your golf swing
The technological world is vastly expanding in everyday life. This is no different within the game of golf. Many players and coaches consider using technology the modern way to practice... but is it really helping your golf game?
With a range of means available to help you analyse your golf swing, we sought the advice of a Trainee Sport Psychologist (with the British Psychological Society), who has recently undertaken research in this area. In this article, Beth Yeoman offers her thoughts on how you can get the most from using technology in your pursuit of a better golf game.
Smartphone apps allow you to video, analyse and annotate your own golf swing without the assistance of a professional coach. Better still, you can use these apps to compare your swing to the swing of some of the world’s top golfers such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
For many players, using technology is an attractive alternative to traditional golf practice. In recent years, this has resulted in a rise in the number of golfers using this approach in a hope to improve their golf games. However, without the guidance of a professional coach, do we know exactly what we are looking for in our swing videos? Perhaps more importantly, do we know the true effects this smartphone practice is having on our golfing improvement and overall performance?
My research involved 19 skilled golfers (handicap average = 5.79) taking part in a four-week practice intervention. 10 golfers completed the practice intervention with the use of smart phone video analysis. 9 golfers completed a practice intervention without. Throughout, players completed practice diaries during the practice intervention to record their focus in each session.
A driving range performance task was completed before and after the practice intervention to assess improvement over the four week period. The golfers’ real life on course competition scores were also used to assess the golfers’ improvement.
Research concluded, golfers who video their swings during practice spend the majority of their practice time focusing on how their body is moving during their swing.
For example, they tend to focus on their arm position at the top of their backswing or their head position on impact. This consumes their focus and as a result little attention is paid to the target. So how does this predominant focus on the movement of the body affect a golfer’s performance? For skilled golfers, hitting a golf ball has become a well learned, automatic skill they can perform with little thought.
However, when skilled golfers choose to video their swing, they start to question the mechanical things. How much do I need my hips to turn on the back swing? How do I need my wrists to be at impact? They start to break the skill down into chunks until they can master each aspect. This causes the well learned, automatic golf swing to become disjointed and the natural flow is lost.
This often results in a poor shot and a decreased performance. These effects are found to be heightened when the golfer is placed under increased pressure. This may help explain why golfers can struggle to transfer their skills from the practice range to a competition round.
The increase of smartphone video analysis is therefore likely to be producing a new generation of players that are striving for swings that are technically perfect. But what is technically perfect?
If you look at all the top players in the game, their swings vary considerably.
What you can do with this information, right now.
When you find yourself practicing without the assistance of a coach, keep your use of smartphone video analysis to a minimum. Instead, try taking a target focussed approach to your practice.
Choose to pick out varying targets on the practice range. Commit your focus to be on where you want the ball to land.
This approach will encourage the automatic nature of your golf swing to return. This can help you to transfer more easily from the practice range to the golf course.
If you are interested in learning more about Beth and her recent research, follow her on Twitter: @beth_yeoman or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.