The Biomechanics of golf

| January 25, 2011 | 1 Comment

Greg Norman

Biomechanics is the analysis of human motion using the principals of physics and physiology.

As we perform physical tasks as simple as walking or as complicated as the golf swing, muscles within the body create force and tension across joints in a coordinated fashion to produce the desired movement. Biomechanics allows us to measure and quantify that movement, providing an understanding of movement patterns and stress created at joints. Biomechanics ultimately allows us to increase performance while at the same time decrease injury potential.

Using Biomechanics technology and techniques in the golf swing, we gain a complete understanding of how the body creates clubhead speed.  Maximum power is generated using a golf swing-specific factor called the Kinetic Link.

In the human body, the Kinetic Link is composed of physics and physiology. To illustrate this: the physics component can be represented by the action of snapping a whip. The arms start the action of the whip but then decelerate and stop, thereby “passing” the momentum on and creating enough acceleration (or speed) at the end of the whip to produce a snap!

The physiology component of the Kinetic Link can be represented by the action of a vertical jump. When jumping up from a standing position, the first movement is to “dip” down. That action pre-loads muscles for the strongest contraction, propelling the body to maximum height.

The Kinetic Link in the golf swing is composed of four components and three links. The components are the hips, shoulders, arms and club shaft. The links are the musculature connection for each component.

As the golfer begins the backswing, the components rotate in a clockwise fashion around the spine. This then begins to lengthen the muscles and pre-loads the links.  Before the club and shoulders reach maximum rotation on the backswing, the hips begin to transition; changing direction and rotating in an anti-clockwise acceleration towards impact with the ball. Note that this occurs while the shoulders, arms and club continue in their clockwise direction, thus creating muscular pre-load of the upper body.

The shoulders then begin their transition, changing direction (following the lead of the hips) in an anti-clockwise acceleration towards impact, while the arms and club are still in a clockwise direction pre-loading the upperbody. Once pre-loaded, the arms change direction and accelerate toward impact. The same occurs between the arms and club pre-loading the muscles of the wrist and forearm, the arms and wrist accelerate into impact

Once all of the components are accelerating in an anti-clockwise direction towards impact of the ball, the body uses both physics and physiology to most efficiently create clubhead speed. The hips are the first to reach maximum rotational speed. Like a whip, once a maximum speed is reached, the segment then decelerates, “passing” the momentum (speed) to the shoulder segment. Both the passing of momentum and the stretch and shortening of the muscles between hips and shoulders accelerate the shoulder segment to a maximum speed twice that of the hips.

The shoulders, having reached the maximum rotational speed, now decelerate and “pass” their momentum to the arms to a maximum speed twice that of the shoulders.

Finally, the arms — in the same manner as the hips and shoulders – decelerate, passing energy to the club, thereby doubling the momentum yet again. The club then uncocks and accelerates into impact with the ball with both maximum linear and angular speed, creating optimum speed and power at the point of impact.

Why is the kinetic link important?

If your body is consistently creating the same sequence to produce power, this increases your consistency of ball striking and accuracy. How does this help accuracy? If your body creates the same patterns every time, and the same power, it is much easier to square-up the face at impact, thus hitting the ball straight. In addition, if you’re producing the same power every time, you’ll hit your full irons similar distance every time. This is why Greg Norman and other tour professionals are so effective; they produce the same power generation process and swing sequence every time.

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Category: Game Improvement, Golf Science

About the Author (Author Profile)

Scott Beaumont is from ZenoLink. ZenoLink is a diagnostic tool that used 3D motion analysis for coaches to be able to measure their athlete’s biomechanical breakdowns in their golf swing. By measuring hip speed, arm speed, shoulder speed, club release speed and club linear speed, ZenoLink creates separate analyses of kinetic linking, stability, muscular loading and club dynamics; helping a coach or instructor identify functional movement discrepancies that rob the player of power, and to design a personalized Progressive Skills Training program that addresses problem areas.

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  1. [...] last month’s issue we wrote about the physics and physiology behind generating optimal power and efficient movement in the golf swing. This month we’ll focus [...]

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