This week we take a look at a recently published article looking into the differences between the body movements of a group of professional golfers and amateur golfers. The results are fascinating and seem to align with skill acquisition and motor control research in other sports.
Sim T, Yoo H, Choi A, Lee KY, Choi M-T, Lee S, and Mun JH. Analysis of Pelvis-Thorax Coordination Patterns of Professional and Amateur Golfers during Golf Swing. Journal of Motor Behavior: 1-7, 2017.
The aim of this research was to quantify the coordination pattern between thorax and pelvis during a golf swing. The coordination patterns were calculated using vector coding technique, which had been applied to quantify the coordination changes in coupling angle (?) between two different segments. For this, fifteen professional and fifteen amateur golfers who had no significant history of musculoskeletal injuries.
There was no significant difference in coordination patterns between the two groups for rotation motion during backswing (p = 0.333). On the other hand, during the downswing phase, there were significant differences between professional and amateur groups in all motions (flexion/extension: professional [?] = 187.8°, amateur [?] = 167.4°; side bending: professional [?] = 288.4°, amateur [?] = 245.7°; rotation: professional [?] = 232.0°, amateur [?] = 229.5°). These results are expected to be a discriminating measure to assess complex coordination of golfers’ trunk movements and preliminary study for interesting comparison by golf skilled levels.
The key new finding in this article is that Pro golfers laterally and anteriorly-posteriorly flex & extend their spine significantly more than their high level amateur counterparts. However, rotation of thorax and pelvis was similar. So it seems that professional golfers move with a greater degree of freedom and possibly use this to generate greater ball speeds. This also supports the work of Glazier 2011 where motor patterns, and therefore skill execution, were described as becoming more stable in changing environments when sports people had multiple movement options, as opposed to one regimented fixed motor pattern.