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Golf pro tip: Pay attention to your feet

October 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Golf lovers spend all kinds of time, energy and money on their game. And one of the biggest challenges is perfecting their swing. Some professionals claim the answer lies in the feet.

The hips, the grip, your eye on the ball -- so much is involved in that perfect swing. The one area most don't pay attention to but should is the feet.

"One of the things that I see as an instructor quite frequently is, we refer to as a 'lower body sway,'" said Mike Katz, manager of GolfTEC in Woodland Hills.

Katz says flat feet or tight, rigid ankles can lead to "over-shifting."

"They'll end up either hitting the ground first or the swing arc will bottom out too early and they'll end up hitting it off the bottom of the club," said Katz.

That's known as a "top shot" or a shot that rolls along the ground. Neither is good.

Another error is a forward lower body thrust, which moves the body closer to the ball, causing a "shank." That move that also stems from rigid feet.

"I don't think many people think about the foot in the golf swing when you have the arms moving, the spine, the hip and so many other body parts going," said O'Real Cotton, a physical trainer at Propel Physical Therapy in Woodland Hills.

But Cotton says easy corrective exercises can fix foot failure and help build a solid foundation in the swing.

"So when you take the club back you have an ability for your foot to, what we call, 'unlock,'" said Cotton. "So the foot unlocks and it really just turns on the system. We get the hip to move, if the hip moves well, the spine moves well, and we'll be able to perform better on the golf swing."

So try this:

"Standing on one leg, rotating a little bit, and get the foot to lock and unlock, or basically pronate, supinate, roll in, and roll out. Very simple," said Cotton.

Golfers also need to stretch hip flexors through rotation.

"The last one is tying it all together, so a nice rotational thing that gets the foot moving, the knee, the hip, the spine, and lastly, the neck," said Cotton.

All done before teeing up to the first hole.

Now even if you don't golf, these exercises are worth a try because the more mobile your feet are, the easier it is to do other sports and even easy things like walking and running.

"So these foot mobility things, you've got to have a mobile foot anytime you do anything standing up, so walking, running, jogging, jumping, all those things," said Cotton.

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