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Intro to Weight Shift in the Golf Swing

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Weight shift in the golf swing is the FIRST thing you must master before worrying about any other movement. Once weight shift is mastered, other things will fall into place.

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Mastering weight shift is the first step in the Rotary Golf Swing 5 Step System. This systematic approach to golf swing improvement walks you through the golf swing step by step and helps you learn the sequencing of the perfect golf swing.

Transferring your weight during the golf swing is one of the most challenging aspects for all amateur golfers.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the golf swing weight shift is the crux is of the golf swing.  Specifically, what I'm saying here is that golfers tend to struggle to get their weight fully shifted back to the left during the downswing.  The reason for this is the force of movement tends to come from the top of the body for most amateur golfers.  What I mean by this is that they swing from their shoulders arms and hands to move the golf club, where as a good ball striker moves from the lower body first in order to move the golf club during the downswing.  This critical phase of the transition in the golf swing is what separates the men from the boys.

If you're struggling with your weight shift during the downswing, you must first look at your weight shift and transfer to the right during the backswing.  That's because this weight shift to the right during the backswing gives you momentum to help you shift your weight to the left during the downswing.  Therefore, if you don't shift your weight to the right on the backswing you have very little momentum to help you get back to the left during the downswing.  In fact, much of the secret to golf swing weight shift is all about transferring weight during the backswing to give you momentum to go back to the downswing.

If you're certain that you're shifting your weight fully to the right and by this I mean at least 75% of your weight is on the right leg at the top of your backswing, then you should have far less trouble getting your weight back to the left during the golf downswing.  But if you are still struggling to shift your weight to the left then almost inevitably it's because your shoulders and arms have too much tension in them at the top of the backswing.  

Your brain will use muscular tension as its guide to choose which muscles to fire and in which sequence.  Therefore if your shoulders arms and hands are the tightest muscles in your body at the top of your backswing in golf guess what muscles will fire first? It should come as no surprise that the small muscles in your arms and hands will want to fire first.  Most people tend to overuse their arms and hands anyway and as such they tend to be the tightest muscles in amateur golfers bodies at the top of their backswing.  Your brain senses this and wants to get rid of this tension as quickly as humanly possible.  So instead of shifting your weight and transferring back to the left you throw the club from the top in a futile effort to get club head speed.  This leads to casting and knocking you off balance as the force of the golf club pulls you in toward the target line.

If you want to be able to properly shift your weight back to the left and transfer fully during the downswing then it's critical that you check your muscular tension at the top of your backswing.  If your arms and hands and shoulders are very very tight, you must relax them and figure out what's causing you the tension in the first place.  I can tell you the answer to that question is you're trying to overuse them during the downswing so you're getting them tight as you go to the top your backswing.  The reality is that your arms and shoulders should be relatively relaxed so that your lower body can transfer weight without being impeded by the club being thrown from the top of the backswing.  If your arms and hands and shoulders are soft and relaxed, you can focus on using your lower body to transfer your weight back to the left and have a proper weight shift, which will help you sequence the entire golf swing much more easily.

Weight shift is one of the hardest things for most amateur golfers to get right in the swing, and what's really important about it is that you need to understand that weight shift is the most important part of the swing. Now, wait a second, you're thinking to yourself, "Chuck, you've also said that lag is the most important part of the golf swing, and that the impact position is the most important part of the swing, and the release is the most important part of the swing. How can weight shift be the most important part of the swing?

                Well, the truth is none of those things can happen correctly if the weight shift isn't right. And what I'm talking about, particularly, is the weight shift during the downswing. That is where every amateur golfer on the planet seems to really, really struggle. The truth is it's really simple, but you've got to put your priorities in the right spot.

                So the first thing you've got to understand is what does weight shift affect, and then specifically, what does it affect negatively and positively in the downswing. The first thing I want you to think about is how weight shift affects ball position. It seems kind of common sensical, but a lot of people don't really understand it. Almost every amateur golfer that we have go through our golf academy at the Ritz-Carlton here in Orlando, tends to have the ball way too far back in their stance. It starts with a couple of chunk shots. You hit the ball a little fat, it's a little embarrassing, the ball doesn't go anywhere, you lay the sod over the ball. So instinctively your brain says, "Well, let's just move the ball in our stance a little bit, and if the ball's back I'm more likely to make solid contact."

                Well guess what that does to your weight shift? If I move the ball further back in my stance, and I keep going further and further back, well, if I shifted my weight properly during the downswing I'd top the ball or completely miss it. So what it does is it takes this one small problem that you had by not fixing the cause, you've fixed a symptom. Instead of shifting your weight, you move the ball back, and as you move the ball back, you shift your weight even less, and so it becomes this recurring problem.

                Well, now what's going to happen to the rest of your swing is the entire sequencing of everything is going to be off, and it started with just not shifting your weight and you had the ball in the wrong spot. So everything starts going off. As you stop shifting your weight to the left, what's going to happen to your swing plane is it's going to tend to become very, very steep. Because guess what? Weight shift to the left is what shallows out the swing plane.

                I'm going to show you a couple views here, first. So first, I'm going to go here to the top, and all I'm going to do is just shift my weight. Just watch what happens to my arms and club. You're not going to see it from down the line yet, but I want you to see just, I'm going to do nothing but shift my weight. Notice that my hands are dropping. This is due to gravity, me keeping my arms relaxed, and the fact that as I'm shifting my weight I'm also starting to turn them a little bit, and as my pelvis rotates, my upper body is going to rotate. You'll see I'm not trying to turn my shoulders at all, but they're getting turned by my weight shift and a little hip rotation, that pulls my hands halfway down.

                Now, look what happens from down the line. As I go back to the top of my backswing and I shift my weight, look what happens to the club. It looks like my hands work straight down instead of out toward the ball. That's that little mystery move that you see every tour player move at the top at their swing, it looks their hands work vertically instead of out, like every amateur does. Every amateur looks like their hands go like this, from the top of their swing.

                The key to this is nothing more than weight shift. Keep my arms relaxed, shift my weight, look where my hands go. Straight down, right into the slot ... That's a term that's overused quite a bit ... my hands fall down here, and now the only thing I have to do from here, release the club. Piece of cake. My arms and hands didn't have to do anything. They're being brought down by the movement of my trunk, or my weight shift.

                That's how important weight shift is. If you don't shift from the top of your swing, the force of your movement is going to come from the top. I've talked about this a lot, in the Flagpole video and many others, about where force of movement comes from. If you tend to lose your balance, what's really happening in the swing is that your force of movement is happening from the rectangle, from your shoulders up. Right? Your arms, your hands, all of that stuff, instead of happening from here down, where it needs to.

                So when your force of movement happens from the top, guess what happens to the lag in your wrists and club? Of course, it starts to throw away. As you start to fire your arms really hard at the top, or start to turn your shoulders really hard, you're creating a lot of early centripetal force, that's going to result in centrifugal force acting on the club and causing it to throw away at the top, and that's how you lose lag.

                Again, the fix is don't try to hold lag. Don't try to get something goofy with your wrists and try to reroute the club. Shift your weight. If you shift your weight, you don't have to fire your arms from the top. But the reality is if you don't shift your weight, you have nothing else to help move the club. So instinctively your brain's going to be like, "Well, I'm not going to hit this really weak, I'm going to try to put some oomph into it. And so, if I'm not using any of this, I've got to use something to move the club." So of course, the only thing you have is your arms and hands. So the first thing you do, you fire from the top. That's why most golfers lose lag. Again, it goes back to weight shift.

                So weight shift is a precursor for lag, which we're going to talk about next, swing plane, how it shallows out the swing plane, and getting the force of movement in the sequencing correct in your swing. Now I mentioned lag, and everybody wants more lag, and of course, there's a good thing of having a lot of lag, but there's also a point of having too much. But I want to talk about just getting are right amount first. And again, it's really simple to get right if you shift your weight. If you shift your weight, you don't have to fire your arms from the top. So all you need to do is shift your weight, keep your arms nice and relaxed, your wrists relaxed, the club will automatically downcock as you start down, and you will have all the lag in the world you need. But again, if your force of movement is from the wrong spot and you fire from your wrists and arms at the top, the first thing you're going to do is cast the club and lose lag.

                So weight shift is critical to getting the sequence of the swing right in the downswing. If you don't shift your weight, your swing plane's going to be off, your path is going to be off, you're going to lose lag, your impact position's going to be off, and everything's going to be off. So pay close attention to the weight shift rules in the weight shift section, and start to master the sequencing of the downswing, and get lag, swing plane, impact, all of that stuff correct for the final time.

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