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You CAN Handle the Truth: The Importance of Measurable Data in the Golf Swing

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There are a lot of things we can argue about: pitcher or designated hitter, Superman or Batman, Ginger or Mary Ann, Coke or Pepsi. There are equally heated debates in the golf instruction world, and those arguments often go in circles without reaching a conclusion.

In golf, technology can help settle arguments by providing us with what I like to call “measurable truth.” If I can measure something in the swing, I can show you the truth and show you what needs to change. I’m not talking about video, though. Video doesn’t give us “measurable truth.” It gives us visual evidence of something that might be happening. To achieve a measurable truth, you need to capture a golfer’s movement in three dimensions. That’s where MySwing Professional comes in.

MySwing Professional is a full-body 3D system that uses wireless sensors to measure how and how much a golfer moves during a swing (or in the case of this article, how much a golfer doesn’t move). And that’s what we coaches deal with: movement, incorrect movement or lack of movement.

Recently, I had a player come to me searching for lost distance and swing speed. He has a fantastic swing, but in our pre-lesson interview he told me he’s now a club-and-a-half shorter through the bag, hitting hybrids into most par 4’s. It was clear I had to show the “measurables” for him to know the truth.

He hit some shots with a 6 iron; we captured his swing on video and in 3D using MySwing Pro. What we saw on video looked pretty good, but the 3D data from MySwing Pro showed us something completely different. He didn’t have enough hip turn and body turn. It was measured data that gave us the real story about what was happening. It showed he was only making a three-quarter swing at best with limited hip turn and shoulder turn.

The Old, Short Swing

Short Swing

The Fix: I had to get him moving better so we could add more “punch” to his swing. The simple advice I gave him was when the hips want to stop, keep them going until the left foot rolls and the heel lifts off the ground.

We worked on that without a golf ball at first, just taking some swings casually with this improved turn and freed-up footwork. After a few reps with the new motion, I had him flip the club around so he was gripping the club head and swinging the grip. I wanted him to turn it loose and hear the loud “whoosh” of the club. Once he had these two moves down we returned to the hitting station and put the club on the ball. With the bigger turn and better move to the right he quickly regained his lost distance.

The New, Longer Swing

Improved

What I’ve found is the player learns faster when a “measurable truth” is revealed. And sometimes, that’s all the player needs: to buy in and improve at a much faster rate. For this player, improved backswing size equals no more hybrids into par 4’s, which gave him more birdie putts and allowed him to have more fun on the course. And that’s what it’s all about.

P.S. The correct answers to the start of the article are: Pitcher, Superman, Ginger and Coke.

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If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Mike

    Mar 22, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    What is a normal shoulder turn and hip turn number for a driver. For the pros? and what can or should an amateur strive for?

  2. knoofah

    Mar 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Completely disagree. The correct answers are:
    DH
    Superman
    MARYANN, all day every day
    Coke

  3. Jarno

    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:13 am

    What is the measurable stats on shot dispersion before and after?

  4. TexasSnowman

    Mar 17, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Mary Ann

  5. Dennis E Jones

    Mar 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

    “P.S. The correct answers to the start of the article are: Pitcher, Superman, Ginger and Coke.” You measured Ginger?

    • Rob Strano

      Mar 17, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Ginger 35-22-36
      Gotta have all the data Dennis!

  6. Golf Scientist

    Mar 17, 2017 at 8:56 am

    While its true that using technology to measure what’s happening, and comparing amateur golfers to pro golfers (ideally a composite model, not a single golfer who has compensations and flaws) can be beneficial. However all of that is worthless if the person interpreting the data, and giving instruction provides bad information. Swing Like a Pro (ModelGolf), Drive Like the Pros (TMATT), and Titliest Performance Institute (TPI) all have excellent pro models, but I’ve seen all of them make interpretations about the data, and give advice that has bio-mechanical, logic, and/or physics flaws.

    Robs suggestion to his student gave the student 10* more separation between the shoulders and hips at the top of the swing, but did really account for the reclaiming of distance, and did the suggestions that lead to the additional separation decrease accuracy and consistency? For people that buy into the “X-factor” distance theories its been said that its the stretch during transition not the separation at the top that account for increasing distance. (Its debatable if the body truly springs back like some people suggest. If you wind up your shoulders and thorax to its max, and then relax the tension and let the shoulders and thorax return to there natural position – not using any muscular force to turn them back – how fast and far did they move. You’ll probably note not very fast and not very far.

    Now that Rob’s student is lifting his left foot stability and consistency (for the swing from that point on) are now compromised. Lifting the foot alters posture, brings in potentially lateral slide, and now the student needs to deal with replanting the foot on the way down. Both in consistent replacement of the foot in relation to where on the ground, as well as when and how to do it. The student now has more compensation to make, and will likely be less consistent.

    Maybe the separation issue could have been solved by looking at how the student rotated (both conceptually and physically in the backswing (ex : muscles pushing vs pulling, right side vs left side, diagonally vs horizontally).

    The 10* additional rotation on the backswing may not have had anything to do with the added distance. Maybe the whooshing drill (and possibly better order or synchronization of body parts on the downswing accounted for the increased distance.

    Scientific and mathematical data about the golf swing is wonderful, but it needs to be interpreted correctly.

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Instruction

6 ways to improve your self image as a golfer

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According to a ranking done by FanSided, The Ohio State Buckeyes are the current kings of Fandom! This ranking is not limited to sports; it also includes entertainment, celebrities and even different brands.

Growing up in Michigan, I certainly take exception to seeing The Buckeyes at No. 1, but that is certainly not the point here. I went to college with a few folks from Ohio, one who was an absolute diehard Ohio State fan. He grew up rooting for the collegiate program through both the ups and the downs. We often joked about how Ohio State could not beat Michigan when we were younger, and now the Wolverines can’t seem beat the Buckeyes. But outside of our differences, when he described every trip he made to “The Horseshoe,” you could feel his fandom. As he described the people, the food, the neighborhood and the history, you could feel the aura of “The Horseshoe.” This was a special place to him, as it is to many. Every time he left, win or lose, he could not wait to return. He was and still is a raving fan.

Unfortunately, on the lesson tee, I usually hear a different story. I rarely hear golfers describe their own game in good favor. Instead, I hear them talk poorly of every aspect of their game. I rarely hear anyone who is truly a raving fan of his or her own game. I am by no means giving anyone the green light to be arrogant, but to display confidence and develop a positive self-image. I hear plenty about how good other golfers are: Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, even some of their buddies or co-workers who shoot no better scores than they do! The best players at any level are raving fans of their own games. So how do we change our own self-image and fall in love with our own game?

The key is understanding our mental self-image. Many people want to change their strategy. “I need new clubs. I need a better swing. I need everything!” What I want you to do is change your story. I want you to realize that inside, if you can change your mental approach from “I’m a 100’s shooter” to “I’m a bogey golfer,” you can start achieving that goal. If someone asks me what I shoot, I’ll tell them between 69 and 76. Someone who shoots 110 will tell you he shoots between 105 and 110. How can someone be that consistent with that high of a score? It’s simple; that is the game that golfer plays. It’s his self-image.

So again, how do we change it? Here are six ways to get started. 

1. Visualize Your Game

Every day, I want you to write out a scorecard. I don’t care what you use: a piece of paper, on a scorecard, on an iPhone note. What I want you to do is visualize your round. Simply think of where you normally hit your drive and where you normally hit it on the green. Play each hole normally as you would on the course. What you’ll find is that you’re not going to make any double or triple bogeys, because you’re simply playing the holes the way you have before. That will add up to a score that is 5, 10, or maybe even 15 shots lower. It will also start to give you the understanding that to shoot those scores it isn’t about perfect shots, but solid rounds of golf. If you haven’t visualized it, how can you possibly achieve it?

2. Keep Your Commitments to Yourself

Make a game plan and stick to it, case closed. Be it instruction, fitness, diet, playing more… don’t cheat yourself, just do it. Keep a journal, as journaling helps you see growth and makes it easier to stay committed.

3. Educate Yourself

We live in an information age, so choose wisely. The internet can be hard to navigate, but follow trusted sources, read books, or pick up the phone and call someone who can answer your questions. As you learn more about your game, the information will become easier to apply and you’ll see growth.

4. Be Consistent

Commit to good habits and then consistently follow through. You will start to impress yourself when it becomes routine, and when it is routine is when you see results.

5. Acknowledge and Fix Problems

I’m not saying that you should be trying to fix every problem with your golf swing. If you are giving your golf game a true assessment, however, and you’re doing what you can to address issues, you will know that you are truly doing your best.

6. Deliver on Your Game Plan +1 Percent

Ask yourself what you could do to give it the +1 percent. You don’t need to be 50 percent better. Just 1 percent can take you from satisfied to a raving fan. Commit to what you want, follow through with the commitment, add the extra 1 percent and you will be well on your way to becoming a raving fan of your own game.

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Instruction

Shallowing the Club: Two Moves to Avoid (Part 1)

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It’s the move we all want in the downswing… and rightfully so. Shallowing the club is a great way to put your swing on plane and really start to narrow you misses. All shallowing moves are not equal, however; in fact, there are a couple that you’ll definitely want to try to avoid because they can actually have the opposite effect!

We’ve broken this series into two parts to make it more digestible. This is Part 1. Thank you for watching!

Shallowing the Club: Two Moves to Avoid (Part 2) is coming soon!

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WATCH: How to hit better pitch shots by improving weight transfer

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In this video, I use technology to help you better understand how you can pitch the ball like the pros.

When pitching, you may have learned to keep your weight on your lead foot throughout the shot. That’s not always the best approach. With BodiTrak, I show you how to move your weight correctly to achieve more consistent strikes.

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