There are a number of age-old sayings in golf that are not at all helpful for playing better golf. “Swing Slow” “Keep your head down” etc. Today I want to talk to you about “Loading the right side.” The phrase itself is not bad advice but the interpretation is where golfers get in trouble. Literally, someone with a surface level knowledge of the swing will undoubtedly interpret loading the right side with a continuous flow of weight into the right (trail side) during the backswing. This thinking leads to golfers that begin the transition while still having 60 even 80% of their weight still on the trail leg. This complicates the golfers ability to synchronize impact, is a huge power leak and generally forces the golfer to work in what I can only call an unathletic motion.
Think about all other throwing, swinging, hitting sports and how you would use your legs. If you were to throw a ball, swing a tennis racket, throw a punch or swing an axe at a tree, before the body makes any rotation towards the target the lead leg is established as the pivotal axis of rotation. Go ahead, stand up and pretend you are going to hit a tennis forehand, or pretend to throw a ball. These motions perhaps make more sense because we lift the lead foot and even take a small step towards the target. You will notice however that while you are making this little step your upper body is not yet rotating. The upper body in all these motions does not begin until the lead leg has been established as the axis that you will then rotate around.
Therefore, lets discuss when the backswing actually ends and the forward swing begins. Once there is rotation towards the target begins I think we would all agree that the backswing is over and the forward swing has begun. So, the backswing is NOT completed when you are loaded in your right side. In fact, when the backswing is competed the golfer should have returned to roughly a 50/50 weight distribution. When this is the case we can be certain than any rotation in the forward direction will be done on the lead leg rather than trying to get into the left side as the upper body, arms and club are already racing towards the ball.
As you are processing this, let me answer the question I always get when I have this conversation with a student. Yes, the lower body is already starting to move towards the target while the upper body is still moving away from the target. We do this in all sports. The tennis racquet is still moving away from the target as you step into your front foot. The quarteback’s arm is moving backwards as he strides into his left side. That same sequence should be happening in golf.
In the pictures below, Pic. #1 is what I tend to see in many golfers. The weight has been loaded into the trail leg and the golfer will struggle to get to a consistent impact position.
In Pic. #2 you can see that I have “re-centered” which is the end of the backswing.
One final note, I am not advocating a golf swing that works only on the left leg. The weight flowing through the right side and into the left is a source of power. I would not want to eliminate that. The key here is that the weight flows through the trail side and into the lead side as opposed to accumulating in the trail leg.