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Swing Principle #5: Right Leg & Knee


This article discusses the fifth Concept Golf swing principle. The five swing principles define the golf swing and help you to understand the swing. They are not five more things you are to do. They are not five more things to add to your list of swing musts. They are five things you should understand -- and then simply go play golf!

If you watch the players on the Champions (Senior) Tour you will observe that each player's swing is unique. Their swings are homemade. That's why those players are still able to play so well. They didn't try to follow some guy's ideas of exactly how they should swing. Their focus was always on getting the ball to the target and scoring low. Their swings are identifiable; you know what Arnold's swing looks like, what Lee Trevino's looks like, what Tom Watson's looks like, and so on.

They all know, understand and adhere to the five principles, but their swings don't look alike. What's the deal?

Here's the answer, and it's going to come as quite a shock; all people are different! We are individuals. Bruce Fleisher's swing can't (and shouldn't) look like Ben Hogan's swing. Bruce is taller and easier going, while Hogan was shorter and had a quicker personality. So Hogan's swing had to be flat and quick. Fleisher's swing has to be more upright and slower.

You guessed it -- your swing expresses you! It expresses your physical, mental and emotional self. Every golfer's swing must look different, even though it is based on the five swing principles. That's what we call style. Principles are the foundational rules golfers follow to hit good shots. Golfers must, however, let themselves shine through those principles.

The bottom line is this: you need to understand the five principles, but you must do them in your own way.

Legs vs. Arms

How do baseball pitchers create 95-mile-per-hour pitches that hit a spot the size of a grapefruit? They use the strongest part of their body, the legs, to move the body. More specifically, they use their back leg (the one on the pitching rubber). By pushing with this leg, they create the quick movement in their body that causes the arm to be moved with great enough speed to throw the ball at 95 miles-per-hour and deliver the ball to the center of the catcher's glove.

Just as the pitcher uses his back leg to throw 95 mile-per-hour pitches to a very small target, you want to use your back leg to create long, accurate shots. It is your source of consistent, effortless power.

Most golfers think their source of power is those little arms. Some of you may not have small arms but they are still smaller and weaker than your legs, aren't they? You need to use your legs so that you can have an effective swing like all the good players. A nice by-product of using your legs is that you will be as fresh on the back nine as on the front nine. Your legs make your swing powerful and help you hit the ball consistently far. Let's examine how this works.

Using your Legs

To start the swing, move your entire body weight to the right foot quickly enough to cause the arms to be flung away. When you are positioned with your weight on the front inside part of your right foot, you need to keep your leg flexed just as it was at address. At the top of the backswing your right knee should point at the ball and should be flexed. This will keep your weight and pressure on your big toe and ball of your right foot. Now your right foot should be in position to push your body forward at any moment during the backswing.

The temptation is to allow your weight to stay on the left foot when you are trying to keep your right knee pointed at the ball during the backswing. You need to make sure your weight actually goes to your right foot when you are trying to keep the pressure on the front inside part of your right foot. The top of the backswing is the same position you are in when you wind up to throw a ball. In fact, it's a good idea to throw a ball or two just to get the idea of the position you are going to be in. Can you imagine trying to throw a ball if you let your weight stay on your left foot or get to the outside heel of your right foot? Try it! It's not possible to have any strength or power with your weight out of position.

If your right leg straightens during the backswing, it is useless. Test this idea by straightening your legs and jumping. Don't bend them, just jump with straight legs. Doesn't work at all, does it? That's why you want your right leg flexed at the top of the backswing. As you push against the ground with your big toe and ball of your right foot, your leg straightens out and pushes your body forward with great speed and power.

Your right leg creates the quickness in your body that makes your arms move with real speed. The assumption here is that you are following the relaxation principle and your shoulders are limp at the top of your back swing. All of these principles are interdependent and rely on each other for success. If your arms are working to create the downswing your right leg won't be able to do its job. Only if your shoulders are relaxed can your right leg do its work and create the speed and consistency you want. Either your arms work or your legs work, but your legs and arms can't both work at the same time. When your legs do the work and your arms are relaxed followers, you will hit a lot of very good shots.

Get Out and Use Your Swing

Now that you know what the swing is, I want you to go use it. I don't want you to try to perfect it. I want you to forget all about it and go play golf and make good shots. You can -- and you will. You are no longer confused as to what the swing is. You can now hit shots with your swing, which is based on the five principles. Your swing does not -- and should not -- look like any other golfer's swing. It must express you and because you are unique, your swing must be unique. It must be based on the five principles and that MUST be the only similarity with any other golfer's swing.

Another great thing about the five Concept Golf swing principles is that they apply to every shot, with every club. I am leading you into the short game, the less-than-full shots with the wedges and putter. It is comforting, I'm sure, for you to now know that all swings for all clubs use exactly the same five simple principles.

Some of you may be under the impression that the small shots require little or no movement of the body in order to be able to hit the ball a short distance with accuracy. I want you to read this newsletter carefully and think about the ideas presented. They have worked for the best golfers, the best Tour players, forever.

Delicate shots require lower body strength. Do you throw a dart with your arm? No! Not that its heavy, but accuracy is much greater when the legs are used. Do you throw a horse shoe with your arm? No! It's not so heavy that you couldn't, but you are more accurate in both distance and direction when you use your legs to move your body in order to move your arms to throw the horse shoe.

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