Playing Better Golf with Your Legs
Many amateur golfers don’t pay much attention to their legs in a golf swing. What they don’t know is that power and control lie on the lower body.
The legs are essential power transmitters in a golf swing because they’re in contact with the ground. The lower body is as important as the upper body, and proper alignment of both parts is important for a golf swing.
Legs lead the movement in every swing while the arms and the torso follow the lead. You must position your legs properly during a golf swing. This will ensure you get more fluid, relaxed, natural, and gain control.
Golf Resource: Foy Golf Academy Practice System + Practice Plans
Proper Hip Movement in a Swing
Proper control of your lower body in a swing starts from your hips and waist. While hip turn may appear subtle, you should never ignore it in a swing. Here’s how to work on your hip movement.
- Pay attention to the outside of the hip. You’ll notice that one side of your hip points to the target while the other points in the opposite direction at address. When you begin to swing, you’ll move to point the front hip bone towards the ground. The hip bone will move slightly to point towards the air.
- Another way to envision hip movement is to imagine the shaft of your club moving through your waist. You want to get the club to point the ground a few feet from your golf ball and into the sky. With this movement, you’ll coil the upper body towards the spine to create torque. You’ll unleash all these on golf balls with more power.
- You’ll achieve the third movement after you’ve turned your hips and ensure you remain comfortable. You’ll then need to start a downswing.
- On the downswing, your hips and waist will be the first parts of your body to start moving and return the impact. This is opposite to the backswing, where the arms move first.
For all three movements, you’ll focus on returning your hips to their original position and also sliding them towards your target. Together with twisting the hips, this movement gives you more power that you won’t get from your arms.
The Correct Lead Leg Footwork
From the hips, we move lower to the leg movement when swinging your golf club. The leg area involves your upper knee all the way to your foot. Let’s start by how you’ll move that leg that’s close to your target. If you’re right-handed, the leg next to your target will be your left one.
- When you take the club back, your hip will twist, forcing you to bend the front knee and facilitate the turn.
- Your knee should dip towards the ground and backward towards the back leg.
- The two alignments will ensure you get more freedom to easily move your hips.
There’s a lot of debate regarding the front foot. Older generation golfers advice that you slightly raise your front heel off the ground on the backswing. This gives you more freedom of movement and more swing power.
The younger generation golfers prefer keeping the left foot flat on the ground in the swing. While both are not wrong and work well for different players, you need to find your style.
Find out what works best for you and what you feel more comfortable with. You should be able to return to your impact position with ease.
If you lift your front foot in a backswing, you might end up swaying backward and forwards. This will make it difficult for you to come up with a solid impact. But others create a more solid impact when they raise their front heel on the backswing. If this is you, then go for it.
However, if you can’t seem to get a consistent impact with your front foot raised, put your front heel flat on the ground throughout the swing.
On the downswing, the front leg and the foot will be returning to their original position and stick there during the entire swing. When carrying out the downswing, the knee will straighten and remain like that throughout the swing.
You’ll use your front leg as your source of stability. The leg provides a stable base for you to balance your weight when you finish the swing. The goal here is to ensure you come up with a firm and sturdy foundation.
Trail Leg Footwork
The back leg and foot also play a significant role in the type of swing you’ll get. However, the bag leg produces less movement during a backswing than the front leg.
You’ll be bending your front knee and keep the back knee straight to get the correct tilt for your swing. You’ll twist or turn the back knee slightly away from the ball. This position ensures the transfer of power to the back leg, which will be getting ready to explode at impact.
Once you begin the downswing, the knee position will change. During the backswing, the knee will bend and move in the direction of the golf ball.
The back leg will be like an attacker. It attacks the ball when it bends and flies directly at impact.
The back heel will begin to get off the ground through the impact. You’ll find yourself standing on your toe of the back foot by the time you finish the swing.
Golf Resource: Foy Golf Academy Practice System + Practice Plans
Common Footwork Mistakes to Avoid
Amateur golfers make a lot of mistakes on leg movements in a golf swing. Here are some of those mistakes.
- Keeping the lower body still throughout the swing. Many young golfers believe that golf swing only depends on the arm and upper body movement. This is a mistake because full-body movement requires the legs and the lower body to reach the full potential.
- Many golfers sway backward too much with their lower bodies. Hips, legs, and feet movement should not be about the backward sway. You need to twist your body to create torque and come up with a powerful swing.
- Many golfers strive to sway backward in an attempt to create power. This makes it hard for them to get back to the impact position. With this kind of movement, you risk losing your balance and timing, which is not good in golf.
- Amateur golfers struggle with coming up with proper footwork. Many raise their heel when it’s supposed to be flat and leave it flat when they’re supposed to lift it. In a backswing, the back foot needs to stay flat, and the front of the heel raised slightly or completely flat.
- If you have consistent contact issues, the heel should remain flat. You’ll then need to bring the heel up slightly through the downswing. You should be able to get your feet fully on air at the end of the swing. Make sure the front heel stays flat throughout the downswing as well as at the finish position. If you do this correctly, you’ll get the correct weight shift, direction, and power that everyone desires in a golf swing.
Important Drills to Achieve Proper Footwork and Leg Action
Wondering how you can work on your footwork and leg action to improve your golf swing? Here are important drills to try out.
- Always grab your golf club using with hands.
- Put one of your hands on the grip and another by the clubhead.
- Rest the club across your waist.
- Practice swings while you focus on twisting your waist in the backswing.
- Your club should point the ground and stay a few inches in front of the ball and up behind the ball.
- Practice the downswing by pointing the back end of the golf club in the direction of the ball at impact
The drill above will simulate the attack position of your back leg. The drill below helps you practice a lower body action.
- Take the ball with your throwing hand.
- Take a stance as if you’re preparing to hit a golf ball but throw the ball as if you’re playing baseball.
- Pay attention to how the hip turns forward.
This drill gives you a good and natural movement that you can easily master than a golf swing movement. It aims to make your lower body appear like what it looks like when throwing a baseball.
Now You’re Ready to Work on Your Leg Action
Improving your legwork and foot action in a golf swing will take a lot of work and practice. These tips and drills will get you started on your journey to achieving more power and improving your distance and ball direction.
While mastering everything can be complicated at first, you can do it if you keep it simple, natural, and relaxed. Make sure your body moves the way it was naturally designed, and everything will fall in place.