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GOLF: A BALANCING ACT

7/29/16 4:24 PM

When I was in PT school I had a professor describe walking as ‘an act of controlled falling’. It takes the coordination of 200 muscles to maintain your balance while walking. Having good strength of the core musculature is vital to maintaining good balance.Not only are they essential for balance with any movement this is particularly true for the golf swing. The core is the foundation of the golf swing because it stabilizes the entire body throughout the swing. It is important to have a strong core and flexible spine to complete a full swing.


As with walking, good balance has to be at the foundation of every good golf swing. If you can maintain your balance you can deliver the clubhead to the ball with both speed and accuracy. Lose your balance and your swing loses its tempo and breaks down and the shot is affected in a negative manor..


An advanced player can swing each club in their bag with the same tempo because they're capable of maintaining their balance throughout the swing. A novice player can lose their natural tempo with their longer clubs, usually by swinging too fast which makes them more likely to lose their balance thus lowering their chance for solid contact.


As the phases of each person’s gait pattern are the same; so too are the phases of each person’s golf swing; however the style of every person’s swing may vary drastically. To maintain proper balance it is important to know where your weight should be during the phases of the golf swing. The full golf swing has three major phases: 1) the preparation phase which includes addressing the ball, 2) the backswing and 3) the follow-through.


ADDRESS

Upon addressing the ball, your weight should be balanced equally across both feet -- not toward the heels or the toes. If your weight is shifted toward your toes, the clubhead tends to start outside of the target line and if your weight is shifted onto your heels the path of the club will take an inside course. Neither path of the swing will result in solid contact and change the direction of the flight of the ball. To check your balance take a small hop straight up in the air. You are in good balance if you can land comfortably and squarely on your feet without rocking forward or backward.



BACK SWING (of a right handed golfer)

As your upper body rotates, about 90 percent of your weight shifts onto the right foot. It is very important to maintain a bit of flexion in the right. Many golfers lose their balance because they tighten their knees, which forces the right knee to straighten at the top of the backswing, leading to a weight shift onto the heels.At the top of the backswing, your balance point should be over the middle of your right foot. If it is, you should be able to lift your left leg completely off the ground and hold that position for a count of three without loss of balance.


FOLLOW-THROUGH (of a right handed golfer)

During this phase the swing's momentum should carry you to a left rotated position, with almost all of your weight now over your left foot. Your shoulders should finish over your left leg at near a right angle. If your shoulders are leaning backwards at the finish, it's very difficult to remain balanced. A smooth follow-through helps dictate your swing. Finishing with good balance makes sure your entire swing was in balance. If you're stumbling at the finish, chances are your rhythm and timing are off, and the shot is less than satisfying.

 

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Written by Garry Campbell.

Garry Campbell, PT is currently practicing as a Physical Therapist in our Cicero office.

Topics: tips, stretching, strengthening, GOLF