Leg Action In The Golf Swing: Is This The Key To Better Strikes?

PGA pro Gary Alliss explains the importance of the correct leg action in the golf swing

Neil Tappin hitting a drive
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

If you often wonder how to get more power in your golf swing, improving your leg action could be the answer. In the video and article below, PGA pro Gary Alliss heads to the beach to explain the importance of weight shift and showcase a unique way to practise a better lower half move...

Your weight should be spread roughly 50/50 at address. For all but the shortest of shots, you should move around two thirds to three quarters of your weight on to the right foot at the top of the backswing.

The transition down is a gentler move, similar to a sprinter on the blocks when they go to ‘set’, and he lifts his backside into the right position. When it comes to weight distribution in the golf swing, around 90 per cent of your weight transfers to the lead foot as you hit through the impact zone.

Learn from other actions

The leg action for skimming stones and hitting full golf shots is surprisingly similar, right from the set-up through to the weight shift. It’s a similar concept in other sports, too, such as javelin throwing. When you watch top players in those sports, they instinctively shift their weight on to the back leg, so their throwing centre is then automatically behind the release spot. However, the leg action in the golf swing seems to come less instinctively for many club players.

Common mistakes

Golfers often get into the wrong position at the top of the backswing. Rather than turning on to the right side and allowing their weight to go across, they keep too still, then get flat-footed through the ball.

Worse still, they shift their weight towards the target on the backswing, then fall back on to their right side through impact, usually because they lock the right knee – a classic reverse pivot.

Keep the right levels

Everything below the belt is the platform from which you play, and that platform has to be wide enough. It’s then about keeping your levels. I don’t mind the legs moving right to left – to a degree they need to – but what I don’t want to see is any up-and-down movement.

The angle in the right knee must stay pretty constant to keep the right levels. If it locks out, it changes the height of the hips and shoulders; if it sways away to the right you’ll probably have too much sideways movement on the way back.

Practise barefoot

A great way to improve your balance and leg action is to practise barefoot. You need a little bit of purchase on the ground still, but if you drive across too much from right to left you’ll slip. If you maintain your balance, you’ll find you can hit the ball nearly as far as with your shoes on.

Gary Alliss
Top 50 Coach

Location: Various (south coast)

Gary began his PGA training at Trevose, where, in 1983, he became head professional. In 2005, he joined The Belfry, where he managed a team of 35 PGA professionals. He's travelled the world several times over, working extensively in Slovakia, Ghana and Israel, and from January 2022 he will be will be taking over his father's position as patron of England and Wales Blind Golf Society.

Teaching philosophy:

Sound fundamentals. Aim and alignment, grip where the hands work together; good posture to promote balance; and set a sound swing plane. The game is about moving the ball forwards. The ball doesn't know who's holding the stick - all it knows and reacts to is impact. Get impact correct consistently and you can play golf quite well.

Greatest teaching influence:

My grandad, Percy. He taught me to play and a great deal of what I learned from him in the 1950s I still tell pupils today. And John Jacobs and Alex Hay, both of whom delivered the message in simple language. They were excellent demonstrators and wonderfully articulate. 

Greatest success story:

A lady (Valerie Stock) came to me fearing she'd never see her husband during their retirement if she didn't learn to play. She booked two lessons per week for three months, but she just couldn't hit a ball. Suddenly she stopped coming. Four  weeks later, and after practising in her garden, she rebooked - and sure enough she could play. Before we could progress, she emigrated. Three years later, Valerie walked into the golf shop and told me she was playing off 19, saying everything I told her just took a long time to process!