How To Use Your Legs: Part II

In Part I we talked about the legs’ purpose, function, and movement during the swing. In Part II we review how the legs work when swinging and provide two drills to help improve legwork.

Next to your hands and feet your legs are the most influential contributors to a correct swing. Using your legs properly contributes to consistency and power, and enhances ballstriking. Yet when it comes to golf instruction sessions, the legs don’t get much respect. Teachers seldom talk about them when giving golf lessons. And not much is written about them in golf tips. But understanding leg movement helps cut a golf handicap down to size.

Legwork Mechanics

Good legwork is a key to hitting longer, straighter shots. But like everything else in golf, good legwork depends doing things right. Let’s look at how the legs work during the golf swing.

The legs at address presage the turn and the slide. Both depend on the legs’ readiness to move. Dividing balance equally between the legs helps create mobility. Flexing the knees slightly also helps mobility.

From address to the point where your club is parallel to the ground, leg movement is not significant. The left knee (right-handers) moves away from the target slightly to a point opposite the ball. As your weight shifts right, your right knee loses some, but not all, of its flexibility. From this point to the top of the slot, leg movement is more pronounced. At the top of the swing the left knee is several inches behind the ball. But your weight never shifts outside of the right knee. If it does, the swing breaks down.

Downswing to Follow-through

During the downswing the left knee leads in creating lower body support for the arms and hands. As the arms and hands reach hip high, the left knee is about where it was at address. Together, the knees shift the “platform” on which the body rests forward. The right knee moves back to where it was at address and begins to follow the left knew towards the target. The hips and feet press downward and forward. The hips, almost square, start to slide.

At impact, the legs point toward the target. The left knee straightens only after the ball is struck. The legs’ slide becomes a turn, pulling the left hip off line. The slide, however, takes place beneath a steady swing center. This is known as “swinging beneath yourself.” The finish is in balance again, with the club pointing to the target as your body turns to face the target.

That’s a quick look at how legs work during your golf swing. Most recreational golfers I see in my golf lessons need to work on their legwork. Here are some drills to help you improve yours.

The Motion Exercise

This is considered the best drill in golf for developing good legwork and turn. If you recall we said that many weekend golfers fail to emphasize the slide portion of their swings enough. The Motion Exercise restores the balance between the turn and slide.

First, stand without a club at address. Now, instead of turning as you normally might, swing your left leg (right-handers) back past your right and then step forward with your left foot into the spot you vacated. Do the exercise without a club until it’s second nature. When it is, swing a club while doing it. Then go to the range and hit balls while doing it.

Return-to-square Drill

This drill teaches the proper combination of lateral and rotary movement. Stand at address in a doorway with your clubshaft flat against the wall in front of you. Make a slow-motion swing back and down, returning the club to the same position against the wall as when you started.

If it’s easy bringing the clubshaft back to its original position, you probably have the proper combination of lateral and rotary movement. If your hands and the top of the shaft get to the wall first, you’re probably pulling your left hip away from the target line too quickly. If the clubhead reaches the wall first, you probably lack the proper lateral leg movement.

Don’t let a lack of discussion about your legs in golf tips and golf lessons fool you. They are among the most influential contributors to a correct swing. They must work properly during the swing to generate power, achieve consistency, and help lower a golf handicap.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse