Health & FitnessMarch 22, 2012

Fitness Friday: Sean Foley improves your balance

*Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. This week he speaks with Sean Foley, who coaches Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan and, of course, Tiger Woods. So much of a good golf swing is about footwork and balance, says Foley. Look for Weekend Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman**.

Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

Here's Ron: Maintaining balance is often discussed as a key to making a good golf swing, but what you rarely hear about is proprioception. What is it? In short, it's your ability to know where your limbs are without looking. If you can type without looking at your hands, if you can run without looking at your feet, then you have functional proprioception.

I used the word "functional" because, unlike balance, which comes from fluids in the inner ear and is involuntary, you can increase your proprioception through training. It might seem like it's a subconscious activity because you have become so good at it. But what you might not know is that you can improve your proprioception and, in turn, improve your golf swing.

I spoke with Tiger Woods' swing coach Sean Foley about this subject the other day. He's a big believer in becoming a better player through footwork. When you swing the club, you probably give little, if any, thought to what your feet are doing. But many of the game's best players and ** teachers will tell you footwork is very important in hitting solid shots. It's the reason Sam Snead famously practiced in his bare feet, Foley says, or why Jack Grout told a young Jack Nicklaus to "roll your ankles."

You might think that since you're able to walk, run, jump without looking at your feet, they'll just come along for the ride when you swing the club. Truth is, they will. But if you spend some time training your feet, you can make your golf swing better.

One of the best ways to do this in the gym is to perform exercises on one leg or with your eyes closed. Safety, of course, should be your primary concern, so don't start lifting heavy weights blindfolded. But when you do one-legged exercises and/or movements with your eyes closed, focus on what you're feet are doing to control your body. This awareness will transfer when you play golf, and you'll begin to understand how your feet control your swing.

For more on the subject from Foley, click on this video below.

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*Ron Kaspriske

Fitness Editor

Golf Digest *

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