Modern golf swing instruction has generally placed the most emphasis on keeping the movements of the overall swing more compact with fewer, simpler movements. This has helped golfers at all levels of experience and talent to perform better and play safer. One key area of the body that, when kept steady during the backswing, promotes more consistent ball striking and power in the swing is the right knee (right knee for a right- handed golfer and left knee for a left-handed golfer).
Controlling the swing will be difficult with an unstable right knee and less compact backswing. If the right knee is allowed to straighten, turn out or slide laterally during the backswing, then extra movement is introduced into the right hip, pelvis and spine. This creates a “mushier” coil and can allow excess motion in the upper body so that the golfer with an unsteady right knee will have a tendency to over swing the club at the top of the backswing. The resultant swing errors of casting, coming over the top, reverse pivoting and/or lateral swaying now often cause poor or inconsistent contact with ball.
One great exercise to promote a steady back hip and knee during the backswing is called the “Bridge with Marching”. To perform this exercise, simply lie on your back on a carpeted floor with your hips and knees bent (see picture #1). Next, flatten your lower back to the floor by contracting your lower abdominal muscles (posterior pelvic tilt) and then lift your hips and lower back off the floor several inches into a comfortably “bridged” position (see picture #2). Finally, shift your weight to your right leg and lift your left foot 6-8 inches off the floor while maintaining your balance on your right side (see picture #3). Hold this balanced, stable position for 2-3 seconds before lowering the left foot, switching your weight to the left side and raising the right foot. Repeat the marching from right to left for 1-2 sets of 10-15 small, slow steps. Be sure to keep your stomach firm during this exercise and keep the height of your bridge small so you don’t feel pressure or fatigue in your lower back.
To make this exercise very golf-specific, close your eyes and mentally focus on the process of performing a full backswing with a perfectly steady right hip and knee when you are bridged and marching your left leg (stable and balancing on your right) if you are a right-handed golfer (opposite for left-handed golfers).
If you would like more information about this subject, have other questions related to golf health and fitness training or are interested in locating an officially licensed Body Balance for Performance® center near you, please visit www.fitgolf.com or call 1-888-FIT-GOLF (348- 4653).