A Guide to Weight Shift in the Golf Swing | WhysGuy's Corner – WhyGolf

Have you recently started playing golf? Are you an experienced player tired of taking longer than your golf friends to get around the course? Everyone is competitive, it’s in our nature. No matter what task is at hand, we always strive to do our best. It’s no different when it comes to playing golf.

So, maybe it is time to take action into your own hands and improve your golf handicap. Not only will you feel more confident on the course, with better results when you get to the clubhouse, improving your game will give your physical health and wellbeing a boost too. 

1. Warm Up

Studies have shown up to 62.5% of golfers never perform a warm-up routine prior to their golf practice, despite the positive physiological and performance benefits associated with implementing this into their pregame routine. Such benefits include: reduced risk of injury, improved muscle strength and power, improved rate of force development and reaction time, improved coordination. Moreover, each of the movements performed in the warm up should be dynamic. Dynamic movements have greater performance benefits than static stretching which has been shown to reduce muscle power output prior to exercise. The ‘RAMPapproach has shown performance enhancement qualities and is as follows:

  • Raise – body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood flow and joint fluid viscosity
  • Activate – key muscle groups
  • Mobilise – key joints and range of motion specific to the sport
  • Potentiate – high intensity dynamic exercises to mimic performance

2. Mobility – Motion Is Lotion

Golfers require adequate flexibility for a long flowing swing. The main areas a golfer requires mobility are their hips, shoulders and middle part of their back (thoracic spine). Good flexibility through all of these joints allows the body to rotate further on the axis that the club travels around. Greater rotation means a longer arc for the club to follow through which has numerous performance benefits including hitting the ball further and potentially adopting a better swing rhythm.


Some golfers may be unable to lift one/or both arms up high enough above their head, these asymmetries can affect both their backswing and follow through. These restrictions may be a result of muscular tightness (pectorals, lats, posterior rotator cuff), joint tightness (glenohumeral joint capsule) or even a lack of strength in key muscle groups (scapular retractors, rotator cuff muscles, serratus anterior).

Thoracic Spine

Many golfers lack flexibility through their thoracic spine. As we get older we tend to stiffen up in this area. Without sufficient rotation in the thoracic spine the entire swing relies on only hip and shoulder movement, Consequently reducing the arc size the club head has to work within. Reduced mobility may also increase shearing forces on the lumbar spine which may lead to different movement patterns, muscular imbalances and potentially pain further down the line. 


The hip joints are a major contributor to rotating the body in a golf swing. Particularly the front of the hip as it has to turn inwards during the follow through of a golf swing. It can be very difficult to improve internal rotation mobility for some individuals as hip joint architecture or bony abnormalities can restrict movement in this direction. However many golfers just have tight hip joint muscles (hip flexors, glutes), joint capsules or ligaments restricting their movement.

3. Strength – Build Strength And Resiliency

Resistance training should be performed a minimum of twice a week in order to improve strength or power. The main areas that we need to look at strengthening for golfers are the upper leg muscles and core musculature.

Even though a lot of the swinging happens with the arms, most of the power generated in a golf swing actually comes from the hips and core. Imagine in the backswing that the body is being wound up like a rubber band. The unwinding should start at the hips and pelvis then culminate in the arms and hands generating clubhead speed.

Hip Strengthening

Strong hip muscles benefit golfers in two ways. One is the generation of power, the other is surviving the 5-6 km round trip on the course .There are a bunch of small muscles that surround the hip providing stability and support, but we are more interested in the bigger ones known as the glutes. They serve 2 major functions, that is to rotate the hip which is very useful for a powerful golf swing, and the other is to pull the leg through when walking or running (propulsion).

Core Strengthening

Core muscles is a fairly broad term that applies to most of the muscles in the abdomen and spine region. We don’t need rock hard abs to have a good golf swing. However, what we do need is good back extensors and obliques strength endurance. The back extensors help maintain a good posture during stance and throughout the swing. Whereas, the main function of the obliques involves rotating the thorax which is crucial for generating a powerful golf swing.

If you can build up strength in these muscle groups you will be less likely to develop fatigue in your swing towards the end of a round and will comfortably hit the fairway from start to finish.

4. Technique – Practice Your Swing! 

Pretty straightforward but golfers must practice their golf swing and form to achieve a better swing and ultimately reduce their handicap. Practice makes perfect after all, it’s just the law of specificity.
The golf swing is an art that involves multiple moving segments (your arms, legs and the golf club) around one stable link (your core). A breakdown in any one of those segments can ruin your day and even your season.

Additionally, swinging a golf club requires moving at a very high speed in a short amount of time, increasing the risk of injury. So going to the driving range, practising your pitch and putt or even taking lessons; it’s important to get into the swing of things (excuse the pun!) sooner rather than later to reduce your handicap.

5. Aerobic Fitness – Improve Your Stamina

The average length of a golf course is just over 6 km. So, with that being said, after carrying clubs over your shoulders or pulling/pushing a golf cart for that distance, some golfers might feel exhausted approaching the 18th hole. Therefore, it’s vital that golfers have an adequate baseline fitness to cover the distances required on the golf course to prevent fatigue setting in and affecting their performance.

The national guidelines for physical activity in Ireland suggests individuals should carry out a minimum of 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week (able to hold a conversation) e.g. brisk walk, cycling or 75-150 mins of vigorous aerobic activity a week (unable to hold a conversation) e.g. fast tempo jogging, swimming for additional cardiovascular health benefits.

6. Equipment

Reduce strain by using the right equipment. Golfing gear such as your shoes, clubs and bag are meant to ease the work, not cause additional strain. Therefore reduce strain by fitting the clubs to the golfer, not the golfer to the clubs. Also here’s a few tip on how to effortlessly move around the course to reduce the likelihood of developing golf related aches and pains:

  • Always carry your golf bag over both shoulders and walk upright. If you have a one-strap system, alternate sides often
  • Push rather than pull wheeled golf carts
  • Hold your clubs clubs with a loose, comfortable grip to reduce straining your hands and forearms
  • When standing for long periods, stand tall, not slouched and occasionally shift your weight from one foot to the other, or rest one foot on your golf bag or cart.

7. Sleep Supplementation

Does dreaming about playing golf make you a better player? Not necessarily, however our ability to perform on the golf course is directly impacted by the quality of your sleep. In fact, poor quality or lack of sleep directly impacts your fitness both physically and mentally which is detrimental to your performance.

Golfers need quality sleep for their body to repair and recover from exercise and especially from playing a round of golf. It’s also required to enable golfer’s to think well and use the mental skills they’ve developed to full effect on the golf course. Research suggests anywhere between 8-10 hours of shut-eye is the desired amount of rest golfers should aim to achieve every night to maximise their performance capabilities.

8. Cool Down

Following your game, and before heading home it’s advised to stretch again in order to reduce the severity of subsequent muscular aches and pain known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), as well as to work on any flexibility issues you may individually have.

To cool-down it is better to use static stretches, rather than the dynamic stretches performed in the warm up. All you have to do is slowly take your muscles to the end of their range of motion and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. You should feel slight resistance in the muscle as you stretch it, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.

An adequate warm-up and cool-down routine for golf can mean the difference between a good game and a great game, so next time you are heading out to the green don’t forget to factor in enough extra time for you to both prepare and cool-down your body; your muscles, joints and score card will thank you for it in the long run!

So there you have it, 8 sure fire ways to improve your golf swing and reduce your handicap. Be sure to try and implement these suggestions into your schedule and practise them consistently. Before you know it you’ll be walking down the fairway in Augusta with your green jacket on!

It’s important that if, on your way to success, you become aware or concerned regarding any aches or pains to contact your local Chartered Physiotherapist and book an assessment in order to prevent any long-term issues developing that may affect your performance down the line. 


Written By:
Spectrum physio Ireland

Ways To Improve Your Golf Swing & Reduce Your Handicap

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