The words weight shift can cause a lot of confusion. For starters, a weight shift isn't something that you should forcibly do; rather, during the swing, your body weight should shift naturally as you make a proper turn. Any manipulation of weight from side to side is a mistake.
Here, we have three scenarios. In the pair of photos below, I've forcibly shifted (slid, actually) my weight away during my backswing. Not only does this move inhibit a good turn, but my body needs to slide back to the ball in order to make contact, which means I'll likely start to slide too far forward and end up missing the ball. This excessive sliding back and forth will rob my swing of consistency.
Conversely, some golfers restrict a natural weight shift on the backswing, (as shown in the bottom pair of photos on the left page). This is called a reverse pivot, where my weight actually moves away from the ball through the downswing—another big no-no.
The correct way to shift your weight is to understand that a weight shift means placing the majority of your weight over your back foot on the backswing and over the forward foot on the downswing. A weight shift isn't a weight shift from side to side; instead, it's a weight shift from leg to leg. Doing it right doesn't mean you have to shift laterally. It means that as you turn away from the ball, your body weight will shift naturally to the back leg, and as you unwind on the downswing, it will shift naturally to the forward leg.
Practice shifting your weight without forcing your body to slide, and you'll soon see that more consistent shots are a lot easier to pull off.
Frank O'Connell, PGA, teaches at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Arizona. For a lesson, visit smartlessons.com.