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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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Clement: Load up the full power package in the backswing!

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This video is FUNDAMENTAL FOR POWER GAINS in the golf swing; the arm anatomy BEGS TO BE USED in this manner from casting a fishing pole, to serving a tennis ball to batting a baseball to driving a golf ball. YOU WILL LOVE how much SNAP you will get through the ball and the sound the ball will make coming off the club from the compression off the face. BLISS ON A STICK!

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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