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Sunday, November 28, 2021

My Step-in-Place Drill

Earlier in the week I did a couple of posts with videos from Mike Malaska and Be Better Golf that focused on weight shift and footwork, and I promised to give you a drill of my own that might help you get a better handle on your own swing issues.

I call my drill the Step-in-Place drill because it tries to create a good feel for body movement during your swing similar to what a Step-Through drill does but without the excess movement that results from such drills. I'll give it to you in three steps so you can see how it's built.

The first step is simply to swing your arms. Chances are good you've done things like this since you were small. I actually remember doing something like this in elementary school as part of the calisthenics we did during phys ed. (We used it to loosen up a little before we actually had to do jumping jacks and stuff.) The diagrams below show your upper body from behind, so your right arm is on the right and your left arm is on the left. I did left-handed and right-handed diagrams because, while the movements are the same, the labels below the pictures show that the arm motion for a rightie's backswing is the leftie's downswing, and vice versa.

Arm swings are simple enough. On the backswing your lead arm swings forward and your trailing arm swings backward, and on the downswing they reverse.

In the first diagram below you can see that we're not turning our shoulders any. That's because I just want you to get the feel of swinging your arms. Note that we aren't swinging them straight forward and back either. We're swinging them at roughly a 45° angle across our body. When you do this you should lean slightly forward, as if you're addressing a golf ball, and you want to maintain that spine angle as you swing your arms.


Do this for a little bit, just to get the feel of the motion. You don't need a golf club to do this. What you want to feel is the rhythm and smoothness of the swinging... and I bet you'll feel a little footwork that creates a gentle weight shift as your weight moves slightly from one foot to the other. You won't have to try and feel it. It just happens because that's how our bodies naturally move.

Got it? Good. Let's move on to the second step, which is adding our shoulder turn.

As you can see, your shoulders turn so now your lead arm mimics the backswing of your golf swing and swings almost straight to the side -- away from your target if you actually intended to hit a golf ball.. Then on the downswing you turn into your followthrough and your trail arm swings almost straight toward the target.

Don't worry if you don't get a 90° shoulder turn; that's not the point here. We're just after a smooth swinging motion. Remember to keep your spine angle fairly constant as you do this. And your footwork will become more rhythmic and pronounced naturally because... well, that's how your body naturally works.


That's our basic backswing and downswing. Simple, right? After you've done that for a bit and feel comfortable with it, we'll add the final piece of the drill, the 'step-in-place.'

See the diagram below? This represents your trail foot. To start your backswing without stepping away from or toward the target -- in other words, we're going to mimic the footwork during your golf swing -- I want you to lift your trail heel slightly off the ground so your weight is on the big toe side of your trail foot. That's shown in black in the diagram below. 

To get your heel off the ground without lifting your trail hip or moving the rest of your body, just bend your trail knee slightly. It doesn't matter whether you bend it in toward your lead knee or bend it straight forward, just bend it a little bit so your heel comes off the ground and you can stay in that position for a few seconds.

You haven't taken the weight off your trail foot. You've just put the pressure on the front side of your foot. That's your start position.


Now, when you swing your arms and turn your shoulders into your backswing, let your trailing heel go to the ground and put your weight on your heel. That will give you a steady base on which to finish your shoulder turn and let your trail hip move backward instead of creating a sway with your body. Your lead heel is probably going to come off the ground when you do this and that's to be expected. But your upper body shouldn't move away from the target.

At the top of your backswing, just swing your arms and turn your shoulders and let your weight move naturally to your lead foot. From this point you're just making your followthrough.

You can practice this all you want this winter, in front of the TV, no club, just getting that rhythm into your body. And when the weather improves and you can go outside, use this motion with the L-to-L drill that I seem to recommend for almost every problem that plagues your swing. That way you can learn to match the body motion up to your golf swing.

This is a really simple drill intended to teach you how your body moves during a golf swing when you just let it move naturally and rhythmically. I think you'll be surprised at how much it can help.

1 comment:

  1. The JLPGA Tour Championship RICOH Cup, the final event of the pandemic induced 2020/2021 wraparound season, was claimed by Kana Mikashima by 4 shots. Player of the Year(s) honors went to Ayaka Furue while Mone Inami topped the money list.
    The men aren't quite finished in Japan just yet. The penultimate event of their wraparound season, the Casio World Open, was won by Mikumu Horikawa by 2 shots.