Stickney: The evolution of necessary technology in golf instruction
Over time technology has improved so that we (as teachers) can see and understand motion and forces in action during the swing. With that being said we have made TREMENDOUS mistakes over the years as to how we have disseminated this information to the masses! Teachers have been so excited with the advent of new technology that we have vomited everything we have learned and “figured out” thus tying our students into knots. I have been guilty and so has everyone in the business; however, the best teachers quickly evolve out of this trend and shifted their focus on insulating their students from all the stuff they don’t need to know. Frankly a lesson is not about showing the student how smart you are or how much you know as a teacher…your only job is to shift the student’s attention to the “one or two things they need to know” in order to get better!
Technology like 3D Motion Analysis, Force Plates, Trackman and Video have all been around for many years, but instructors have gravitated to them in a certain order (for whatever reason) and I’d like to help better understand this process.
In the beginning golfers hit balls with someone watching and then an opinion was rendered (right or wrong) by the teacher. This was based on what he personally did personally, what he saw others do, or what good players told him that they did. It was a very opinionated system and one that was fraught with inconsistencies but it was all that we had for many, many years.
First came video and we all thought that if you didn’t LOOK perfect you couldn’t play consistently well. But why did weird swings work??? We couldn’t understand.
Next, Trackman showed up…
Now we understood why weird swing worked thus you didn’t have to look “pretty” as long as you controlled your “numbers.”
But for a while we hyper-focused on the numbers being too exact- if you didn’t have “these” numbers you couldn’t play.
However, over time we figured out that you can play at any level as long as you had two things: a repeatable pattern (face to path with centered contact) so you could predict ball-flight, and two, the necessary power (ball speed) to hit the ball the distance needed for your level of competition.
While this was great, we were still at a loss regarding the best way to produce power for each golfer…was it adding more swing length, more width in the backswing, making your clubs longer, adding a more aggressive leg drive…what was best?
Then teachers began using the Swing Catalyst…
Now we could finally understand what was going on during the swing as it pertained to power and speed production. We could see the video coupled with the way we moved our pressure back and forth, as well as, how and when we used the ground to produce horizontal, rotational, and vertical forces as well.
Now most teachers are consumed with how much and when these forces should occur and this is the same trends we saw with Video and Trackman as well. Eventually most instructors will learn that these forces should definitely be audited, controlled, and improved if necessary but you don’t immediately go in and “fix” these just because! Don’t mistake an idiosyncrasy for a swing flaw. Even their literature and top biomechanistic Dr. Scott Lynn, will tell you that there are exceptions to all the rules and we are not robots whereas changing “X” will make you instantly 30 yards longer.
What I LOVE about the Swing Catalyst and its abilities as a tool is that I can now see “how” a golfer is using the ground, what forces are being used, and when I couple that with what problems the golfer has described, I now have more information to rely on to make a decision. A better educated decision, because I couple this information with the video and Trackman data and I get a much “fuller” picture of where the power leak is coming from and to what degree. Coupling this with the ability to see before and after swings- their forces, club speeds, and ball reactions on Trackman I now am using technology in the best way possible.
But I still can’t get a clear picture of “what” is driving these forces to improve and how the body is “making” it happen. It would be really nice to look inside the golfer and better understand how he is MOVING his body in order to make the changes that we have determined are better for the player. So, what physiologically is actually changing? That is the question I cannot answer.
And finally, the integration with GEARS is just beginning to happen…
Personally, I don’t know why it’s taken so long for this to happen, perhaps because this technology was expensive when it first came out, but now it’s the same as buying a Trackman or Swing Catalyst. But that’s for another article.
For the first time we can now integrate Video, Trackman, Swing Catalyst, and GEARS together in a “super-system” that will show the instructor anything and everything they need to know about the kinetics and kinematics of the player as they move. It’s power like we’ve never had before!
Now let’s go back to our thought from earlier- we have seen something we needed to change based on the golfer’s desires, audited Trackman and Swing Catalyst and figured out that we want to change the production of “X” force somewhere in the swing. The golfer does so, we see a dramatic improvement, but we don’t know what the golfer actually did differently so we ask them. “How or what did you do?” Their reply was I felt that my lead hip rotated more or slid more but I’m not sure. Now with GEARS we can actually “see and understand” how they altered their motion with the data between two different swings!
Ah yes, here it is…you DID rotate your hip more from swing one to swing two, so let’s continue to test that “move” to see if it stands up to further testing and how it plays out on the golf course under pressure.
Now we have the data to back up the change so we actually KNOW what went into the golfer changing one pattern for another. There is no guesswork about how, the only grey area is what is the best change for the golfer and that comes from the instructor’s experience, understanding of the problem, knowing the physiology of the body, and auditing their mechanics (with technology) to make a more informed decision as to what direction they should go. At least now we have things like Swing Catalyst to show us forces and torques and GEARS to show us sequencing and numbers so we can compare swings quantitively for a change.
Now it is up to the golf professionals to use all of this in an easily understood and non-technical manner for players of any level. Knowledge is power but it can be a dangerous thing, so tread lightly…
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Clement: “Infallible” release drill to add 30 yards to your drives
Yes, you heard it here: INFALLIBLE! This drill will end all drills as “the” go to drill when your golf swing is hangin’ on or being too forceful! None of my students in the last month either online or in person, French or English, male or female, have messed this up. Pure Wisdom! And we share it with you here.
Kelley: How a change in awareness can influence your body turn
A simple change of awareness can help you understand how the body can naturally turn in the swing. An important concept to understand: the direction the body moves is the engine to the swing. Research also shows the direction the body turns can be just as important as the amount of turn.
Golf is hard because the ball is on the ground, yet we are trying to hit it forward towards a target. With our head looking down at the ball, it’s easy to place our attention (what we are mindful of) on the ground, losing awareness to where we are going. This can make the body move in all sorts of directions, making hitting the ball towards a target difficult.
But imagine if we looked out over our lead shoulder with our attention to the target and made a backswing. Being mindful of the body, the body would naturally turn in a direction and amount that would be geared to move towards the target in the swing. (Imagine the position of your body and arm when throwing a ball). After proper set-up angles, this will give the look of coiling around the original spine angle established at Address.
With this simple awareness change, common unwanted tendencies naturally self-organize out of the backswing. Tendencies like swaying and tilting (picture below) would not conceptually make sense when moving the body in the direction we want to hit the ball.
A great concept or drill to get this feel besides looking over your shoulder is to grab a range basket and set into your posture with Hitting Angles. Keeping the basket level in front of you, swing the basket around you as if throwing it forward towards the target.
When doing the drill, be aware of not only the direction the body turns, but the amount. The drill will first help you understand the concept. Next make some practice swings. When swinging, look over your lead shoulder and slowly replicate how the basket drill made your body move.
The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
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Feb 17, 2022 at 5:55 am
We need Gears research done and reported by more people. Right now it is heavily skewed by the AMG guys and their videos, but as you allude to them (and many others) are bias by their beliefs and are altering things to fit their own concepts on setup, movement, and positions.
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One uses the body to get an expert greenread as well, especially with using the P&SI-EGOS properly as the Surveying tool that it is…