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Impact location by handicap

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I was teaching a PGA Tour professional the other day and while we were hitting drivers on the Trackman, I sprayed the face with Dr. Sholl’s Odor X in efforts to see the impact point on the club face. Just as I was doing this another student came into the learning center and asked me a question and while I was answering, the Tour pro continued to hit balls — around 10 or so until we could resume our work. Now that we could focus our efforts again, I wanted to reapply the spray to the face so that I could focus on his impact location.

As I walked over to wipe the face this is what I saw:

00Tour
PGA Tour professional impact location (10 shots)

After 10-or-more shots, the impact location was VERY consistent and it led me to thinking… What did other handicap level impacts look like after just five shots?

30
30 Handicap

25
25 Handicap

20
20 Handicap

15
15 Handicap

10
10 Handicap

7
7 Handicap

5
5 Handicap

0
0 Handicap

So what does this all mean from an observation standpoint?

  • The higher the handicap, the more random the impact location in general.
  • Radical horizontal off-center impact locations invoke gear effect, making shot curvature prediction impossible.
  • Extreme vertical off-center impact locations cause excessively high and excessively low spin rates, making driver distance vary dramatically.
  • Higher-handicap players tend to have swing plane issues, causing impact to be too high toward the crown of the club, leading to a the pop-up.
  • Mid-handicap players tend to have pivot issues that cause them to hit too much up on the ball, thus hitting shots that are topped, flat, or very low.
  • As handicap levels go down, players tend to find the center of the face more often.
  • As mid-handicap players move down to into the lower-teen handicap levels there tends to be a consistent impact location toward the toe or heel.
  • At the single-digit handicap levels, centered impact isn’t that big of a problem and gear effect is very minimal.
  • As the handicap lowers closer to zero, vertical impact location becomes increasingly important.
  • Tour players can easily control their vertical impact location to launch the ball with more or less spin depending on what type of shot they desire.
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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

87 Comments

87 Comments

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  2. Richard

    Aug 24, 2014 at 7:24 am

    I’m looking for this exact same data but for irons. Do you know if it exists? If not, can you do the same thing with a mid/high iron?

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  4. Joseph

    Apr 6, 2014 at 2:13 am

    If I apply the Dr. Scholls with a Left to Right Stroke will it make my Slice disappear or make it worse?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jun 25, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Dr scholl’s works better than impact tape which tends to skew the spin numbers and spin axis.

  5. Mark in Louisville

    Feb 20, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Finally a 70º day to try out the Dr. Scholls spray on the range. Thanks for the tip Tom. The stuff works like a charm providing me with accuracy feedback and is infinitely better than tape labels. Dr. Scholl’s better start making more of that spray because I think a lot more amateurs will be buying it up this season. Interestingly for me the majority of my impact locations are just to the toe side of center albeit not nearly as tight as the Tour Pro.

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 21, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Thank the early TrackMan guys for the dr scholl’s idea…just following their lead.

  6. Steve

    Feb 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Tom, I have a big problem : shank wedges. I hit driver well, 8-9 fairway s, mid- and long irons good, but repeatedly hit 45* right off the hosel with wedges. My hc went from 10 to 13.4. Very frustrating to bomb a good drive, pull out wedge and blast a hoselrocket off into the bushes! At the range, I tried gate drill with 2 tees, blasted toe tee off 20 yds. Slow swing, no good. Lined up with ball at toe, tried to hit toe, got dead center. Don’t know what to try next. Please help.

    • tom stickney

      Feb 17, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Tough to guess without seeing you, but make sure you are not picking up your wedges and/or falling into your toes on the way down

      • Steve

        Feb 19, 2014 at 6:21 pm

        Tom, thanks. I think I was falling forward towards the ball on my downswing. I concentrated on keeping my weight over my arches, and tried to make the wedge swing much more upright. Last 2 rounds were almost shank free. I slowed down my swing all around, but kept a full shoulder turn, trying to ensure a smooth release hitting the ball in the center of the club. Making solid contact as long as I don’t rush myself. Much happier!

        • Sboss1

          Feb 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

          The other main cause of shanks with the short clubs is the tendency to move your body too far forward on the downswing. This leads to the club running out of room and the hosel is all that is left to hit the ball. Stay behind the ball on all shots and that will go away.
          Your likely moving forward on other clubs as well but because they are longer, you catch enough club to prevent a shank. What tips me off that this may be your issue is the short length of the club and the fact that you shank wedges only. Good luck…

  7. Loz

    Feb 16, 2014 at 2:53 am

    I found my old steel shafted Maxfli Tour Ltd driver at my parents house over Christmas. Looking at the size of the face to these modern 460 heads some of these strikes might have been air shots or certainly off the end of the club head. I personally think my overall game has suffered since the introduction of these clubs with massive heads and overly long shafts. I used to be a pretty good ball striker (3 – 4 hcp 20 years ago) and would typically hit 10 – 12 fairways, 12 – 14 greens and shoot 72 – 75, par 71. I was never a good putter, always 34 – 36 putts per round. My long iron play was particularly good back in the time of wooden headed clubs when I could only hit a 3 iron 180 yds. These days that’s a 6 or 7 for some people and I really think my game has suffered as a result of using new technology. I’d be tempted to try my old War Bird steel driver or an older titleist, back when a Tiger used to hit it well and long, and see what the results are like.

  8. Alex

    Feb 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Great article!

    Can you explain a little more about this: “Tour players can easily control their vertical impact location to launch the ball with more or less spin depending on what type of shot they desire”

    Does hitting the ball higher on the face cause more spin and lower on the face cause less spin? Or it the inverse?

    Thanks!

    • tom stickney

      Feb 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      The higher you hit the ball in the face the lower the ball will spin and the higher it will launch…

  9. Denis

    Feb 10, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Great article Mr. Stickney,

    Wondering if you have you ever done or thought of something similar for irons?
    Would be interested to see what other factors could also influence impact position on irons given the sole comes in contact with the ground and what effects ill-fitted lie angle could have as well as other factors.

    Maybe that’s a project for another day.

    • tom stickney

      Feb 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      I have not, but it’s easy to do…grab a few buddies and get some dr sholl’s and hit balls off a dry golf mat…you’ll see some common trends for sure…especially when the irons are ill-fit

  10. Christian

    Feb 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    The pro’s impact makes me sad and angry.

    • tom stickney

      Feb 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I feel your pain…knocked my socks off as well!

  11. Pingback: Mit Fussdeo auf die Range - dem Treffmoment auf der Spur | Soulgolfer.de

  12. Keith

    Feb 4, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Fantastic article Mr.Stickney! Really opens my eyes to how good the pro’s really are..

  13. Carter

    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Does Dr. Scholls work with putters too or is there something better for that?

  14. Alex

    Feb 2, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Bought a can this morning to take to the range. I may just figure out the driver problem after all..

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  16. Justin

    Jan 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I have to say I’m the 30 handicapper. The beginning of last year I was hitting the ball consistent. As the year progress, I danced in the mid 90’s then I finished the year in the 125’s and lost distance on everything, I was driving around 250 then I couldn’t reach 200. I live in the north east is any drills I could do to help with being more consistent. Thanks

    • Mikel

      Jan 30, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      I’m an 18hc, so, ya know….

      But, I just got over this literally in the past couple days, “turned” out to be that I was fake-turning. I was rotating my shoulders just fine, but not my torso. The drill (there are diff variations) that cured me was to move my back foot so that my toe was in line with my front foot heel. Gave me a pre-turn in my torso and helped me get the feeling back during my normal swing.

      I think my issue came from trying to make sure my shoulders made a complete turn and at some point I stopped turning my torso too.

      Good luck!

      • Justin

        Jan 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm

        Thanks I’ll try that. It was horrible. just didn’t feel comfortable swinging the club anymore.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 30, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      If you have had that type of turnaround within your game I would suggest finding a teaching pro in your area ASAP. Too many things it could be without seeing you but if you’ve list that kind if distance you might want to see someone.

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  18. Tyler

    Jan 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    What would be the one characteristic of the golf swing that you would attribute to consistently finding the center of the face? Great balance throughout the entire swing perhaps? High handicaps tend to have terrible balance which would explain the sporadic ball contact locations on the face. Would you speculate that if a high handicap were to swing in perfect balance on every shot regardless of swing path they would consistently hit the same spot on the face?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 30, 2014 at 2:04 am

      Balance is a huge part of impact location for sure…swing plane would be a close second

  19. Double Mocha Man

    Jan 29, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I tried this out yesterday on the range. Works perfect. Only downside is that yellow can of footspray sitting next to the range mat that every other golfer seems to want to stare at. That, and the voice coming from my pocket that exclaims, “Golf Sense device is now connected!?

    Never knew being on the range could be so embarrassing…

  20. greg

    Jan 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Any suggestions on how to ‘tighten up’ your dispersion? Shorter shaft? Slow the swing down until you can consistently hit the middle and then add speed as you improve?

  21. Josh

    Jan 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Since you said all the drivers are 44″ long, would you consider doing a similar test but with different length drivers. I would be interested to see how much impact is affected for the lower handicaps when the length is increased.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 29, 2014 at 1:09 am

      The shorter the driver the more control…for sure.

      • Josh

        Jan 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

        I know shorter provides more control, but how much control is actually lost by going longer. Any time you add length to a club you will swing it faster, but at what point will adding length be comprised to loss off control. Is it .5″,1″, or something longer than that. Everyone just guesses how much control is lost and no one has ever really looked at what the actual amount is.

  22. David Smith

    Jan 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Problem here was that it was a TMaG golf club, not the player.

    In all seriousness though, why is the tour pro hitting it lower on the face? It should be higher up on the face than that.

    • TJ

      Jan 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      yeah I was wondering the same thing, in that first pic the impact position was at the very bottom of the face, that seems strange

      • Tom Stickney

        Jan 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm

        Creates a shot that launches too low and spins too much.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Yep. What he’s currently working on!

      • Double Mocha Man

        Jan 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

        Tell him to tee it up 1/4″ higher and use the same swing. That’ll be 100 bucks, thank you.

    • Harvey

      Jan 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Shut up

    • Lou Boezi

      Jan 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      I believe the lower marking on the Pro’s image is in fact his tee!

  23. JCorona

    Jan 28, 2014 at 9:34 am

    at least my driver will smell good even when my game stinks that day

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      And it won’t get athletes’ foot either

  24. Alex

    Jan 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

    good story, mate. It seems my driver’s sweetspot is far from wearing.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Welcome to my world…sadly we are not alone.

  25. paul

    Jan 28, 2014 at 1:00 am

    This article makes me feel like a freak. I’m a 20 handicap who hits the sweet spot like a 5. Hit 13/14 fairways today, shot 95 cause I hit some second shots into the drink on a tight water course. I use the marker.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 28, 2014 at 8:59 am

      We all have our strengths…fix that second shot and you will be a five!

  26. Guruhe

    Jan 27, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    In this most recent tourney Tiger only landed on the fairway 4 times with his driver in 1 round. Do you think he was hitting the center of the club face every time but the face angle was off? Apparently hitting a centered shot doesn’t guarantee a straight shot.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      All depends on his face to path relationship with a centered hit.

  27. Q

    Jan 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Is there anything I might already have around the house that I could spray onto my clubfaces?

  28. Kelly

    Jan 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Tom

    With the recent article on shorter length drivers, did you happen to measure the club length of the players drivers?

  29. ParHunter

    Jan 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    For readers in the UK where you don’t get the Dr Sholl Odor X spray: I am using an athletes foot powder spray. Works just as well.

  30. snow52

    Jan 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Another good trick is to use a marker from a dry erase/white board (make sure it is a dry erase marker, not a permanent marker). You can color the face of your club, and when you make a swing, it will capture your impact position. When you are done, it just wipes off. Might be a little more convenient that carrying around a can of spray. No matter how you do it, this is a great way to improve your ball striking.

    • tom stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Good call; tell your golf buddies to use a sharpie! Ha!

      • Duh

        Jan 27, 2014 at 6:21 pm

        NOT a Sharpie, doofus! With a Sharpie you’d need acetone. With a dry-erase, all you have to do is wipe.

  31. Chris

    Jan 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Golf Digest did a similar thing with putters and impact tape way back in the day – if anyone remembers it or has the article, would love to see it again!

    For the best putters on tour, the spot was the size of a thumbtack.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Dave Pelz…in his book

    • other paul

      Dec 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      I put some tape on a putter once and hit balls. I was shocked. As a 12 handicap I had 28 balls in a spot the size of a dime (better then i expected) and two that missed center by 1″ (oops). But it was great feedback.

  32. roger

    Jan 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Tom, re the last point, Tour Players can hit the ball on the face higher/lower
    to add/lessen spin as desired.
    Could you expand on this please!Much appreciated!
    I use impact tape or marker pen on balls regularly and play shorter lengths to get Good Impact!
    Mid hcper.

    • Chris

      Jan 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      This is a little counter intuitive but hitting higher on the face means ball hits above the COG which causes the face to “roll back” and the gearing effect of this is to reduce the backspin on the ball. Hitting lower does the opposite. This ignores the effect of bulge / roll. Watch the Trackman Maestro on youtube (look for gear effect) he does a better job explaining. All else equal, tee higher = lower backspin, tee lower = higher backspin. Once you understand gear effect you’ll see why.

    • tom stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Because of the face design from top to bottom…impact should be higher in the face to give you higher launch with less spin. Most players hit it below the center-line of the club thus gaining extra spin.

      • jm

        Jan 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        actually i think (though i could be wrong) that most clubs are truly designed to be hit on the actual sweetspot, which is typically in the center of the face. it usually gives the highest ball speeds.

        impact should only be higher on the face if you need higher launch with less spin. not all players need these specific changes, especially tour players. tour players need a balance of launch and spin to maximize not just distance, but accuracy as well. tour players typically require a higher spin rate than amateurs of the same swing speed in order to keep the ball in play more on the typically firmer fairways on tour.

        hitting it high on the face should also not be the first or even second solution to this problem in my opinion. if you need to hit it higher with less spin there are more efficient, effective and consistent ways to achieve

  33. Chris

    Jan 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for a very intresting article. I always wonder how certain handicaps hit with their driver off the face. And Great idea with the Dr. Scholls spray.

  34. Barry

    Jan 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

    thats weird!im off 10 and thats exactly where i connect with my drives,but i have the odd paintscraper too 🙁

  35. Drew

    Jan 27, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Does this just wipe off when you’re done? If so, brilliant!

  36. Chris

    Jan 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Interesting, yet I have read many articles on GolfWRX that have talked about the sweet spot on most drivers being higher towards the outside of the face. So …not really hitting the sweet or hotspot…??

    • tom stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 11:35 am

      all depends on where the driver cog is located…a hot-topic as to where the “actual” sweetspot is located

  37. Rick

    Jan 27, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Great article. Also, I can’t wait to try the Dr.Scholls spray to check my impact point. Thanks!

    • tom stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 11:36 am

      THANK ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENTS REGARDING THIS ARTICLE!! I HAVE RECEIVED A TON OF TEXTS, EMAILS, AND TWEETS…..

  38. Erickson Leonardo

    Jan 27, 2014 at 3:19 am

    My impact zone is so much better with deep face drivers, but sprayed all over the place with shallow face? Please idea?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 27, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Some driver design “looks” make people more comfortable…

  39. Andy

    Jan 27, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Well im in the 0 handicap category but mostly leave my clubface open or close, great post. thank you.

  40. Spencer

    Jan 27, 2014 at 1:45 am

    By the far the most valuable piece I got from this was the dr. scholls spray instead tape to mark impacts. I’m getting a can!

    • Glen Metz

      Jan 27, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Same here. I’m wondering if that works on irons as well.

  41. Jack

    Jan 27, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Note to self: Hit the driver more accurately to break into the 10 handicap range, and also buy a can of dr. scholls odor x.

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Instruction

Faults & Fixes: Losing height in your swing

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In this week’s Fault and Fixes Series, we are going to examine the issues that come with losing your height during the swing and its effect on your low point as well as your extension through and beyond impact.

When a professional player swings, there is usually very little downward motion through the ball. Some is OK, but if you look at this amateur player you will see too much. When the head drops downward too much something, has to give and it’s usually the shortening of the swing arc. This will cause issues with the release of the club.

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Instruction

Dangers of overspeed training revealed: What to do and what not to do

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Speed: a key factor to more money on tour. The key component sought after by many amateur golfers to lower their scores. The focus of many infographics on social media this past PGA Tour season. A lot of people say speed matters more than putting when it comes to keeping your tour card and making millions.  

Overspeed Training: the focus on tons of training aids as a result of the buzz the pursuit of speed has created. The “holy grail” for the aging senior golfer to extend their years on the course. The “must do” training thousands of junior golfers think will bring them closer to playing college golf and beyond.  

Unfortunately, overspeed training is the most misunderstood and improperly implemented training tool I see used for speed in the industry. Based on the over 50 phone calls I’ve fielded from golfers around the world who have injured themselves trying it, it is leading to more overuse injuries in a sport where we certainly don’t need any help creating more than we already have. Luckily, these injuries are 100 percent preventable if you follow the few steps outlined below.

Don’t let your rush to swing faster get you hurt. Take five minutes to read on and see what the industry has not been forthcoming with until now.  

Understanding how to increase your speed safely and with as little work possible is the path to longevity without injury. If you could train 75 percent less (to the tune of about 8,000 fewer reps a year) and still see statistically comparable results, would you rather that? 

I would.

Would it make sense to you that swinging 8,000 times fewer (low volume protocols versus high volume protocols) would probably decrease your risk of overuse injuries (the most common injury for golfers)?  

I think so.

But I’ll let you draw your own conclusions after you finish reading.   

Your Challenge

Your biggest challenge is that the answer to more speed for you is not the same as it is for your friends. It differs depending on many factors, but there are four main ones that you can start with. Those four are 

  1. Your equipment
  2. Your technical prowess
  3. Your joint mobility at your rotary centers (neck, shoulders, spine, and hips) 
  4. Your ability to physically produce power  

If you are not totally clear on these, I’d recommend checking out the earlier article I wrote for GolfWRX titled Swing speed: How do you compare? Go through the testing as outlined and you’ll know the answer to these four areas in five minutes.

Basically, you have the potential to pick up speed by optimizing your equipment (ie. find the right shaft, etc), optimizing the technical element of your swing for optimal performance (ie. launch angles, etc) or by optimizing your body for the golf swing. Understanding how to best gain speed without putting your body at risk both in the short and long term is what 95 percent of golfers have no idea about. It is the single biggest opportunity golfers have to make lasting improvements to not only their golf game but their overall health.

Are You a Ticking Time Bomb?

In my earlier article (link above), I described three main categories when it came to physical factors. Step one is to determine what category you are in.

The first option is that you might be swinging faster than your body is able to control. In this case, you are a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode in injury. We all know that friend who just has a year-round membership to the local physio or chiro because they are always hurt. If this is you, DO NOT try overspeed training, it will only make your visits to the physio or chiro more frequent. There are much better areas to spend your time on.

The second situation might be the rare, sought-after balanced golfer. You might have great mobility in the four main rotary centers (hips, spine, shoulders, and neck) and your swing speed matches your physical power output abilities. It should be noted that based on our mobility research of almost 1,000 golfers, 75 percent of golfers over the age of 40 don’t have full rotary mobility in at least one of the four centers. When you age past 50, that 75 percent now applies to at least two rotary centers. Hence why “the balanced golfer” category is elusive to most golfers.

The final option is the sexy, exciting one; the “more RPMs under the hood” golfer. This is the one where overspeed training is your fountain of youth and you can pick up 10, 15, even 20 yards in a matter of weeks. You might have more RPM’s under your hood right now. Being in this category means you physically are able to produce way more power athletically than you are doing in your golf swing currently.  

The Good News

The “more RPMs under the hood” golfer describes over 50 percent of amateur golfers. Most of you sit at work and don’t train your body to move at maximal speeds outside of when you swing the golf club. The number of adults and senior golfers who train maximal speed at the gym, run sprints and train with plyometrics (correctly) is under five percent.

Why is this good news?

Because if you don’t move fast at any point in your life other than on the golf course right now, doing pretty much anything fast repetitively will make you faster. For instance, you can jump up and down three times before you hit a drive and your speed will increase by 2-3 mph (6-9 yards) just from that according to a research study.

This means that for the average amateur, adult golfer in this category, picking up 5-8 mph (12- 20-plus yards) almost immediately (it won’t stick unless you keep training in though) is incredibly simple.

The Bad News & The Fine Print

Remember earlier when I mentioned you needed to “also have full mobility in the four main rotary centers” and that “75 percent of adults over the age of 50 lack mobility in at least two rotary centers?” 

That’s the bad news.

Most golfers will get faster by simply swinging as hard as they can. Unfortunately, most golfers also will get hurt swinging maximally repeatedly because they have to compensate for the lack of rotational mobility in those rotary centers. 

This should be a big bold disclaimer, but is often not. This is the fine print no one tells you about. This is where the rubber meets the road and the sexiness of overspeed training crashes and burns into the traffic jam of joints that don’t move well for most amateur golfers.  

Your Solution

The first step to your solution is to make sure you have full rotational mobility and figure out what category of golfer your body puts you in. As a thanks for being a WRX reader, here is a special link to the entire assessment tool for free. 

After you determine if you have the mobility to do overspeed training safely and you know if you are even in the category that would make it worthwhile, the second and final step is to figure out how many swings you need to do.

How Many Swings are too Many?

Concisely, you don’t need more than 30 swings two times per week. Anything more than that is unnecessary based on the available research.  

As you digest all of the research on overspeed training, it is clear that the fastest swing speeds tend to occur with the stronger and more powerful players. This means that first, you need to become strong and be able to generate power through intelligent workout plans to maximize performance, longevity and reduce injury likelihood. From here, overspeed training can become an amazing tool to layer on top of a strong foundation and implement at different times during the year.

To be clear, based on the two randomized overspeed studies that Par4Success completed and my experience of training thousands of golfers, it is my opinion that overspeed training works in both high volume (100s of swings per session) and low volume protocol (30 swings per session) formats exactly the same. With this being the case, why would you want to swing 8,000 more times if you don’t have to? 

The research shows statistically no difference in speed gained by golfers between high-volume overspeed protocols compared to low volume ones. Because of this, in my opinion, high volume protocols are unnecessary and place golfers at unnecessary risk for overuse injury. This is especially true when they are carried out in the absence of a customized strength and conditioning program for golf.     

Rest Matters

In order to combat low-quality reps and maximize results with fewer swings, it is necessary to take rest breaks of 2-3 minutes after every 10 swings. Anything less is not enough to allow the energy systems to recover and diminishes your returns on your effort. If these rests are not adhered to, you will fatigue quickly, negatively impacting quality and increasing your risk of injury.  

Rest time is another reason why low volume protocols are preferable to high volume ones. To take the necessary rests, a high volume protocol would take more than an hour to complete. With the lower volume protocols you can still keep the work time to 10 minutes.   

The Low Volume Overspeed Protocol

You can see the full protocol in the full study reports here. It is critical you pass the first step first, however before implementing either protocol, and it is strongly recommended not to do the overspeed protocol without a solid golf performance plan in place as well in order to maximize results and reduce risk of injury.

This is just the first version of this protocol as we are currently looking at the possibility of eliminating kneeling as well as some other variables that are showing promising in our ongoing research. Be sure to check back often for updates!

Commonly asked questions about overspeed training…

Once initial adaptations have occurred, is there any merit to overspeed training long term?  

None of the studies that I was able to find discussed longitudinal improvements or causation of those improvements. This is the hardest type of research to do which speaks to the lack of evidence. No one actually knows the answer to these questions. Anyone saying they do is guessing.

Do the initial gains of overspeed training outperform those of traditional strength and conditioning?  

There appears to be a bigger jump with the addition of overspeed training than solely strength and conditioning, by almost threefold.  In 6 and 8 weeks respectively, the average gain was just around 3 mph, which is three times the average gain for adult golfers over a 12 weeks period with just traditional strength and conditioning. 

Can we use overspeed training as a substitute for traditional strength and conditioning?

No. Emphatically no. It would be irresponsible to use overspeed in isolation to train golfers for increased speed. First off, increasing how fast someone can swing without making sure they have the strength to control that speed is a means to set someone up for injury and failure. Secondly, if they are appropriate and you increase someone’s speed, you also need to increase their strength as well so that it keeps up with the demands the new speed is putting on their body.   

Are long term results (1 year+) optimized if overspeed training is combined with traditional strength and conditioning vs in isolation or not at all?  

It would appear, based off our longitudinal programs that using overspeed training periodized in conjunction with an athlete-specific strength and conditioning program and sport-specific training (ie. technical lessons, equipment, etc—not medicine ball throws or cable chops) in a periodized yearly plan maximizes results year to year.  

In order to keep decreases in club speed to no more than three-to-five percent during the competitive season (as is the normal amount in our data), it is imperative to keep golfers engaged in an in-season strength and conditioning program focused on maximal force and power outputs. By minimizing this in-season loss, it assures that we see gains year over year.  

It is unclear if overspeed training in conjunction with strength and conditioning during the season further decreases this standard loss due to nervous system fatigue, but this would be a great area for future research.  

What sort of frequency, protocols or volume should one utilize for maximal benefit and minimal risk of injury?  

Most of the studies that I was able to find specifically on swinging looked at about 100 swings three times per (baseball). The Superspeed protocols which are the most popular in the golf world, follow a similar volume recommendation after an initial ramp up period. It is a concern, especially with untrained individuals, that adding more than 11,000 maximal effort swings over the course of year might increase risk for injury due to the incredible increase in load. Especially for the amatuer golfer who only plays on the weekends and does not engage in a strength and conditioning program, this is a significant volume increase from their baseline.

The Par4Success studies in 2018-19 found no significant difference in swing speed gains between high volume protocols and a lower volume protocol which required only 30 swings, 2x/week but required a 2 minute rest between every 10 swings.

More studies beyond these two need to be done looking at this, but it would be my recommendation, specifically in golf, not to engage in the high volume protocols as it does not appear to increase speed gains while also increasing load on the athlete significantly.  

Do any potential gains of overspeed training outperform the traditional methods that are proven to transfer to sport?

It does not appear that overspeed training is superior to any one training method, but rather a tool to use in conjunction with other proven methods. The key here is to assess yourself and look to implement this type of training when mobility is not an issue and the physical ability to produce power is higher than the ability to generate club speed. In the right scenario, overspeed training can be a game-changing tool. In the wrong scenario, it can be a nail in a golfer’s coffin.

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Instruction

Faults and Fixes: Arms too far behind body at the top

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In this week’s Faults and Fixes, we’ll look at the issue of the older player getting the arms too far behind the body at the top. When this happens, the clubhead speed is compromised, and the ability to create height, spin, and distance is diminished. For older players, Brandel Chamblee has the right idea by wanting the left heel to raise and the arms to work themselves into a more upright position.

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19th Hole

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