There is a great deal of conflicting golf instruction about weight distribution at address.
Most traditional golf instruction tells us that your weight should be over the balls of your feet. You’ll read this in books and magazines, and hear it from teachers and TV golf pundits all the time. Not only is this instruction dead wrong, you’ll lose power and consistency this way, but it’s also potentially harmful to your body.
Traditional instruction tells us that having the weight over the balls of our feet is a more athletic position. At first glance, this makes sense. If you’re playing most sports, including soccer, baseball, basketball or American football, when you take a stance, you want to be prepared to move in any direction at a moment’s notice. You need to react to events and move accordingly. And in order to move quickly, you need to be able to easily move off-balance.
In the golf swing, however, you’re not moving anywhere. In fact, you’re trying to do the exact opposite; you want to remain centred and stable. You want to be anchored to the ground.
What are the Perfect Golf Weight Distribution and Balance?
The human body is designed to be at its most stable when you are balanced over your ankles.
As we’ve discussed previously, in correct posture, from down the line (side on), your joints should be aligned so that you can draw a straight line down from your ear, through the centre of your shoulder, your hip joint, the back of your knees, to the centre of your ankle.
As we’ll discuss in Golf Swing 103 – Setup: The Perfect Golf Spine Angle, when you address the golf ball, with your knees flexed and hinging from the hip, your weight will move forward slightly, towards the front of your ankles. The exact position will vary slightly depending on your build, but it will be somewhere between the centre of your ankle and the point where the front of the tibia (shinbone) joins the foot.
Laterally, your weight should be on the insides of your ankles when you’re taking your golf stance.
Finding the Perfect Golf Weight Distribution and Balance
Assume your basic posture, as described in Golf Swing Drill 101 – Setup: Perfect Posture and Connecting to Your Core.
Now rock slowly forward onto your toes, keeping your body straight, than back onto your heels. Focus on feeling your balance shift and on the shifting pressures on your feet.
Repeat this 5 times, then 5 more times with your eyes closed.
When you finish, relax and let your balance settle where you feel most comfortable and stable, over your ankles.
Now widen your stance to your perfect stance width, as described in Golf Swing 102a – Setup: The Perfect Golf Stance Width.
Repeat the rocking exercise, rocking forward and back, toes then heels, 5 times, then again with your eyes closed, letting your weight settle over your ankles.
Now shift your weight all the way to the outside of your feet by rolling your ankles outwards, moving your knees as little as possible. Now roll your ankles inwards, again keeping your knees as still as you can, so that your weight is on the insides of your feet. Rest with your weight shifted slightly to the inside of your ankles.
Repeat this 5 times with your eyes open, then 5 times with your eyes closed. It is vital that this movement comes from your ankles, not from your knees.
Feel the pressure on the insides of your ankles, pushing down slightly onto the insides of your shoes. Feel the slight tension on the inside of your thighs as they engage; you should feel your glutes engaging too.
When you finish, with your weight on the insides of your ankles, notice how you feel anchored to the ground, you feel solid, balanced, stable, athletic.
Why is this Perfect Golf Weight Distribution and Balance?
The golf swing is a very athletic movement, but unlike many other sports you are trying to remain centred and stable throughout the swing, rather than preparing to move from the spot.
During the golf swing you are generating tremendous forces that will quickly pull you off balance unless you stay centred.
If you stay centred, over your ankles, this will enable you to easily counter-balance the forces pulling away from you as you rotate.
Staying centred will protect your back, knees, and hips from potentially severe discomfort and serious injury. Your body is designed this way.
Staying centred will also enable you to use the full power of your legs by activating your glutes.
Keeping your weight on the inside of your ankles will stabilise your hips throughout the swing, helping you to stay centred and to generate much more power. With your weight outside of your ankles, your hips are freer to sway away from the target on the backswing, making it extremely difficult to shift back to the left properly on the downswing.
What’s Wrong with Having Your Weight on the Balls of Your Feet?
With your weight balanced over the balls of your feet, the huge forces created by the golf swing can easily pull you forward and off balance.
This forward pull onto your toes will make it very difficult for you to fully use the big muscles in your glutes for stability and power. Instead, with your weight forward, you’ll be forced to rely on your much weaker quadriceps.
Being balanced on the balls of your feet will also put huge pressures on your left knee as you swing down and through. The knee joint is designed primarily to hinge, not to rotate much.
Try it. Flex your legs, then put the weight on the balls of your feet and rotate towards the target. Feel the stress on your knee joint as you try to rotate around it. Now shift your weight back over your ankle and rotate again. This time you’ll rotate freely and easily around your hip joint. Your hip is the joint best suited for safe and powerful rotation.
Also, as your balance is pulled forward during the swing, this will put enormous stress on your back and hip joint.
You’ll see many high handicappers stepping towards the target in their follow-through, indicating a disastrous loss of balance through impact as they are pulled towards the ball. Having their weight on the balls of their feet is the main cause of this.
You can read more about some of the problems associated with having your weight too far forward at address in Golf Swing 103 – Setup: The Perfect Golf Spine Angle.
For most high handicap golfers, just swinging in balance alone would cut at least 5 shots off their handicap.
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Now let’s learn how to put all of this into practice, with Golf Swing Drill 102 – Setup: Perfect Golf Stance Width and Ball Position.