Body movement in golf swing

You often hear certain pros' golf swings described as “pretty.” Eye-pleasing swings have a fluid quality, a smooth, flowing tempo and textbook finish position, among other traits.

A graceful rhythm and picture-perfect pose are built on a single fundamental that rarely attracts the same attention: balance. It's too often taken for granted by golfers who prefer to practice so called more interesting facets, like swing plane or a late release. But after the grip, balance may be the most critical element of all.

Balance may be overlooked because of the ease with which pros achieve it. Rarely will you see a professional golfer lean too far onto the heels or toes during a swing, or finish in an awkward, off-kilter position.

Why It's Important

Without steady balance from setup into the backswing and through the downswing, it's extremely difficult to return the clubface to square at impact. Physics simply won't allow it.

Your balance can shift off-center in any direction before and during the swing, and each sway has its own unwanted consequences. For example, too much weight on your toes can cause contact on the club's heel or even the dreaded shanks. Lean back on your heels and you'll hit the ball off the club's toe.

Starting with a balanced address is essential. Weight should be evenly distributed between the heels and balls of your feet on all full shots, and in a 50-50 arrangement on the left and right feet. (The exception is hitting the driver, when placing a little more weight on your right or back foot is recommended to add loft to your shots.) Your knees should be flexed at address and remain that way throughout the swing.

Who You Should Watch

Pick a pro, any pro. He or she would never have made it so far with poor balance. Still, some set a better example than others.

Golfers with classic form always have impeccable balance. Think of Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose – all possess perfect posture, with knees, hips and shoulders stacked neatly in line.

balance 2Apply It to Your Game

When the camera is behind the golfer, note how they rotate around the body's core, never leaning forward or back. Except for a slight lifting of the left (front) heel on some pros' backswings, their feet stay firmly planted from beginning through impact.

Maintaining good balance requires a smooth tempo, free from quick or jerky movements. Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els set sterling examples.

For improving and maintaining great balance, the feet-together drill is unbeatable. It's also incredibly simple:

  • Using a wedge or short iron, address the ball with your feet an inch or two apart.
  • Hit a number of shots swinging at 50-percent effort.
  • Once you've hit a few solid shots with good balance, increase to 75-percent swings.
  • When you're achieving crisp contact every time, switch to the next club up and work all the way through your driver.

How to Create Proper Swing Balance

How to Create Proper Swing Balance

Do you have great balance in your golf swing? If you are an amateur player, the answer – sadly – is probably a no. Most amateur golfers don't focus on balance when they practice, instead working on things like making a bigger turn or trying to release the club more aggressively through impact. By working on the wrong things, many players become stuck in 'neutral' with their game for years and years. If you actually want to get better, you need to work on the important parts of your game. And nothing is more important than balance.

A balanced golfer is a good golfer, in almost every case. Sure, excellent balance might not take you all the way to the PGA Tour, but it will take you a long way. Basically, good balance is going to allow the rest of your talents to shine through. If you currently have trouble making solid contact or achieving reasonable distance on your shots, it is likely that balance is to blame. Take the step of working on your ability to control your body weight during the swing and your performance is almost certain to take a big jump forward.

Balance in golf is about more than just not falling over at the end of your swing. Most players can remain standing after they hit a shot, but that doesn't mean they have good balance. Rather, good balance is about having your weight in the right position at all points of the swing – at address, throughout the backswing, and on through the downswing into the follow through. If you lose your way at any one of these key junctures, you are in trouble.

Have you ever wondered how professional golfers are able to make the game look so easy? The players on the PGA Tour often send the ball more than 300 yards in the air, yet they don't look like they are even swinging very hard. What you are observing is balance at work. When a player remains balanced, he or she is able to effectively transfer a significant amount of energy from their body to the club, and from the club to the ball. This beautiful transfer of energy means the ball can travel great distances without an awkward, aggressive lunge at the ball on the part of the player.

In this article, we are going to cover a variety of different topics related to balance. Since we don't know exactly what kind of condition your golf swing is in at the moment from a balance perspective, we can't tell you precisely what changes you need to make. What we can do, however, is offer you an education on the topic of balance in golf. By arming you with the information necessary to understand balance and how it affects what you do on the course, you should have an easy time determining what changes need to be made in your own swing.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

It's All About a Clean Strike

It's All About a Clean Strike

So much of what you try to do during the golf swing comes down to achieving a clean strike at the moment of impact. Sure, you want to hit the ball hard and on target, but first things first – you have to strike the ball cleanly for any of that to matter. If you don't make good contact with the ball, you shot will be a failure no matter what other points you may have gotten right.

When it comes to the task of striking the ball cleanly, nothing is quite as important as being balanced throughout the swing. Why does good balance help you to become a good ball striker? The following points will shine some light on this question.

  • Controlling the bottom of your arc. Each golf swing you make is an arc. As the club moves down toward the ground, it gets closer and closer to the turf, bottoms out, and then comes back up again. Obviously, there is only one single point where the bottom of the arc can be located. It is your job to match up this point with the back of the golf ball in order to create a clean strike. If you fail to control the bottom of your swing arc, you will never be able to hit solid shots consistently. This is the core of why balance is some important. When you are balanced, you can control the location of the bottom of your swing arc nicely. By having the bottom of the arc coincide with the back of the ball, you will be able to send your shots beautifully toward the target. Players with poor balance – say, players who slide from side to side instead of rotating – will always struggle to match their arc to the golf ball. They may get it right once in a while, but consistency will be nowhere to be found.
  • Simplify the overall move. Simplicity is a great thing in the golf swing, although it can be hard to find. Building a simple swing starts with having great balance throughout the motion. Since there are fewer moving parts in a simple swing, and smaller movements overall, it is easier to strike the ball cleanly over and over again. As was mentioned above, this is all about consistency. It's not that you could never hit a good golf shot if you were off-balance – you certainly can. Amateurs golfers to it all the time. But are they able to hit those shots consistently, hole after hole? No, they aren't. The only way to be consistent is to build a simple swing, and every simple swing is built on the foundation of balance.
  • Confidence to release the club. Another important piece of the ball striking puzzle is a full and confident release through impact. The 'release' doesn't actually mean you let go of the club, of course – rather, it means you let your hands roll over as the club head fires through the ball. Without a good release, most of your shots would be weak and would wind up to the right of the target. Unfortunately, players with poor balance struggle to release the club properly. This is mostly due to a lack of confidence. This kind of player is too busy worrying about his or her balance to really let the club rip through the hitting area. In the end, the club drags through the ball without much authority, and the resulting shot is a disappointment.

The quality of your ball striking is certain to improve as your balances advances. Make no mistake – balance is not the only thing you need to do well in order to be a good ball striker. There are a variety of other swing elements which must join together with balance. However, it all starts here. Once you have balance in place, you can move on to the other skills you need to develop. Without your balance, you might as well not bother working on other fundamentals, because they won't have a chance to live up to their potential.

A Boring – But Critical – Piece of the Puzzle

A Boring – But Critical – Piece of the Puzzle

It seems that no one really wants to talk about the address position (otherwise known as the stance). Even in golf circles, where players love to just talk about the game for hours on end, the address position doesn't get much attention. To be sure, this isn't the most exciting part of golf. The way you stand over the ball is a pretty mundane topic, even for the biggest golf fanatic. Unfortunately, the lack of excitement associated with this topic leads many players to ignore its importance. When it comes to balance, you are always going to struggle to meet your goals unless you are able to take a great stance over the ball time after time.

What it is that makes a great golf stance? Compare the following checklist to your own address position during your next practice session.

  • Weight in the center of the stance. You probably already know that this is an important point, even if you haven't taken time to work on it just yet. With your weight in the middle of your stance, you will be balanced to start the swing – a big point to consider when you are hoping to remain balanced for the rest of the swinging action. If you start off balance, you can't reasonably expect to find your balance later. Also, it is important to remember that you need to be balanced both in terms of left and right as well as forward and back. Not only should your weight be evenly distributed between your right foot and left foot, but it should also be centered in the middle of your feet (rather than forward on your toes or back on your heels). It isn't as easy as you might think to achieve this kind of balanced position, so work on this in practice just as you would any other golf skill.
  • Plenty of knee flex. It is essentially impossible to remain balanced during the golf swing if you fail to flex your knees at address. Sure, you could easily start out balanced with straight legs, but that balance would not last long. The golf swing is a dynamic motion, and you are going to need to use your lower body to act as a stabilizer for the action that is taking place in your upper body. Without knee flex, there will be stabilizing ability in your lower body, and you'll wind up leaning in one direction or another. The right amount of knee flex is going to vary from player to player, so experiment with your own swing to see where you feel the most comfortable.
  • Chin up. This is a surprisingly important part of the address position. When standing over the ball, your chin should be up away from your chest, rather than pushed down toward the ground. This matters because keeping your chin down would inhibit you from making a great shoulder turn in the backswing. And what does this have to do with balance? Simple – if your chin is in the way and your shoulders can't turn, you will be forced to slide away from the target in order complete your backswing. That is not good news, and it will almost certainly lead to a negative outcome. By taking your stance with your chin up away from your chest, you can promote a solid shoulder turn without any risk of losing your balance.

You probably aren't going to get out of bed in the morning with a burning desire to practice your address position. This just isn't one of the parts of the game that leads to excitement and anticipation – but the work needs to be done nonetheless. Put in a few minutes at the start of an upcoming practice session working on your stance and you will be better for the effort. Over the long run, get into a habit of reviewing your address position at the start of each trip to the driving range to make sure none of your fundamentals get out of place.