My Golf Instructor

Stabilize Your Legs For Power and Control
Use Your Legs the Right Way

Over Active Legs Backfire
Learn how stable legs and a controlled lower body helps you increase power and accuracy.  Maintain a Stable Base

Many of you have heard the famous quote "Golf is played on your feet and in between your feet." Or perhaps you heard Jack Nicklaus say golf is played inside your feet. Either way, skilled players know that it's important to not sway side to side outside of your stance and to keep grounded during the golf swing. We get a lot of energy and force for our golf swing from the ground. For this reason your feet and legs are important power transmitters. The key is to use them in the right way. Like everything else in life, too much of something can backfire. This couldn't be more true of the legs in the golf swing. Sure we need to move our legs and drive them for power in the downswing, but overactive legs are actually much more detrimental than under active legs. Far more people have over active legs than quiet legs when they swing. When we over use the legs in the backswing the following swing faults are likely to occur:

  • Reverse Pivot
  • Reverse Weight Shift
  • Sway
  • Loss of Balance
  • Lack of Coil
  • Off Plane Swing

This is to just name a few faults as the list can go on and on. Of course it works the same way for the downswing and follow through. All of the same errors can occur and the results will vary from blocked shots, pulls, topped shots to chunks. Any kind of consistency with over active legs is nearly impossible.

I have found in my years of teaching that while all types of people are capable of being sloppy with their legs the ones that over use the legs and hips the most are junior golfers. I believe this is because when we are young we run, skip, jump, bike and skate. We are constantly using our lower bodies and therefore, that section of our body has a lot of strength. Before we are fully grown, we don't have all that much upper body strength,especially girls. It's not like little kids are doing pull ups and push ups all day long unless they are a gymnast or play football, so it's natural for them to want to use the strongest part of their body for power. With adults I find that over using the legs is more of a physical limitation due to tightness and lack of flexibility.

Everything In Moderation

The problem is over use of the lower body is a law of diminishing returns. As I stated before, we want the lower body to fire first in the downswing, but at some point it needs to slow and put on the breaks to transfer the momentum to the upper body. When there is too much hip/leg slide, the upper body lags behind and then you have a lethargic golf club that has no energy to transfer to the ball.

During the backswing your lower body's job is to provide a stable base for which the upper body can coil around. The legs and hips should be reactive, reacting to the coil of the upper body. They should not be proactive and move on their own. It's important, for this reason, to set up correctly in your starting position and establish that stable base right out of the box. We do this by forming a nice triangle with our legs. At set up, our hip sockets are inside of our knees and our knees are inside of our feet making a triangle shape. As long as you maintain this shape throughout the backswing you will be stong, balanced and stable with your lower body.

The Situation:

You want to make sure that you have a stable lower body throughout your golf swing.

The Solution:

When you set up to the ball make sure that you establish a good triangle of balance with your lower body. This means your hip sockets should be inside of your knees and your knees inside of your ankles. Next, try using a range basket or ball such as a soccer ball to help keep your knees stable. Place the basket between your knees and keep the front of the basket pointing at your golf ball while you coil your shoulders on the backswing. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the ground. A little movement of the basket is allowed as we obviously want to make a little coil with the hips, but keep this to a minimum. The ultimate goal is to turn your shoulders twice as far as your hips. Remember on the downswing you do want to fire your hips, but then they need to slow so the upper body and club can accelerate through. If you are having big problems with overactive legs on the downswing check out our section called Diagnosing Problems for drills to help correct this.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
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