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Opinion & Analysis

Is video passé in golf instruction?

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Golf instruction has seen a swell of technological advances such as ball-flight measuring devices, 3-D systems and other high-tech training aids that have given us the much-needed boost in our ever-growing body of knowledge of how best to play the game. Without one shred of doubt these advances have expanded our potential to know more and have only served golf instruction well. But as with all industry trends, the advent of something new will inevitably take the place of something else. Will our video equipment be what becomes the new paperweight?

Recently I’ve heard murmurs that video is passé and doesn’t give accurate enough feedback to be of use. It left me to think, “Is this correct? Should all of us be tossing out our cameras and replacing them with launch monitors?” I personally like my video setup and treat it much like any other training aid: It’s not going to solve everything, but if used correctly at the proper time, it can be very helpful. However, my feelings about video are biased and only serve as one example of why it should remain in our teaching tool kit. So in order to learn more, I looked into the research on physical education and kinesiology for a more objective perspective.

Sport psychologists call it observational learning or modeling when a learner watches something and then uses that to learn a skill or behavior. In golf instruction, we use modeling as a form of feedback by showing students video of themselves or showing them examples of others. We also use demonstration as a form of modeling to show others what the movement looks like. The famed psychologist Albert Bandura cites modeling as “one of the most powerful means of transmitting values, attitudes and patterns of thought and behavior.” In fact, years and years of research on observational learning have placed modeling firmly as one of the most important means for helping individuals learn or modify skills.

But exactly what kinds of models are useful and how are they to be used? According to two kinesiology professors, Penny McCullagh and Maureen Weiss, the skill level of the learner should be considered first when using video modeling. Their research, combined with others on demonstration characteristics relevant to acquiring skills, suggests that coaches and teachers consider two types of models:

  1. The tour pro, or a “correct model,” which shows an ideal movement.
  2. A “learning model,” or an example of someone who is attempting to learn the skill but has not yet achieved exemplary performance.

The research suggests that using the “correct model” as an example was better than using no model at all. However, for certain types of students, such as juniors or those in the early stages of learning, the “learning model” combined with corrective verbal feedback from the instructor was the most successful combination (This learning model could also be the student himself video taped performing the desired movement, and then comparing him to himself). In other words, students who were far from swinging like a tour player responded better to examples that were similar to them.

Obvservational learning

The root of why “the learning model” works well is based in what Bandura calls self-efficacy, or self-confidence. It’s the feeling that we can successfully do something that we are attempting to learn how to do. He adds that self-efficacy is highly influential in shaping what we decide to work on. So if a golfer sees himself making progress on his golf swing, he is more inclined to choose to work on it. This also means if he thinks he will never be able to do something, he could lose motivation and feel less motivated.

Although video certainly cannot tell us the angle of attack, or the X-factor stretch, it does have an important place in our teaching tool kits. Even if we are not using it to collect information about what is happening in throughout a swing, the benefit of a learner seeing an example can provide a profound effect both psychologically and with performance. In other words, keep the video in lessons — if not for you, for the benefit of your students.

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Trillium Rose is a certified teaching professional and Head Director of Instruction at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. An innovator and life-long learner, her knowledge of teacher effectiveness, mechanics and practice training have proven highly successful. She has improved the games of over 1,000 individuals who rely on her cutting-edge expertise, and honest, straight- forward approach. Her area of expertise is in helping golfers develop their skills as quickly as possible and help them practice efficiently. She is highly skilled at designing and implementing curriculum's that develop golf athletes with targeted practice plans. She was recently honored as the 2017 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year," and awarded a “Best Teacher in State” distinction (ranked #3). Selected as one of “America’s Best Young Teachers” by Golf Digest, Trillium Rose's name has been synonymous with quality practice standards and trusted education.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Andrew Cooper

    Feb 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Video is a limited tool, especially up against Trackman, 3D imaging and force plates, which capture the really important, and unarguable, info about the golf swing. By contrast 2D video is largely superficial (even assuming it’s been correctly set-up), often misleading, and potentially harmful.
    From video we have the amazing resource of footage of all the best players from the last 100 years or so. Every swing effective, but every one unique-many with all sorts of quirks, “off plane” postitions and “moving parts”. However, so much video coaching promotes perfect plane and positions, losing the moving parts, trying to copy a tour player’s (unique) swing e.t.c.-and this can really mess up a golfer’s feel and natural athleticism. Video can be useful, but I think we’re more aware of it’s limitations and advancing beyond it.

  2. James

    Feb 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Best video lesson I ever had was swinging with a high speed camera looking down at my swing path and contact with the ball. Showed face angle of the club at impact, swing path, shaft lean. What it showed for me is that the face was slightly open at impact on a consistent basis but everything else was fine. Solution: take a stronger grip.

    What this article seems to say is that video, sort of like the old Syber Vision, works for most people. But I wonder if it works better if you see yourself side by side with the model swing? And, wouldn’t a person’s model swing be different based on body type, height, etc?

  3. Joe

    Feb 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I work with a phenomenal instructor who blends video, launch monitor data, and physical feedback in a way that has been amazingly helpful to me. My golf life has been full of tips and “truisms” that pre dated use of these technology tools. With the ability to see my motion and the results it has on the ball, we’ve been able to work on developing a new “feel” for me that in many ways counteracts what I “learned” previously from tips. What I felt was a shift of the weight was a sway, and what I felt like was a reverse pivot was actually a coiled and much better position at the top. Video made it much easier to see that was creating too much out-to-in path and a massive throw of the club. The video gave me an image of what I was doing. The launch monitor numbers helped quantify some target measurements, and the physical feedback gave me the model to put together a new motion.

    We made a few setup changes, and he sent me on my way to work on it. What’s really revolutionary about modern instruction is that instead of immediately signing me up for another session, he encouraged me to break out my phone at the range and get some swings on tape as a way to monitor my progress. Using the Trackman software and video, we went over what to look for. Using my iPhone 5s, I can capture perfect slow motion swings at the range and use free utilities (Ubersense) to draw lines and angles and compare multiple swings in sync with one another.

    10+ years ago, you would have needed resources that less than 1% of golfers had regular access to. Now, it sits in my pocket.

    Video is hardly passé – it has remarkable value and has become democratized in a way that can help more golfers in more meaningful ways.

  4. tom stickney

    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Video is also a necessity….good article

  5. tom stickney

    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Video will always help us to attach feels to our movements…most people are visual learners anyway. Good article.

  6. Don

    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Video and launch monitors, K Vests etc. should all be considered complimentary techniques. Trackman data is great for club delivery and ball flight data but it can’t show you whether the swing that delivered the numbers is physically sound or likely to cause fatigue or even injury.

    In addition different students are likely to respond to different methods, pro’s are more likely to be able to work from just trackman data because they have a greater awareness of what movements or feelings influence the numbers. For the less physically aware video provides instant visual feedback and model comparisons can illustrate clearly the changes that may be required.

    However, the worst PGA instructors I’ve experienced are those insistent on moving every aspect of a swing toward a perfect model and forget the need for functionality over aesthetic perfection. Beware the robo-pro.

  7. Jon

    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I agree with your reference to modeling. Furthermore, modeling is most effective when the person is similar to the model, and this is important when dealing with diverse populations of learners. The difference between feel and real is easier to display with video.

  8. Mike

    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Video will never become passé. It’s the best way to get instant feedback.

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Opinion & Analysis

Golf swing videos: What you absolutely need to know

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Let’s start with a game. Below are 5 different swing videos. I want you to study them and decide which of them is the best swing. Take your time, this is important…

Please, write your answer down. Which one was it?

Now, I am going to tell you a little secret; they are all the exact same swing filmed simultaneously from 5 various positions. JM1 is on the hand line but higher, JM2 is on the hand line but lower, JM3 is on the foot line, JM4 is on the hand line and JM5 is on the target line. Same swing, very different results!

So, what did we learn? Camera angle has an enormous impact on the way the swing looks.

“If you really want to see what is going on with video, it is crucial to have the camera in the right position,” said Bishops Gate Director of Instruction and Top 100 teacher Kevin Smeltz. “As you can see, if it is off just a little it makes a significant difference.”

According to PGA Tour Coach Dan Carraher: “Proper camera angles are extremely important, but almost more important is consistent camera angles. If you’re going to compare swings they need to be shot from the same camera angles to make sure you’re not trying to fix something that isn’t really a problem. Set the camera up at the same height and distance from the target line and player every time. The more exact the better.”

For high school players who are sending golf swing videos to college coaches, the content of the swing video is also very important. You have 5-15 seconds to impress the coach, so make sure you showcase the most impressive part of your game. For example, if you bomb it, show some drivers and make sure the frame is tight to demonstrate your speed/athleticism. Likewise, if you have a great swing but not a whole lot of power, start the video with a 5 or 6 iron swing to showcase your move. Either way, show coaches your strengths, and make sure to intrigue them!

Now that you have something that represents your skills, you need to consider how to format it so coaches are most likely to open it. I would recommend uploading the swings to YouTube and including a link in the email; a link allows the coach to simply click to see the video, rather than having to mess with opening any specific program or unknown file.

When formatting the email, always lead with your best information. For example, if you want a high-end academic school and have 1550 on the SAT lead with that. Likewise, if you have a powerful swing, lead with the YouTube link.

Although these tips do not guarantee responses, they will increase your odds!

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Opinion & Analysis

Jason Day’s shoulder: More concerning than it seems?

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If you watched The Players Championship last weekend, you probably saw Jason Day tweak his shoulder on the 16th hole on Sunday. He addressed the injury in his post-round press conference and it caught my attention. Check out this video of the press conference to hear the entire clip.

A few things about what he said stuck out to me:

  • “Every now and then it happens where my shoulder feels like it pops out, but it’s like more of a sting”
  • Feeling a “pop” and “sting” in his lead (left) shoulder
  • Pain is usually during the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing
  • He’s been doing shoulder exercises to “stay loose”

Just by watching Jason Day’s swing, it seems pretty evident that he is a hypermobile athlete. This simply means that his joints tend to be naturally looser, enabling him to achieve the tremendous positions he does in his swing. This can become problematic, however, when hypermobility becomes instability. Instability of the shoulder can lead to recurrent and frequent subluxations and/or dislocations of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.

Shoulder Injuries in Golfers

Photo Credit: Arrow PT

Shoulder injuries account for 8-18 percent of all golf-related injuries. The most common shoulder injuries to the lead shoulder are posterior instability and acromioclavicual (AC) joint injury. Both of these injuries tend to be painful at the top of the backswing when the lead arm is in near-maximal horizontal adduction (reaching across your body). This position creates a compressive force through the AC Joint, which may cause pain.

Maximal horizontal adduction also places stress on the posterior capsule of the shoulder. During the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing, the hips and trunk begin to rotate towards the target. In elite golfers, the arms tend to lag behind, creating a tremendous amount of torque. This can lead to something termed the “adduction stretch” in the swing when the arm bone contacts the rib cage and the humeral head exerts a posterior force. Repeated over thousands of times, this can lead to posterior instability of the shoulder (especially in a naturally hypermobile person).

 

Notice that Day’s hips have fired towards the target, but his shoulders are lagging behind. This is a move that creates tremendous torque and clubhead speed but also stresses the shoulder joint and capsule.

Golfers with posterior instability may suffer from posterior subluxations. A subluxation is when the shoulder slides out of the joint and immediately slides back in. This is different from a dislocation, where the joint remains separated until it is physically put back into place.

Photo Credit: Back And Body Clinic

Symptoms of a subluxation include:

  • A feeling of the shoulder moving out and in of the joint
  • A feeling of looseness in the shoulder
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness of the arm

Should Jason Day Be Concerned?

I’m not here to diagnose Jason Day with any medical condition. I have not evaluated his shoulder, and I do not have enough information to make any kind of an informed diagnosis. But, if it barks like a dog…

Is Day’s shoulder injury something that could negatively impact him in the foreseeable future? I would argue yes. If he does indeed have posterior instability of his lead shoulder with recurrent subluxations during his golf swing, this may be a problem that nags him for a while to come.

Conservative treatment for posterior instability typically features physical therapy focusing on improving rotator strength and stability. The rotator cuff can help stabilize the shoulder during the golf swing and prevent excessive motion of the humeral head within the socket when it is functioning properly. Medical research shows that conservative treatment of posterior instability is often successful, but not for every person. One study reports only 25 percent that golfers with posterior instability were able to return to golf after undergoing physical therapy. This study is old and has a few issues, but still, this is a pretty low percentage.

Surgical treatment of posterior instability is an option. The surgery includes tightening the capsule to prevent further subluxations. One of the major drawbacks of this surgery is that it may be tough to get full cross-body range of motion back after the capsule is tightened. This can make it difficult for golfers to get back to their old swing style after surgery.

Surgical repair of the capsule showing the tightening of the capsule.

 

Overall, shoulder injuries, particularly to the lead shoulder, can be problematic for golfers of all ability levels. I sincerely hope that Jason Day is able to overcome his shoulder pain and continue to play at his current level.

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Opinion & Analysis

Starting from Scratch (Episode 1): GolfWRX Editor switches to lefty

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As a right-handed Division I (Rutgers University) golfer, I underwent spine surgery at 20-years old, which effected the lower right portion of my back. Eight years later, I’m a trending-up-2-handicap who deals with back spasms after nearly every round of golf or practice session, and a lingering left wrist injury — neither of which are very good for a right-handed golfer. Extremely frustrated with golf and my body, I’m officially announcing my retirement as a right-handed golfer. BUT, I’m not retiring from the sport I love.

Going forward, I will be switching to playing golf as a left-hander. The left-handed swing puts significantly less pressure on the lower right side of my back and my left wrist. Therefore, I’ll be able to continue playing golf by switching sides, and get back the passion to practice and improve.

The problem? I’ve never played golf lefty and I’m not ambidextrous. I write, throw, bat, swing, play pool, play darts, everything as a righty. For 28 years, I’ve played golf righty.

As your fearless GolfWRX Editor, I’ll be documenting the entire process through written articles, photos, podcast updates, video and social media posts (@tg2wrx on Instagram). I’ll explain what it’s like to start the game as a beginning golfer, and the process I take to improve. I’ll document lessons, club fittings, performance assessments, rounds of golf, and practice sessions on my quest. Hopefully, I’ll be writing the blueprint for how to go from a terrible golfer to a nineties shooter. Hopefully.

My goal is to break 100 (on a regulation golf course from the “white” tees) before Labor Day. My co-host on Two Guys Talking Golf has bet against me for a publicly undisclosed sum, and I’ve also been taking many side bets, as well. My mission for the summer is to prove everyone wrong.

Watch Episode 1 of the series to see my first swings as a lefty.

Starting from Scratch: Episode 1

 

Week 1 and 2 highlights

  • Whiffed once while attempting to hit a 6-iron. I’m just happy it only happened once.
  • Went to a big box store to buy used golf clubs. Wow, buying equipment as a lefty is just as difficult as left-handers have been telling righties their entire lives. I bought a 64-degree SureOut wedge — I need the most forgiveness I can get
  • Purchased the rest of my set online for less than $500! We will be posting a “What’s in the bag” video in the coming weeks. Spoiler alert: I got some VERY forgiving stuff.
  • Watched a video from Shawn Clement — who is scratch as both a lefty and a righty — saying right-hand dominant golfers playing lefty should feel the club pulling with their right arm. It feels like a backhand stroke in tennis, and I’m thinking this will be a good swing thought moving forward
  • Grinded at the short game area almost every night until the rest of my clubs came in. Short game is feeling really good. Just working on hitting down on the golf ball and making consistent contact near the center of the face.
  • One night after work, I went to the short game area at my local course, and realized no one was playing. Although I didn’t feel ready to take my game to the course, I decided to play 9 holes. And I shot… 50!! (Par 35; 2,810 yards.) Very encouraging.
  • Check out @tg2wrx for a ridiculous flop shot I hit over the trees during my first round as a lefty
  • Shot 44 on a mini golf course putting lefty… yikes. Gotta reduce those three putts.

Thoughts from a left-hander

Overall, the most work is going to be getting mid-to-long irons in the air, and reducing slices/top/shanks off the tee. If I can simply get the ball in the air and hit it somewhere around the center of the face, I believe I can plot my way around a golf course to break 100. Bunker play is a huge concern still, so I’ll want to avoid bunkers at all costs. Other than that, I need to practice more. More range balls, more chip shots, more pitch shots and more putts. I need to continue getting comfortable hitting golf balls from the “wrong” side.

Tune in next time to see my WITB and how I’m faring as a south paw.

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