The Importance of Balance in Golf
Watching a golfer whose swing shows good balance is a visually pleasing experience. A balanced swing looks graceful, almost effortless. Improving your balance has practical shot making benefits as well. Golfers who maintain good balance throughout the swing can generate maximum clubhead speed and are more likely to hit the ball squarely and solid. Golf is often described as a game of inches but when it comes to the clubface sweet spot it is a game of millimeters. Golfers strive for distance and accuracy on longer shots and for pinpoint control on approach shots. Without good balance you cannot achieve these consistently.
There are 3 main balance checkpoints in the swing: the address, top of backswing and finish position.
At address, your weight should be equally balanced over both feet with equal distribution through the heels and toes. This will place you in an athletic ready position. Having feet too close together will reduce your base of support potentially leading to loss of balance. Having feet too wide reduces the ability of your lower body to turn through the swing and often leads to slicing the ball.
At top of backswing, your upper body coils and approximately 90% of your weight shifts onto your right side. It is imperative to maintain a good knee bend in back leg. Many golfers with poor balance tighten the muscles about the knee which straightens the knee leading to a reverse pivot (keeping weight on the front leg). With poor balance/stability the body will contract muscles in poor timing and sequencing to try to stabilise the movement (both agonist and antagonist muscles). This will hinder the tempo and fluidity of the movement thereby causing reduced clubhead speed as well as a reduction in consistency.
At the finish position, or follow through, the swing’s momentum should carry you to a full, balanced position, with almost all of your weight over your front foot. You should be able to hold the finish position for 3-4 seconds, and then bring the club back down to waist height while still maintaining the finish position.
As part of the Golf Functional Assessment I perform a single leg balance test for both legs. With their eyes closed I ask golfers to assume the address position with a 5 iron then take the club away and ask them to lift 1 leg and close their eyes and balance as long as able. This test is performed 3 times for each leg and the results averaged. The PGA Tour norm is 16-20 seconds for each leg.
There is a simple drill that I like to give my patients, which enables them to feel where their centre of gravity should be during full backswing and at the finish position. From a position at the top of your backswing, lift your front foot off the ground, balancing your weight over your rear leg. Return the front foot to the ground then swing to the finish, lifting your rear foot off the ground as your body rotates through the shot. If you can do this drill repeatedly without losing balance, you’re well on your way to a balanced swing. For the more advanced golfer I often give balance exercises involving the bosu ball (see photo). I find it to be very valuable in developing stability and balance.
I will have more information on stability in the future.
I hope that helps. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me directly via email on the contact page of the website or book an appointment.
**please consult a medical professional before commencing any physical activity if you have health concerns**