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Don't Just Look, Measure: 3-D golf swing assessment

Feb 07, 2024

3-D swing assessment technology is no longer new, but it still is the king of swing evaluation.  A 3-D swing assessment is akin to an MRI of your swing.  

If you're a player looking for that extra edge on the course, a 3-D swing assessment may be a useful tool for helping you optimize your golf swing and your body for maximum swing efficiency.

Don't guess: Measure

A 3-D swing assessment enables the evaluator to actually get objective measurements of what's happening during your swing.  It can measure body positions, joint angles, speed of movements, and ultimately can make assessments of the efficiency of your golf swing.  

This measurement of efficiency is often called the kinematic sequence, which is essentially an evaluation of how effectively you transfer energy through your body and out to the club head.  An efficient kinematic sequence typically means more club head speed and less stress on the body.  

The above graph details the kinematic sequence of a golfer's swing.  It is measuring rotational velocity in degrees per second on the y-axis and time on the x-axis.  The left side of the graph is the backswing.  The middle of the graph is the downswing, and the right portion of the graph is the follow-through.  

The red line measures the pelvis, green the torso, blue the arms, and brown the club.  An efficient swing is indicated by the acceleration and deceleration (speeding up and slowing down) of those body segments happening in that order.  In the graph you see peaks in the velocities of those segments occurring in sequential order which is an indicator of an efficient swing.  

3-D Systems & Parameters

If you're considering getting a 3-D assessment, one thing to consider is the capabilities of the hardware system used to capture your swing, specifically what it's capable of measuring and how many sensors are used.  A more robust system will provide you with a more complete picture of what's happening in your swing, but a simpler system can also provide a lot of quality, useful data. 

Some systems capture what is called "3 degrees of freedom (3DOF)," which means it can measure body positions relative to themselves (think tilt or rotation), but it doesn't know where the body is in space.  For example, it will know how many degrees your pelvis rotated open toward your target, but it won't measure if you had any sway or slide away from or toward your target.  A 3DOF system can still capture good data about your kinematic sequence.

A system that measures "6 degrees of freedom (6DOF)" measure both your relative and absolute positions, so you do know if you moved toward or away from your target (for example) in addition to getting all the other relative body positions and rotational speeds, etc.  This is the top-end of swing capture technology and will provide the most complete picture of what's happening in your swing, to the extent that you need or want to know.  

What are the benefits?

The main benefits of a 3-D swing assessment to the player are 2-fold.  One, it provides an extra layer of diagnostics for the people working to help your body function better.  Your trainer, physical therapist, or other health/fitness professional can use the information to better identify areas to work on that will provide the most benefit to your specific swing.  

Number two, the information can be shared with your instructor or swing coach, so they can break down and make adjustments to your swing in a more detailed way.  It also can start the conversation between these two or more people who you may be working with to improve your game, and when your people are working collaboratively, the results compound. 

Who is it for?

Any player could get a 3-D assessment of their golf swing, but the question becomes one of how much is it going to help.  If you're just learning to to play, while this can be cool and fun, it's probably not as impactful for you as a player.  The players who benefit the most from this technology are those who have a decent amount of playing experience and want to optimize their swing, those who are working through a swing challenge, or those dealing with an injury or physical limitation that needs some extra analysis.  

Of course, those playing professionally use this with a little different mindset, as they are trying to get that 1% edge that may help them win more tournaments.  

A 3-D swing assessment has multiple applications for different groups of golfers and can be a very useful tool for optimizing your swing.

If you're looking to add distance off the tee, check out our FREE guide to hitting monster drives:

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