OK. We have made it to the golf power effector #5, right foot positioning in the golf backswing. More specifically, we want to make sure that you keep your weight on the inside of your right foot when you reach the top of your backswing. Doing this will add golf distance, golf accuracy and tremendous golf consistency to your golf game.
In this article we are going to cover how the the right foot position:
- Affects golf consistency
- Affects golf power
- Affects pure contact with the ball
- ..and we will wrap it up with special issues for golfers over 50 including golf flexibility
The swing fault most identified with allowing your weight to roll to the outside of your right foot, is called swaying. Swaying is when the body of the golfer moves away from and then towards the target. The movement does not have to be huge and many golfers sway without knowing it.
The Foot Lift Test
You can easily test yourself by using the foot lift test. You will need a golf club and it is best to do this test on the golf course but you can do it in your home as well.
To perform the test, take your normal backswing and hold the position at the top of the backswing. Without shifting your weight, try to lift your left foot off the the ground.
Here is how you can score the test:
PASS: A passing result is if you can lift your left foot up for a split second but have to put it back down because you are losing your balance to the left. This means you have kept your body weight correctly over the inside of your right foot.
FAIL: If you can lift your left foot off the ground and balance on your right, you fail. This means you have shifted your weight to the outside of your right foot.
FAIL: You also fail if you lose your balance to the right: Indicates severe swaying in the backswing
FAIL: You also fail if you are unable to lift your left foot off the ground: Indicates that you are performing a reverse pivot shift fault and are not shifting you weight correctly to your back leg.
How You Can Improve Golf Consistency with the 5th Power Effector
Playing consistent golf is all about following swing mechanics that increase your odds of success. Golfers who make mechanical mistakes can have good days on the golf course from time to time but will never be consistent. If you struggle with consistency in your golf game, you are almost assuredly making mechanical mistakes.
One of the biggest mistakes killing consistency in the golf game is lateral movement of the body in the backswing. Lets take a couple of sentences to quickly analyze this.
In your address position, you setup to the ball in position to hit it cleanly. Your goal is to essentially return to the same position when you hit the ball. The more accessory movement in your swing, the less likely you will be able to return to the same position…there is just too many moving parts.
How You Can Improve Golf Power with the 5th Power Effector
Having a powerful golf swing, especially if you are over 50, is so dependent on having correct mechanics. And correct mechanics for power is mostly attributed to how well you can coil the body. When the golfer allows their weight to travel to the outside of their right foot, they cannot coil effectively. You want to feel the coil and energy building up in your right leg as you take your backswing. Just like a coiled spring ready to explode!
This coiling is consistent with power in all sports. Baseball pitchers coil around the leg before delivering the “heat,” quarterbacks coil around the planted leg before a throw, etc.
Again, you can see that power is dependent on mechanics much more than muscle.
How You Can Improve Golf Accuracy with the 5th Power Effector
How accurate you are able to hit the ball is also a factor of mechanics and the position of the right foot is major player. When a golfer loses the ability to coil around his/her right leg, it is much more difficult to swing on the correct golf plane. The typical mistake is to come “over the top” of the ball.
In order to attack the ball from a correct angle, it is vital that the lower body/pelvis make the first move back to the ball at the top of the backswing. If a golfer cannot coil, the lower body and upper body move together, instead of separately. Only 2 things can happen from here:
The golfer shortens up the swing so they can hit the ball straight, but they lose a ton of distance.
The golfer comes over the top of the ball and either pulls it left or slices the golf ball.
The easiest drill to correct this swing fault is the ball under back foot drill. Simply place a golf ball under the outside of your right foot. Take your normal backswing and feel what it is like to have your weight on the inside of your foot.
Considerations for the Golfer Over 50
There are 2 additional factors that the golfer over 50 needs to address.
First, many golfers over 50 do not have the flexibility to coil around the leg for power. The flexibility restrictions include poor internal rotation range of motion of the right hip and poor spinal range of motion. Below I attached a couple of videos of stretches you can use to improve this motion.
Second, if golfers are over 75 or have arthritis in the hips, the hips they may not be able to improve this range of motion. If this is the case for you, you need to turn the right foot outward 25 degrees (approximately) in the address position. This will allow you to have a longer backswing so you can add power despite the tight hip, but not as much power as you would have if you were able to regain the hip range of motion. Turning the foot outward is plan B, but it helps.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Ryan york, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist