…. Why understanding the importance of golf biomechanics is key!
The golf swing is a multi-segmented and intricate skill. It requires accurate body awareness and well-coordinated muscular movements. Thankfully the vast array of diagnostic tools such as 3 Dimensional Motion Analysis, Force Plate testing, and Movement assessments strategies now allow for a very precise analysis of the modern day golf swing.
Golf Biomechanics – What is it?
In essence, golf biomechanics is the analysis of human motion using the principles of physics and physiology.
Whenever a person performs any physical task such as lifting a cup or running, muscles within the body create tension and force across the joints to generate the correct movement. Biomechanics allow us to measure these movements to understand patterns and stress of the joints.
For a golfer wishing to improve their performance, a deeper understanding of golf biomechanics allows for increased performance while decreasing the chance of a possible injury.
Phases / biomechanical movements of the Golf Swing
Biomechanical studies have created a progressive model of the golf swing. To understand the connection between the golf swing, the kinetic chain, anatomy, and the interaction of these three elements we will look at each phase of the golf swing from a biomechanical perspective.
- Set-up / “address” position
A balanced set up position will provide the correct starting position for the swing.
Recruitment of muscle fibres is low at the set-up stage. The muscles of the body are supporting the body in a specific position and preparing to swing the club. Here however, certain levels of joint mobility, muscular flexibility, and stability are required to hold the correct set-up position. Typically, improper positioning of the body in the set-up stage golf can directly lead to re-routing of the club, poor sequencing, and the development of compensations (and injuries!) in the golf swing. The cause for an improper address position usually comes from poor mobility in specific joints or a lack of stability in certain body parts.
The backswing starts when the body begins to move the club. At this point the body begins using energy that will be transitioned at the top of the backswing towards the ball and it is the beginning of torque development in the body that will be transitioned into the clubhead at impact. Rotation of the knees, hips, spine, and shoulders continues during the backswing. The important point to remember here is that the entire rotation of these body parts arises around an imaginary axis of the body. The body during this portion of the swing is ´creating´ energy to be released during the downswing phase of the golf swing.
The biomechanical analysis of the backswing suggests that this is the stage of the swing at which speed development begins. Rotation in the lower body, trunk, and shoulders is reliant on joint range of motion, muscular extensibility, stretch reflex, and strength in the lower body, hips, core, and upper back. If your rotation is poor / range of motion suffering, your ability to implement the backswing and develop torque will be weakened.
- Transition / end of the backswing
This is where the body finishes its backward movement and begins the forward movement.
Again, the transition phase requires a level of joint mobility and stability. Compensations or inefficient movement patterns can arise when a player has limitations in their thoracic spine or hip mobility. Equally a player who cannot stabilize their hips/pelvis will be unable to hold the correct postural position needed to start the downswing phase.
- Downswing / Double Pendulum
Here torque is generated in the low body, accelerates through the upper body, and then transferred into the club. At this phase of the swing, the bulk of torque is generated by the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core.
The double pendulum effect: This pendulum consists of an upper and lower pendulum. The shoulders (acting as the fixed pivot), arms and hands (the upper pendulum), and the club shaft and club head (the lower pendulum).
The aim of impact is to hit the ball in the correct direction with the desired amount of force. The club head and ball at impact are in contact for approximately half a millisecond, so any error in timing, body positioning, swing sequence, or positioning of the clubface will quickly affect the impact position, ball flight, speed, and direction!
Low handicap players will reach their maximum club head speed at the impact position. Players with biomechanical inefficiencies / physical limitations will lose speed before impact causing a loss of distance and poor ball flight direction.
The impact position includes the release of the hands with precise timing for the transfer of speed to the club head. Clearly physical limitations, poor mechanics, or improper equipment will have an impact.
In essence this is the deceleration of the body after contact with the ball and where the sequence of the swing ends.
This stage requires activation of the subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, and pectoralis major. To allow for the dissipation of energy and slowing down of the body also requires a high level of eccentric and stabilization strength of the muscular system. Poor conditioning of the body and limited flexibility may limit the capability of a golfer to carry out this phase of the golf swing well.
How we can help you!
To improve your game, firstly start to understand the principles of golf biomechanics. Secondly, appreciate the differing structures and movements of your golf swing. I.e. recognizing the optimal shoulder and wrist movements will allow you to have consistency with successful chip shots.
As explained it is easy to see how poor conditioning of the body and limited flexibility will affect your game and that is where we at Elite Performance Therapy can help!
We work with both amateurs and professionals and are here to take you to the next level … and it doesn´t need to take long!
Whether it is assisting you with an effective warm up, build strength in a specific part of the body, improve general flexibility or simply to enjoy golf without pain, we can help 😊