If you play golf then at some stage in your golfing career someone has probably told you to keep your head still. In many other sports that we play we are asked to hit a moving ball, and it is far easier to hit a moving ball when you keep your head and thus eyes as still and level as possible. With the object you are trying to hit in motion, having your head also moving makes focusing on the ball that much more difficult and thus it is harder to hit the ball cleanly.
In golf however the ball is stationary. It is important for you to keep your head on the same level during the swing as up and down movement of the head is a reflection of your body movement and thus swing centre moving up and down. If your upper body lifts up in the back swing then it must move down an equal amount in the downswing in order for you to make contact with the ball. It is far simpler for you to keep your body at the same angles as at address and thus keep your head level during the swing. Level but not still.
In your address position your weight is evenly distributed between the left and right feet. As you make your back swing, as in any other sports where you are trying to propel an object forward, there is a weight transfer to the rear leg. In golf we make this shift by rotating the upper body over a stable lower body.
Attempting to keep your head still while trying to make a back swing can result in a couple of moves that are detrimental to good ball striking. The hips could slide and your weight will either move to the outside of the rear foot, or fall back onto the front foot, depending on your levels of flexibility. In doing this you have placed a great deal of pressure on your lower back and hips which over time can become painful. You have also not loaded your body correctly behind the ball, effectively losing balance and your ability to use your whole body to hit the shot, resulting is a loss of distance.
In an athletic back swing, the player will maintain the upper body flex from the hips created at address and allow the upper body to pivot around the right hip. In doing so the head will move slightly further from target than its position at address, the weight will move to the inside of the right foot and there will be a definite loading around the right thigh. The work I have done on our GolfBiodynamics 3D system shows that the best players move their heads anywhere from 0.5 to 3 inches away from the heads’ address position during the back swing.
A great drill for you to learn the correct head movement during the swing is to use your shadow. In your address position be sure the sun is at your back so that your shadow falls on the ground in front of you. Note on the ground where your shadow falls and then turn into your backswing by turning the upper body until the left shoulder is above the inside of the right knee. The left shoulder should turn slightly lower than the right. You will notice that the weight has shifted to the inside of the right foot and that your head has moved to the right during the backswing, as it should.
So the next time a well-meaning friend mentions that you are moving your head and you should keep it still, don’t change anything and take it as a compliment. The head should be moving laterally during the swing, but it should not be moving up and down.