The Healthy Golfer Blog

When looking at a golf swing, it starts with the individual’s body and their base of support, the feet.  During the golf swing the feet should be the only body part touching the ground.  One of the most underrated aspects of the golf swing is good balance. Great attention is often paid to golf's fundamentals and swing mechanics, but balance is often a forgotten topic.  If there are physical limitations in this area (such as balance), mechanics will be compromised, ultimately ending in poor performance or even worse, injury. This article will aim to identify and implement strategies to overcome any balance deficiencies that may be present in your body.


Balance represents a complex neuromuscular communication system which relies on feedback from the central nervous system to the body.  There are three main systems in our body that affect our balance: eyesight which recognizes what is up and down; the canals in our inner ears which are situated horizontally, vertically and angular and are filled with fluid and hair cells for feedback; and finally, the proprioceptors and mechnoceptors which are tiny message receptors within our joints and muscles, etc. which send signals to our brain for a response to different actions/stimuli taken by the body. Balance is necessary in maintaining appropriate spine, trunk and torso positions throughout the golf swing.


In the game of golf, balance is extremely important from the address of the ball to the finishing stance. Recall in your last golf lesson, the importance of placing your complete weight on your front leg while being able tap the tip of your toes with your rear foot – this is describing how to balance your golf swing mechanics. Balance is one of the most important aspects of a golf swing because good balance can increase your clubhead speed by 5 percent.  If you have poor balance then it is difficult to swing the golf club at your maximum speed and on a consistent plane.  Tour players can swing with ~100 percent efficiency and still maintain proper balance while most amateurs can only swing with 80 percent efficiency and maintain their balance.


The complex motion of a golf swing requires that the body perform a series of tasks in sequence from the feet all the way to the cervical spine, in order to propel that little white ball towards your target with the correct amount of distance and spin. The precision required for this activity is monumental when it gets broken down to the smallest detail. Any variance from the precision required, and your ball travels either left, short, right, long, too high, or too low.


Identifying the sources of variance in the golf swing is often a daunting task. One such source can be linked to a person’s balance or proprioception. As stated above, the only two body parts that should touch the ground in the golf swing are the two feet. However, in many golf swings, the two feet are not working as effectively as possible; thereby compromising the segments above them (knee, hip, lower back, mid back, shoulders, etc...). When a golfer presents with limitations in their ability to maintain their balance throughout the golf swing, it is imperative to determine what level of proprioception that they possess.


In my office I use a TOG Gait Scan to assess a client’s balance.  It is a force plate connected to a computer that can assess what the body is doing from left to right and front to back while standing.  If you have previously been injured or are presently injured your body will compensate to minimize the affected area and alter your body’s balance which in turn may affect your golf game.  There are many different devices that can be used to train your balance: an exercise ball (Swiss ball), wobbleboard, and BOSU (semi dome ball/wobbleboard). These devices create an unstable environment which causes the body to stimulate your nerves and muscle to work to maintain your balance. The other thing that affects balance is tightness in your calf muscles, hamstrings and hips. The lower body provides stability to your golf swing. Stability helps create resistance between your upper and lower body which enables you to produce power. If the muscles in your legs and hips are tight then your lower body will tend to sway and slide in order to support the winding and unwinding of your torso. This lack of stability will cause inconsistent shots and may create both left and right misses.  In addition, working with flexibility exercises will help to increase your golf balance by releasing muscle tension.


When swinging your golf club you want your weight to be balanced on the balls of the feet, not on the heels or toes. With short irons, your weight should be approximately 60-percent on the target side foot (left foot for right-handers). For middle iron shots the weight should be approximately 50/50 or equal on each foot. While for your longest clubs, you want to place about 60% of your weight on the backside foot (right foot for right-handers). This will help you swing the club on the correct angle on the back swing.


Remember before starting any program, it is important to get the approval of a qualified health practitioner.  And finally, the best program is the one that best suits your needs, goals and level of commitment.  Call to book your TPI assessment and plan your golf season. You can also follow me and get some insight and details about helping your golf game on Twitter - @thehealthygolfr (no this is not a spelling mistake)


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