Back Leg Keys a Powerful Golf Swing (Video)
Back Leg Keys a Powerful Golf Swing (Video)

So, I'm sure you've heard loads about the golf swing, how when you turn into your right side you've got to create loads of power, you've got to shift your body weight across, but that only works if your right leg and right knee are supporting your upper body really nicely. So, as you rotate your shoulders around trying to create the 90-degree shoulder rotation, just be careful about what your right side is doing to help and support that.

If we look at the golf swing here returning into the right leg now, the right knee is staying relatively stable from its address position; it doesn't do much, it stays quite still. The body weight shifts across and loads up, but it should load nicely onto the inside of the right foot, trying to avoid too much body weight going outside towards the little toe. This would be a problem. Particularly if the knee starts to go out across your shoelaces, that's a big problem. So, turning into your right side nice and supported here, pressing onto the instep there. If I just rotate around for you now, you'll see how that actually looks in the backswing; turning back, the right sides doing very little.

The big thing that I see a lot of golfers getting guilty of, locking up right knee out, taking that right hip back, away from its address position. So it starts here, try and keep it here and load up and avoid this happening. Anything where this happens now makes it very difficult to get back off that leg; it's very difficult to create power. So feel that you press into your right side, load it up, and then push back off to get back across to the golf ball and that's where you're going to generate the power. So, press into the right big toe, push off the right big toe to generate power, and hopefully that will give you more consistency and longer golf shots.

2012-03-19

Generally speaking, the lower body does not get the respect or attention that it deserves in the golf swing.

Back Leg Keys a Powerful Golf Swing

Your lower half has a lot of important work to do if you are going to produce quality golf shots time after time – yet most players largely ignore this part of their technique. So much attention is paid to things like grip, swing path, shoulder turn, and more, that the lower body often winds up left out of the conversation altogether.

In this article, we are going to shine a light on one of the important pieces of the golf swing puzzle, and it involves the lower body. Specifically, we are going to be talking about how your back leg can help you produce a powerful swing. For a right-handed golfer, the back leg is the right leg. For a left-handed player, the back leg is the left, of course. Many golfers struggle to use the back leg effectively, so there is a good chance that you could benefit from some improvement in this area.

It does need to be mentioned that simply using your back leg correctly is not going to be enough to produce a powerful golf swing. It’s a good start, to be sure, but you’ll need some other important ingredients in place if you want to send the ball soaring down the middle of the fairway. Later in the article, we will touch on some of the other keys that relate to how much speed you can produce through the hitting area.

All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer, meaning we will be talking about the right leg as the back leg. If you happen to play golf left-handed, simply reverse the directions as necessary.

It’s All About Stability

It’s All About Stability

If you take nothing else away from this article, at least take away the lesson that your back leg should be stable throughout the golf swing. You can think of it as an anchor that allows the rest of your swing to go off smoothly. Without the support of your back leg, it’s hard to imagine how you would be able to produce a consistent, powerful swing over and over again.

One of the reasons that it is easy to overlook the role of the back leg is the fact that it doesn’t actively do much in the swing. Once it is set in the right position, it is mostly going to hold steady while you move the club back and through. Since it isn’t moving, you may think that it isn’t important – but that is not the case. By holding steady, the back leg makes it possible for you to complete a shoulder turn, maintain your balance, swing hard in the downswing, and more.

In order for your right leg to do its job during the golf swing, it needs to be placed in the right position before the club actually starts in motion. Let’s take a look at a few keys which will help you find the right position for your back leg when making a full swing.

  • Knees need to be flexed. You probably don’t need to be reminded of this first point, be we are going to touch on it anyway. When taking your stance, it is important that both knees are flexed sufficiently to engage the lower body at address. Too many golfers stand with their legs straight over the ball, and those players are unable to make a proper turn as a result. Practice with varying degrees of knee flex until you are able to find a position that makes you comfortable and leads to a relaxed, athletic swing.
  • Make sure your stance is wide enough. The width of the stance you are going to use while making your swing should depend on the club you are holding. If you are swinging a driver, you will need a rather wide stance to support the long, aggressive swing you are about to make. On the other hand, swinging a wedge is not such an aggressive action, so you can afford to keep your feet a bit closer together. With that said, you always want to err on the side of having your feet a bit too wide, since that position will let you maintain your balance more easily. As far as your right foot goes, you want to place it at least slightly outside of the location of your shoulder with most clubs, if not a bit farther. For short wedge shots, you might be able to get away with keeping it directly under your shoulder. Again, experimentation is going to be key here. Spend some time on the range hitting shots from various stance widths so you can work out the right position for your feet with each club in the bag.
  • Knee inside of foot. This is one of the crucial pieces of the stance. As you settle into address and get ready to make a swing, you need to make sure that your right knee is positioned inside of your right foot. This is important because it is going to help you remain far more stable, especially during the backswing. If you were to setup with your right knee directly over your right foot, or even bowed to the outside, it would be tough to maintain your stance as the swing went along. Most likely, you’d wind up sliding your body to the right during the backswing, ruining your balance and taking away any chance you had at a powerful strike. If necessary, you can practice taking your stance in front of a mirror, so you can easily see how your knee is positioned compared to your foot.
  • Foot square to the target line. On this last point, there is actually a little bit of room for personal preference. We are recommending that you leave your foot square to the target line, as that will help you maintain a firm and stable base during the swing. However, if you find this position limiting, it is okay to turn the right foot out away from the target slightly when taking your stance. Some golfers prefer to turn the right foot out, as they feel like it helps them make a better turn. As you practice, work on hitting some shots with a square right foot and see how that feels. If it feels too restrictive, you can gradually work on turning your foot open a bit at a time, looking for a position that leads to a comfortable swing.

When you are getting ready to start your swing, you want your lower body to feel solid and ready to support a powerful turn. That means having your right leg in a great position – and checking off the four points above will be a big help in that pursuit. If your right leg is doing its job at address, there is a good chance that it will keep up the good work all the way through the swing.

A Game of Patience

A Game of Patience

In many ways, golf is a game of patience. Of course, any game that typically takes more than four hours to complete is going to require its fair share of patience, so that probably isn’t a surprise. If you are going to improve your skills on the course and lower your scores, it’s essential that you learn how to be patient with this game.

You may think of patience as being required when you have to wait for the group in front of you to clear the green, or you have to wait for someone in your group to plan his or her shot. Those situations do require patience, but you’ll also need to show patience within the golf swing itself. It’s necessary to let the swing develop gradually, one piece at a time, until everything comes together at impact. If you try to rush through any one part of the swing, the timing and sequencing of the action will be thrown off, and the results will be disappointing.

Your right leg actually plays an important role in the patience that you need to show during your golf swing. As you swing up toward the top of the backswing, you might be tempted to straighten your right leg and initiate the downswing before it is actually time to do so. Needless to say, this is a big mistake. If you can manage to wait just long enough for your backswing turn to be completed, you won’t actually need to straighten that leg at all – you’ll be able to keep it flexed as your use your hips to get started in the downswing. It can be hard to let your backswing finish when you are nervous or anxious about a particular shot, but experienced golfers know that patience is usually rewarded in this game.

So, how do you convince yourself to be patient and let your swing develop naturally? The first step is to focus on the process of the swing, rather than the outcome. When you get ready to hit a shot, it is natural to think about things like how far the ball might fly, or where it might end up. Unfortunately, those are outcome-focused thoughts, and will not likely be helpful to you in the mission of making a great swing.

It’s better to think about things that are part of the process, meaning things that take place during the swing. This is why many golfers like to have one or two ‘swing thoughts’ that they use to focus their attention while hitting a shot. The swing thought or thoughts that you pick are going to be specific to what you work on during practice. For example, let’s say that you tend to have trouble keeping your right elbow down close to your body during the backswing. You could decide to focus on that specific movement as your swing thought. During the swing, your sole mental focus will be on making sure your right elbow stays down.

This is going to help you accomplish a couple of things. First, it will work toward eliminating that problem spot in your swing, which is obviously important. In addition, you may find that your patience problem is now eliminated, or at least reduced. Since your mind is busy focusing on the task of keeping your right elbow down, it might not be able to worry about rushing through the swing to get it over with. Basically, you will have distracted yourself by focusing on something else, and it will become much easier to stay patient as your swing comes together.

All of this might not seem like it has much to do with the back leg, but everything is connected in golf. If you can be patient, it will be easier for your right leg to remain flexed and engaged in the golf swing. And, if your right leg stays engaged, it can be a meaningful source of power once the downswing gets underway.

Other Power Keys

Other Power Keys

To hit powerful golf shots, you’ll need to do more than just use your back leg properly. You are going to have to check off many other points before the kind of speed required to hit long shots will be present at the bottom of your swing. We won’t go into great detail here on the other keys to powerful golf shots, but we do want to at least highlight the main keys, so you can keep them in the back of your mind for more focused attention later.

  • A full shoulder turn. This is probably the part of the swing most closely associated with power. If you are going to hit powerful shots, you’ll need a good turn. Does that mean you have to make the biggest shoulder turn in your group if you want to outdrive your playing partners? Not at all. It simply means that you need to produce a turn which gets your shoulders behind the ball and gives you some room to work with in the downswing. The definition of a full turn is going to be different for every player, as each individual golfer has his or her own level of flexibility. Work on figuring out what a full turn feels like for you, and then do your best to replicate it on each swing.
  • Committing to the swing through impact. Plain and simple, some golfers give up on their swing before they make it all the way through the ball. This is often as a result of low confidence. The player doesn’t believe that the shot is going to be successful, so he or she slows the club down a bit through impact in an effort to gain control. Not only does this not work as a method of gaining control, but it also is going to cost you a significant amount of distance. Do your best to trust your swing and commit fully to each and every shot you hit. They aren’t all going to work out in your favor, of course, but you should improve your odds of success simply by committing to each shot.
  • A proper release. The act of releasing the golf club through impact does not refer to letting the club go flying out of your hands. Instead, it means that you are going to let the toe of the club rotate through the shot, passing the heel and hopefully squaring up the face at the moment of impact. A good release can be a tricky thing to learn, since it should happen as a byproduct of the other elements of your swing, rather than being a specific, intentional action. Work on improving your body rotation through the hitting area – specifically with your lower body – and you should find that your release gradually improves.
  • Using the right equipment. Golfers who simply try to add distance to their game by buying one new club after the next are missing the point. This game is always going to reward technique first and foremost. However, it is important to use equipment that is a good fit for your game. If you are using the wrong clubs – such as using shafts which are too stiff or too soft for your swing – you’ll be giving up yards. It isn’t necessary to buy the most expensive clubs on the market in order to hit the ball a good distance, but you do need to at least use clubs that match up nicely to the style and dynamics of your swing. If you are having trouble finding such clubs, ask a pro at your local course or golf shop for help.

In the end, there is a lot that needs to go right in order to produce a powerful golf shot. That is one of the things that makes this game so hard – you have to do a number of different things correctly, all within a swing that only lasts a couple of seconds from start to finish. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to work on everything all at once. Pick off one point at a time, and only move on when you are satisfied with the work you have done on the previous point. In time, your game will improve, and you’ll see your power gradually increase.

Using Your Right Leg in the Short Game

Using Your Right Leg in the Short Game

Your legs don’t have as much work to do in the short game, but that doesn’t mean they can go on vacation. You still need to make sure your lower body is working properly, and that includes your right leg. For putts, the task is pretty simple. You’ll want to stand with your feet in a comfortable position, maybe shoulder width apart or a little wider. Do some experimenting on the practice green to find a putting stance that feels comfortable. You should also flex your knees a little bit for stability, but knee flex is not as important on the greens as it is when making a full swing.

When you start working on your chipping technique, you will probably want to use a slightly wider stance, placing your right foot outside of your right shoulder, much like you did with your full swing. This is a good adjustment to make as it will benefit the stability of your chipping motion, allowing you to deal successfully with a wide variety of situations. In addition to a slightly wider stance, think also about leaning a little left at address, and playing your chip shots from an open stance. When you bring all of that together, you should feel stable and have no trouble swinging down into the ball on a slightly outside-in path. Spend some time practicing this setup and you may be amazed at what is possible in your short game.

In addition to putts and chip shots, greenside bunker shots also fall into the category of the short game. When you do find yourself down in the sand, needing to blast the ball up onto the green, you’ll want to play from a wide stance with your right foot well outside your shoulder and your right knee flexed significantly. It is often necessary to make a rather big swing to play an explosion shot, so you need your right leg to provide as much stability as possible. Also, remember to wiggle your foot down into the sand at address, to provide stability as you make your aggressive swing.

If you are serious about building some power in your game, spending time working on the performance of your right leg is a wise investment. Fortunately, the role of the right leg isn’t too complicated, so getting on the right track in this part of the swing may only take a couple of focused practice sessions. Remember, there is more to this game than just power, so don’t get carried away working on the speed of your swing. Building speed is great, but only if you have the necessary control to go with it. Good luck!

So, I'm sure you've heard loads about the golf swing, how when you turn into your right side you've got to create loads of power, you've got to shift your body weight across, but that only works if your right leg and right knee are supporting your upper body really nicely. So, as you rotate your shoulders around trying to create the 90-degree shoulder rotation, just be careful about what your right side is doing to help and support that.

If we look at the golf swing here returning into the right leg now, the right knee is staying relatively stable from its address position; it doesn't do much, it stays quite still. The body weight shifts across and loads up, but it should load nicely onto the inside of the right foot, trying to avoid too much body weight going outside towards the little toe. This would be a problem. Particularly if the knee starts to go out across your shoelaces, that's a big problem. So, turning into your right side nice and supported here, pressing onto the instep there. If I just rotate around for you now, you'll see how that actually looks in the backswing; turning back, the right sides doing very little.

The big thing that I see a lot of golfers getting guilty of, locking up right knee out, taking that right hip back, away from its address position. So it starts here, try and keep it here and load up and avoid this happening. Anything where this happens now makes it very difficult to get back off that leg; it's very difficult to create power. So feel that you press into your right side, load it up, and then push back off to get back across to the golf ball and that's where you're going to generate the power. So, press into the right big toe, push off the right big toe to generate power, and hopefully that will give you more consistency and longer golf shots.