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Sunday, November 8, 2009

More About That Lead Leg

(PAY ATTENTION, RIGHTHANDERS! Normally I describe things as a righthander, and lefties have to transpose it. But Brian is a lefty and this is his project, so you righties will have to substitute “right” for “left” and vice versa. It will give you an appreciation for what lefties have to go through when they learn the game. But here’s a hint that will help: View any diagrams as if you were looking in a mirror.)

Yesterday I wrote about needing to “tone down” the leg action that starts your downswing, and about how it’s so easy to overdo the movement if you don’t. Today I want to look a bit closer at the action of the lead leg―the one that “opens up” on the downswing, as Brian put it.

The diagram below isn’t a perfect representation of what the lead leg does during the swing, but is close enough for you to get a good idea of how it should look. The position of the vertical dotted lines is consistent in each portion of the diagram, so you can see the relative changes. Think of those lines as the door jamb from the bump drill; you can use that door jamb to give you some tactile feedback about your position. By the way, that huge circle represents your hip, not a head!

Positions of the lead leg during the swing

At setup, both hips are balanced over the feet. That’s clear enough, right?

In the next picture, you’ve turned to the top of the backswing. The lead knee has moved forward a little, and the lead hip has moved forward and down. Bear in mind that the back hip has moved in the opposite direction (back and up), so you still feel balanced.

In the final picture, you’ve struck the ball and are moving into your finish position. Remember how I said the hip movement isn’t a “turn and slide” as you may have heard, but is more of a “back and across” move? Look closely at this picture. The lead knee has straightened considerably; see how it touches the dotted line (door jamb)? The lead hip has moved up and back, in keeping with the position I described in the bump post; the door jamb should touch your hip roughly halfway between the side seam of your jeans and the zipper.

And of course the back hip has moved forward and down, since your back knee is remains bent. (That was in the second leg action post. You should still feel balanced.

If it seems like I’m belaboring the point, I am. You simply MUST get your hip to turn on the downswing, not slide. It’s really important to get your leg action correct before you start working on the arm action, because the leg muscles are responsible for the larger movements; if the large movements are too big, the arms have to work too hard and you’ll develop complex timing problems. (Brian, can you say “twisting forearms”?)

I’m going to make this the last post of Series 2. This series ended up being totally devoted to leg action, and this seems like a good place to wrap it up. In these posts we’ve dealt with each leg separately, as well as with both together. Take some time to make sure you understand the concepts here, so you can get your lower body moving properly. I’ll devote Series 3 to arm action, and we’ll deal with Brian’s other questions then.


  1. I think you have the basis for your next book with all the posts of the last few weeks Mike.
    Sadly I played my last round of the year on Sunday - most of the courses up here are now closed.
    I am happy to report my last three rounds have been the best of the year.
    I think I should sport a Ruthless Golf hat at all times to show my thanks!

  2. Actually, Brian, I had the basis for the next book at the same time I wrote the first one!

    I'm glad to hear you finished your year on a high note. Perhaps having some extra time to just think about your swing will help you get off to a good start next year.

    Just to get you oriented, next week's series will deal with hand and arm action. If you've gotten your lower body action toned down a little, it should be pretty easy to sync up your arms and legs. Most upper body problems are caused when the lower body makes the spine move around too much.

    Since your year is over, the series of posts I start next week will probably be the last ones we do for a while. They should round out what we've talked about, so you have a complete picture of what you're trying to do when you pick it up again next year. If you have more problems then, let me know and we'll try to deal with them while they're fresh.