Sunday, October 31, 2010

Energy Transfer During The Golf Swing - Part 2 of 3

Energy conversion and transfer in biological systems is dictated by laws of thermodynamics. (1) This means that in a highly efficient system, much of the energy that has been created can be transferred from one unit to another (although 100% of energy can not be transferred due to a certain amount of dissipation that will inevitably take place). Look at the following picture:

Think about what would happen if the first ball is brought straight back and released vs. bringing the ball back at an angle and allowing it to hit the row of stationary balls off-center. Which scenario would produce higher energy transfer? That is actually a trick question because the answer is both scenarios actually result in the same amount of energy transfer (the first ball will stop moving and send it's energy into the others; the ball in the second scenario will transfer it's energy into the air in addition to the next ball). The proper question to ask, on the other hand, is which scenario would produce higher efficiency of energy transfer? Obviously, the ball that was brought straight back and released into the row of stationary balls will produce higher efficiency. So, our case has been built in terms of physics. Now let's apply it to golf.

The golf swing is a complex motion requiring many moving parts all at one time. The end goal is to hit the ball, but in order for that to happen efficiently, those moving parts must act in a coordinated effort (i.e. from the above illustration, the golfer should mimic the ball that moves straight back, not off-line, for maximum efficiency). Most of the energy in a golf swing originates from resistance between the player and the ground. That energy is coupled with the potential energy that is stored in the body-coil at the top of the swing. It is at this point that it becomes very important to utilize the proper Kinematic Sequence and efficient functional movements in order to deliver the club back to the ball with the most available power. The downswing should begin from the top with the hips leading the way. When the hips reach their final destination (after turning to the left), they decelerate, effectively transferring their energy into the shoulders. Then the shoulders repeat this process and transfer the hip and shoulder energy into the arms. Then, just before impact, the arms should decelerate, releasing the hip/shoulder/arm energy into the clubhead for maximal energy transfer. In addition to this sequence, the body must be in the proper position during the swing to allow the clubface to be in proper position at impact for the desired shot-shape. You do not need to worry about all of these angles and sequences as a player because there are TPI professionals that do this for a living. When a golf professional and a medical professional work together, the student's results can be magnified. If you are in the Memphis, TN area, call us at Germantown Golf Fitness @ (901) 590-1065 for more information. If you are not in this area, look on the MyTPI website for a TPI professional in your area.

All the best,

Nathan Williams, DC

1 - Sieniutycz, De Vos. Thermodynamics of Energy Conversion and Transport. Spinger. 2000.

Energy Conversion During The Golf Swing - Part 1 of 3

How does the concept of 'Energy' relate to the golf swing?
When a player takes the club away from the ball during a golf swing, the goal is solitary - to build up energy. In fact, the entire back swing is designed to build potential energy that is being stored for later use. The back swing determines the downswing, where the transfer of energy will take place. For our purposes, the potential energy that is created on the back swing is converted to kinetic energy in the transition phase (start of the downswing).

Now, potential energy can not be created past the transition phase, so the energy stored at the top of the golf swing is all of the energy present to convert to kinetic energy. Kinetic, i.e. movement, energy is what is used to actually hit the golf ball. It is easy to understand, then, why the proper back swing is so important to the concept of power generation in the golf swing. The proper back swing is comprised of many aspects, but by only three main keys:

1) Proper Position
2) Proper Equipment
3) Proper Physical Capability

For proper position, golf lessons with a PGA Professional are important. For proper equipment, visit your local club professional. And for proper physical capability, it is important to be assessed by a TPI Medical Professional. If you are in the Memphis, TN area, the doctors at Germantown Golf Fitness are TPI certified and will be able to provide this service. Call GGF at (901) 590-1065 and visit the websites for more information at:

There are two other components of energy that dictate how much power the player will be able to deliver at impact. These are:

1) Proper Transfer of Energy, and
2) Proper Storage of Energy

Due to the importance of each of these topics, each will have an entire monthly newsletter devoted to it in the coming months.

All the best,

Nathan Williams, DC

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Importance of Psychology

A lot has been made of psychology within the golf world in the past decade or so. The way a player thinks largely impacts the outcome of individual shots and, collectively, the final score of the round. I am surprised at the number of people who routinely work so hard on their physical golf games (hitting balls on the driving range, playing rounds, buying new equipment, etc.) yet rarely, if ever, devote any time to the mental aspect of the game. Dr. Bob Rotella, the world-renowned sports psychologist, says "A golfer has to train his swing on the practice tee, then trust it on the course." The first part of that quote is easy because it encourages the player to work on the physical aspects of the game, with which most players have no trouble. But it is the second part of the quote, and decidedly the most important, that separates the best players from the good players. The ability to think appropriately around the course requires attributes that many players do not naturally possess. Virtues such as patience, planning ahead, recovery from failure, or maintaining perpetual greatness often place the golfer in unfamiliar territory mentally. It is this transition of the mind that is required for the golfer to realize their true potential at that moment.

At the same time, however, it is incredibly important to prepare your body physically to merge with the thought processes of the mental game. For instance, the player can not expect to overcome poor conditioning or a lack of proper practice with an improved mental game. Undoubtedly, the physical and the mental aspects of golf must be improved upon individually and congruently.

So as you continue to strive for improved physical function through TPI, specific exercise programs, and golf practice, do not negate the mental aspect of the game. Dr. Bob Rotella's book "Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect" is a staple within the golf world. You can start to improve your mental game by reading it and applying some of the principles it teaches. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call Germantown Golf Fitness in Germantown, TN at (901) 590-1065.

All the best,

Dr. Nathan Williams