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To use video, Trackman or both?

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Trackman vs. Video

Video analysis has indeed changed the way we practice, play and view our golf swings. With the advent of Doppler radar launch monitors like Trackman and FlightScope, teachers now understand that “position golf” isn’t the way to help many golfers play their best. In fact, there are some positions that indeed look better on camera, but the player cannot put the ball in the hole from there.

Trackman users such as myself will tell you that if you use only video you can be fooled when you draw lines, as video only represents a 2D view of your swing. Trackman and FlightScope show impact and ball data in 3D, which is more accurate. But sometimes, trying to consistently hit the “proper” numbers can be just as harmful.

Some teachers only use video, others only use Trackman or FlightScope, but the burning question remains: “What is more important to the player?”

Trackman Grab

This Trackman screen gives instructors the detailed numerical data necessary to analyze each shot hit in the utmost detail.

I have been in the instructional world teaching golf full time for more than 20 years, and I have used video and Trackman extensively. I have seen issues with BOTH technologies if not conglomerated in the correct way. Some teachers only use video, drawing lines all over the screen. They focus on each position as if it were gospel. This type of video instruction can be very detrimental to the students who possess an idiosyncratic characteristic not allowing them to hit the “key” position. On the flip side, I know Trackman-based teachers who hardly look up from their data screens. When data is an instructor’s only focus, it can also be a problem. Golfers are not robots, and no golfer is consistent to get the proper numbers every time.

So what’s the solution?

In my opinion, instructors must merge the benefits of video and Trackman/FlightScope in order to be the best teacher they can be for the student at hand. If students need a less mechanical focus, it might be best to use the Trackman/FlightScope. An instructor can have them hit a few shots trying to make the numbers move in a more positive direction. Other times, students might be too caught up in trying to make the data too perfect. So an instructor might want to flip on the video to show that just because a golfer’s angle of attack is a touch too much down, they are swinging just fine from the video perspective.

It is up to the TEACHER to figure out the personality of their students and make sure their lessons work best for each player. A learning style that helps the student is the one that should strived for, not the one that is most comfortable for the teacher!

A note for golfers: If your instructor uses a style that sways toward too much video or too much Trackman and it is frustrating you, then you must have a conversation with them. You will NOT improve using a learning style that goes against your natural style of learning!

Read More Tom Stickney II : What Flightscope and Trackman can tell you (and me)

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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at [email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Raka Agung

    Jan 17, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Great article Tom. Really love to have regular access to Trackman/Flight Scope
    However for most if us here, access to that system would be expensive and difficult.
    Based in your experience have you ever used sensor system that embedded in player hands or clubs, such as golfsense? Is it usefull?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 17, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Great question; no I have not, but anything is better than nothing in my opinion…

  2. Frank

    Jan 16, 2014 at 12:05 am

    This is why I like instructors like Mark Crossfield on You Tube. He works in both spectrum. I have learned more from his posts than any instructor that I have paid money to learn from. By using the drills he teaches and advice he give, I have bettered my game by 6-8 strokes a round and had a record year for myself.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 16, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Each of us have our strengths for sure.

  3. J

    Jan 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Flightscope is garbage compared to Trackman. I don’t get why this article talks about video vs trackman because trackman has video built in. If you have access to trackman and refuse to use it your ignorance is more like stupidity. Both student and teacher need to be held accountable at all times.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 16, 2014 at 12:47 am

      My article speaks about video and tm because some students don’t have access to both. The student should use the tools that work best for their game.

  4. Nick

    Jan 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Great article, Tom. It should be required reading for every teaching professional.

  5. Paul

    Jan 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Great article, and that aoa is crazy tom! you get alot out of that 100mph swing!
    For me personally, I feel like I can learn more by seeing the data (with trackman) as opposed to someone telling me that “x” is happening and you need to do “y”. With my instructor, for example, I have a slight ott move, and just by being in a room by myself with trackman for the first time I fiddled with my swing to try to manipulate my path. For me, I learn best when I can see the data and interpret it, as opposed to listening, digesting the info, and trying to implement it. He will come in every 20 mins or so and check up on things and discuss what I am doing and offer advice, but it is a much easier way to learn cause and effect.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      I set it for 14,000 feet so it goes farther…makes me look better! Ha. Seriously, it’s nice to experiment with feels to see what works best.

  6. Ben

    Jan 14, 2014 at 10:32 am

    What if your local option is on-range instruction with no video or trackman/flightscope? What do you recommend then?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      You must always do best with what tools you have available. They are not a necessity but they are nice to have.

  7. Graeme

    Jan 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I practiced position golf all my junior days and even though it looked good, I hit a brick wall when I got to 3 handicap at 15yrs old. Now with better knowledge with thanks to technology like Trackman Ive now recently reduced my handicap to +2. I’d personally rather stay away from video technology but do understand that for those that like visual learning it can be of some benefit to see the before & after but apart from that, video gets a big thumbs down from me.

  8. Todd Dugan

    Jan 14, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Radar and video are simply tools which allow the skilled user to diagnose and prescribe better. In the hands of the unskilled, they are of little use.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 14, 2014 at 9:13 am

      All technology is only as good as the operator using it for sure…thx.

  9. Johnny Appelseed

    Jan 14, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Ben Hogan didnt need this and neither do it. Its a ball and a stick. Get up there and hit it

    • Ian

      Jan 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      That’s laughable… If Hogan had access to track man he would’ve been all over it.

    • jmplautz

      Jan 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Hogan was a big proponent of using video analysis. Was a very early adopter. If he was willing to use that, it’s not a big stretch to think that he would use modern technologies.

      • Andrew Cooper

        Jan 15, 2014 at 3:38 am

        No question Hogan would have used the new technology (and was an early video user) but would it have made him a better golfer?

  10. Russel Johnson

    Jan 14, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Tom,
    Another great article…. I believe in Trackman and all that it has too offer. I like you have a long history of teaching without this technology. Now true knowledge can be brought to the fore front and our thoughts can be validated numerically. I believe marrying the two styles is the best way to get the give info without that is confusing. Establishing a baseline with the Trackman then using that to help solve the cause and effect. I have found that to be a very effective way to balance old and new teachings.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jan 14, 2014 at 2:28 am

      That’s how I try and use my v1 system and trackman daily…you’re spot on sir. Thx.

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Instruction

How a towel can fix your golf swing

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This is a classic drill that has been used for decades. However, the world of marketed training aids has grown so much during that time that this simple practice has been virtually forgotten. Because why teach people how to play golf using everyday items when you can create and sell a product that reinforces the same thing? Nevertheless, I am here to give you helpful advice without running to the nearest Edwin Watts or adding something to your Amazon cart.

For the “scoring clubs,” having a solid connection between the arms and body during the swing, especially through impact, is paramount to creating long-lasting consistency. And keeping that connection throughout the swing helps rotate the shoulders more to generate more power to help you hit it farther. So, how does this drill work, and what will your game benefit from it? Well, let’s get into it.

Setup

You can use this for basic chip shots up to complete swings. I use this with every club in my bag, up to a 9 or 8-iron. It’s natural to create incrementally more separation between the arms and body as you progress up the set. So doing this with a high iron or a wood is not recommended.

While you set up to hit a ball, simply tuck the towel underneath both armpits. The length of the towel will determine how tight it will be across your chest but don’t make it so loose that it gets in the way of your vision. After both sides are tucked, make some focused swings, keeping both arms firmly connected to the body during the backswing and follow through. (Note: It’s normal to lose connection on your lead arm during your finishing pose.) When you’re ready, put a ball in the way of those swings and get to work.

Get a Better Shoulder Turn

Many of us struggle to have proper shoulder rotation in our golf swing, especially during long layoffs. Making a swing that is all arms and no shoulders is a surefire way to have less control with wedges and less distance with full swings. Notice how I can get in a similar-looking position in both 60° wedge photos. However, one is weak and uncontrollable, while the other is strong and connected. One allows me to use my larger muscles to create my swing, and one doesn’t. The follow-through is another critical point where having a good connection, as well as solid shoulder rotation, is a must. This drill is great for those who tend to have a “chicken wing” form in their lead arm, which happens when it becomes separated from the body through impact.

In full swings, getting your shoulders to rotate in your golf swing is a great way to reinforce proper weight distribution. If your swing is all arms, it’s much harder to get your weight to naturally shift to the inside part of your trail foot in the backswing. Sure, you could make the mistake of “sliding” to get weight on your back foot, but that doesn’t fix the issue. You must turn into your trial leg to generate power. Additionally, look at the difference in separation between my hands and my head in the 8-iron examples. The green picture has more separation and has my hands lower. This will help me lessen my angle of attack and make it easier to hit the inside part of the golf ball, rather than the over-the-top move that the other picture produces.

Stay Better Connected in the Backswing

When you don’t keep everything in your upper body working as one, getting to a good spot at the top of your swing is very hard to do. It would take impeccable timing along with great hand-eye coordination to hit quality shots with any sort of regularity if the arms are working separately from the body.

Notice in the red pictures of both my 60-degree wedge and 8-iron how high my hands are and the fact you can clearly see my shoulder through the gap in my arms. That has happened because the right arm, just above my elbow, has become totally disconnected from my body. That separation causes me to lift my hands as well as lose some of the extension in my left arm. This has been corrected in the green pictures by using this drill to reinforce that connection. It will also make you focus on keeping the lead arm close to your body as well. Because the moment either one loses that relationship, the towel falls.

Conclusion

I have been diligent this year in finding a few drills that target some of the issues that plague my golf game; either by simply forgetting fundamental things or by coming to terms with the faults that have bitten me my whole career. I have found that having a few drills to fall back on to reinforce certain feelings helps me find my game a little easier, and the “towel drill” is most definitely one of them.

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Clement: Why your practice swing never sucks

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You hear that one all the time; I wish I could put my practice swing on the ball! We explain the huge importance of what to focus on to allow the ball to be perfectly in the way of your practice swing. Enjoy!

 

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Clement: This is when you should release the driver

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The golf teaching industry is slowly coming around to understand how the human machine is a reaction and adaptation machine that responds to weight and momentum and gravity; so this video will help you understand why we say that the club does the work; i.e. the weight of the club releases your anatomy into the direction of the ball flight.

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