Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Use your Knees for a Better Swing

I analyze a lot of golf swings on video. They range from the all time greats to good, average and strugglers. There are obvious differences in the swings, but one there is one common difference between the good and the bad. The great swings have a more active knee action during the swing than the poor ones.

The knees are the shock absorbers of the golf swing. Great swings maintain, and in many cases, increase the amount of knee flex during the golf swing. The strugglers lose the flex in the knees or it changes constantly during the swing. Because the knees are the shock absorbers, when the flex is lost it creates a situation where your body is off balance. Now you are in conflict. So as you continue to swing the golf club, your body is trying to keep you from falling down at the same time. These are rarely compatible motions.

When the knees are flexed your weight easily moves with the golf club. So many of us straighten the back leg as the club starts back, forcing your weight to the front foot. Now with all your weight forward, as the club comes back to the ball, you have nowhere to go but in the reverse direction. Hence the term reverse weight shift. All caused by an improper change in your knee flex.

Fat and thin shots are certainly a result of poor knee action. Miss-hit shots are almost always caused by a balance issue in the swing. A good rule of thumb is to remember that direction problems are caused by hands and club face rotation, and the inability to hit the ball in the middle of the face is a balance issue. For example, when the club drives into the ground behind the ball, or in golf terms you hit it fat, it often happens because of a lack of body rotation to help keep the golf club moving forward as the arms swing down. The body will quit turning when the legs straighten.

I have always been an advocate for more knee flex rather than less. I guess it is because the golf swings I admired most maintained their knee flex later through the swing, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino being perfect examples. There is a school thought that tries to straighten the front leg at impact for more club speed, but the jury is still out on that move. Accuracy definitely becomes an issue.

As a test, exaggerate your knee flex, and make some swings. More knee flex does not mean to lean back, maintain your spine angle forward toward the ball and bend your knees. Now swing the club and maintain the flex through the swing. Try this for awhile and see if you balance and ball striking improve. It might be just the thing you have been looking for to help improve your game.

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