There’s nothing worse than losing your balance mid-swing. You’ve been there before — whether you lose focus or don’t set up properly, you miss the shot you planned because you lost your balance.
Clinical exercise physiologist Phil Stotter, Director of Sports Science at V1 Sports, says that balance goes hand-in-hand with consistency in golf like in any sport. Stotter has spent his career researching the importance of postural control in sports and has focused specifically on its impact on your golf game.
While you may never have heard of it, postural control should be at the center of your game. Put simply, it is the body's ability to maintain stability when you perform a given activity. In golf, it is your ability to repeat the same action—specifically your swing—over and over again while maintaining your balance. It allows you to maintain your connection to the ground and understand how different factors impact your overall balance.
According to Stotter, postural control is what separates a pro swing from an amateur swing. Stotter says, “the pros are able to control their body and create an accurate, consistent swing every time they do it. And this isn't just golf, this is pros in every sport. They're extremely consistent at their actions, and that's what really separates them from the rest of us.” Have you ever hit a dream shot off the tee, then flubbed the next nine (or seventeen)? Postural control is what you were missing.
So what creates postural control? The ability to adapt and react. If you watch a professional golfer hitting downhill, one foot in the sand one foot out, or in any uneven base position, their swing looks exactly the same. This is because they have the ability to adapt and react to their environment while using the same body movements that make their swing successful.
While you may never go pro like Sepp Straka pictured above, working to add balance to your game is the best strategy for creating consistent results, and according to Stotter, the easiest step to improve balance is to improve your gear. Stotter says, “Let's not put on a stylish or flashy shoe that I’m not able to perform in. There's a reason why there are certain insoles that allow us to have greater balance. There's a certain reason why certain shoes were made for balance and fall reduction.”
In golf, your feet are a key area for your physical performance, acting as the center of gravity for your body. Think of your center of gravity as the sweet spot on your club. If you don’t have the proper gear and technique, you’ll never hit the sweet spot. Finding balance in your swing is the same. If you don’t have the proper footwear and focus on postural control, you’ll never tap into your center of gravity and find balance. Creating a stable center of gravity creates balance, and the way to do that starts at foot level and training proper foot natural function in the proper gear.
Understanding the importance of having the right sports-specific shoe and the relationship between you and the ground is key to understanding balance. Your shoe dictates how well you perform, so you have to make sure it fits perfectly.
“A proper shoe on someone's foot will drastically improve their postural control. Because golf is a static sport where I'm standing still and then taking action, I want a shoe that gives me the greatest amount of stability when I’m in a static position for a great shot.” Stotter says.
Next time you second-guess your swing or follow through, consider looking down. Are the shoes you’re wearing designed to increase your postural control, or are they just built for squishy comfort? Stotter says, “the first step to better balance is making sure I'm not decreasing or creating disadvantages for myself because I'm wearing the wrong equipment.”