Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The Power Lock Stance

by Joe Davidson

The Power Lock Stance

The Power Lock Stance was designed to give you a very stable base to hit from and to keep the lower body quiet yet allow some hip turning also. Keeping the “power brace” pushing into the front leg effectively prevents the front hip from opening up and causing pulls. The result is this is a great stance to increase your distance and cure pulling problems. What we are doing is setting you up at address in your actual impact position. This makes it much easier to get back to the correct position at impact.

Most golfers find this stance helps them feel more athletic at address. This stance is also quite helpful in reducing common backswing faults such as swaying and other extraneous movements in the lower body. Most people will gain distance and accuracy with this stance because the increased stability will reduce swing errors and boost their confidence in their swing.

CORE TURN
The Power Lock Stance will also help you to learn to turn your core (shoulders, chest & abdomen) around your spine. The turning of your core powers your arms (and the club) through the ball with little lower body movement.

FRONT HIP HINGE VS BACK HIP HINGE
The turning of the upper body begins the backswing and then continuing in the backswing about the time the club shaft reaches horizontal the turning of the upper body pulls the back hip back away from the ball enabling a nice full turn. This means that in the Power Lock Stance the front hip is the hinge or pivot that the hips turn around as oppose to using the back hip as the hinge or pivot as so many golfers do. Using the front hip as the hinge or pivot point is equally as powerful as turning around the back hip yet it requires much less time or coordination to hit consistently straight shots

HOW TO SET UP IN THE POWER LOCK STANCE

FLARE YOUR BACK FOOT
With this stance you address the ball and flare your back foot out 45 degrees as usual. You stance should be just a little bit wider than shoulder width. Your weight should be on the balls of your feet. (You can do the Power Lock Stance with a square back foot but you are in danger of over rotating your hips resulting in pulled shots.)  You front knee should be slightly bent.

SHIFT YOUR HIPS FORWARD (TOWARD THE TARGET)
Next and this is important – you will need to shift your hips towards the target so your front hip is almost (but not quite) over your front ankle. You front hip should be inside your front ankle. If you get your front hip directly over your front ankle you’ll be weakening your ability to post or brace into your front leg reducing your power.

Remember your hips shift toward the target NOT your whole upper body. You spine should wind up tilted away from the target at about a 20 to 25 degree angle. Your head should be back over your back knee. (As you shift your hips forward you should see your back knee shifting to a position under your head.)

THE LOCK
Flare you back foot then you lift the weight of your back heel. The weight should be on the ball or front part of your back foot.  I know this will feel a little different but do it anyway. THEN YOU SHOULD PUSH WITH YOUR BACK LEG FIRMLY INTO YOUR BRACED FRONT LEG. You should feel the pressure or pushing against the front leg on the outside of your front foot. It should almost (but not quite) feel like your foot is going to roll over to the outside (You’ll feel the top of each thighs tensing slightly as your legs push against each other.) The opposing tension of the back leg pushing forward and the front leg pushing backward helps stabilize your lower body keeping the lower body from becoming overactive especially in the backswing. This is the “Lock” part of the stance. It should feel like you are trying to slide your feet away from each other, pushing or sliding the front foot toward the target and pushing or sliding the back foot away from the target.

There are a number of reasons for having the back foot flared. First flaring the back foot dramatically reduces the tendency to sway in the backswing. Secondly, the flared foot weakens the tendency to over rotate the hips, opening the front hip and pulling shots to the left. Thirdly, it makes it more likely you’ll correctly hit (or brace) into the front leg through impact. I’m repeating this again for emphasis, “YOU NEED TO FEEL YOUR WEIGHT ON THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR FRONT FOOT.”

POWER BRACE WITH YOUR LEGS
THE KEY TO POWER BRACING IS HAVING EACH LEG PUSH AGAINST THE OTHER LEG AND FEELING THE PUSH OR WEIGHT ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE FRONT FOOT. The two legs pushing or bracing against each other is what stabilizes your stance. You should feel tension from the pushing in the tops of both thighs.

KEY POINTS
1. YOU MUST CONTINUALLY THE PUSH INTO THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR FRONT FOOT WITH YOUR BACK LEG TO GET THE BENEFIT OF THIS STANCE.  YOU PUSH INTO THE FRONT FOOT UNTIL YOU FEEL YOUR FRONT FOOT ALMOST START TO ROLL OVER ONTO ITS SIDE!
2. DON’T START YOUR BACKSWING UNTIL YOU SHOULD FEEL EACH LEG PUSHING AGAINST THE OTHER.

DON’T GO TOO WIDE WITH THIS STANCE.
Your stance should be a little wider than shoulder width. You should be able to easily finish facing the target and up on the toe of your back foot. You should feel yourself hitting into that front leg through impact. If you go too wide you’ll leave too much weight on your back leg, have trouble bracing intot the front leg and wind up pivoting around your back hip (which opens your front hip) likely causing a pull.

FRONT KNEE SLIGHTLY BENT
Your front knee should be slightly bent. Whatever amount your front knee is bent at address that’s the amount of bend you should hold right through impact. In other words, “Don’t change the bend of your front knee until well after impact.”

A straight front leg works fine for golfers who don’t pull shots very often. However we find the slightly bent front knee work best for most all golfers. The bending of the front leg really is important in preventing the over-rotation of the hips which opens the front hip resulting in a pulled shot. It’s okay if your front knee turns back during the backswing as long as the amount of bend doesn’t change.

BACK KNEE BENT
Your back knee should start slightly bent and should stay slightly bent until it straightens on the downswing approaching impact. The pushing of the back leg into the front leg (with the front leg pushing back) should stabilize the lower body. As you club approaches horizontal on your backswing the turning of your core (shoulders, chest & abdomen) should start pulling the back hip back away from the ball. With your front knee slightly bent your front hip won’t really turn although it will move in slightly a couple inches (toward the ball) during your backswing.

BALANCE, STABLITY AND HIP ACTION
As long as you’re set up correctly with your hips forward but not quite over your front ankle then you don’t’ have to worry about balance (where your weight is). With the spine tilt there will be more weight on your back leg than on the front. That’s fine. our spine and head should stay relatively stable throughout the backswing and downswing. Your core (shoulders, chest & abdomen) just rotates around your spine.

PUSH INTO THE OUTSIDE OF THE FRONT FOOT
Feel the push of your back leg into your front leg. YOU SHOULD FEEL THE PUSH INTO THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR FRONT FOOT. It’s almost like your trying to roll your front foot over to the outside. When you do that you should feel the tops of both thighs tense slightly. When you push into that front leg what you are doing is stabilizing the lower body giving yourself a sold base to hit off of. If you don’t feel pressure in the outside of your front foot it’s likely that you don’t have your hips shifted forward (towards the target) correctly.

The turning of your core (shoulders, chest & abdomen) should still easily open the back hip (moving it away from the ball) but overall there will not be a lot of lower body motion. As I said “You must really push into the front leg to get the benefit of this stance”.

GOALS OF THE POWER LOCK STANCE
1. To increase your swing speed by giving you a stable, powerful base to hit from.
2. To reduce lower body motion (especially over-rotation of the hips) causing pulls and other inconsistencies.
3. To Learn to turn the core around the spine.
4. To give you a simple, repeatable yet powerful lower body action.

Using with the Power Lock Stance there is no weight shift (meaning center of gravity moving backward and forward) but there is a force shift where you should feel all of your weight and your power being thrown into your front leg through impact. Doing this Power Lock Stance is the quickest way to learn that feeling. If you don’t feel the weight going into the front leg through impact your stance may be too wide.

EXPECTATIONS
You’ll probably feel the Power Lock Stance is a little restrictive when you first set up. Hopefully you’ll come to see that is a very good thing.
The Power Lock Stance is designed to help you to make the correct swing motions. There is less chance of screwing the swing up with the Power Lock Stance because it encourages you to set up correctly, stabilizes you and then guides you to post into the front leg.  Most students seem to adapt well to this stance in less than 10 minutes. We have seen a significant increase in consistency with most students. We expected to see a slight fall off in distance but we are actually seeing some significant gains in distance which seems to be because the golfers feel more stable and more confident.

Questions and Answers

Q. Why is the spine tilted 25 degrees away from the target?

A.  Because that’s the position we want you to be in at impact. What we are doing with out address position is mimicking the impact position. At impact your hips will be forward with approximately a 25 degree spine tilt. By starting in the impact position it is much easier make your turn and then to get back to that position at the actual impact.

Q. Do you turn your hips?

A. Yes absolutely. However the turning of the hips is a little different (i.e., easier) that it is with the old fashioned golf swing. See The Symple Turn – A simplied lower body motion for the golf swing. http://simplegolf.com/blog/full-swing/lower-body-action/the-symple-turn-a-simplied-lower-body-motion-for-the-golf-swing/

Basically the turning of the core pulls the back hip back away from the ball in the middle of the backswing. The front hip acts as a hinge in this simplified turn.

Q. What do your want golfers to push into the outside of your front foot?

A. Pushing into the outside of your front foot stabilizes you. You have to keep the hips shifted forward to keep the pressure on the outside of the foot. If you sway backwards the pressure shifts to the middle or inside of the front foot.

Q. What happens if you don’t get your weight to the outside of the front foot? What if I just push into the inside of my front foot?

A. Getting the weight on the outside of the front foot helps you NOT open the front hip. If the weight is on the inside of the front foot some people will straighten the leg and open the front hip pulling the shoulders and the shot to the left (for a right handed golfer).

Q. Is there anything else you should be thinking of in the backswing?

Yes, you should remember the Swing Tracks Drill http://simplegolf.com/blog/simple-short-game/swing-tracks-drill-insures-youre-on-plane-everytime/ I recommend to students that they do a “Shoulder Waggle” http://simplegolf.com/blog/full-swing/basics-full-swing/set-up-waggle-or-shoulder-waggle-before-every-swing/ or two before every swing. I ask them to check their “hand line” and to make sure the butt of the club points at the extended target line during the backswing.

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