In golf there are many opinions on how best to learn to play the sport. Two of the major ones are:
- The task of hitting a golf ball should be broken down into component parts and practiced with regimental discipline (Explicit Learning).
- Another is to allow the individual to experiment with different ways to execute the 'Task' with minimal input from the instructor (Task Orientated/Implicit Learning).
The purpose of this article isn't to state one's merits against the other. It is to try and illustrate the effectiveness of the "Task Orientated" approach via the use of K-vest 3D Biomechanics.
On a cold, windy November morning I journeyed to the nearby location of Dalmahoy Country Club. A beautiful gem tucked away just on the outskirts Edinburgh. As I arrived I was greeted by Scott Dixon, Dalmahoy's Head Professional. We enjoyed a quick chat over coffee and established the outline for the days activities.
Our curiosity in how human beings learn brought us together to try to answer these questions:
- Could performing certain 'Tasks' (vs positions) improve Biomecahanical 'Efficiency' i.e.
- Could IMPLICIT/Task Orientated exercises change motor patterns/biomechanics like traditional/conventional EXPLICIT swing drills do.
It is important to state that the findings below simply illustrate the Task's effects on Scott's Biomecahanical Efficiency and need further testing to further verify the conclusions.
"In sports such as golf that need to create maximal speed of a distal segment or implement (club, bat, racket etc.), it is generally found through motion analysis techniques, that there is a precisely timed sequence of body segment motions progressing from the proximal (inner), large segments to the distal (outer), smaller segments. In the biomechanics literature this is often called "proximal-to-distal-sequencing", "kinetic linking" or the 'Kinematic Sequence'." Phil Cheetham
During this test we focus on Scott's Kinematic Sequence and each of the 'Tasks' effect on it.
The first stage was to capture Scott hitting a 5 Iron to a specific target (he could hit any ball flight he wanted).
The results of which can be seen below:
For the interest of the reader the three lines represent the Rotational velocity of three sensors placed at certain locations on Scott's body.
The RED line represents Scott's hips, the GREEN represents his Torso and the Blue represents his LEAD HAND.
The left of the graph represents the Takeaway, the first vertical black line indicates the Top of the Backswing (when the hand sensor changes direction i.e. away from the target to towards). The second shows Impact (the point where the club hits the ball).
From this it was identified that the main areas that could be improved were the "Takeaway Sequence" and the "Transition Sequence".
In the interest of the study it was decided that our main focus should on the Transition Sequence. As focussing on the Takeaway might lead us away from our purpose.
Take note of Scotts' GREEN LINE (Torso) transitioning/crossing the horizontal grey line before the RED LINE (Hips). Ideally we want to see the RED LINE (Hips) crossing first, then the GREEN LINE (Torso), and finally the BLUE LINE (Lead Hand) all with slight gaps between them.
The first Task was hitting a ball with a specially adapted "Golf Hammer". This is a club that Scott had created by attaching a lightweight plastic hammer head to a golf shaft. The club is the same length as a 5 Iron, about double the conventional weight, with a hitting area around the circumference as a golf ball. There were no instructions other than: "Hit the Ball." See the results below.
What we see is the RED LINE (Hips) cross the horizontal grey line much earlier (when compared to the INITIAL CAPTURE), before the GREEN (Torso) and BLUE (Lead Hand) lines.
We also see that the "Peaking" of the segments (the highest point of each line) has changed toward a more ideal scenario (RED/HIPS first, then the GREEN/Torso and finally the BLUE/Lead Hand).
This indicates that Scott's Transition and Peak order sequencing had slightly improved simply by using the 'Golf Hammer'.
It is worth noting that Scott's Tempo slowed by approximately 20% while using the Hammer and that he felt "totally engaged" with the task….
The second task was for Scott to hit a "Rolling Ball".
Standing behind Scott in a 'South East' position I rolled a golf ball toward the target and Scott would then hit the ball while it was still in motion. There were no further instructions.
It was as much fun as it sounds ;-). The results are below:
What we see are similar results to TASK 1: the RED LINE (Hips) cross the horizontal grey line earlier than INITIAL CAPTURE and before the GREEN (Torso) and BLUE (Lead Hand) lines. This indicates that Scott's Transition sequencing had improved. It is worth noting that the BLUE LINE (Lead Hand) transitions later than when he was using the 'Golf Hammer'. Once again he stated that he felt "totally engaged" with the task.
The third and final task was for Scott to Throw the golf club into the driving range (no ball). This is a highly popularised exercise by Fred Shoemaker of Extraordinary Golf and something we recommend because it is so much fun! The results are below:
What we see are similar results to TASK 2: the RED LINE (Hips) cross the horizontal grey line the earliest of all the captures, and before GREEN (Torso) and BLUE (Lead Hand) lines. This indicates that Scott's Transition sequencing had improved. The 'Peaks' of each line are altered as there is no Impact to cause deceleration of the segments. Scott was once again fully engaged in the Task.
It would be wrong to state that this exercise has been exhaustive and finitely thorough. However, that wash't it's purpose. Its purpose was to indicate that IMPLICIT/Task Orientated exercises could change motor patterns/biomechanics like traditional/conventional EXPLICIT swing drills do - in particular Scotts Transition Sequence.
It is clear to see the influence the Tasks had on Scott's Kinematic Sequence. With all of the Tasks he improves his Transition sequencing without applying any conscious thought to the movement. He was totally engaged in the Task.
We recommend trying some "Task Orientated" exercises, alongside any Swing Drills you might have, to see if they help you hit the ball better and have more FUN!
If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch via the contact details below:
THANKS FOR READING,
Oliver C. Morton
The Leading Edge Golf Company
112 Swanston Road
E - firstname.lastname@example.org
T - 07831400296