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Swing Speed - technique vs athletic ability


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#1 Legend McSniff

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:13 AM

Hi Guys,

This has been bugging me.

I just fitted a guy for a Driver, 5 foot 8 inches, 60 kg, been to the driving range twice in his life.

Swing speed = 120 mph

I've been playing for 20+ years, to a decent handicap and I swing my driver at 96mph.

I'm bigger and by most standards probably as strong as this guy.

What gives here, clearly this individule must have a strong athletic advantage over me, i dont think his technique can be better as he was hitting it all over the clubface and to all corners of the compass but there is no denying the raw power is there.

I guess my actual question is how much is Swing Speed related to technique and how much does it relate to bodytype, athletic ability.?

I would hazard a guess that once you have a half decent swing, only between 5-10% extra MPH would be available through improving technique and your actual physical make up is FAR more significant with regards to how far you hit the ball.

Thoughts??

Edited by Legend McSniff, 12 June 2012 - 10:18 AM.


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#2 ckates7

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:52 AM

without going into a long post....I compete in long drive, am off this year with my son being born in a month, but to make it short physical makeup means jack on swing speed. I'm 5'11, 180lbs and when competing can get up to 140mph clubhead speed. Perfect example of this is Jamie Sadlowski. The kid is 5'10 165lbs and a 2x long drive world champion. It's all about flexibility, lag, and core strength, and just working on swinging faster.  These are a few photos of Jamie, and as you can tell, the flexibility and lag is absolutely incredible.Posted Image
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#3 exgolfpro

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:53 AM

View PostLegend McSniff, on 12 June 2012 - 10:13 AM, said:

Hi Guys,

This has been bugging me.

I just fitted a guy for a Driver, 5 foot 8 inches, 60 kg, been to the driving range twice in his life.

Swing speed = 120 mph

I've been playing for 20+ years, to a decent handicap and I swing my driver at 96mph.

I'm bigger and by most standards probably as strong as this guy.

What gives here, clearly this individule must have a strong athletic advantage over me, i dont think his technique can be better as he was hitting it all over the clubface and to all corners of the compass but there is no denying the raw power is there.

I guess my actual question is how much is Swing Speed related to technique and how much does it relate to bodytype, athletic ability.?

I would hazard a guess that once you have a half decent swing, only between 5-10% extra MPH would be available through improving technique and your actual physical make up is FAR more significant with regards to how far you hit the ball.

Thoughts??

Well, I am sort of in the same boat you are.  I am 45yrs old, 5'11" and 181lbs.  Pretty good shape for the shape im in;).  Over the years, i've increased my clubhead speed from about 93, up to 108mph.  Currently I play most days at around 103-105mph.  I am a 1 handicap.

I tell you all of this because the 3 guys i play with are all shorter than me and except for 1, are not in the best shape.  But their clubhead speeds range from 105-112.  My technique is better, and I shoot lower scores.  But, I can't swing as hard as they do.  I guess we are born with it.

#4 Lefthook

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:54 AM

Explosivity and the ability to create speed is to a large extent something you're born with. And those who have more of this than most seem to be able to generate a lot of ch speed without a good swing.

But I think there is more to gain than 5-10% in swing speed increase from a half decent swing to a really good swing. It is a rare thing to see people with really good swing mechanics and low swing speeds.

#5 farmer

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:09 AM

You can improve speed with good technique, just because you aren't wasting power.  However, you have to have those fast twitch muscles to really get the speed, and I think you're born with them or you're not.


#6 MadGolfer76

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:15 AM

Meh, I am an out of shape house right now, but I can still swing about as fast as anyone.
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#7 tesuquegolfer

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:20 AM

I have wondered this myself.  I am now 50 and don't swing as hard as I used to.  I am now about 104 mph but used to be 115.  I played with a 25 year old the other day and he was swinging with his right arm due to a shoulder injury and he hit one about 290.  He probably has a 120+ SS and can hit it 300+ all day long when healthy.  He has only been playing for 4 years but has good technique and lots of athleticism being a hockey player.  I hear he has a hell of a slap shot.  I don't think I am weaker then I used to be but I would guess I am smoother and I now try to score more than I used to, so I know I don't swing 100%.  However, I am still trying to find a little yardage and realize as I age I have to work a little harder to stay flexible and healthy.  In fact, I had some tendinitis in my elbow about a month ago and then I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago.  Those were wake up calls and I am now working on getting fit and stretching more often.

#8 bmellisen

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:29 AM

I think there are natural advantages.  I am 6'5'', with long arms(or average for my height).  I can generate a lot of speed just because my arc is naturally longer.  People I play with say it doesnt look like a swing hard, or even that fast, but I am over 110 and can get up to 120 if i want to.  But technique is important as well.  If you cast and come ott you are going to lose a lot of potential for speed.

#9 aadamoni

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:11 PM

I am no short hitter, swing speed 105-110, but I play with two guys that never took lessons, have unorthadox swings, and they both have swing speeds +120.  They play pretty well to.  Both played hockey and baseball as kids.  I played tennis.  I think there is something about baseball and hockey that preps you for golf.

#10 ckates7

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:23 PM

FYI, yes Jamie was a hockey player as well.


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#11 cb24

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:26 PM

definitely a combo of athleticism and technique.  I have always been on the athletic side which helped me start at a higher level but i also did the over the top which counteracted that.  When I actually swing correctly I can get up to 115 and am not in amazing shape but I played a lot of baseball so I think you learned how to connect the parts by experience that is tough to teach in golf.  Also people are always trying to swing harder instead of trying to move the club faster and smoother.

#12 juststeve

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:29 PM

An Athlete’s ability to create speed is largely a function of innate gifts.  Technique can enhance those gifts but no amount of technique will make one run like Usain Bolt, or throw like Nolan Ryan.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it could?

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#13 skendall08

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:31 PM

Athleticism, practice, and wrist flexability.


Athleticism allows the player to keep good technique through the swing or do swings that most people cant because of hand-eye coordination.

Practice allows the player who swings as fast as they can time to get their timing on point and hit the ball straight. Meaning, most people don't swing as hard as they can because they don't practice and it is not accurate which Fairway>extra 10 yards.

Wrist flexability is for hand lag which is the whip at the bottom of the swing. Most people dont have the flexability here and release the club to early taking off clubhead speed.

#14 marte

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:41 PM

I've golfed with a guy maybe 55, 5'9", 200 lbs, burly ex-logger, strong as a horse...golfed maybe 5-6 years, never a lesson, has absolutely no technique, very short backswing, swings hard, rarely holds his balance at the end of the swing (falls sideways), in other words his swing is truly ugly...but...he is incredibly long with driver...and rarely anywhere near the fairway.  He hits it with nothing but brute strength and I guess a bit of athleticism as he does make contact with the ball.
I agree with Farmer..."You can improve speed with good technique, just because you aren't wasting power. However, you have to have those fast twitch muscles to really get the speed, and I think you're born with them or you're not."  I think if the guy I talked about had some technique he would be even longer.

#15 bepo

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 12:41 PM

I have a friend who is almost identical to me in height, size and strength.  He might max out at 105 mph if he had perfect technique while I can get it up to 130.  I can practically guarantee the difference is the fact I played hockey for 15 years growing up verses he played tennis.  There's something about playing a fast twitch sport like hockey or baseball growing up that develops the muscles to swing fast.  It's hard to develop those once you stop growing in my opinion.


#16 adamyounggolf

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:35 PM

Some people are born with more fast twicth muscel fibres and have a genetic predisposition to be able to fire them faster. If you gave 100 kids all of the same height and weight a ball and told them to throw it as far as possible, some would be abel to throw much further than others.

The techniques associated with speed usually develop as a result of their physical abilty to produce speed, not the reverse. Remeber, correlation does not imply causation.

Sure you can improve it by training, better techniques, practice etc, but there will be a genetic limit to which you will reach regarding clubhead speed. Its like.

Saying that anyone can swing 120+mph is like saying anyone can be a pro bodybuilder. even with all the drugs, all the training, all the correct food and supplements, some are going to still be weedy (although less weedy) and some will be huge. Just because all the huge guys got here doing the same things doesnt mean doing the same things will get you there. The same applies to swing speed. The same applies to business. The same applies to everything in life. Call it talent, call it genetics. it exists and is a fact of life.

I know people who train harder than tiger, wake up earlier, hit more balls, have more motivation, more need, better technique. Yet they cant break 75 rounda regular lenght course. Sure they are good, but are they going to be tiger woods??? I'll wait and see, but my guess is no

#17 tocino

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:45 PM

I'm 6'2" 175 and I max out around 115. I do t feel like I swing too hard but I have long arms for my height. I I could get my core strength up and my flexibility back as well as learning better technique, I could probably break 120.

My problem is if I feel like Im swinging too hard on my driver the the ball will go in every other direction but the green. I feel more comfortable swinging around 100-105 as it gives me a little more control. I'd love to be able to harness that extra 10 mph some day
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#18 driverwedge

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:56 PM

Technique is a great fine-tuner of athletic ability.  That's what happened to me anyway.  I started the game (in 2002) after going to the driving range a few times and thinking to myself "Self, I can hit the ball pretty far".  Then I said to myself "Self, but you're hitting it everywhere!".  "I'll work on direction later", I then said to myself.  After a year or so of shooting in the 90s and dropping the occasional absurd, silly bomb on the course (total bomb and gouge player), I found an LD qualifier and thought that may be fun.  I made some friends on the range and saw that everyone was playing drivers WAY longer than mine.  I had my stock 7.5* Cobra X-Speed/NV Stiff at 45". A few folks had LMs and everyone was taking a few turns.  I borrowed a buddy's 47.5" SMT 455 Deep Bore (4*) and gave it a go.  I did surprisingly well.  Swing speed in the Mid/upper 130s.  Later on 3 different monitors including trackman, I maxed out at 142.  Flipping, no hip turn, standing up on my downswing, etc.  Complete lack of technique.  It wasn't pretty.  I couldn't keep it in the grid.  My ball speed was also pretty low for what my head speed was due to poor contact.  Just because you can swing fast, doesn't mean you can hit the ball well.  I was proof of that at 6" and 200lbs (jacked beef of course) and a former racquetball player (don't laugh!  Sean "the beast" Fister hits racquetballs for his workout).  

Now I'm out of the gym, not practicing (9 month old daughter) and my driver head speed is a shadow of what it was.  The fun thing is, I'm down to a 2 handicap and have never hit my irons, woods and hybrid longer or more accurate.  Now If we can eliminate putting from the game, I'd be all set.

Edit:  Small font was annoying.

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#19 MileHi

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:51 PM

Good question.  I hit the ball very far (120-125mph clubhead speed without even going after it) and my friends just don't get it, because I'm by far the least athletic person out of the group.  I'm a mess on the basketball court, and for that matter have never been good at any sport other than golf.  I don't think you'd call what I have athletic ability.

Edited by MileHi, 12 June 2012 - 03:52 PM.


#20 Rosco1216

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:05 PM

Fast twitch muscle fibers can be gained by adding explosive moves in your workout regimen.  I'd say the biggest factors are flexibility and the ability to create coil between your shoulders and hips.  Once you have good technique and a sound swing, all the working out and better shape will gain you a little distance and a little more SS but really it just helps you swing that speed with less effort.

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#21 jeffrott

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:25 PM

I just turned 47 years old today. I have lost a significant amount of distance in the past few years. I believe this is due to natural aging process, I am not as flexible, don't work out as often due to a number of reasons, ie bad back, arthritis, just plain overworked. Once upon a time when I played baseball, soccer, basketball, worked out, walked, rode my back, I was working on and maintaining the mysterious fast twitch muscles everyone is referring to. How many times in your life have you swung a golf club. I bet the guys on tour, long drive tour have swung theirs thousands of times more than you. Every time you swing you are working on these muscles, and tendons and fibers that lay beneath our skin. I am going to begin a new workout routine, more reps, less weight. Also going to incorporate more explosive exercises like box jumps, medicine ball throws. I'll keep everyone updated on my progress. A new $500.00 Driver is no substitute for sweat equity. Plus we may all live, longer, healthier lives. Just my .02 cents.

#22 adamyounggolf

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:20 PM

View PostRosco1216, on 12 June 2012 - 04:05 PM, said:

Fast twitch muscle fibers can be gained by adding explosive moves in your workout regimen.  I'd say the biggest factors are flexibility and the ability to create coil between your shoulders and hips.  Once you have good technique and a sound swing, all the working out and better shape will gain you a little distance and a little more SS but really it just helps you swing that speed with less effort.

True, but you only have a certain amount that are able to be converted. some have more than others, and some have already more fast twitch naturally. Most of it is genetic, training can influence, but again, the amount of influence will be limited to your genes.

#23 northgolf

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:30 PM

View Postadamyounggolf, on 12 June 2012 - 05:20 PM, said:

View PostRosco1216, on 12 June 2012 - 04:05 PM, said:

Fast twitch muscle fibers can be gained by adding explosive moves in your workout regimen.  I'd say the biggest factors are flexibility and the ability to create coil between your shoulders and hips.  Once you have good technique and a sound swing, all the working out and better shape will gain you a little distance and a little more SS but really it just helps you swing that speed with less effort.

True, but you only have a certain amount that are able to be converted. some have more than others, and some have already more fast twitch naturally. Most of it is genetic, training can influence, but again, the amount of influence will be limited to your genes.

Please cite references that back up your opinion.

#24 Cicero

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:10 PM

I think your potential ceiling is determined by what you bring to the table genetically.  How much of that potential you realize is due largely to training and technique, IMO.

I also don't think that the presence of guys like Sadlowski or Lincecum negates the benefits of strength when it comes to producing speed/power.  It just means that there's more than one way to create clubhead speed.

By way of example, I recently had a driver fitting on Trackman where I hurt my back during warmup.  But I was too stubborn to stop and leave.  During the fitting, I was averaging almost 116 mph, topping out at 119.  I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have done much better than this speed wise (although I think it contributed to me hooking the crap out of the ball the whole session).  What it says to me is that my hands and arms are the biggest contributors to my speed, and that I produce that speed because I have strong, kind-of fast hands and arms.

I don't know exactly how one would go about it, but I'm guessing that, when it comes to producing speed, every individual golfer would do well to figure out what they do best to produce speed.  Whether you need to be more aggressive with your arms or your body; whether you'd benefit from getting stronger or faster or more flexible, or from improving your technique, I'm guessing that it's gonna be a little different for everyone.

#25 Ezgolfer

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:34 PM

How about me ??
Normal swing 103-105 keep it in fairway 250-260 .
When the ball is not in front of me , i can generate 115 on practice swings .
I try to hit the ball with my practice swings .... fore right ..
I feel that if i connect with 115 i will add 20-30 more yards .
So it seems i have the twitch muscles but can not hit the ball with fast swing .


#26 lsu_justin

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:51 PM

I've been doing overspeed training and in less than a week raised my max from 110 to 115.

#27 Gbyeball

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:53 PM

Genetics plays a huge part, much bigger than most give credit to. Think back on your grade school and high school days. There were guys that just were able to run faster, jump higher and move quicker than others. I ran track, played hockey, basketball and football and was always just natrualy fast. There were others that were much stronger than me, different muscle fiber mix. I boxed for a number of years and had really fast hand speed, other boxers that I trained with were always trying to increase their speed and it just came naturally to me.

The OP's statment about the newbie swinging a driver at 120 mph with NO technique makes the point that some people are just born with muscles that are able to fire insanely fast.
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#28 Steve Ryan

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:58 PM

Watch this guy swing at 98 MPH and be amazed.

Swing speed comes from staying loose, flexibility and having good fundamentals.

Fast forward the video to 1:30


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#29 adamyounggolf

adamyounggolf

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:42 AM

View Postnorthgolf, on 12 June 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

View Postadamyounggolf, on 12 June 2012 - 05:20 PM, said:

View PostRosco1216, on 12 June 2012 - 04:05 PM, said:

Fast twitch muscle fibers can be gained by adding explosive moves in your workout regimen.  I'd say the biggest factors are flexibility and the ability to create coil between your shoulders and hips.  Once you have good technique and a sound swing, all the working out and better shape will gain you a little distance and a little more SS but really it just helps you swing that speed with less effort.

True, but you only have a certain amount that are able to be converted. some have more than others, and some have already more fast twitch naturally. Most of it is genetic, training can influence, but again, the amount of influence will be limited to your genes.

Please cite references that back up your opinion.


Mills et al. (2001) . “Differential expression of the actin-binding proteins, alpha-actinin-2 and -3, in different species: implications for the evolution of functional redundancy.” Hum Mol Genet10(13):1335-46.

Santiago et al. (2008) . “ACTN3 genotype in professional soccer players.” Br J Sports Med 42(1):71-3.

Yang et al. (2003) . “ACTN3 genotype is associated with human elite athletic performance.” Am J Hum Genet 73(3):627-31.

MacArthur and North (2004) . “A gene for speed? The evolution and function of alpha-actinin-3.” Bioessays 26(7):786-95.

Lucia et al. (2006) . “ACTN3 Genotype in Professional Endurance Cyclists.” Int J Sports Med 27(11):880-4.

Niemi and Majamaa (2005) . “Mitochondrial DNA and ACTN3 genotypes in Finnish elite endurance and sprint athletes.” Eur J Hum Genet 13(8):965-9.

Moran et al. (2007) . “Association analysis of the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism and complex quantitative body composition and performance phenotypes in adolescent Greeks.” Eur J Hum Genet15(1):88-93.

Clarkson et al. (2005) . “ACTN3 genotype is associated with increases in muscle strength in response to resistance training in women.” J Appl Physiol 99(1):154-63.

MacArthur et al. (2007) . “Loss of ACTN3 gene function alters mouse muscle metabolism and shows evidence of positive selection in humans.” Nat Genet 39(10):1261-5.

Vincent et al. (2007) . “The ACTN3 (R577X) genotype is associated with fiber type distribution.” Physiol Genomics 32(1):58-63.

MacArthur et al. (2008) . “An Actn3 knockout mouse provides mechanistic insights into the association between alpha-actinin-3 deficiency and human athletic performance.” Hum Mol Genet17(8):1076-86.


#30 StevenF

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:33 AM

Sweet, I wonder what my swing speed is.  I've been playing hockey for 18 years.

D: King Cobra 460SZ 9*
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H: Ping G10 21*
I: Ping Eye 2's 4-PW
W: G15 U, Eye2 SW, Hogan Apex 60
P: old Ping Anser 2 w/ Superstroke 1.0

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