswing, your weight will actually move left toward the target. After the club changes directions and starts back down toward the ball, your center of gravity will shift to the right and away from the target. This movement creates all kinds of problems in the swing and makes it very difficult to hit good shots.

To a trained eye, the reverse pivot is one of the easiest swing mistakes to spot – and it doesn't take long when at the golf course or driving range to find at least a few players struggling with this issue. It is a common mistake, and is definitely one of the leading contributors to the slice. Now that you know what a reverse pivot is and what it looks like, pay a little more attention to the golf swings of your playing partners next time you are on the course. Chances are that at least one of them has some degree of reverse pivot in their swing.

Of course, it is possible that you are fighting with a reverse pivot in your own game. If that is the case, you need to put together a plan to correct the problem and get your weight working properly throughout the swing. A good golf swing is achieved when all of the parts of your body are working together toward the same goal of hitting the ball toward the target. When your arms are swinging in one direction and the majority of your body weight is moving the opposite direction – as is the case in a reverse pivot – you will never find the power and consistency that you are looking for.

All of the instruction contained here is written for a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, be sure to reverse the directions accordingly.

Signs of Reverse Pivot Trouble

Signs of Reverse Pivot Trouble

As mentioned above, it is relatively easy to spot a reverse pivot – when someone else is doing it. It is not as easy, though, to spot your own reverse pivot. Since you cant really see your golf swing while you are making it, you have to rely on some signs that can clue you in to the fact that there might be a problem. Fortunately, there are several key indicators that will let you know a reverse pivot may be present in your swing.

  • Hitting a slice. If you are struggling to eliminate the slice from your game, you probably already know that there is a technical flaw somewhere which is causing the ball to turn so quickly from left to right in the air. What you might not know is that the reverse pivot could be the root cause of the issue. When your weight moves from your left side to your right side in the downswing, it can force the club to move up and away from your body while it is trying to swing down toward impact. The result is that the club has to swipe across the ball just to make contact, and slice spin is created. Players who fight a slice should look at their swings carefully to make sure they aren't using a reverse pivot as it is among the leading causes of this dreaded ball flight.
  • Cant take a divot. Another common sign of the reverse pivot is struggling to take a divot after your iron shots. A good iron swing will offer a descending blow into the back of the ball, taking a divot out of the grass after impact. That is only possible when your weight is successfully getting to your left side, however. If your weight is moving the other way as in a reverse pivot, the club will likely be moving up through the hitting area – making it virtually impossible to take a divot. Try hitting a few wedge shots on the driving range with the sole purpose of taking a good divot. If you are unable to do so, a reverse pivot may be the underlying problem.
  • Total lack of power. In addition to making it hard to create solid contact at impact, the reverse pivot also robs you of most of the power in your swing. To generate speed in the golf swing, you need everything working together and moving in the same direction. That doesn't happen with a reverse pivot. Instead, your body weight will actually be working against your arms and the club, slowing them down as they get closer to the ball. If you find that you are having trouble hitting shots with any kind of reasonable distance as compared to your playing partners, it could be that the reverse pivot is preventing you from creating good club head speed in the downswing.

When one or more of the three signs above are present in your own game, it is very possible that the reverse pivot could be to blame. Once you suspect that this might be the problem, ask a friend to record your swing on video so you can know for sure. The video wont lie – if you are making a reverse pivot, it will be right there for you to see.
In a way, it is actually good news to find that you have a reverse pivot issue in your swing. Why? Simple – now you know what you need to work on. When you have a problem with your ball flight but no obvious issue to fix, golf can be extremely frustrating. However, if you find that you are dealing with a reverse pivot, you will have a very specific mechanical problem to work on correcting. Once fixed, you should quickly see a great improvement in the overall quality of your game.

Preparing to Fix the Problem

Preparing to Fix the Problem

Golfers who discover they have a reverse pivot in their swings should make eliminating that move a top priority. You aren't going to be able to reach your potential as a golfer while still using a reverse pivot, so the time to get it corrected is now. Your game might suffer a little bit in the short term while you make the transition, but that is a sacrifice worth making. In the long run, you will be a far better player for having gotten rid of this swing flaw.

The idea behind fixing your reverse pivot is simple – you want to do the opposite of what you have been doing. Instead of your weight moving left-to-right in the swing, it should be moving from right-to-left. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. However, you might find that breaking this habit is a little more challenging than expected. Depending on how long you have been playing golf, your current swing – reverse pivot included – is probably pretty well ingrained into your mind. It will take some time and effort in order to wash away those bad habits.

To get started, take a look at a calendar and find a time when you can successfully stay off of the golf course and limit yourself to only visiting the driving range for a period of time. Two weeks would work – a full month would be even better. So, if you have an upcoming golf event or golf trip with some friends that you will be taking part in, it might be best to put off your swing change until later. It is hard to make a change like this when you are playing rounds of golf instead of just practicing, so finding a specific time frame to work on your new swing is crucial.

Another step you need to take is getting your mind prepared for the process of altering the way you swing the club. Even though the reverse pivot is far from ideal technique, you have probably found a way to make it work for you to some degree. When you start to make this change, many of the good shots that you have managed to hit with the reverse pivot are going to go away. It is almost certain that you will get worse before you get better. This is okay, and it should be expected. However, many golfers get frustrated when this happens and they give up before ever getting very far into the process. Understand that it will be a struggle at first, and embrace those struggles as part of the journey toward a better golf swing.

There is one last point that needs to be understood before you get started eliminating the reverse pivot from your game. Many golfers struggle with swing changes because they feel weird or aren't natural. Countless golfers have given up too soon on potentially positive swing changes just because they wanted to go back to what was comfortable and familiar. If you are going to get better at golf, you will have to step outside of that comfort zone and be willing to make swings that don't feel natural at first. Remember, the swing you have currently feel natural, but it is giving you results you aren't happy with. In order to reach your goals, it will be necessary to make changes – even if those changes mean making swings that feel uncomfortable at first.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step-by-Step Instructions

Once your designated time frame for this swing change has arrived, consider using the following step-by-step instructions to successfully get rid of your reverse pivot.

  • Learn proper impact position. Before you get into making full swings, it is best to start with small little swings that will help you learn what a good impact position feels like. Up until now, you have had your weight leaning away from the target when you contact the ball. While this is incorrect, it is also all you know at the moment. It is important that you teach yourself the right impact position so you can find it swing after swing. For this drill, use a short iron and a few practice balls. At address, lean your weight into your left side and open your hips up toward the target. You can also allow your right foot to move up onto its toes a little bit to help ensure that your weight is leaning left. Now that you are in this position, try hitting a few short shots. You don't want to swing very hard – just hit the ball 40 or 50 yards with a partial swing. The first thing that you should notice is how much you are swinging down through impact. With your weight on your left side, the club should naturally take a downward angle through the ball. If you are hitting off grass (and not practice mats), you should notice that you are taking small divots after the ball.
  • Staying balanced during the backswing. For players that struggle with a reverse pivot, the trouble starts as soon as the club begins moving away from the ball. During the takeaway, your weight is likely starting to move to the left – and there is no recovering from that mistake. So, in order to fix your reverse pivot, you need to make sure that your weight is not sliding left in the takeaway. However, you also dont want to let your weight slide to the right. Ideally, you will be able to keep your center of gravity right where it is while you are rotating away from the target. If you let your weight slide to the right in an effort to stop it from moving left, you will only be trading one problem for another. The best drill for this step of the process isn't really a drill at all – it is simply repetition. You need to make one practice backswing after another, while focusing on maintaining your balance. Try stopping your backswing at various points to make sure you are still on balance and your weight is evenly placed between your two feet. Once you can consistently reach the top of your backswing without losing balance you will be ready to move on to the next step.
  • Using your hips. The real transformation in your swing will occur when you start to use your hips properly in the downswing to move the club aggressively through impact. Now that you have your weight properly balanced at the top of your swing, you will be able to rotate your hips toward the target for the first time. If you have been using a reverse pivot for your entire golf career, this motion is going to be a completely new feeling. In order to learn this move, start by just making practice swings without hitting a ball. However, instead of starting from address, you should start by taking your position at the top of the backswing and holding steady at that point. After you hold that pose for a couple of seconds, start your downswing by turning your hips toward the target. It might help to think specifically about turning your left hip to the left. The goal is to get your belt buckle pointed at the target as soon as possible. When done correctly, you will be using your lower body to move the club and your arms will just be coming along for the ride. You will have to ignore the temptation to use your arms actively in the downswing – this will be difficult at first. Do this drill over and over again until you learn how to use your lower body to pull the club down toward impact. This is the last piece of the puzzle, and once you can use your legs correctly in the downswing, your reverse pivot should be gone for good.

Those three steps might sound pretty quick and easy, but it will be more work than you might think. Re-training your body to make the movements outlined above instead of your current reverse pivot will take some effort and patience. Dont rush through any of the three steps, and don't head back onto the golf course until you are sure that the changes have become comfortable and you can make it through a full round without reverting to your old habits.

Whats Next

Whats Next

Obviously, hitting some good shots on the range and playing well on the course are two very different things. Even when you have reached the point of swinging well on the range you can still expect a period of transition to take place on the course itself. One of the biggest challenges is going to be getting used to the new ball flights that you are hitting. Most golfers who have a reverse pivot hit one of two shots – a pull, or a slice. There are very few exceptions to this rule because of the positions the club ends up in when you use a reverse pivot. However, now that the reverse pivot is gone, you could find yourself hitting any number of different shots. It will take some time for you to learn what you new ball flights look like, and how you can best use them to make your way around the course.

Another element that you will encounter on the golf course that doesn't usually exist on the driving range is uneven lies. When you hit balls on the range, you basically have a perfect lie every time. That isn't the case on the course. Instead, you will have to deal with all kinds of uncomfortable lies which will affect the way you swing the club. There is no way to learn how to deal with these situations except to get out there and do it. Every shot you hit on the course will be added to your experience and you will get better and better at using your new swing with each passing round. There is bound to be some frustration along the way as you hit some poor shots during the learning process, but try to accept those mistakes as part of your education. Pretty soon, you will find that the mistakes come less frequently and your scores will start to fall.

The reverse pivot is one of the most-common swing faults among amateur golfers. While it is possible to hit some good shots while using a reverse pivot, it will be difficult – if not impossible – to ever live up to your full golfing potential with this technique. Getting rid of your reverse pivot is going to be a case of having to get worse in the short term in order to progress over the long run. Your game will very likely suffer while you are trying to eliminate the improper weight shift from your swing. Despite that fact, most golfers will find it worth the effort to get rid of their reverse pivot. Using your body correctly in the swing opens up many possibilities including more distance and new ball flights that were previously impossible for you to hit.