Weight Shift in the Golf Downswing
Using our Science and Motion (SAM) Balance Lab, we can pinpoint weight shift and weight distribution of golfers in real time. In this video, I use the Balance Lab to show how simple it is to transfer weight for an increase in power of around 14% according to some research.
The key is that weight shift is completely natural, and in fact, as you will see in the video, to NOT shift your weight will not only feel unnatural but leave you feeling powerless as well.
Think of any sport involving a hitting or throwing motion, from baseball to tennis, and imagine performing those athletic motions without transferring your weight. An obvious loss of power is felt.
However, in my book, The Rotary Swing, I discuss how it is not necessary for high handicappers or new golfers to focus much on weight shift. This is still the case.
If you do not have time to practice nor the desire to work on your golf swing, then simplifying the motion to the fewest moving parts is paramount.
But, if you are a serious golfer striving to get better, then a proper and simple weight transfer is a MUST for efficient power.
Checkpoints for Practice
- Casual golfers may give up weight transfer for simplicity, but they will sacrifice power in the swing
- Swaying the whole body does transfer your weight, but is very hard to control
- Transfer your weight by shifting onto the right leg, keeping the body still
- Stance width 2" outside neutral allows for plenty of weight shift without moving off the ball
Video Transcription: Golf Swing Weight Shift
Golf swing weight shift is a hot topic in golf instruction, especially with golf swing models coming out that are advocating staying on the front leg, like Stack & Tilt.
I also teach golfers who don't have very much time to practice, or are new to golf, not to involve a lot of weight shift during the learning process simply because they don't have enough time to learn all the moves.
The golf swing is a complicated movement and we can simplify it dramatically, especially during the learning process, if we minimize as many moving parts as possible.
The tradeoff there is that there's a loss of power if you don't transfer your weight in the golf swing.
You can experience this for yourself.
Go outside and grab a baseball or a rock, or a golf ball on the driving range, and try and throw it as far as you can and see if you shift your weight.
I assure you that, if you're right handed, you're going to go back to your right heel first, and you're going to plant your left heel, and then you're going to throw.
Now try throwing that same ball and don't shift your weight.
You can put all your weight on your back foot and throw it and don't transfer to the front, or you can put all your weight on the front foot, don't transfer your weight to the back, and try and throw it.
Of course, if you don't shift your weight you'll lose power.
That's common in all sports, whether it's a tennis player hitting a ball or a pitcher throwing a ball or baseball.
They load up on the right side, then step through on the front. Weight shift is just a common power part of the game.
In golf, it's no different.
The problem with it is that, historically, golf swing weight shift has been taught by taking your upper body and swaying it off the ball to the right, and then swaying back to the left.
It's all upper-body movement. Your whole upper torso is moving back and forth.
It's also been taught to take your entire body and shift the whole thing a couple inches to the right, and then try and shift your weight back to the left.
It's very hard to time that movement, but I am effectively transferring weight. I am shifting to the right.
I'm actually standing on our SAM Balance Lab here.
If I put up this screen you'll actually see, as I do my upper body sway, my weight shifts well to the right. I'm at 90 percent, and then I'm going to sway back to the left, and now I'm 95 percent this way. I did effectively shift weight.
Of course, the fulcrum of my golf swing is moving all over the place.
Now, as I'm moving back and forth this way, it's going to be really hard for me to make consistent contact.
Because of that, a lot of golf swing models have come out - or at least a couple - who have said, "Well, let's just not move this at all, and not shift our weight. Let's just stay on this side and try and hit down."
Well, that's the same thing as trying to throw a baseball staying on your left foot and throwing it.
It's effective for hitting down on the irons; you can cheat a little bit because your angle of attack will be a little bit steeper.
You can de-loft the club more. You can still get a reasonable distance with the irons. You'll hit it a little bit lower, and it will work.
Of course, as you get to the longer clubs, you're not going to catch the driver on the upswing, you're not going to hit it high enough, because it's very hard to stay on this side and then get back behind the ball as you go through, so it's not very effective for the longer clubs especially.
Shorter irons, it's totally fine and I still advocate not having much weight shift on the shorter irons because you're wanting to flight them lower.
You're wanting to not hit your wedge straight up in the air. You want to hit down, trap your wedge, hit it low, so on and so forth.
Minimizing golf swing weight shift for those shots, it's totally fine.
If you don't have a lot of time to practice and you spend very little time working on your golf swing, you don't want a lot of weight shift.
But if you're looking for building power into your golf swing and you do have time to practice golf, you're serious about your game, you'll see how simple it is to really learn how to transfer your weight effectively.
I'll show you what that looks like. Standing on the Balance Lab, right now my weight is about 50/50.
All I'm going to do to shift my weight is shift just a little bit to the right.
You'll see right now I'm 50 percent, and I'm going to go just a little bit to the right; just my hips.
I'm not moving my head. I'm just going to move my hips. Now I'm at about 62 percent.
I'm loading up into my right side here to get some power from the right side of my body; my glutes, my hamstrings, my back.
I want to load those muscles so I'm just basically shifting my hips just slightly to the right.
I don't have to shift my whole body. It's a very simple movement. Now there I am; right there, holding on at about 65 percent. I've just made a little bit of movement.
Now, as I go into my full swing, as my arms and everything else gets moved back behind me, by the time I get to the top I'm going to be at about 75 to 80 percent.
Research on golf swing weight shift has shown that most Tour pros are at about 75 to 80 percent on their right side at the top of their golf swing, before they start heading back to the left.
Their maximum weight shift is going to be about 75 to 80 percent, and that's what we generally look for is about from 50/50 to the top. Right now I'm at 75 percent.
It's very little movement. Your head might move a little bit; that's perfectly OK. You're going to get back to the left on the downswing.
All that movement is; again, I'm not rotating. I'm literally just shifting my weight back to the right. That's it.
I can shift this way, I can shift this way. It's just a very simple little movement, shifting on the inside of my foot just to load up.
Just exactly the same as if I was a baseball player and I was getting ready to hit a ball; just load into that right side, just for a second.
I might be standing here and then I'd load and spring back. We want that type of dynamic movement. It's not that you just shift and sit there.
The purpose is loading and stretching these muscles. That's where you get power, is by stretching muscles, because then they want to release back.
As I go down and settle into that side, my glutes are contracting and stretching, so now I've loaded some force into here.
That's what you're wanting to feel as you go back, that you're loading into that right side just a little bit.
The key here is not doing it with your upper body, because a lot of times people are going to say, "OK, I just shifted my hips," and then their whole head goes with them.
It's not that much movement. It's very simple; you'll see that I can still shift my weight, but now I'm going to have to sway my upper body to get back to the ball. Obviously, we don't want to do that.
Again, it's just a tiny little bump. That's it.
The problem comes when my stance is too wide.
Now you'll see that in order to get that same weight distribution, to load up into that right side and stretch all these muscles going back effectively, I need to load onto this right side to stretch the muscles on the left side so that right glute is going to act as a stabilizer going back and loading into it.
In order to effectively transfer my weight from address, I've got to shift. Now I'm only at 65 percent, but my head has moved a couple inches.
As I keep going back to get to 75/80, now I've moved a great deal, so now my head's got to move all the way back, coming through.
From here, if I just brought my foot back in where it was, now I don't have to move as far to get that weight back over.
That's why stance width is so important. You can go a little bit wider than your hips; that's what really matters.
You can use your hip bones as a measurement, and you're going to be a couple inches wider than that, but that's about the maximum stance width for me, based on my hip width.
It has nothing to do with my shoulders. It has everything to do with my hips.
If I set up out here, it's very easy for me to shift my weight back and forth without having some big movement off the ball.
If you want extra power in your golf swing, you need to shift your weight.
Research on golf swing weight shift has shown that golfers who don't shift their weight have about a 14 percent loss in energy
Fourteen percent for somebody hitting it 200 yards can be 30 yards of distance.
You could be throwing away 30 yards, just by not being able to load into that right side and then fire back off and stretch the left side effectively.
Weight shift is a good thing in the golf swing. It's not a big sway. It certainly doesn't come from the upper body. It's just from the hips, and it's a very simple thing.