Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

The Effect of Biological Movement Variability on the Performance of the Golf Swing in High- and Low- Handicapped Players

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

The Effect of Biological Movement Variability on the Performance of the Golf Swing in High- and Low- Handicapped Players

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of neuromotor noise on golf swing performance in high- and low-handicap players. Selected two-dimensional kinematic measures of 20 male golfers (n = 10 per high- or low-handicap group) performing 10 golf swings with a 5-iron club was obtained through video analysis. Neuromotor noise was calculated by deducting the standard error of the measurement from the coefficient of variation obtained from intra-individual analysis. Statistical methods included linear regression analysis and one-way analysis of variance using SPSS. Absolute invariance in the key technical positions (e.g., at the top of the backswing) of the golf swing appears to be a more favorable technique for skilled performance.

Key words: athletic performance, experience level, motor skills, variance


The golf swing is a complex, whole body movement at uses the kinetic chain principle to develop momentum and generate high club head velocity to propel the ball over a large distance toward the target. While simple in its purpose, the golf swing can be difficult to master. It can appear effortless and graceful in the hands of an expert but awkward and jerky for the novice. The timing and "feel" of this skill can even appear to vanish overnight from novice and expert performers alike. Golf is an increasingly popular sport that attracts participants across all ages and socioeconomic groups. The technique of the swing can have a great effect on golf performance, because the aim of the game is to hit the golf ball into the small hole in as few shots as possible (Wiren, 1990).

Golf coaching has traditionally been a highly structured process, with many coaches basing their teaching on the Wiren (1990) golf model, which discusses the laws (e.g., club head velocity, centeredness of contact), principles (e.g., length of arc, left wrist position), and preferences (e.g., type of grip, wrist cock position) underlying high-level golf performance. While Wiren focused more on laws and principles (as they directly influence performance), many leading golf coaches appear to focus more on their individual preferences, judging from the content of numerous golf coaching manuals and books. This approach can be observed in their frequent use of two-dimensional pictures showing positions of elite golfers at various phases of the golf swing that they advocate should be attained by all players (e.g., Hohbs, 2002; Patrick, 1990; Schempp & Mattson, 2005).

The biomechanics of the golf swing has been well described (e.g., Cheetham, Martin, Mottram, & St. Laurent, 2001; Egret, Vincent, Weber, Dujardin, & Chollet, 2003; Hume, Keogh, & Reid, 2005; McLean, 1992; Neal & Wilson, 1985; Nesbit, 2005; Sprigings & Neal, 2000). Less well described is the control of this motor skill and how practice conditions can facilitate optimum swing performance independent of a particular golf course or event (Farrally et al., 2003). Knight (2004) suggested that golfers may be able to develop a more reliable swing by exploring different swing parameters, rather than attempting to perform each swing with absolute invariance. It was asserted that this dynamical systems approach (Davids, Glazier, Araujo, & Barlett, 2003) gives the player the opportunity to learn a variety of possible solutions, providing coordinative adaptability for variable conditions. This method is commonly used in long jump training, where the athlete is discouraged from using a stereotyped run-up pattern and encouraged to visually adjust the running stride to adapt to variable extrinsic (environmental) and intrinsic (form, fatigue) conditions while still achieving a fast and accurate take-off (Bradshaw & Aisbett, 2006). In golf, these same practice conditions could be achieved, for example, by varying the swing speed, practicing in different wind conditions or fatigue levels, and engaging in variable practice (e. …

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