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Improving performance in golf: Current research and implications from a clinical perspective

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Golf, a global sport enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, involves relatively long periods of low intensity exercise interspersed with short bursts of high intensity activity. To meet the physical demands of full swing shots and the mental and physical demands of putting and walking the course, it is frequently recommended that golfers undertake golf-specific exercise programs. Biomechanics, motor learning, and motor control research has increased the understanding of the physical requirements of the game, and using this knowledge, exercise programs aimed at improving golf performance have been developed. However, while it is generally accepted that an exercise program can improve a golfer's physical measurements and some golf performance variables, translating the findings from research into clinical practice to optimise an individual golfer's performance remains challenging. This paper discusses how biomechanical and motor control research has informed current practice and discusses how emerging sophisticated tools and research designs may better assist golfers improve their performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0122
1
Braz J Phys Ther.       
Improving performance in golf: current research and
implications from a clinical perspective
Kerrie Evans
1
, Neil Tuttle
1
ABSTRACT
| Golf, a global sport enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, involves relatively long periods of low‑intensity
exercise interspersed with short bursts of high‑intensity activity. To meet the physical demands of full‑swing shots
and the mental and physical demands of putting and walking the course, it is frequently recommended that golfers
undertake golf-specic exercise programs. Biomechanics, motor learning, and motor control research has increased the
understanding of the physical requirements of the game, and using this knowledge, exercise programs aimed at improving
golf performance have been developed. However, while it is generally accepted that an exercise program can improve a
golfers physical measurements and some golf performance variables, translating the ndings from research into clinical
practice to optimise an individual golfers performance remains challenging. This paper discusses how biomechanical
and motor control research has informed current practice and discusses how emerging sophisticated tools and research
designs may better assist golfers improve their performance.
Keywords: golf swing; kinematics; exercise programs; movement variability; biomechanics.
HOW TO CITE THIS ARTICLE
Evans K, Tuttle N. Improving performance in golf: current research and implications from a clinical perspective. Braz J Phys Ther.      
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/bjpt‑rbf.2014.0122
1
School of Allied Health Sciences, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Grifth University, Gold Coast campus, Queensland, Australia
Received: Mar. 17, 2015 Revised: June 12, 2015 Accepted: June 25, 2015
Introduction
The inclusion of golf in the 2016 Summer Olympic
Games for the rst time since 1904 is an indicator
of the increasing globalisation of the sport. It is
estimated that worldwide between 55 and 80 million
people from at least 136 countries play golf
1‑3
, with
the more avid golfers playing more than once a week,
every week of the year. The vast majority of people
who play golf are amateur golfers, with only a very
small proportion being considered elite amateurs and
fewer still are professional golfers. Irrespective of
whether a golfer is an amateur or a professional, the
goal is the same – to complete a round of golf in as
few strokes (shots) as possible and, from a longevity
perspective, continue to enjoy the game as pain and
injury free as possible.
The game of golf
Golf is a sport that involves a relatively long duration
of low‑intensity activity interspersed with short bursts
of high‑intensity activity. Golf courses vary in length
and terrain, so a round of 18 holes can take between
3.5 and 6 hours to play and, if the players are walking,
results in a low‑moderate intensity form of aerobic
exercise
4,5
. However, as much as 60% of the time
taken to play a round of golf is spent preparing and
performing swings, and of this time, 25% is spent
putting on the green
6
. In contrast to the relatively
low‑intensity demand of the rest of the game, a full
swing action requires a rapid expenditure of energy.
For example, professional golfers perform a swing with
a driver in 1.09 seconds
7
, with the club head reaching
speeds of more than 160 km/hour
8
. Overall muscle
activity when using a 5‑iron reaches 90% of maximal
voluntary contraction (MVC) for amateurs and 80%
for professionals
9
, and golfers perform an average
of 30‑40 swings every round with these high levels
of intensity
10
. In contrast to full swings, the putting
stroke requires minimal body movement but involves
the greatest degree of sustained trunk inclination and
sagittal exion compared with shots with other clubs
6
.
It has been suggested that, particularly when practised
for prolonged periods, putting may challenge a golfer’s
postural endurance
11,12
. Researchers and clinicians
wanting to optimise performance and prevent golf
injury have hypothesised that specic golf exercise
programs are necessary to meet the physical demands
Evans K , Tuttle N
2
Braz J Phys Ther.       
of both full‑swing shots and the potential fatigue
associated with putting or walking
13,14
.
Biomechanical investigations of the golf
swing
The landmark work of Cochran and Stobbs
15
in
1968 employed high-speed lming techniques to
examine the components of the golf swing, ball
aerodynamics, and equipment dynamics. Since then,
there has been a vast range of biomechanical studies
that have examined the highly complex, multi‑joint
movements involved in the golf swing. Researchers
have used 2D and 3D methods, including high‑speed
video
16
, optoelectronic
12,17‑19
and electromagnetic
motion tracking systems
20,21
, computer modelling
22
,
force plates
23‑25
, wireless inertial sensors
26
, and
electromyography
27‑31
to gain insight into and quantify
the fundamental elements of the swing. The majority
of studies have been conducted in laboratory settings
and most have employed indirect measures of golf
performance such as club head velocity (CHV) and
ball launch characteristics
18,23,32,33
. Laboratory‑based
studies have clear advantages, including ease of
standardisation, greater environmental control, and the
degree of accuracy possible with some indoor motion
analysis systems. On the other hand, swinging a golf
club indoors surrounded by expensive equipment
may not reect what happens on the golf course,
and there is concern that the indirect measures of
performance used in laboratory conditions may
provide incomplete information about actual golf
performance. Some studies have been conducted
outdoors and on golf courses
6,34
; however, more
research is needed to examine how golfers perform
their swing on the course, over a round of golf, and
under competition conditions and how these ndings
relate to what occurs in laboratory settings. Not only
will these types of studies provide ecologically valid
biomechanical information, but they will also provide
more specic information about the physical demands
of the sport and how environmental or other factors,
such as pressure or fatigue, affect golf performance.
Due to the importance of the full swing, particularly
in driving performance
32
, and perhaps because of the
fact that this stroke could be considered as having
the most repeatable intention ‑ to hit the ball as far
and straight as possible ‑ most kinematic studies
have concentrated on full‑swing kinematics. In
spite of the golf swing being dynamic by nature,
many of these studies have measured parameters
(e.g. segmental orientation) at discrete time points
during the swing, such as address, top of backswing,
ball contact. Collectively, ndings have provided
valuable insights into, for example, the magnitude
of thorax and pelvis movement when high CHV
are produced
7,35,36
, differences in segmental angular
velocities between skilled and less skilled golfers
37,38
,
and the importance of the magnitude, sequencing,
and timing of segmental motion
35,39,40
. The results
have helped inform research investigating physical
characteristics required for skilled golf performance.
With the increasing awareness of the importance
of movement variability in skilled performance
41‑43
,
there has been growing interest in investigating the
complex segment and intersegmental coordination that
occurs during the full swing
44‑47
. Movement variability
can be described as the normal variations that occur
in motor performance across multiple repetitions of
a task
48
. Historically, movement variability observed
in skilled sporting tasks was considered “noise” or
error and therefore undesirable. It is now recognised
that variability has a functional role and does not
necessarily result in outcome variability
41,45,49
. That is,
there is greater understanding of the large number of
constraints that interact to shape movement behaviours
during sporting endeavours, including body properties,
environmental conditions, and tasks, and that highly
skilled performers demonstrate the necessary exibility
and adaptability to operate prociently in a variety of
learning and performance contexts
42,50
.
Movement variability in the downswing of skilled male
and female golfers was investigated by Horan et al.
51
.
Despite variability in the kinematics of the thorax and
pelvis as well as variability in thorax‑pelvis coupling
at the midpoint of the downswing and at ball contact,
both males and females achieved highly consistent
club and hand trajectories at ball contact. Interestingly,
females were found to have greater variability in
thorax‑pelvis coupling than males. While physiological
measures were not directly measured, the differences
may have been due to differences in factors such as
strength or exibility or that male and female golfers
adopted different motor control strategies to achieve
consistent performance. Gender‑related differences in
golf swing kinematics have been observed by other
authors
38,39,52
supporting the notion that a number of
characteristics will inuence a golfers pattern of
movement and coordinative strategies.
The concept that movement variability in individual
segmental trajectories during a specic task may
not be detrimental to outcome performance as long
as the critical ‘end point parameters’ (in the case of
the golf swing, club head parameters at ball contact)
Clinical perspective on improving performance in golf
3
Braz J Phys Ther.       
remain consistent
49,53
was supported more recently by
Tucker et al.
54
. These authors found that a group of
highly skilled golfers maintained consistency of ball
speed despite variability in movement of individual body
segments during the swing. Variability of movement
of the individual body segments are integrated to
produce a reduced variability in the club head trajectory,
which in turn results in an even smaller variability in
the club head on contact with the ball. Additionally,
Tucker et al.
54
found that movement variability was
highly individual-specic with different golfers
adopting different performance strategies to preserve
shot outcome. Taken collectively, emerging evidence
supports the notions of 1) inter‑player variability, i.e.
that individual golfers have individualised swing
patterns that are different from the patterns of other
golfers (Figure 1), and 2) intra‑player variability, i.e.
that within their own swing pattern, each individual
has variation in the contributions from the many
different components (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Full swing by two golfers demonstrating between‑individual variations. From left: address position, top of backswing, impact,
and follow‑through.
Figure 2. The 3D trajectory of the club head of one golfer performing multiple swings demonstrating within‑individual variation.
The width and colour of the pathway indicate the magnitude and direction of variability. The width at the point of impact is narrower
indicating considerably less variability than the backswing and downswing that precede it.
Evans K , Tuttle N
4
Braz J Phys Ther.       
Clinical implications
Golf has been described as one of the most complex,
technically demanding and high precision sports that
exist
55
. Clinicians that work with golfers should consider
that inter‑golfer and intra‑golfer variability in swing
performance will be affected by task, environment,
and organism constraints, all of which interact to
determine the patterns of motion that are observed
when a golfer swings a club
45
. Despite an increased
understanding of the swing from both biomechanics
and neuroscience research, the best way to optimise
both swing and outcome performance for an individual
golfer remains elusive. From a physical therapist’s
perspective, optimising performance in golf requires
knowledge of not only the technical and physical
requirements of the sport, but also how these domains
are interrelated with the elds of psychology, motor
learning, and motor control. While recognising the
importance of a multimodal approach to optimising
golf performance, the following sections focus on the
physical requirements of golf and evidence pertaining
to whether exercise programs can help golfers improve
their performance.
Physical requirements of the golf swing
Highly skilled golfers tend to have different physical
characteristics than less procient golfers
56
and factors
such age, gender, and history of injury also inuence
a golfers performance on physical tests as well as
swing parameters
39,57,58
. Nevertheless, a combination of
mobility, stability, strength, and cardiovascular tness is
frequently recommended for optimal ‘golf tness’
14,59
.
Kinematic studies have highlighted the importance of
adequate exibility, particularly in the trunk, hips, and
shoulders, to achieve the body positions required to
optimise CHV
52,56,60
. For example, reported averages
for torso rotation during the backswing for a driver
range from 78° to 109° with the pelvis rotating to a
lesser extent of between 37° and 64°
7,35,52
. EMG studies
have sought to identify the muscle groups important
for golf performance
28,29,61‑64
and several reviews
have been published on this topic
65,66
. From the
collated data, it is apparent that the trunk extensors,
hip extensors, and the abdominal muscles all play
an important role in producing a powerful efcient
golf swing. The efcient transfer of energy from the
lower body to the muscle groups of the chest and
arms and eventually the hands and club ‑ the “bottom
up phenomenon”
60
‑ is important for producing high
CHV, but similarly to swing kinematics, a number of
kinetic variables measured during the swing are also
highly individual-specic
22
.
Golfers spend many hours practising. Professional
golfers can perform up to 300 swings in a single
practice session and hit over 2000 shots per week
67,68
.
To ensure a golfer can meet both the physical and
mental demands of playing tournament golf and
avoid the detrimental effects that fatigue has been
shown to have on performance
11,69
, exercises aimed
at improving a golfers cardiovascular tness have
also been advocated
14
.
In summary, playing golf has very specic physical
requirements that have led many researchers, coaches,
and clinicians to suggest that physical preparation
programs should be undertaken by golfers of all ages
and abilities in order to improve performance and
prevent golf‑related injury. This paper will not focus
on the latter but on ndings from studies that have
investigated whether exercise programs can improve
golf performance.
Exercise programs to improve golf
performance
Golf-specic exercises have been advocated
for many years, with early attempts being largely
idiosyncratic and based on personal experience and
opinion. For example, three-time Open Championship
winner Sir Henry Cotton in 1948 said:
Let me add, that, as far as I know, no data on
this subject of specic golf muscle-building
has ever been given, and I have had to grope
my way along according to my own ideas and
following my own observations, endeavouring
to build up my golng muscles to the best of
my ability
70
.
Cotton’s statement reflects the predominant
understanding of human performance in the 1940’s:
increased muscular strength should result in improved
performance. A golf‑specific exercise program
would therefore be designed to target the specic
muscles used in the sport. In their review of strength
and conditioning programs for improving tness in
golfers, Smith et al.
71
dened golf-specic exercises
as those that activate muscles groups that are used in
golf in comparable patterns of motor coordination,
in similar planes and ranges of movements, with
similar speeds, and similar loads on postural muscles.
In addition to load, this denition adds coordination,
pattern specicity, and speed to the idea of what makes
exercises golf-specic. Interestingly, Smith et al.
71
Clinical perspective on improving performance in golf
5
Braz J Phys Ther.       
concluded that the majority of studies included in their
review involved reasonably generic exercise programs
that did not full the criteria for being golf-specic.
The exercises employed ranged from free weights
and medicine ball plyometric training in young male
golfers (age: 29±7.4 yrs, handicap: 5.5±3.7)
72
to
strength and exibility exercises in older recreational
golfers (age: 65.1±6.2 yrs of all skill levels)
73
to a
proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching
program in golfers aged between 47 and 82 years with
handicaps ranging from 8 to 34
74
. Despite the fact
that several of the studies reviewed by Smith et al.
71
had low methodological scores, it is nevertheless
interesting to see that, seemingly irrespective of
the type of exercise approach, the duration of the
program, the age or skill of the golfer, the majority
of studies reported improvements in at least some of
the tness (e.g. muscular strength, exibility) and golf
performance variables (e.g. club head speed, driving
distance) that were measured.
Since Smith et al.’s
71
2011 review, as well as
that of Torres‑Ronda et al.
75
, further studies have
investigated the effects of different exercise approaches
on parameters, such as club head speed, ball spin, and
swing kinematic variables, thought to relate to golf
performance. These studies have again been diverse
in terms of the exercises prescribed (e.g. ‘isolated
core training’
76
, plyometric training
77
, combination
of maximal strength, plyometric and golf-specic
exercises
78
, different warm up programs
79
); duration of
the program (range 6 weeks
80
to 18 weeks
78
); age and
skill level of the golfers (e.g. ~24 years with handicap
<5
80
vs ~47 years with a mean handicap of 11.2±6.1
78
);
effect sizes; and methodological quality. Similar to
previous work, direct measures of golf performance (e.g.
strokes per round, performance during tournaments)
are lacking. Overall, the results support the notion
that it is more important that a golfer do some form of
exercise rather than no exercise, irrespective of what
particular type of exercise is undertaken.
Lessons from other areas of clinical research
Interestingly, the conclusion that exercise (generally)
has a benecial effect for golfers, regardless of the
type of exercise, is similar to ndings in other areas
of sports research
81,82
but most notably the low back
pain (LBP) eld. Historically, most reviews of exercise
therapy for patients with LBP conclude that when
different types of exercise are compared directly,
exercise in general is effective
83‑85
. That is, there does
not appear to be one form of exercise that is superior
to another for patients with LBP. What the studies do
not tell us, however, by reporting group means, is
whether one program is better for a given individual
and if so, which one. More recently, studies comparing
interventions based on subgrouping of patients and
development of clinical prediction rules have been
conducted with the aim of more specically tailoring
interventions based on a set of patient characteristics.
However, it has proven extremely challenging to
develop theoretical and practical frameworks that
consider enough of a patient’s biological as well as
psychosocial characteristics to determine effective
treatment strategies
86
. Nevertheless, there is preliminary
evidence supporting the notion that patients who
receive a more individualised treatment approach
achieve better outcomes
87
.
To date, when studies of the effects of exercise
programs on golf performance have subgrouped
participants, the grouping criteria have been according
to handicap, age, or gender. Grouping a golfer based
on handicap intuitively makes the most sense – skilled
golfers have more consistent swing kinematics
than unskilled golfers and therefore any changes
post‑intervention are more likely to be as a result of the
intervention than due to measurement error. However,
one only has to look at the player anthropometrics of
the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA)
Top 10 female golfers to recognise that even the best
players in the world are reasonably heterogeneous.
Where to from here?
There is still much to understand about how to
assist golfers improve their game and avoid injury.
It will be important to ensure the validity of the
measurements that are being made, consider more
sophisticated measures or methods of analysis, and
ensure that the outcomes being considered are true
indicators of the desired outcomes. Perhaps most
importantly, however, is to use measures that reect
the dynamic nature of golf and are capable of taking
into consideration individual variation in strategies
and responses.
New tools such as a variety of wearable sensors,
marker-less motion tracking, and wide eld-of-view
electromagnetic tracking systems are becoming
available that can assist to improve our understanding
of the biomechanics and by enabling studies to be
carried out on the golf course instead of the laboratory.
Alternatively, if laboratory studies continue to be used,
it will be important to cross‑validate the methodologies
to ensure what occurs in the lab actually reects what
Evans K , Tuttle N
6
Braz J Phys Ther.       
occurs on the course. Similarly, it will be important to
determine how the surrogate measures of performance
typically used in the lab relate to performance on
the course.
The systems that are currently used in most
biomechanics laboratories are able to determine location
of points on the body and ground reaction forces at
rates of hundreds or even thousands of samples per
second and create a 3D reconstruction of the entire
movement pattern through time. In spite of the dazzling
complexity and accuracy of the data, much of the
analyses use simplied variables such as maximum
or minimum values of locations, angles, speeds, or
accelerations or the values of these parameters at
predetermined time points during the swing. One of
a relatively small number of studies that evaluated
data across the time course of the swing was that of
Tucker et al.
54
. The authors recorded the locations of
14 points on the golfers body and club at 400 Hz for
10 swings by each of 16 golfers. For each normalised
time point for each marker, a virtual three‑dimensional
ellipsoid was constructed that would contain the mean
location +/‑ one standard deviation of the position
of that marker through the swing. Not only does this
type of methodology enable the swings of different
individuals to be compared in ways that were not
previously possible, but it also enables investigators to
evaluate the relative impact of different body locations
and/or time points on performance.
As more is understood about individual variation,
it may be possible to develop and assess the efcacy
of individualised programs for individual golfers.
Instead of the more common study design, which
compares two (or more) groups and have every
member of the group receiving the same intervention,
individualised programs could be assessed using a
parallel group design. For example, the intervention
in one group can be individualised according to an
algorithm while the other intervention uses a set
protocol
87
. Perhaps more appropriate, however, to
evaluate individual treatment responses would be the
use of so called “n‑of‑one trials”
88
. The power of this
design comes from each intervention option being
trialled more than once in a multiple crossover design
(e.g. as a minimum - an ABAB or ABBA sequence).
One type of intervention being consistently superior
in more than one comparison provides much stronger
evidence for it being actually superior. An advantage
of n‑of‑one trials is that they are also available to the
therapist in clinical practice. Consider for example if
two exercise programs have demonstrated benets,
but in a head‑to‑head comparison neither is superior.
One interpretation of the evidence would be to select
one and only change the program if the outcomes
were ‘very poor
89
. However, by applying an n‑of‑one
design in clinical practice, the therapist no longer has
to rely on average results but can determine which
of the options is better for each individual golfer at
a given time.
Conclusions
Despite the growing body of research investigating
the golf swing, much remains unknown and translating
the ndings from the biomechanical, physiological,
motor learning, and motor control research into clinical
practice, where the aim is to assist golfers improve their
performance and prevent injury, remains challenging.
It is generally well accepted that, in order to improve
performance, a multimodal approach is required and
both researchers and clinicians need to consider the
aforementioned inter‑related dimensions in order to
help optimise golf performance. There are general
principles of exercise that are likely to be of benet
to all golfers, and the study designs employed to date
have provided a wealth of information and should
inform current and future practice. However, more
sophisticated tools and designs are available that are
capable of expanding our knowledge of golf and
practice, thereby potentially increasing our ability
to assist our clients improve their golf performance.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank Dr Catherine Tucker
and colleagues for allowing use of this image which
illustrates some of the ndings from their research.
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Correspondence
Kerrie Evans
Grifth University
School of Allied Health Sciences
Gold Coast Campus
PMB 50, Gold Coast Mail Centre
QLD, 9726, Australia
e-mail: kerrie.evans@grifth.edu.au
... For improving the efficiency of a golf swing, coaches have developed various strategies that may help to increase the energy transfer during the swing to ensure a proper club head speed [11,12]. Most of these training approaches are grounded in the improvement of physical capabilities [5,13,14]. Alternatively, considering kinematic or technical development as the main prerequisite for activating each muscle in an appropriate sequence during a golf stroke, different training strategies have been proposed [12,15,16]. ...
... Most intervention-based studies on golf technique have been focused on non-specific training tasks, mainly by exploring the relation of improving specific physical abilities on the shot performance. Examples of these interventions are training with weights or exposing the players to plyometric and flexibility interventions [4,5,14,48,49]. The major feature from this study was the inclusion of golf-specific exercises to improve golfers' performance similar to Blumhoff and Vernekohl [36] and Wewetzer [40], however, to understand its effects on pitching performance and performance level in more detail. In addition, classical motor learning theories have argued for the importance of repeating the technique to be learned to enhance the cognitive and motor control [11,12]. ...
... In this respect, the fluctuations that were created according to DL theory may not have only allowed the golfers to explore a wider range of different golf shot technique variations [12,23], by amplifying their opportunities for action, but also may have led to advantageous brain states for learning [31,32]. These results may support early [51,52] and recent statements reporting the importance of movement variability to enhance performance [14,15,17,18]. When considering the changes in ball trajectory, a trend was found towards negative angles for the attack angle by the DL group. ...
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Traditionally, golf instruction has been oriented toward imitation of role models, guided by errors that surround a channel of supposedly correct repetition. Recent motor learning approaches relying on the dynamics of living systems suggest the inclusion of additional noise during practice for supporting players’ movement exploration and improving adaptability that in consequence will lead to increased performance. While the effectiveness of this approach has now been demonstrated in many sports, research exploring the effects of differential learning (DL) in golf is scarce, especially when considering different shot distances and players with various handicap levels. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the effects of an enriched learning and information intervention as opposed to a more constrained approach, on the pitching performance of golfers with different handicaps from different distances. A total of 29 adolescent golfers with an average experience of 7.8 years were divided into a DL (n = 15) and a repetitive-oriented (RB, n = 14) group. Both groups were further compared dependent on their handicap level (DL, low handicap n = 7, high handicap n = 8; RB, low handicap n = 5, high handicap n = 9). The TrackMan 4 was used to measure the shot performance for 20 m, 35 m, and 50 m distances (10 shots from each distance) based on a pre- and post-test design. Each group performed the same number of trials (n = 270, 9 executions per distance per session) across 10 sessions. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used for the statistical analysis, using the pre-test as covariate and the post-test as dependent variable. The DL group revealed advantageous adaptations in the attack and face angle (p 0.05), while also in the dynamic loft (p 0.05), mostly for the 35 m and 50 m. In addition, this intervention led to improvements in the score, club head speed, and carry distance for the 50 m when compared to the RB (p 0.05; small effects). The low handicap players from the DL group also revealed adaptation in the angles’ variables (p 0.05) when compared with high handicap players, who improved the score (p 0.05) in all distances after intervention. The low handicap players from the RB group improved the score (p 0.05) and club speed (p 0.05) for the 20 and 35 m, while the high handicap golfers revealed higher improvements for these variables only in the 50 m distance condition. Overall, coaches may incorporate approaches into their skill training that increase the number of opportunities to improve the performance of both experienced and non-experienced players by promoting the adaptability of movement patterns.
... Then, to address the kinematics of putting shots, we used sensitive motion-capture systems to visualize movement characteristics and study their putting trajectories (Fig. 1). Motion capture provides a direct image of orientation and position of the golf club during a putting stroke making it an ideal tool to quantify movement instabilities in golfers 14,15 . Within the framework of dynamic motor control, we applied the concept of muscle synergies on surface electromyographic recordings to represent the coordinated activation of muscle groups working as a specialized functional unit 16 . ...
... General information 15 professional golfers [14M, 1F, age 52.87 ± 12.56 years (Mean, SD), all right handed] volunteered for the study and were prospectively enrolled at a single center. All golfers self-reported to have had yips symptoms for putting shots. ...
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‘Yips’ is an involuntary movement disorder seen in some professional golfers. The diagnostic challenge in yips is to distinguish symptoms of task-specific dystonia from psychological ‘choking’. We hypothesized that in mild-yips golfers, the yips-like shots demonstrate features that are distinguishable from normal-shots allowing for an objective classification. 15 professional golfers with subjective complaints of yips were assessed via motion-capture and surface electromyography during a ‘putting’ task. Normal-hits and yips-shots were identified by golfers’ subjective responses over the trials. Angular velocities of putter club and muscle synergies were analyzed during the swing phase using 1-dimension statistical parametric mapping. Participants had long golfing careers with considerable duration of yips symptoms. While task-based video evidence was inconsequential, in a subset of golfers, we found significant differences in angular velocities of the putter club and altered synergy neural coefficients during the downswing phase. Our findings showed that golfers with mild-yips require precise motion-capture to define movement instabilities which may not be evident with simple videography. Particularly the downswing is affected, and the ensuing perturbations in phasic muscle activity share dystonic features that are consistently identified as abnormal muscle synergy patterns. Dystonia in mild-yips therefore obligates sensitive multimodal assessment to differentiate from golfers with ‘choking’.
... Indirect measures of performance from golf swings performed in laboratory conditions, indoors on simulators, or in featureless driving ranges may provide inadequate information about real golf performance due to the lack of representativeness of the performance environment (Keogh & Hume, 2012;Jenkins, 2014;Evans & Tuttle, 2015). These ideas can be thought about in terms of players who ask coaches to make judgements about their golf swings and the subsequent impact on club head velocity or ball flight characteristics. ...
... Successful golf performance requires an ability to adapt to the multiple, messy, chaotic situations that arise on the golf course (Evans & Tuttle, 2015). For example, in a four-day tournament, a golfer may play a specific hole completely differently each day due to the interaction of environmental conditions such as weather conditions (i.e., different wind directions and force, rain on some days, different green speeds, different cup locations). ...
... The goal of golf is to finish the game with the fewest hits of the ball. A long-term goal is to continue playing golf without pain or injury [2]. ...
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BACKGROUND We investigated the effects of the upper-body flexibility exercises on the golf performance of a female amateur golfer. CASE REPORT The participant was a 43-year-old woman who performed a general golf swing exercise (30 min) and an upper-body flexibility exercise (20 min) 3 times a week, for a total of 6 times in 2 weeks. The maximum rotation angle of the upper body was measured using a goniometer. To measure the X-factor, the numerical value was measured after subtracting the rotation angle of the lower-body from the rotation angle of the upper body when the participant stopped making a back-swing top motion. A camera measuring instrument was used to measure the clubhead speed and carry distance of the golf ball when she hit the ball with a no. 7 iron club. After the exercises, the maximum rotation angle of the participant's upper body increased from 40° to 69°, and the X-factor increased from 10° to 24°. The clubhead speed increased from 29.4 m/s to 34.4 m/s, and the carry distance increased from 84 m to 106 m. CONCLUSIONS The participant responded positively to the upper-body flexibility exercises, and there was improved upper-body mobility, X-factor, clubhead speed, and carry distance. Our results showed that upper-body flexibility exercises with a general golf swing exercise for female amateur golfers may improve golf performance.
... Multiple parameters should be considered to optimize golf performance (Evans & Tuttle, 2015), but among them, we can highlight that the ability to exert explosive power requires a stable base and strong core muscles to reach a notable performance (G. D. Wells et al., 2009). ...
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Effects of 8-weeks of stable vs unstable surface destabilizing training on shot outcome in elite golfers Efectos de 8 semanas de entrenamiento desestabilizador en superficies estables vs inestables sobre el resultado de los golpes en golfistas de élite Abstract. Purpose: This research aimed to compare the effect of two intervention programs using stable or unstable surfaces on speed and hitting distance in golf stroke/swing. Methods: Twenty-five elite golfers (19.20 ± 1.77 years, height = 181.12 ± 4 cm, body mass = 75.35 ± 5.83; kg, BMI = 22.71 ± 1.76 kg.m2, handicap: 2.49 ± 2.56) were randomly assigned to two different 8-week training programs based on unstable surface (n = 12) or stable surface training (n=13). Measurements of carry distance and club head speed were performed using the Trackman Golf® system, with each participant executing five swings and obtaining the average and best distance. Results: No significant changes (p< 0.05) in the club head speed or carry distance were found after the intervention in the stable surface or the unstable surface training group. Conclusions: The proposed intervention using instability surfaces does not provide any additional benefit to training on stable surfaces in the specific performance of the stroke in elite golfers.
... Furthermore, the factor that affects the ball speed occurs during the backswing phase, when the club stick speed reaches the impact ball, which averages 0.51sec for skilled players [17]. Professional golfers have a speed time of 0.72 sec from the starting position to the maximum backswing [18]. Meanwhile, at the greatest position, the backswing moves to the downswing phase, lasting an average of 0.23 sec [19]. ...
... Golf has become one of the most popular sports which is practiced by 10-20% of adult populations in many countries (Thériault & Lachance, 1998), equating to roughly 55-80 million participants worldwide (Evans & Tuttle, 2015). Golf performance is determined by a person's ability to hit the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. ...
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Golfing performance is dependent on the distance and trajectory of an athlete's shot. The aim of this study was to determine how unilateral and bilateral loading strategies between 100-400 g placed on the forearms affected golf shot parameters related to carry distance and carry side distance. Nine experienced right-handed golfers, eight males (age: 24.5 ± 11.1 yrs; body mass: 84.8 ± 13.0 kg) and one female (age: 16.0 yrs; body mass: 73.6 kg), with an average handicap of 3.8 ± 2.6 performed golf shots with and without wearable resistance (WR) on their forearms. Unilateral loading on the lead arm resulted in increased carry distances from 1.68-1.78%, with 200 g loading significantly enhancing performance (p = 0.04; ES = 0.72). Unilateral loading of both 200 g and 400 g on the lead arm resulted in a large and very large change to carry side distance leading to a leftward ball trajectory (p = 0.02 and 0.01, respectively; ES =-2.07 and-4.43, respectively). No clear trends in individual performance were observed, apart from WR loading tending to cause a leftward carry side distance change back towards the target line in most of the subjects. These findings indicate that arm-loaded WR may be used to influence swing mechanics, which may assist ball carry trajectory in the desired direction, depending on a golfer's individual abilities and needs.
... We did not include any warm-up condition to enhance the ecological validity of our findings given that players would complete a warm-up prior to competition. As summarised elsewhere (Evans & Tuttle, 2015), the artificial environment and surrogate performance measures used in laboratory-based research studies on golf might not accurately reflect on-course performance. The use of a net, for instance, limits the ability of golfers to focus on a driving target, and covering the golf ball in reflective tape would have altered its aerodynamic properties (Naruo & Mizota, 2014). ...
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High-level golfers use various warm-up strategies to enhance clubhead and ball speed, including weighted equipment. We investigated the acute effects of the SuperSpeed Golf™ weighted-club warm-up on clubhead, ball, and swing kinematics, and the persistence of any acute effects in subsequent sets. Twelve competitive golfers (handicap < 3.0) completed five sets of five swings using their own drivers under two randomised warm-up conditions (Control and SuperSpeed). We compared swing, peak segment and club angular velocity, and centre of mass (COM) parameters collected using a 3D motion capture system (500 Hz) between conditions. The temporal persistence of any meaningful (Cohen’s d ≥ small) and significant (p≤ 0.05) effect detected in the first set was investigated in subsequent sets. SuperSpeed led to small significant changes in clubhead speed (2.6 mph); downswing time; peak angular velocities of the torso, lead arm, and club; and two COM variables in the initial set. There was no significant change in ball speed, resulting in a large negative change in smash factor acutely (d − 0.82, p= 0.009). Nearly all changes observed were no longer meaningful or significant in subsequent sets. Overall, golfers can expect an increase in driving clubhead speed on the first tee using the SuperSpeed Golf™ vs Control warm-up, with trivial effects from the second tee onwards.
... Contrary to other previous studies that focused more on the influence of M-L ball position on address position, club-head velocity at impact, and ball trajectory after impact, the current study investigates the behaviour of the golfer during the course of golf swing between address and impact. Our study examines the influence of the M-L ball position on the kinetic and kinematic variables considered to be critical in golf swing mechanism, such as ground reaction force (GRF), centre of pressure (COP), body segment and joint angles, and whole-body centre of mass (COM), during swing 1,25 . We hypothesise that a small change in ball position in the M-L direction at address will cause a chain effect through the course of the golf swing. ...
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how the ball position along the mediolateral (M-L) direction of a golfer causes a chain effect in the ground reaction force, body segment and joint angles, and whole-body centre of mass during the golf swing. Twenty professional golfers were asked to complete five straight shots for each 5 different ball positions along M-L: 4.27 cm (ball diameter), 2.14 cm (ball radius), 0 cm (reference position at preferred ball position), – 2.14 cm, and – 4.27 cm, while their ground reaction force and body segment motions were captured. The dependant variables were calculated at 14 swing events from address to impact, and the differences between the ball positions were evaluated using Statistical Parametric Mapping. The left-sided ball positions at address showed a greater weight distribution on the left foot with a more open shoulder angle compared to the reference ball position, whereas the trend was reversed for the right-sided ball positions. These trends disappeared during the backswing and reappeared during the downswing. The whole-body centre of mass was also located towards the target for the left-sided ball positions throughout the golf swing compared to the reference ball position, whereas the trend was reversed for the right-sided ball positions. We have concluded that initial ball position at address can cause a series of chain effects throughout the golf swing.
... To address the kinematics of putting shots, we used sensitive motion-capture systems to visualize movement characteristics and study their putting trajectories. Motion capture provides a direct image of orientation and position of the golf club during a putting stroke making it an ideal tool to quantify movement instabilities in golfers (Evans et al., 2008;Evans & Tuttle, 2015). Within the framework of dynamic motor control, we applied the concept of muscle synergies on surface electromyographic recordings to represent the coordinated activation of muscle groups working as a specialized functional unit(d" Avella et al., 2003). ...
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'Yips' is an involuntary movement disorder seen in some professional golfers. The diagnostic challenge in yips is to distinguish symptoms of task-specific dystonia from psychological 'choking'. We evaluated 15 professional golfers with mild symptomatic yips via anxiety tests, motion-capture and surface electromyography during a 'putting' task. Movement instabilities were analyzed via temporal statistical methodologies (one-dimensional statistical parametric mapping). In a subset of golfers, we found significant differences in angular velocities of the putter-club rotation and altered synergy neural coefficients during the downswing phase. Our results showed that golfers with mild yips require sensitive motion-capture evaluations wherein movement instabilities become evident. Particularly the downswing is affected, and the ensuing perturbations in phasic muscle activity share dystonic features that are consistently identified as abnormal muscle synergy patterns. Despite a strong subjective feeling of yips that golfers complain of, movement analysis can reliably exclude those with 'choking' from those with task-specific dystonias.
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Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting golfers, yet little is known of the specific mechanisms responsible for this injury. The aim of this study was to compare golf swing spinal motion in three movement planes between six male professional golfers with low back pain (age 29.2+/-6.4 years; height 1.79+/-0.04 m; body mass 78.2+/-12.2 kg; mean +/- s) and six without low back pain (age 32.7+/-4.8 years; height 1.75+/-0.03 m; body mass 85.8+/-10.9 kg) using a lightweight triaxial electrogoniometer. We found that golfers with low back pain tended to flex their spines more when addressing the ball and used significantly greater left side bending on the backswing. Golfers with low back pain also had less trunk rotation(obtained from a neutral posture), which resulted in a relative 'supramaximal' rotation of their spines when swinging. Pain-free golfers demonstrated over twice as much trunk flexion velocity on the downswing, which could relate to increased abdominal muscle activity in this group. This study is the first to show distinct differences in the swing mechanics between golfers with and without low back pain and provides valuable guidance for clinicians and teachers to improve technique to facilitate recovery from golf-related low back pain.
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This study details an optimization of the golf swing, where the hand path and club angular trajectories are manipulated. The optimization goal was to maximize club head velocity at impact within the interaction kinetic limitations (force, torque, work, and power) of the golfer as determined through the analysis of a typical swing using a two-dimensional dynamic model. The study was applied to four subjects with diverse swing capabilities and styles. It was determined that it is possible for all subjects to increase their club head velocity at impact within their respective kinetic limitations through combined modifications to their respective hand path and club angular trajectories. The manner of the modifications, the degree of velocity improvement, the amount of kinetic reduction, and the associated kinetic limitation quantities were subject dependent. By artificially minimizing selected kinetic inputs within the optimization algorithm, it was possible to identify swing trajectory characteristics that indicated relative kinetic weaknesses of a subject. Practical implications are offered based upon the findings of the study. Key PointsThe hand path trajectory is an important characteristic of the golf swing and greatly affects club head velocity and golfer/club energy transfer.It is possible to increase the energy transfer from the golfer to the club by modifying the hand path and swing trajectories without increasing the kinetic output demands on the golfer.It is possible to identify relative kinetic output strengths and weakness of a golfer through assessment of the hand path and swing trajectories.Increasing any one of the kinetic outputs of the golfer can potentially increase the club head velocity at impact.The hand path trajectory has important influences over the club swing trajectory.
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Abstract Enhancing the understanding of coordination and variability in the tennis serve may be of interest to coaches as they work with players to improve performance. The current study examined coordinated joint rotations and variability in the lower limbs, trunk, serving arm and ball location in the elite female tennis serve. Pre-pubescent, pubescent and adult players performed maximal effort flat serves while a 22-camera 500 Hz motion analysis system captured three-dimensional body kinematics. Coordinated joint rotations in the lower limbs and trunk appeared most consistent at the time players left the ground, suggesting that they coordinate the proximal elements of the kinematic chain to ensure that they leave the ground at a consistent time, in a consistent posture. Variability in the two degrees of freedom at the elbow became significantly greater closer to impact in adults, possibly illustrating the mechanical adjustments (compensation) these players employed to manage the changing impact location from serve to serve. Despite the variable ball toss, the temporal composition of the serve was highly consistent and supports previous assertions that players use the location of the ball to regulate their movement. Future work should consider these associations in other populations, while coaches may use the current findings to improve female serve performance.
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In a biophysical approach to the study of swimming performance (blending biomechanics and bioenergetics), inter-limb coordination is typically considered and analysed to improve propulsion and propelling efficiency. In this approach, 'opposition' or 'continuous' patterns of inter-limb coordination, where continuity between propulsive actions occurs, are promoted in the acquisition of expertise. Indeed a 'continuous' pattern theoretically minimizes intra-cyclic speed variations of the centre of mass. Consequently, it may also minimize the energy cost of locomotion. However, in skilled swimming performance there is a need to strike a delicate balance between inter-limb coordination pattern stability and variability, suggesting the absence of an 'ideal' pattern of coordination toward which all swimmers must converge or seek to imitate. Instead, an ecological dynamics framework advocates that there is an intertwined relationship between the specific intentions, perceptions and actions of individual swimmers, which constrains this relationship between coordination pattern stability and variability. This perspective explains how behaviours emerge from a set of interacting constraints, which each swimmer has to satisfy in order to achieve specific task performance goals and produce particular task outcomes. This overview updates understanding on inter-limb coordination in swimming to analyse the relationship between coordination variability and stability in relation to interacting constraints (related to task, environment and organism) that swimmers may encounter during training and performance.
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Introduction: Many patients with low back pain (LBP) are treated in a similar manner as if they were a homogenous group. However, scientific evidence is available that pain is a complex perceptual experience influenced by a wide range of genetic, psychological, and activity-related factors. The leading question for clinical practice should be what works for whom. Objectives: The main aim of the present review is to discuss the current state of evidence of subgrouping based on genetic, psychosocial, and activity-related factors in order to understand their contribution to individual differences. Results: Based on these perspectives, it is important to identify patients based on their specific characteristics. For genetics, very promising results are available from other chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions. However, more research is warranted in LBP. With regard to subgroups based on psychosocial factors, the results underpin the importance of matching patients' characteristics to treatment. Combining this psychosocial profile with the activity-related behavioral style may be of added value in tailoring the patient's treatment to his/her specific needs. Conclusions: For future research and treatment it might be challenging to develop theoretical frameworks combining different subgrouping classifications. On the basis of this framework, tailoring treatments more specifically to the patient needs may result in improvements in treatment programs for patients with LBP.
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In this paper a new method for the registration of trunk movements is presented. With this method, called the Portable Posture Registration Set (PPRS), movements can be recorded continuously over a long period of time. The purpose of this study was to test whether the PPRS can be applied in golf. A pilot study using 4 male golfers demonstrated that qualitative and quantitative data on trunk movements in golf can be collected with the PPRS. The inclination of the trunk proved to be large (40-45°) in all swings tested, resulting in a considerable load on the back. The contribution of torsion to the spinal load was relatively small, especially in the putt, which showed very little movement in the transverse and frontal planes. However, putting accounted for most of the total spinal load in playing a course. Even when playing a round of 18 holes, subjects did not experience any hindrance or discomfort from the sensors or the recorder. This method seems to offer new possibilities in the biomechanical study of trunk movement in golf.
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Over the years, golf has become an increasingly popular sport, attracting new players of almost all ages and socioeconomic groups. Golf is practised by up to 10 to 20% of the overall adult population in many countries. Beyond the enjoyment of the sport itself, the health-related benefits of the exercise involved in walking up to 10km and of relaxing in a pleasant natural environment are often reported to be the main motives for adhering to this activity by recreational golfers. Golf is considered to be a moderate risk activity for sports injury; however, excessive time spent golfing and technical deficiencies lead to overuse injuries. These are the 2 main causes of injuries among golfers, and each has specific differences in the pattern in which they occur in professional and amateur golfers. Golf injuries originate either from overuse or from a traumatic origin and primarily affect the elbow, wrist, shoulder and the dorsolumbar sites. Professional and weekend golfers, although showing a similar overall anatomical distribution of injuries by body segment, tend to present differences in the ranking of injury occurrence by anatomical site; these differences can be explained by their playing habits and the biomechanical characteristics of their golf swing. Many of these injuries can be prevented by a preseason, and year-round, sportspecific conditioning programme including: (i) muscular strengthening, flexibility and aerobic exercise components; (ii) a short, practical, pre-game warm-up routine; and (iii) the adjustment of an individual’s golf swing to meet their physical capacities and limitations through properly supervised golf lessons. Finally, the correct selection of golf equipment and an awareness of the environmental conditions and etiquette of golf can also contribute to making golf a safe and enjoyable lifetime activity.
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A work and power (energy) analysis of the golf swing is presented as a method for evaluating the mechanics of the golf swing. Two computer models were used to estimate the energy production, transfers, and conversions within the body and the golf club by employing standard methods of mechanics to calculate work of forces and torques, kinetic energies, strain energies, and power during the golf swing. A detailed model of the golf club determined the energy transfers and conversions within the club during the downswing. A full-body computer model of the golfer determined the internal work produced at the body joints during the downswing. Four diverse amateur subjects were analyzed and compared using these two models. The energy approach yielded new information on swing mechanics, determined the force and torque components that accelerated the club, illustrated which segments of the body produced work, determined the timing of internal work generation, measured swing efficiencies, calculated shaft energy storage and release, and proved that forces and range of motion were equally important in developing club head velocity. A more comprehensive description of the downswing emerged from information derived from an energy based analysis. Key PointsFull-Body Model of the golf swing.Energy analysis of the golf swing.Work of the body joints dDuring the golf swing.Comparisons of subject work and power characteristics.