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Published: February 16, 2014

Learn the One Thing Most Golfers Get Wrong with their Weight Distribution...and How to Fix It

adam scott has his weight over the balls of his feetAdam Scott has a great swing, but his setup puts his knee at risk.

One of the big misconceptions many golfers are taught is to put their weight on the balls of their feet at address. You've probably been told things like:

  • Imagine you're a diver getting ready to dive off the diving board
  • You should feel like a shortstop, ready to move in any direction

These analogies make sense from an athletic standpoint, but think about it. The diver, the shortstop...they're all preparing to do something. They're trying to go somewhere.

A basketball player or a shortstop is ready to move in any direction. A diver is preparing to spring forward off the diving board.

As a golfer, where are you going? You're not trying to go anywhere. In fact, you're actually trying to stay centered. Why, then, would you ever want to set up on the balls of your feet?

Stay Centered!

That's some pretty simple logic. We're trying to stay centered in the golf swing. The big issue is, there is a tremendous amount of force exerted during the golf swing.

Let's just use common sense for a second: If you're creating all this force with your swing, and you don't want to fall forward on your face, which direction should your weight be moving?

It should obviously be going in the opposite direction, to counteract the forces created by your swing.

In the golf swing, we've got all of this force arcing forward and downward. Why would you ever want to be on the balls of your feet?

Instead, in the Rotary Swing Tour, we teach setting up on the ankles. Let's talk about some of the reasons for that:

Use Your Joints Correctly

First of all, when you're on the balls of your feet, your primary balancing joint is now your knee. Your knee is a hinge joint, designed for forward and backward motion, and that's about it. It has a very small amount of rotation in it, but not enough for a golf swing.

Your hip, on the other hand, can rotate all day long. If you have all your weight on your ankle, your hip is designed to accommodate the rotary movements required for the golf swing.

Engage Your Glutes!

The second thing is, you need to activate your glute muscles in the golf swing. These are two of the most important muscles in your golf swing, and they're required for the stability and power of your swing.

When you put your weight on the ball of your foot and get your knee out in front of you in an exercise such as a lunge, you're primarily activating your quad muscle. In a lunge, your weight is way out over the ball of your foot, so you'll feel your glute a little bit in that position, but it's primarily going to be your quad.

Now, let's transform that lunge, and get into the neutral joint alignment that you're looking for in the setup of your golf swing.

proper weight distribution in golf across footNotice the difference between a lunge (left) and neutral joint alignment (right)

In the golf swing, you're going to do the exact same thing. As you set up, you hinge from the hips, knees behind neutral. As you get into the proper neutral alignment, you can feel yourself "sitting into" your glutes at address. You will be able to feel your glutes working in the swing.

If you get up on the balls of your feet, you lose that stability. You'll be primarily in your quads again.

Safer, More Effective Follow Through

knee injuries in golf can be preventedThe knee is a hinge joint

Another more important reason to get off the balls of your feet is for your follow through in the rotation. When you're on the ball of your foot, your knee becomes your primary balancing joint. You're trying to pivot and rotate on a joint that's designed to hinge.

Ask Tiger how this feels. It's not very comfortable.

If you get your weight onto your heel instead, you can pivot all day long, and your knee is completely taken out of the golf swing; none of that painful twisting. If you're on the ball of your foot at impact, it hurts. You'll experience knee pain, back pain, as well as a loss of power in your swing.

Set Up Correctly

Your primary goal, when you're setting up to a golf ball, is to get your weight over your ankles and keep it there. Feel that your weight is on your ankles and stays there as you move back and forth between them. (Technically, a little bit of weight goes slightly forward during the downswing. You won't even feel it.)


Checkpoints for Practice

  • 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

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