Squash the Sponge to Start Down
One of the most common questions asked about the golf swing is how best to start my downswing? The change over from backswing to downswing is referred to as the transition and what most people will agree with is that it is an important part of the swing in terms of efficient creation and use of power particularly in the timing of the swing.
Movement of our weight is a three-dimensional concept but sometimes in simpler terms can be measured in relation to how we act against the ground both laterally and rotationally. Using this simple feeling of lateral weight transfer we can create triggers like this one for starting the downswing. For the right-handed golfer, as you start down you need to feel your weight going straight through your left foot and into the ground. In essence, you’re using the ground as the resistance and platform to generate power. To get a feel for this, try the sponge drill (or wet bag towel drill) on the range. Once you have the sensation of this you can use it as a trigger to hit normal shots. Once you have created the feelings and awareness associated with this drill you will be able to this without the props of a sponge or wet towel.
Place a thick, rectangular sponge under the front half of your left foot. As you turn back, you should feel some pressure on the sponge, in other words your weight does not come completely off the sponge. As you change direction and swing down, the pressure should increase dramatically, and you should be aware of squashing the sponge into the ground. This slight lateral movement of weight should trigger off the movement of rotation that spirals up through the body starting off a sequence that builds tremendous energy into your arms and the club and setting you up for a powerful action. One thing to note here is that it is only the initial downswing movement where the weight will go to the front (ball) of the foot, as the rotation kicks in the weight on the left foot will move towards the heel area of the foot.
In the era of using technology, force plates or pressure mats are used to show detailed feedback of how people react to the ground in a swing. However, using a simple constraint like the sponge or towel we can create awareness how we move in their swing, but the idea here is primarily one of developing a basic trigger that we can take to the course.