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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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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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