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Chi-Power Golf Part 21 - Mastering your footwork

Jayne Storey’s chi-power GOLF is based on simple, timeless principles which are proven to enhance your mental game and help you perform your best on the golf course. Here she discusses the benefits of Tai Chi footwork to achieve a more fluid and powerful swing

Jack Nicklaus always said that golf is played with the feet. This resonates with principles from the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi because the flowing movements of Tai Chi are “rooted in the feet”, in exactly the same way as a fluid, powerful golf swing.

Rooting is one of the most important things in life. A tall building must have a strong and firm base. A successful company needs a good foundation. A healthy plant requires a healthy root. Yet rooting is often misunderstood as stability, when it really means mobility.

Roots in all plants and trees are in constant movement and your feet must move even when you’re standing still as the expansion and contraction of your toes activates muscles in your body all the way to the top of your head.

To produce a fluid yet powerful golf swing you need a strong base in your foot. Once the foot provides a firm, reliable base, the other parts of the body can relax and move freely and effectively. The foot itself should not be too relaxed or loose, but should give you a feeling of firm compression into the surface on which you are standing. Here’s how.

Developing your root

To ensure the foot is rooted, the three points on the medial or inner aspect of the sole are of particular importance. The first point is the big toe; the other two points are on the inner part of the heel and the inner part of the ball of the foot. These points are on opposite sides of the instep. In Tai Chi these points are called “the three active nails.” When the foot is rooted, these three points grip like three nails penetrating the ground.

The three active nails

“The 1st nail is like a rudder of a ship, the 2nd like the engine, the 3rd like the anchor which 'keeps the frame' of each movement.”
- Tai Chi Grandmaster Chen

By concentrating on the three nails, and therefore keeping your weight in the inside of the foot, you can enhance your golf swing and avoid some common injuries. The most significant of these are injuries to the knee. When golfers let too much weight rest on the middle or outside of the foot, they get ‘knee-wobble’ which can cause stress to the knee.

When turning the body while winding up, for example, do not let your foot roll out so the weight is on the outside of the foot and the big toe lifts up. Keep all three nails of the substantial (weight-bearing) foot connected to the ground with the knee directly above the first two nails. At the same time, do not let either foot pronate, or roll inward so that the outside edge lifts away from the ground. Just practice finding the most relaxed and easy alignment with gravity.

The three nails align with the weight-bearing centreline of your body, which is the line of least resistance, greatest economy of movement, and greatest power.

In turn, a relaxed body and quiet mind will ease the joints, soften the muscles, and allow the inner energy (chi) to flow easily and the body to move freely, all without interrupting the root.

To learn more about Chi-Power Golf, visit where you can find out about personal tuition, talks and workshops, and also sign up for a free newsletter, "The Mindful Golfer".

To contact Jayne Storey, ring 07986 447250

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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