Weight Shift In The Golf Swing: Top Tips For Proper Weight Transfer
The weight shift in your golf swing plays a major role in your ability to hit the golf ball consistently. If you want to become a world-class golfer, you need to master the weight transfer.
If you watch the best players in the world, you can see how much they load up on the right side and unwind on the downswing. There’s no lateral movement and they use the ground to push off for maximum power.
If there’s one move you should emulate from great golfers, it’s their weight shift. Once mastered, it’ll help you hit better than you thought possible.
Keep reading to learn some of the most common mistakes that most amateurs make during the backswing, the correct sequence, and drills to improve your weight distribution.
Weight Shift in the Golf Swing
So, how does your weight transfer in your golf swing?
It’s a good question as so many golfers struggle with this move and it makes a big impact (typically negatively) on their performance. Golfers usually ask questions like,
- How do I generate power?
- What starts the downswing?
- When do I move my weight to my lead foot?
- What’s the proper sequence to start my downswing?
These are all good questions as it’s essential to load up your trail side on the backswing then unwind and shift your weight on the downswing.
Here’s what the great Ben Hogan said about the topic in his book, Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons, “The hips initiate the downswing. They are the pivotal element in the chain of action. Starting them first and moving them correctly–this one action practically makes the downswing.
It creates early speed. It transfers the weight from the right foot to the left foot. It takes the hips out of the way and gives your arms plenty of room to pass.”
The hips are the key to getting the proper weight transfer to your lead foot on the downswing according to one of the greatest ball strikers ever. And I couldn’t agree more but it’s easier said than done sometimes.
Before getting into the downswing, let’s not forget about the setup position and backswing as they play a pivotal role in the sequence of events.
Also Read: How To Build an Inside Out Golf Swing
Weight at Setup in Golf Swing
There are three important positions to think about your weight in the golf swing; setup, backswing, and downswing.
Let’s first start with your setup as so much of the swing happens before the takeaway. Your weight needs to be in the right position at address to make the weight shift happen properly in the golf swing.
In general, you want your weight to be about evenly distributed 50-50 at setup.
When you’re hitting off the grass and not a tee, you should have 55-60% of your weight on your lead foot to help you hit down and make better contact. Additionally, there are some instances where you might want more weight on your lead foot or back foot on the course, but let’s assume we’re talking about flat lies on the driving range for now.
This weight distribution will help you build a solid foundation before the backswing and ensure you’re in an athletic position at address.
Related: Check out the best golf stance tips now.
Weight Shift In The Backswing
The backswing is where the weight shift occurs in your golf swing.
But instead of thinking about “weight shift” I encourage you to think about shifting your mass, not your weight. It’s a very subtle move and not one that you can spot unless you’re watching in slow motion.
To see what I mean, watch the below super slow motion video of Tiger Woods on YouTube.
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As you can see in the video, he does not laterally move his weight on the backswing at all.
Instead, he rotates around his back leg to load up his mass on the backswing. This helps him rotate the club around his body and set at the top of the backswing.
At the top of his backswing, roughly has 80% of his mass on his back foot. This gives him the ability to press down into the ground on the start of the downswing to then unwind the hips and finally the upper body. From there, it’s time to sequence the downswing properly to get the most distance from every shot.
Weight Shift In The Downswing
Once you’ve loaded up your trail leg on the backswing, it’s time to unwind your momentum and make a move toward the golf ball. Remember, Ben Hogan said the hips start this process and help you shift your weight and clear for your arms to follow.
Tiger Woods said something similar in his book, How I Play Golf. As he said, “On the downswing, the sequence of motion is from the ground up. First you shift your weight to your left leg, then you turn your hips with all you’ve got. The shoulders come next.”
This is how Tiger Woods has generated so much power in his swing over the years. He clears his hips at lightning speed on the downswing which allows him to use all his power and crush the golf ball.
Two Biggest Weight Shift Mistakes
Now that you have a better understanding of how your weight should move in your golf swing, let’s talk about a few of the biggest mistakes most golfers make.
Swaying on the Backswing
So many golfers move laterally instead of rotate around their body, which is known as “swaying.” When you sway on the way back, you move almost all of your weight (not just mass) to your back foot and lose out on tons of power.
Tiger Woods emphasized this in his book too, saying, “Shifting your hips laterally to the right just kills your backswing. If your right hip moves outside of your right foot, you have to slide back to the left just to the ball. It’s hard to time that move properly. What’s more, you’ve cut your power by 50 percent because a sliding motion on the downswing isn’t anywhere near as powerful as a rotary unwinding of the hips and shoulders.”
I’ve personally struggled with this move myself and can say it makes consistent ball striking nearly impossible! Because as you sway back, you have to sway back toward the target to hit the ball which timing it right is nearly impossible.
Plus, you aren’t pushing off the ground as your body is moving laterally back to the target. Thus, losing out on tons of distance with any club in the bag.
The other major mistake that so many golfers make is what’s known as the reverse pivot. This move is another power killer and makes it nearly impossible to time it consistently.
According to World of Golf UK, “The reverse pivot error is usually caused by bad posture or set up. What happens is that your hips turn to the left, instead of right, causing your weight to move more to the left or front foot, instead of the back foot. The upshot of this is usually a weight shift back towards the back foot on the downswing.”
Remember as Tiger Woods said, the hips need to rotate back on the takeaway. This will help you load up the backswing and get you one step closer to a power move on the downswing.
Drills to Help with Weight Transfer
Once you’ve avoided the two main mistakes that screw up the weight transfer, let’s get into some drills to ingrain this feeling. Here are three of the best ways to improve your weight shift at the driving range.
Scratch Golf Academy on YouTube offers a great drill to help you feel the proper move on your backswing. No training aids needed either – instead, just grab an extra shoe and follow the steps outlined in the below video.
- Tee up the ball and grab a mid-iron.
- Place an old golf shoe under the ball of your front foot. Don’t push down fully like you would with a normal golf shot as the heel will come off the ground of the extra shoe.
- You will want to feel your weight 50-50 or maybe 45-55 (slightly more on your trail leg) at address position.
- On the downswing, try to press down on the old shoe so that the heel pops up. This should promote a better weight transfer and something you can easily see if you record your golf swing.
Weight Transfer Step Drill
Another drill that doesn’t require much to get started is the weight transfer step drill. In this drill, you will step back on the backswing and through on the downswing.
Here’s a great instructional video from Clay Ballard at Top Speed Golf.
- Grab a short iron and start with your feet very close together (about 6-8 inches).
- On the backswing, take a mini step back with your back foot. This should get your weight to the inside heel of your trail foot.
- On the downswing, take a mini step toward the target with your lead foot and let your weight come all the way through.
Clay recommends doing this move for 100 repetitions at home or on the range without a golf ball first. Then you can use it with a golf ball and you should feel the move much easier in your normal swing.
Another drill to help you feel this move is by using a cool board which is normally used for core training. As you can see in this video, the instructor places the board on top of a golf club shaft to make the surface intentionally wobbly like a seesaw.
- Without hitting a ball, step on the board and get balanced.
- Then, press down on the right side of the board on the backswing and make a complete turn.
- On the downswing, press down on the left side to feel the weight moving toward your lead foot.
Not only will this help your golf game but also your core strength and balance too which are both very helpful for long-term success in golf!
While drills are great, sometimes you might need to recruit some help to master the weight shift in your swing. Here are three different training aids to help you on the driving range.
Callaway Golf Power Platform
The power platform from Callaway helps promote proper hip rotation in your swing easily. Simply place the platform under your right foot to keep your weight centered and stop swaying on the backswing.
You can use this training aid on the driving range or even at home without a golf club. Plus, it’s so small it’s easy to keep in your bag without taking up too much space.
DownUnder Board 2.0 Tour Edition
A more advanced training aid is the DownUnder board which trains you to feel what a PGA Tour swing feels like. According to DownUnder it, “Improves every aspect of your swing, from stance and posture to takeaway, transition, path, impact, and finish. Helps your aim system to be square and parallel to the intended line.”
The DownUnder board is easy to set up and will rest between your feet. It creates resistance with the ground to create a more effective rotation and pivot properly. Plus, you can use it for chipping and pitching too.
This product is very popular and used by more than 100 Tour Pros across various tours. It makes it easy to get your feet in the proper position and train your body to be stable during the swing. This will make it easier to rotate, not sway, and generate tons of power.
Sheftic Pressure Board
The last weight transfer training aid to help your game is the Sheftic Pressure Board. This helps you feel the proper weight shift by standing on the device as you swing the club.
It makes it easy to feel the pressure shift on your backswing and sequence the weight shift properly. It does require a little more balance and timing than the other two but makes it so easy to feel the proper move.
The right weight transfer in your golf swing will help you add more distance, make better contact, and ultimately, play your best golf. Remember, to hit it flush and long with any club in the bag, you need to load up your trail leg. That doesn’t happen from swaying laterally or having a reverse pivot.
Instead, it happens by rotating around your back leg and loading up on the backswing. From there, you need to unwind your hips to allow your shoulders and arms room to swing at the target. The more you can clear your left side, the more power you can generate and the easier it is to use the ground force to create maximum distance.
Before trying to adjust your weight transfer with drills or training aids, make sure you evaluate your weight at address. For most shots you want your weight evenly distributed between both feet. This makes it easier to transfer your weight on the backswing and unload on the downswing.
If you notice that you’re losing distance or not making solid contact with the ball, your weight shift is a great place to start.
Do you struggle with your weight shift in the golf swing? If so, what drill or swing do you use to hit it better on the golf course?