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Study: Center of Pressure movements need to change for different shots

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Every wonder why one golfer is so proficient with his driver, but cringes when has has a wedge in his hands? Another golfer may be an excellent short iron player, but he is scared stiff of his long irons. Is it all just skill level and practice?

For years, I’ve been obsessed with finding ways to build the tools I need so that I could validate the notion that “one optimal swing type for a complete range of golfers’ needs” just doesn’t make sense.

It seems to me that teaching just one swing type without showing a golfer how to adjust for each particular shot is very much like trying to select one car to suit all the family’s needs. Basically, it’s just a series of comprised decisions that invariably never meets the total needs.

Since 2010. I’ve been building digital tools that will finally inspire us to validate that “there is an optimal swing pattern for each and every type of golf shot and all golfers will need to acquire several of them to have a complete game.“

Working with a medical company called Patientech Vista in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, our team developed a golf pressure mat called BodiTrak that measures center of pressure.

By measuring the average position of a golfer’s vertical forces while in either in a “static” (set up in the address positions for various shots) and or “dynamic” position to capture complete swing data using sound as the trigger for determining impact and the  web cam off your laptop for integrated video, we now can now bring center of pressure, or C.O.P. golf pressure mapping to the masses.

What you will see below are actual screen shots of the BodiTrak user interface.

A bit about BodiTrak: BodiTrak is a highly portable golf pressure mat that can be rolled up into a trim carrying case, weighs approximately 8 pounds and can be used both indoors and outdoors on any type of lie, putting, chipping, downhill and even side hill lies and sells for under $2,000.

Dr. Sasho MacKenzie, a well-known golf biomechanist from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada and I did the initial validation of the BodiTrak Golf Pressure Mat as compared to an AMTI Force Plates that many of the top researchers in golf use. The results were positive and the trace patterns near match up in near identical fashions.

Much of the information we all can now capture has never been seen before, in particular the C.O.P. traces from the unusual lies, downhill lies, sidehill lies and so forth.

Pressure mapping itself is not a new topic. All successful golfers innately understand the significance of proper weight and balance issues. But until now, the lack of portability and high costs of force plates have restricted validating weight and balance issues. Most of the data collected to date has been restricted to but an elite group of researchers, biomechanists and advanced golf academies.

Recently, an article was written comparing the brake effect of a baseball player to golf, and this was just the encouragement that I needed to reach out and submit this article. It turns out that this brake effect is exactly what we refer to in our pressure mapping system as the power trace.

While conducting an early spring symposium at Holland Golf College in Prince Edward Island earlier this year, I ran through all 43 golf students on the golf pressure mapping device. The results were obvious and very interesting, and I’d like to share them here with you.

Hockey is Canada’s national sport, and it’s easy to understand that so many of the Holland College group I was testing were well versed in slapshots. I was very curious to see if many of these young golfers that had the power trace actually knew what they were doing to create the power. Amazingly, most did!

It turns out that in hockey (just it as in baseball), the most powerful slapshots are produced when the front foot is used as a brake, slowing down the forward momentum providing resistance to hit against. This is a well-established fact among hockey players and makes total sense. Otherwise, you would be sliding forward and very little power would be generated in a slap shot if this technique wasn’t used.

The power trace illustrated below indicates that the C.O.P. DOT (white dot) moves hard to the front foot even before the golfer completes his backswing. I refer to this as the “resting” position. Next, the vertical forces in the C.O.P. trace reverse toward the back foot just prior to impact, allowing the golfer to create the resistance that generates his impressive power.

When polling the students, I asked this distinguished group of power hitters to describe their short iron and wedge play. Most indicated that their irons was not their strong suit. This made perfect sense. For if you use this C.O.P. power trace for all your shots, you are effectively pulling up prior to impact, which may not be ideal for short iron play.

Below is a great example of the C.O.P. power trace collected at my Holland College symposium. By the way, if you slow down the new D.N.A. golf shoe add by FootJoy, you’ll see the same C.O.P. Trace they are showing on their pressure map.

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A Holland College player selected by his peers as the best iron player. The same player as above C.O.P. iron trace.

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C.O.P. Linear Trace: Irons

When these power trace hitters were questioned about their personal iron play, I also asked all of their power trace peers who was the best iron player in their group.

The same golfer, Ben, who used the power trace with his driver, demonstrated a completely different C.O.P. trace with his irons!

Screenshot (50)Screenshot (51)Screenshot (52)

Through thousands of hours testing with the BodiTrak Golf Pressure Mapping device, I’ve come to call this C.O.P. trace “linear,” as it illustrates the a golfer’s transfer of a weight in very simplistic manner: straight back and straight through.

In actual field testing, I’ve found that this linear C.O.P. trace is used by very accurate golfers and a very reliable C.O.P. trace of a golfer with strong short iron performance, where power generation is not a crucial part of the optimal overall result.

Of all the various C.O.P. traces, the linear trace is not the most powerful, but it does seem to represent the most accurate C.O.P. trace for short iron play.

I’ve posted the power trace at on Youtube for your greater scrutiny.

[youtube id=”kdOYrn9ckgo” width=”620″ height=”360″]

While C.O.P. analysis is purely research at its infancy, it’s very clear that the ideal C.O.P. trace for optimal distance is not the one that is to be used for optimal control. Each set of clubs, be that driver, fairway woods, irons and the likes, all will have their own optimal C.O.P. trace patterns. That is not likely a revelation to most.

Finally, a solution to understanding that one swing for all shots is not an optimal solution. This science shows that predictable traces serve each particular shot required and help golfers quantify feel. Unfortunately, as I learn more and more about C.O.P. golf pressure mapping, my lifetime obsession to prove my notion has not subsided, rather it has grown.

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Terry is the founder of Jazz Golf in Canada, co-developer of the BodiTrak Golf Pressure Map, and inventor of the world's first inertial measuring unit for golf and other major golf products. full information available at : https://www.linkedin.com/pub/terry-hashimoto/25/541/46a Terry is currently involved in developing golf pressure mats to develop bio feedback and immediate response information systems for the future of online sport metrics. He is a University of Miami golf team graduate and former PGA professional from Winnipeg, Manitoba now living in Atlantic Canada / Charlottetown PEI. He's looking forward to sharing as much information as possible with all golfers interested in center of pressure studies and research. www.boditraksports.com

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: BodiTrak Sports | Study: Center of Pressure movements need to change for different shots

  2. Pingback: Study: Center of Pressure movements need to change for different shots | Golf Pressure Mapping

  3. Pingback: Holland College golf students participate in applied research project | Holland College Blog

  4. Per Liv

    May 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Terry,

    I work with the BT mat and think it’s great.
    Have you got some data from tour players you could share with me, or do you know where I can find such?

    Thanks in advance

    /Per

    • terry hashimoto

      Jul 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      We’ve just integrated into the Swing Catalyst Software and there is more a more tour data coming every day. But its all the same to the extent of that a top amateur.

      Its very intriguing and interesting to see that the Linear Trace works best for accuracy and the Power Trace not so well for irons, and this is 100 % a correlation that is real.

  5. AP

    May 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    The feet show a percentage right and percentage left which is a relative measure, not absolute. I the youtube swing video, you see the player’s driver swing causes his rear heal to lift well before impact, and soon after impact his front foot leaves the ground for a moment, spins out a bit, and then lands again for his finish position’s support. Is it possible that the backward movement of the dot is a function of this movement, and what COP is by definition?… which as I understand it is not the same as center of gravity.

    What do you think the trace of someone that doesn’t pop up near, during or just after impact would look like? Players like Kenny Perry who keep their rear foot heel planted through impact will likely show a very different COP trace, right?

    • terry hashimoto

      Jul 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      My apologies for this terribly late response, but just as well because we’re learning more and more every day.

      Center of Pressure is the average sum of all the vertical forces we measure on the mat.

      It is a strict measurement of motion in 2 directions Side to Side and Front to Back.

  6. J Sheehan

    May 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Great article. I’ve also been intrigued by what you’re studying–that is–the movement of the C.O.P. throughout the swing and how it changes from club to club.

    Interesting, I just read an article on GolfWRX by Bill Schmedes III (“The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals is in the Ground”, April 28th). In the article he covers some of the same principles you’re studying but with one main difference. He indicated to me (in the comment section) that a golfers C.O.P. and weight transfer remain essentially the same from club to club and whether the ball is teed up or not.

    Just from my own practical experience, I wanted to disagree but–hey– he’s got the data. Your findings seem to align with my premise while contradicting his. Care to comment?

    • terry hashimoto

      May 12, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Hi there J Sheehan and thanks so much for the positive comment. I actually read Bill Schmedes article and what I took from it was that COP Traces don’t differentiate from your method of instruction – be that Stack and Tilt and or McClean and or Annika and or anyones methods.

      We know with certainty that 1 trace for all swings is not optimal.

      All instructors know that and I’m glad you feel the same. But I thought Bills article more eluded to the fact that COP Traces tell the truth regardless of what method the golfer instructs – Which I agree with.

      Hope this is of some value

      Terry Hashimoto

      • Bill Schmedes III

        May 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

        Well put Terry and yes that’s what I was attempting to convey. Great article also!

      • J Sheehan

        May 13, 2014 at 2:57 am

        Very valuable and thank you. Both you and Mr. Schmedes are doing cool work. Hope to read more about what you find in the future.

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How Far Away from the Ball Should You Be at Address?

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How far away from the ball should you be at address? This video is in response to a question from Tom McCord on Facebook.

In this video, I look at the setup position. I offer a simple way to check your distance from the ball at address with your driver, irons and wedges.

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Tour Pros Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up

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You want to be better at golf, more consistent and longer off the tee. I am sure a lot of you would love to stop hurting. You would like these things with minimal work, if possible. You also want them yesterday. That about sum it up?

In the next 5 minutes, you’ll learn about the one thing that solves these problems for good. Before we dive in, though, I want to tee up three stats for you from my research.

  1. PGA Tour players can jump between 18-22 inches off the ground while LPGA Tour players can jump between 16-20 inches off the ground. Long drive competitors can often leap 30+ inches off the ground!
  2. Elite-level golfers who drive the ball 300+ yards can shot put a 6-pound ball more than 30 feet with less than a 5-percent difference in right-handed to left-handed throws.
  3. Elite golfers in the world can hurl a medicine ball with a seated chest pass just as far in feet as they can jump in inches (ie. a 20-inch vertical leap and a 20-foot seated chest pass).

What do these numbers have to do with you and your game? More importantly, what do these stats have to do with solving your problems? Let’s start by telling you what the solution is.   

Objective Assessment and Intelligent Exercise Prescription

Say that three times fast. It’s a mouth full… But seriously, read it two more times and think about what that means.

It means that before you act on anything to improve your health or your game, you need to objectively assess what the problem is and get to the root cause. You should use quality objective data to arrive at intelligent health and golf improvement decisions based on the long-term likelihood that they will be successful. We can’t just select exercises, swing changes or training aids based on what is hot in the market today or what the latest celebrity was paid big bucks to sell to us.

There is a reason why the infomercials you see today on Golf Channel will be different in 2 months. The same gimmicks run out of steam when enough people realize that is what they are… gimmicks. When looking to achieve your goals of playing better golf and/or having less pain, don’t just grab for the quick fix as so many golfers today do. 

We are in the information age. Information from quality data is power. Using this data intelligently, you can fix problems in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Hopefully, I am giving you the power to make a meaningful and lasting change in your game. I’m sorry to say that most amateurs will not be hitting 300+ yard drives despite what the latest marketing ploy will have you believe. But, if you know what tests you can do to measure the areas that affect your distance off the tee, you can at least gain insight into where your biggest return on your time investment will be. 

This is where working with a golf fitness expert can be so valuable to you. Not only can they help you interpret your results from the tests, but they will also be able to prescribe you the most effective means to move closer to 300 yards from where you are right now.  

If you have a problem with your car not accelerating as fast as you would like or not being able to reach top end speed on the highway, I hope you take it to the mechanic and don’t just look up quick fixes on YouTube to see what you can do on your own. The reason you pay the mechanic to fix your car is because that is what they do all day. They will get it done as quickly as possible. More importantly, they’ll get correctly so that the problem doesn’t pop up again in 2 weeks.

A golf fitness expert is no different. Use them for their expertise and knowledge. Once you have a diagnosis of what is holding you back and a plan to correct it, you are on your way and won’t have to waste any more time or money trying silly quick fixes that never stick.

The three statistics mentioned earlier represent numbers measured across the globe by industry leaders and at our facility 3-4 times per year on hundreds of golfers each time. Our facility has thousands of data points. With this much data comes the ability to draw conclusions from objective assessments. These conclusions drive the intelligent implementation of successful solutions directed at the root causes of problems for thousands of golfers around the globe.

The first three statistics have an R-value of over 0.85 in correlation to clubhead speed. Translation: if you perform well in the first three tests with high numbers, you are very likely to have a high club speed. Further, if you improve in any of those three tests relative to where you started, you are almost assured to have a higher club speed than when you began (assuming swing technique and equipment is relatively unchanged).  

Keep in mind that in statistics, correlation is not the same as cause and effect. But when the R-value is that close to 1 and anecdotally you have seen the results and changes we have, you put some weight behind these three tests. So:

  • See how high you can jump
  • See how far you can shot put a 6-pound medicine ball
  • See how far you can chest pass a 6-pound medicine ball from a seated position

Doing so will give you an idea of how much power you have in your lower body, total rotary system and upper body respectively. Train whichever one is the worst, or train them all if you want. Rest assured that if you improve one of them, you will more than likely increase your swing speed.  

By doing these assessments and addressing the one or two weak areas, you will improve with the least work possible. Sounds about what you were looking for, right? If you are able to identify where you need to improve BEFORE you buy whatever is claiming to fix your problems, you will save lots of money and time. You will actually start to improve with the least amount of work possible and in the least amount of time possible.  

What’s next? After completing the assessment tests, start working to improve them.

  • Coming Soon: Lower Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Upper Body Power for Golf
  • Coming Soon: Rotary Power for Golf
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The 2 Best Ways to Control the Club Face

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In this video, I explain how to control the club face correctly in the golf swing. I offer two great explanations of common issues with club face control.

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