Spring is FINALLY upon us and over the last couple of months I have been asking our golfers what their goals are for the 2014 golf season. In almost every instance, one of their goals includes distance and power. Some people are looking for an extra 10-20 yards while others are simply trying to delay the effects of aging and maintain the power they already have. As a golf fitness coach, assessing what needs to be done to increase power is not rocket science. I ask myself one, does this golfer have the necessary mobility and flexibility across all of the body’s joints to create power? And two, does this golfer have the necessary strength and stability around those joints to harness the energy flexibility creates? After a long winter of hard training the answer to these questions should be and usually are YES. From here I turn my attention to the golf swing itself. It is great to have the necessary power tools, but if you can’t put the pieces together then all of winter’s hard work goes to waste.

I have been looking closely at our golfers’ swings, and with the help of our technology I have seen that many of our golfers share a power killing flaw. This flaw is a lack of weight shift and pivot of the trail leg. Most amateur golfers are aware that the majority of power comes from the lower body, but don’t necessarily know how to create power without making the swing upper body dominant. The trail leg (the right leg of a right handed golfer) serves as the foundation from which all energy is created in the backswing. I commonly see trail legs that exhibit the “wobbly knee” trait and bodies that sway into the backswing. The key to loading and unloading the trail leg is to keep the leg stable without moving laterally. As previously stated, this requires both mobility and stability of the trail leg’s hip.   

Many of our golfers are uncertain when I ask them whether or not they are loading their trail hip. There’s a great swing drill you can use to feel the sensation of a loaded trail hip. In your address, shift 80-90% of your weight to your trail leg with the knee slightly flexed. Now take a slow backswing while maintaining 80-90% of your weight on the trail leg. Make sure your knee does not move or change its angle. You know you are doing this successfully if you are able to make a full backswing without rolling your weight to the outside of the trail foot or the knee “bowing” outside of the foot.

On the left, you will see poor loading of the trail hip. Notice how his weight rolls to the outside of the foot and the knee bows out.

On the left, you will see poor loading of the trail hip. Notice how his weight rolls to the outside of the foot and the knee bows out.

If you can perform this drill successfully, go through AT LEAST 20-30 reps. Doing this will ingrain the loaded feeling in your brain, which will help you successfully load in a regular, complete swing. If you struggle with the drill and feel tight or unstable on your trail leg, you may need some hip stretching, hip stability exercises such as clam shells and side leg lifts, or balance work to improve your ability to load your trail leg.

For any questions on the body, fitness, and how it relates your golf swing, please contact me directly at [email protected] or by phone at 610-940-3835.

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