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Role of the Right Foot in Downswing

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Footwork is a bit of a misnomer in the golf swing but you hear it every week on TV. What is it and how do you do it? This video shows you the critical importance of what the right foot should do in the downswing and why.

Video Practice Points
  • The right foot should stay on the ground, rolled slightly inward, for as long as possible
  • The heel doesn't come up until it's pulled up in the follow through
  • For the drill, keep the right food down - just roll inward - until arms are in the 9:00 position
  • Start with half shots and exaggerate the drill by keeping the heel on the ground the entire time
  • When it does come up, the right heel should not break the vertical plane on the outside of the foot

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Role of the Right Foot in the Downswing

Well, did you catch what I did wrong there? If not, let me hit another one and do it right, and see if you can tell the difference between the two in the downswing.

Did you catch it? If you were looking at my right foot, you were on the right track. The right foot for right-handed golfers is the key to controlling the downswing. That's right. That's how important just changing one simple thing in your swing is to being a consistent and powerful ball striker is by learning to control what the right foot does in the downswing.

The first swing that I did is I push really hard so this heel came up in the air right away. Now, you'll note, as I do this, as I start driving forward, my hip moves forwards. What does that do to my lower back? It straightens it up. This is how you lose the tush line. I've talked about this a lot. When you're talking about losing the tush line, this is how you do it. Apart from losing all my angles, it also allows me to rotate my hips really fast. I can get my hips 90 degrees open before I ever get the club back to the ball.

When I do that, all bets are off. It's going to be very, very difficult for you to ever control the hitting area. That's the most important thing in golf. If you're coming into impact, and all your angles are changing and you're moving very crazily, and then you've gotta just try and save it with your hands, golf is a really frustrating game.

But when you watch a good ball striker coming down on impact, the lower body looks stable and quiet and controlled, and then the arms and hands can release the golf club with a stable platform versus this shaky. You might as well be hitting golf balls in an earthquake when your lower body's moving all over the place by letting this right heel come up in the air.

In our clinics, I have a joke. Every time your right heel comes up in the air, you owe me a hundred bucks. Now, I haven't collected on anybody yet, but I'd be a wealthy man if I did because everybody wants to do this, and it's a huge, huge problem. It takes a little bit time and effort to break this.

The simplest way is to go back to doing 9 to 3 Drills and practice exaggerating keeping it on the ground, but let it roll to the inside. This is important. Watch what happens if I let my foot stay flat. I want you to pay close attention to the position of my left hip as I roll my foot back. What happened? I'm no longer in neutral joint alignment. My hip is well inside my foot. Here, nice straight line. My foot's got a roll slightly to the inside. It doesn't have to be rolled like this. It's naturally going to get pulled up off the side of its foot when you shift enough. This is a great checkpoint when you're doing your 9 to 3 Drills to know that you've shifted far enough left is, is the outside of your right foot light?

If you watched good ball strikers on Tour, that right heel stays down, and that's what gives them so much more control when their body isn't moving all over the place changing all the angles in your swing. Keeping that right foot down rather than pushing off of it is a great checkpoint. I promise you, as soon as you do this, if you're one of those hip spinners, the right foot coming in, knee kicking in, all this stuff, and all of a sudden, you start hitting like this, how much more control are you going to find right away versus everything spinning out of control and trying to time that. It's going to be huge. Commit to practicing this fundamental of letting the right foot roll to the inside, just like you see the Tour players do, instead of pushing and shoving hard off that right foot, and you will gain more control.

Now, with the driver, you'll see even the best ball strikers on Tour, their right heel tends to come up in the air. Not that bad, but tends to come up in the air. It can, but you're going to tend to lose control. That is a power move with the driver to rotate your hips faster, but if your hips are rotating faster, everything has to rotate faster: the arms, everything has to be kept up and in sync. That's hard to do, and that's why when you start really trying to whale on the ball, you start losing control, you start changing all these angles in your golf swing again.

Even with the driver, you can practice keeping that foot down just to get control, and then as you start getting more and more control of your swing and, more importantly, control of your lower body providing a stable platform, then you can start letting it come up a little bit with the driver. I do the same thing. I let it come up because when I'm trying to whale on one, but if I need to put the ball and play off the T, that right heel will be on the ground every single time.

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