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9 Reasons You Should be Using Pressure-Measuring Devices to Improve Your Golf Swing

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New technology can be intimidating, for both the student as well as the instructor. That might surprise you… an instructor is intimidated, too? As instructors, we need to be able to understand the data that new technology is sharing with us first, and that takes some time. We then need to be able to connect the dots on how new technology affects technique. Finally, we need to be able to communicate the simplest, most efficient way to improve each individual student’s game.

After spending close to a year with a pressure-measuring device called BodiTrak, a mat that records a golfer’s ground forces throughout the swing, I thought you might like to know how I’ve been using it to help my students with their golf games. Below are 9 reasons why I believe golfers should be using pressure-measuring devices — at least every once in while — to improve their golf swings.

1. A Better Setup

Improper Set Up

This golfer has more pressure on her trail foot and lead heel at setup.

It’s amazing how poorly some golfers set up to use the ground efficiently at address. They’ve put themselves in a position where their athlete is already in recovery mode, due to their poor setup.

Here are the characteristics that I like to see.

Students should start with slightly more pressure on their lead foot, maybe 55 percent. They should also start with more pressure (again, about 55 percent) on their lead toe and trail heel. This set-up position starts the domino effect for a solid golf swing.

2. Improved Balance

Linear Trace

This golfer has a linear trace during his motion, a characteristic of good balance and consistency.

If you are out of balance during your golf swing, you’re in trouble. Your body has to expend more energy subconsciously to make sure you don’t fall over. That means you’re using less energy completing the task of hitting your golf ball.

Your body is a lot like your computer; the more programs that are open and running, the slower your computer performs. Balance works the same way. If you’re in balance, your body can perform with more efficiency and speed.

3. Quantify Feel

You’ve heard this before; what you feel is not always real. These devices can give you exact measurements for your technique and take the guess work out of the equation.  One of my favorite examples is helping my students feel the proper sequence of events of applying pressure to the lead foot.

4. There Are 7 Different Center of Pressure Traces

Fish Hook Trace

This golfer’s trace looks like a fish hook, doesn’t it?

The seven center of pressure (COP) traces are:

  • Scattered
  • Linear
  • Heel to Toe
  • Fish Hook
  • Abbreviated
  • Power Trace
  • Power Z Trace

They all have their own unique qualities. Some are great for power, while some are great for consistency. Some will make your golf game challenging. Being able to apply the proper trace for your game will lead to better golf.

5. The Change of Direction for Our Downswing Starts with the Lower Body

This golfer's COP is starting to move toward the target just after his left arm is parallel to the ground. Note the white Box labeled "lateral" in the top right corner has a "3," signifying a motion towards the target.

This golfer’s COP is starting to move toward the target just after his left arm is parallel to the ground. Note the white Box labeled “lateral” in the top right corner has a “3,” signifying a motion towards the target.

This change of direction takes place prior to our arms completing the backswing motion.  If you want a ballpark figure, the body starts moving toward the target for a full swing somewhere around your trail arm being parallel to the ground during your backswing.

6. There is a Distinct Difference Between a Driver Trace and an Iron Trace

The COP for a driver trace has a small change of direction, back away from the target, prior to impact. Most iron traces do not. This “braking effect” can help golfers swing more up on the ball and maximize their launch conditions with a more ascending strike.

7. Your COP Trace Can Help Change the Shape of Your Shot

Are you trying to execute more of a push path? Try to move your pressure to your lead toe on the downswing. If you are trying to hit a pull path, move your pressure to your lead heal on the downswing.

8. For More Distance, You Need to Increase Your Peak Velocity 

Peak Velocity

This golfer’s Peak Velocity (Measured @ 211 centimeters/second) has taken place in between the top of the backswing and prior to the lead arm being parallel to the ground.

The Peak Velocity is the fastest lateral motion in your golf swing. Most male touring professionals have their peak velocity taking place prior to their lead arm being parallel to the ground on their downswing.

9. Your Toes and Heels play very different roles in your golf swing

This Golfer has too much pressure on his toes, during the first move for his downswing. 100% is on the lead foot, 90% is on the trail foot.

This golfer has too much pressure on his toes during the first move for his downswing.

Your toes start and stop the lateral motion of your golf swing. Your heels help your body rotate correctly on both your backswing and downswing. I will tell you right now, if you think you are only an athlete with more pressure on your toes, you’re likely not getting the most out of your golf game! Using your toes and heels with the correct sequence will help you play better golf.

Hopefully, one or all of these 9 reasons for using a pressure-measuring device has piqued your interest. These devices are wonderful tools that can help you improve your golf game. Knowledge is power, so increase your knowledge about your foot work and find a more powerful golf game. Good luck!

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. M

    Apr 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    For point #1 about setup – is there any way to work on setup or know if you have a bit too much on the back foot and toward your heels without one of these devices?

    I suppose one of those inflatable balance rods would give you some idea at least about heel-toe.

    • Tim Mitchell

      May 2, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      M…I have an article in the works that will address this shortly. Sorry to ask for you to wait. Thank for your patience!

  2. nick

    Apr 24, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    this device doesn’t look like many people would find comfortable to use . i like standing on what I’m hitting, and it looks like it would impact my standard swing . i like to use my feet to feel and initiate my swing

    • Tim Mitchell

      May 2, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      It’s pretty stable Nick. I can think of a number of conditions out on the course that are a lot less secure. Bunkers, pine needles, dirt, etc. Plus, it’s not so thick that you feel like the golf ball is significantly lower than your feet. The information it shares, IMO, is worth any nuisance that you might feel.

  3. farmer

    Apr 24, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    This is kind of like Trackman. All you have to do is find someone who owns one and knows how to correctly interpret the data. Then, all this person has to do is effectively communicate to the student what the data means and how to make whatever changes are necessary. No problem.

  4. NJP

    Apr 23, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Number 1 reason….so instructors can charge you more for fancy gadgets without even helping you get the fundamentals right first.

    • Jay

      May 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Funny – I always thought proper balance was one of the fundamentals???

  5. Large chris

    Apr 23, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I was sceptical about these devices a couple of years ago but I think as the knowledge base improves in terms of ‘what pros do, their pressure traces’, then there increasing value in it. The problem I always had with this is when coaches (ek Kostis) are trying to talk in terms of ‘weight’ and CofG rather than pressure.
    Anything that helps get the setup correct is very valuable. Less knowledgeable instructors try to analyse static frames of the swing as if knowing where the CofG is tells you where the foot pressure is, which is meaningless in a dynamic system.

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Swing speed vs. quality impact

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In today’s age of hitting the ball as hard and as far as you can on tour, I am amazed at the number of amateur golfers who totally disregard the idea of quality impact. In fact, you can hit the ball further with better impact than you can with poor impact and more speed (to a point.) Sure, if you can kick the clubhead speed up 10 MPH-plus versus your normal speed, then this is not a requirement, but in reality most players only swing a few MPH faster when they actually try. Yes, this is true, I see it day after day. You might think you can swing 10 MPH faster but rarely do I see more than 2-3 MPH tops.

I had a student that came in the other day and was obsessed with swinging harder but when he did his impacts were terrible! When I put him on Trackman and showed him the data he was astounded that he could swing slower yet produce more distance.

Here was a typical swing he made when swinging faster 105.8 mph where the impact was low on the face and the ball carried 222.3 yards.


Here was a typical swing he made when swinging slower 102.9 mph where the impact was much better on the face and the ball carried 242.7 yards.

Now, obviously we know that this works to a certain degree of swing speed but it does show you that focusing on quality impact is a key as well. I’m always telling my players that I want them to swing as hard and as fast as they can AND maintain quality impact location — if you can do both then you can have it all!

The best way to understand impact quality without dismantling your swing is to use foot spray to coat the face of the club then hit a few balls to see where impact normally occurs and see if you can adjust.


If you can, great, if not, then go see your teaching professional and figure out why so you can find quality impact once and for all!

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Leo Rooney, Director of Performance at Urban Golf Performance, shows you how to get ready to hit balls and/or hit the golf course.

Who is Leo Rooney?

Director of Performance at Urban Golf Performance
B.Sc Exercise Physiology
TPI, NSCA

Leo Rooney played 16 years of competitive golf, in both college and professionally. He got a degree in exercise physiology and has worked with anyone from top tour players to beginners. Leo is now the Director of Performance at Urban Golf Performance and is responsible for the overall operations but still works closely with some elite tour players and the UCLA Men’s Golf Team.

He also has experience in long driving with a personal best 445-yard drive in the 2010 European Long driving Championship.

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Tip of the week: Let the left heel lift for a bigger turn to the top

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In this week’s tip, Tom Stickney gives a suggestion that would make Brandel Chamblee proud: lift the left heel on the backswing for a bigger turn.

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