Weight on the Balls of the Feet

There are numerous problems with this old swing myth that you should setup on the balls of the feet. We address some of the potential dangers and pitfalls in this video.

  • Stand up straight and put your weight over your ankles
  • Keep your weight there as you bend over into posture
  • Only a slight knee bend is required at setup
  • Feel the glutes engaged at setup, not the quads


Now we'll talk about one of the most important fundamentals of set-up and it's one of the most misconstrued pieces of advice that causes more injuries in the golf swing than probably any other piece of advice. And that's where should your weight be at setup? That is a critical piece that RST kind of argues with where people think it should be, because the most common taught way for your weight set where your weight distribution is at address is to be on the balls of your feet. Nothing could be further from the truth. That's the last place you want to set up is to be way forward on your toes. Why is that?

Well, when you do that, as you go back,

The tendency is going to be for you to move your weight further on your toes. And then your primary balancing joint becomes your knee instead of your hip socket, where you can load your glutes and your hamstrings properly. Now you're going to feel it all in your quads. You can get away with that. That's not the worst thing in the world. It's not ideal, but it's not the worst thing in the world, but where stuff really starts becoming a problem is in the downswing. When you keep your weight on the ball of your foot, I want you to do this. Now, if you're watching this video, stand up, put all of the weight on the ball of your foot and now try and rotate your hip. Like you

Would in the golf swing. You're going to feel really

Quickly with the weight on the ball of your foot and trying to rotate on this leg, that your knee, all of a sudden has a very uncomfortable feeling in it. And if you've got knee problems is going to hurt. And this is how a lot of golfers get injured is that they have the weight on the ball of their foot at impact. And they're trying to rotate on their knee. Instead, we want to move your weight back to your ankle and rotate now, and now your primary balancing joint is your hip socket. And you can do this all day long. Pain-Free as long as you're in neutral joint alignment. So at set up, if you're setting up away on the balls of your feet, it takes a lot more work to then move your weight back to your ankle and back to your ankle in the downswing.

So we start you out there. You're going to start, we kind of use a range here of between your ankle in the middle of your foot is about where your weight needs to be at set up. We don't ever want it up here. And then as you go back, your weight's going to move back to the ankle a little bit further, and then the down swing, it's going to move kind of the middle of your foot, and then back over the ankle again, so that you can protect your knee and your hip and rotate properly. So it's set up, you want to be kind of in the middle range there. You never want to be on the balls of your feet unless you want to blow out your knee, or you're really good at moving your weight efficiently and can move your weight all the way back to your ankle.

That's what you see. A lot of tour pros do is they will set up on the balls of their feet, but they won't be there at impact, or if they are, they won't be there very long because they're going to injure their knee. So make sure that as you set up correctly, you feel like your weight is stacked, just like you would in neutral joint alignment, standing up talking to somebody your way, you don't stand to talk to somebody on the balls of your feet, that's off balance. So, and again, remember that you've got all of the force of this club moving out this way and the downswing and driver swung by, you know, somebody with some reasonable club, head speed effectively weighs about a hundred pounds, their impact. So you've got, imagine a hundred pounds of force pulling you this way. Well, if you're on the balls of your feet, what are you going to do?

You're going to have a tendency to fall forward, right? We've all seen that movement at the driving range, right? It's one of my favorite ones to watch. So you're trying to actually move back this way to fight all of the force of the club, moving that way. And as you're doing that, you're moving further back onto your ankle in the downswing at set up. We want to start there. Okay. So we're going to be nice and neutral. You can draw a straight line from the center of my ear center, my shoulder, back on my elbow center of my hip socket back of my knee center of my ankle. That's neutral. And as I set up, I want to make sure that I maintain that. So as you've been for years, and if we wait a second, I'm going to, I'm moving onto the balls of my feet as I move forward, because I've got all this mass bending this way.

Well, in order to counterbalance

Your upper body hindering forward, to get down to the ball on the ground, your hips have to then go back. So as I do this, they work together. I'm hindering forward. My hips, go back, relax my knees. I'm in a nice, powerful, balanced, anchored setup position. I don't, I don't feel like I'm going to fall over. I don't feel like you could come and knock me over this way. Either. I'm balanced. That's critical at setup.

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Jens
I just started playing golf this summer and got myself a starting kit from my local sports shop. Setting up like this just relaxing my legs work well for my longer irons an driver, but for my shorter irons and wedges i cant get a good lie on the golfclub this way. Should i then tilt more forward or bend my legs more or a combination of both or somethin completely different? Are my shorter irons poorly adapted for me if i have this issue?
December 4, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jens. The weight should stay balanced over the ankle joints with all your clubs. However, you might notice with the shorter club you need to hinge forward more to reach the ground. Allow your butt to drop back a little more to facilitate more hinge from the hips keeping the weight balanced properly. Hinging From the Hips Video.
December 4, 2018
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Jens
That seems logical . Another question i've gotten theough watching the setup series regards my shoulders. Are they allowed to move forward the same way they would as when i am standing straight stretching my arm forward to reach for something straight forward or should i intentionally keep my shoulder back so that it maintains completely linear with the rest of the body? Reason i am asking is because i find it difficult to keep my arms straight while pinching the shoulders to the position i have them while standing tall.
December 4, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jens. You need to retain some connection to you core/box. The shoulders should be protracted at setup, nor retracted to the point you can't reach proper positioning. Sounds like you are depressing them down too much in your setup which is causing the restriction. Do the shoulder shrug motion in the Connecting to Your Core Video. Let the shoulders relax so they may engage versus depressing them too hard.
December 4, 2018
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Andrew
My data set is small - so small that it's more anecdote than data - but I saw this video in my email sometime in the past week or two and tried to commit its premise to memory. I played today, and I can say without fear of exaggeration that WHEN I remembered to make sure at address my weight was more located in my heels than my toes, I hit beautiful shots. On 18 in particular I hit a gorgeous drive, slight draw (which I cannot do on command), left side of fairway, then a stellar 8-iron from 151 to about 12 feet. Both times I paid special attention to not having my weight too far forward, and both times I was in perfect balance at the finish (other times today I did the classic "fall forward" because I forgot this lesson). Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with this particular principle, and how well it works for me. Now I just need to groove it in my brain, to remember it enough, so that it's eventually grooved in my subconscious. Thanks Chuck and thanks to the entire gang. This one's a keeper. Andrew
June 26, 2018
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Andrew
I should've said "...located more *toward* my heels than my toes" rather than "in" my heels. I wasn't *on* my heels per se. But the sensation was definitely *away* from my toes, which I never knew was, at least in part, responsible for my off-balance finishes, which have always frustrated me.
June 26, 2018
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Carver
This video is an oldie but a goodie. In my efforts to stay back and not move my weight to my toes on the downswing I have stayed too far back in my heels and lost swing speed. Practiced with weight centered on ankle joints and BIG difference. Question somewhat related...I have been able to reduce my in to out path as measured on TM from 5-6 deg to .5-1.5 deg and weight on the ankles helped me shift better also. But my driver path is in-out 5-6 deg still. Assuming my weight shift etc is the same, is it possible my driver shaft is too stiff and that hinders my path ? Going to get re-fit but your comments welcome. Thanks for the vid.
February 3, 2018
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Carver. You could have an issue with the club and stiffness. But, for better players I typically see this because of over driving the hips too soon leading to a stuck/under plane path.
February 3, 2018
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Dean
What do you think about the (Balance Rod) sold at golf around the world.
December 26, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Dean. I've never used one. Will have to research it.
December 27, 2017
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Dean
Thank you, I own one and it seemed to help with balance. It’s nice to know you will look into it.
December 27, 2017
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Wayne
I don't want to sound too detailed, but I want to make sure I get this right. Chuck uses the term 'over your ankles' and 'on your heels'. Are they meant to be the same in this video? Are they the same place? This is very important to me as I'm one of those who was always told to have weight on the balls of my feet. Thanks.
May 8, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Wayne. The goal is to stay centered over the ankle joint and not too far back on the heel.
May 8, 2017
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Wayne
Thanks for the clarification!
May 8, 2017
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JODY
I'm 6'4" and have always struggled with proper posture. Following the logic in the video, I feel much more powerful and stable, however; I feel like I'm bending from knees more and not straight up. Is this okay? Also, I feel as if I'm sitting down with the emphasis of the weight on back of my legs by buttox region - is that what I should be feeling? Thanks
March 11, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jody. You should feel balanced and with some glute engagement. You can go back too far where the weight/butt is sitting back too much. If you have a little more knee bend and the weight is centered over the ankles. Then, you should be okay. Check your distance from the ball though to make sure everything is on par. How Far to Stand from the Golf Ball Video.
March 12, 2017
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Steve
Hi Craig ive noticed that on my follow through my weight is either on my toes of my left foot or if I do keep my weight on my left heel my foot spins out to point down the line. Any thoughts on whats going on here and how to keepthat left foot from spinning out. Thanks Steve Batty
February 9, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Steve. It could be there isn't enough weight planted on the lead side when releasing. Or, when you are planting the weight you are going too far back on the heel versus staying balanced over the ankle joint causing the spin. If you are getting out on the toes that's probably upper half trail push through the release.
February 9, 2017
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Jati
The title of this video is perhaps a little bit misleading? Should it be "off the balls of the feet"?
January 6, 2017
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Jati. I see why the title could be misleading. The key is not to have the weight on the balls of the feet. The title is more saying this is the discussion topic.
January 7, 2017
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gary
Could you elaborate more on moving the weight back and forth between the ankles?
April 2, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gary. Elaborate on what happens throughout the swing? Or, how to find at setup? Throughout the swing use the Perfect Impact Part 2 and the Perfecting Lower Body Stability Video. For setup the Finding True Balance Video.
April 2, 2016
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w
Just one more follow up. When you squat does the weight stay on the heels through that entire motion or does it go to the left knee and then rotate to the heel? Thanks. Gerrie
March 21, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gerrie. When you squat the weight should be staying centered over the ankle joints. The lead knee externally rotating moves it to a stacked position, but doesn't pull the weight or act as the only load bearer. Take a look at Weight Shift Video Part 1.
March 21, 2016
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w
Hi Chuck. I've had 2 left knee cartelidge operations, and I think the pivoting on the left knee is the culprit. I understand the concept of being on the heels. The continued problem I have is that when I "squat" I am engaging the left knee again and I can't seem to get to the left glute. Also, when I bend the knee, it seems to bend forward thus getting my whole body ahead of the ball. When I do the throwing motion, lifting the left leg up and landing on it, it seems natural. Because the golf swing doesn't lift up the left leg, the shift over to the left seems less defined. Any thoughts I can implement on the range about using the knee flex that comes with the squat, how much flex in the left knee, and than transitioning the weight off the knee and back over to the left heel and therefore the glute. Thanks so much. Gerrie
March 21, 2016
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Gerrie. Take a look at Should You Splay Your Feet at Setup. A couple of tests for you to check the proper foot position. Secondly, take a look at Preventing Hip Pain. I want to make sure you learn how to pull the weight over versus trying to solely rely on the knee for sitting and weight placement. You can maintain a little flexion, but don't feel you have to add more or excessive flexion to get the weight. I'm more tuned in to you getting weight transfer than a big squat. You can still have glute engagement without lowering yourself too much.
March 21, 2016
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michael
Chuck when your demonstrating your weight on your ankles it looks like your weight is centered in the middle of your heels is there any weight in your arch in front of your heel and if so what percentage would you say it is? Thanks for taking my question. Mike Callaway . mcallaway@swingtek.com
February 15, 2016
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Chris (Certified RST Instructor)
Hey Mike, His weight is position in true anatomic balance. Or as close to it as possible. If you take a look at the understanding true balance video, he will show you how to determine where the weight it positioned in the foot at address. Check that out and see if it helps better answer your question.
February 17, 2016
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Garrett
Is it fair to say that in your setup you would like your shin bones vertical? Also, do we want to be able to slightly pick our toes up at address in the setup and should we be able to at all of the backswing checkpoints too?
August 24, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Garrett. They should be roughly vertical. You should be able to pick up or wiggle the toes. The will help with a little stabilization in the backswing, but not any load bearing.
August 24, 2015
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Mario
One quick follow up. I was drawing the ball with all my irons but still slicing or pulling hard left with my driver. Any thoughts as to why that might be?
March 29, 2015
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
It's best to see both swings on video to know for sure. That said, it sounds like you are spinning the shoulders open from the top with the driver, causing a more out-to-in swing path. If the face is square, you will hit a pull. If the face is open with that same path, a slice will result.
March 29, 2015
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Mario
Thank you. That's an issue I've had in the past. Are there any videos you would recommend?
March 30, 2015
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Patrick (Certified RST Instructor)
Again, it's best if we see your motion on video. Under the assumption that spinning your shoulders is the problem, the "move 3 downswing" video is good, as well as last week's video by Chris Tyler talking about Matt Every's downswing sequence. Another video to check out would be Chris also talking about Bill Haas's swing. You can find both videos under the "Tour Pros" video section or "latest videos".
March 30, 2015
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Mario
No single video had on a greater impact on my swing than this one. By getting my weight at address and throughout the swing off the balls of my feet onto my ankles, my inconsistent fade/slice instantly became a small draw. My entire golfing life I was told by everyone to be on the balls of my feet. How could everyone have been so wrong. Thank you for setting it straight.
March 28, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mario. Thanks for the post! Happy to hear you are improving.
March 28, 2015
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Seth
Is there a video that shows how far from the ball to stand? I had an issue "falling forward" in my swing and I'm not sure it is a weight shift issue or I'm standing too far from the ball.
March 13, 2015
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Steven (Certified RST Instructor)
Seth, there is a video called "Problems caused by poor ball position" in the advanced setup portion on the webiste. if anything else send in a video for a swing review and that way an instructor can really give you the information based on your swing. But the video that talks about how far to stand away is the video i mentioned above...Check it out. Steven
March 14, 2015
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Seth
Ok. Thanks.
March 14, 2015
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Ken
Love it! "Activating the glutes." I've been going through the setup videos again today as a refresher for this year, and this is the second time I've heard this phrase. I think I might've found the source and context from which Tiger so eloquently spoke! This video library holds so much value, it's amazing. Just imagine the frustration, cost and wasted time of going to see a pro "live" and paying him/her to go over everything you learned last year because you're afraid that you forgot something important. I love the fact that, since I started from the beginning and went through all the steps from setup through to follow through, I have the real fundamentals of the golf swing built into my mind and body. I can work on any part of it separately, but with RST it all eventually becomes (hopefully) a smooth, flowing swing, from address to finish. Thanks Chuck & RST!
February 18, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Ken. Chuck and Co. appreciate the post and compliments. We strive to provide the best content available. Always here to help. (Side Note). After Tiger's comments a few weeks ago. I had friends and students contacting me from all over the country saying they knew we were already ahead of the curve with "activating the glutes".
February 18, 2015
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David
I think a good (albeit exaggerated) analogy you could use about other sports people countering the pulling effect of centrifugal force of a swinging action, is the sport of Hammer Throwing or Discus Throwing in the olympics. Those people are literally right back on their heels as they swing around to get maximum force out through their hands and could never do those swings on the balls of their feet. In a small way the straightening of the left leg by pressing down with the left heel/ankle as the right arm straightens through release is similar. It transfers maximum force out through the ball.
February 3, 2015
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello David. Thanks for the analogy. This will be helpful for other members to relate why it is more efficient and powerful!
February 17, 2015
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Donal
I'm convinced these videos and the swing analyses will save my game! One question, if I draw a vertical line to the ground from my patella it hits my distal toes. I have my weight very much on my toes and have a tendency to fall forward in the downswing. Could you clarify where this line should hit as a reference point if weight on the ankles, thanks
December 21, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Use a different reference point. Draw a vertical line from the back of the knee through the center of the ankle joint. If the line moves away from the back of your knee. The weight is typically falling towards the toes.
December 21, 2014
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Christian
This clarified some myths. You see pictures of lady tour players all the time on their toes at impact. Real power is to be over your joints and rotating with your hips.
December 8, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Happy to help Christian. Glad you are enjoying the material.
December 8, 2014
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earl
when will I get my video returned?
September 10, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Earl. I responded down below.
September 10, 2014
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earl
I sent a video sun and have not had a responce. Can you help
September 10, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Earl. I just checked the swing review board and your name wasn't listed. The review has either already been completed or didn't upload properly. Please use the Contact Us link at the bottom of this page and notify Customer Support. They will be happy to assist you.
September 10, 2014
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Michael
Thank you for the best and most comprehensive golf instruction I have ever seen. I have not seen any of the videos directed on your recommendations on teeing up the ball for various clubs from PW to driver. Are there any? Thank you
August 3, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Thanks Michael. In regards to tee height. Chuck tends to tee everything fairly low. If you get too high. You will make compensations to catch more on an up swing. That's ok for max out driver, but not everyday stock shot. Low with the irons and about mid with the woods should optimize the strike for you.
August 4, 2014

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