As Coaches we can sometimes be guilty of looking at Technique through a 'narrow lens' i.e. simply looking at someones Technique without considering other influences. In this article we illustrate how one of these influences, Physical Characteristics, affects Former Scottish Amateur Champion Zander Culverwell's.
Quality Coaching begins with a thorough Needs Analysis - If you don’t know where you are, how are you going to get where you want to go? So, we had Zander hit several shots using his 6 Iron at The Archerfield Performance Centre. We captured everything using video and a SAM BalanceLab Pressure Plate (see below). Learn more about what a Pressure-Plate is from our friends at GOLFSCIENCELAB and BODITRACK.
We specifically focussed on the movement of Zanders Pressure Trace (the red dot in the crosshairs and the yellow line on the grid). Think of a Pressure Trace as the balance point between your feet e.g. if you were to stand on your right foot, the red dot/yellow line would move to the right foot, then if you went up onto your toes it would move up into the right toe. As you look at the grid, imagine a right handed golfer: left foot is the left foot, right is the right, hitting to the left. Here's Zander in action:
After we captured the swings, we conducted multiple TPI physical screens analysing Zander's balance, mobility, stability, posture and co-ordination. 4 of the physical screens (Pelvic Tilt, Deadlift, Overhead Deep Squat & Arms Down Squat) provided really interesting pressure trace feedback. Here’s what we saw as well as a list of our key observations:
- When Posterior Pelvic Tilting (flattening his lower back) his pressure trace shifts slightly towards his heels.
- When Anterior Tilting (arching his lower back) his pressure trace shifts towards his toes. The Movement Pattern is good enough.
- When his arms cannot act as a counter-balance in the squat test (arms-crossed squat to overhead) his pressure shifts forward when loading his hips. Interestingly, the movement pattern looks good enough to the naked eye although we observe some lateral pressure shift.
- When Hip Hinging his pressure stays relatively centred.
What showed up in the physical screens has a direct correlation to what we see in his Golf Swing. Zander has an Anterior Linear Pressure Trace i.e. he swings in his toes and has quite a bit of side to side movement. Here’s a summary of where his Centre of Pressure was at Key Swing Positions:
OK great but how does that affect his club delivery/ball flight?
Well, Zander is an extremely accurate golfer (you don’t Win the Scottish Amateur Championship if you’re not) due mainly to the fact he has a neutral Club Path (+/- 1-2 degrees). However, the fact he swings on his toes creates an upright Vertical Swing Plane, making it difficult for him to manage the variability of his Club Face Angle, causing him to hit the ball left and right of his target (if what I’ve just said has totally lost you don’t worry, here’s the TrackMan University Website. I highly recommend you sign up to learn more, it’s great stuff ;).
To help him flatten his Vertical Swing Plane and improve his force production, he needs to shift his Pressure Trace more toward his heels (ideally into the mid foot) and reduce his lateral movement slightly. This can be done through an effective combination of Gym Work & Awareness Exercises. Here’s what we recommended:
Alex prescribed 5 Exercises:
- Hip Hinge (with Heel Raise)
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Front Loaded Squat
- Happy Gilmore Rotational Push
- Med Ball Rotational Slam
Here's what they look like:
Zander’s Strength Training has to focus on keeping his balance centred while loading and unloading his hips. Front Loading the Patterns + Zander focussing on the bar moving vertically achieves this. Additionaly:
- Hip Hinge patterns elevate awareness of ‘balance’ in the gym.
- Single Leg Deadlifts are advised to create a potential consequence when balance shifts toward the toes (i.e. Feedback).
- Front loaded squats encourage the hips to go deeper while loading.
- Rotational Med-ball Throws (with attention/focus on balance) introduce speed into the movement pattern.
Our Philosophy on Technical adjustments has been massively shaped by two people: Pia Nilsson & Lynn Marriott of VISION54. If you haven't heard of them we strongly recommend you look them up and check out their latest Book: ‘Be A Player’.
We believe that Coaching should shift from a ‘Faults & Fixes’ approach to one of ‘Possibilities and Excellence’. At the foundations of this philosophy is a belief that Players should be Self-Aware, Self-Regulating and Self-Referencing.
So, what does that mean? Well, it means Players taking charge of their improvement vs relying on a Coach to ‘fix’ them. Easy to say we know but how is this possible? How do you even start? Answer: AWARENESS!
Using Zander as an example, we recommended he incorporate the below VISION54 “15 Ball Balance Practice Sheet” into his training regime (you can find dozens of exercises like these and more in "Essential Playing Skills For Juniors" Authored by Pia, Lynn & Oli, and many other publications by Pia & Lynn via the VISION54 Webshop).
The intention of the exercises is for him be 100% aware of his Balance, implicitly reducing his lateral movement during his backswing and shift his Pressure Trace into his mid-foot during the downswing. This is done by Zander placing his attention on his balance during the exercises and explicitly challenging it.
We asked him to score each shot out of 5, with 5 being 100% focussed on his Balance. The outcome of the shots (ball flight, contact etc) wasn’t to be ignored, but was more a point of interest to reflect on (like a scientist testing a theory). The important thing is that he is engrossed in sensing his Balance.
Here's what the exercises look like if you want to give them a go:
The great thing with this type of exercise is that it can’t be overdone. Improving your Balance will only help. We predict this combination of Gym exercises and a deepening of his balance awareness will allow Zander to discover what happens when he hits the ball well and when he doesn’t, guiding him to becoming self-regulating and self-referencing. Ultimately leading to lower scores and more fun!
Interested in how this could help your game? Try the exercises yourself and if you want to delve deeper into the Screening and Analysis contact us to book a session!
Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoyed it!
Oliver C. Morton & Alex Woods
E: Oliver@TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com & AlexWoods@GolfFit.co.uk