Golf Coaches’ Perceptions of Key Technical Swing Parameters (P1)

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ABSTRACT

Assessing a coach’s technical knowledge of a sporting technique can reveal measureable biomechanical parameters associated with a successful performance. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify the key technical parameters that golf coaches associate with a successful golf swing. Sixteen high-level golf coaches were observed coaching a highly skilled golfer after which they participated in a semistructured interview regarding their technical analysis of the golf swing. The data were inductively analysed and five intrinsically linked key technical parameters were identified: ‘Posture’, Body Rotation’, ‘Arm and Wrist Action’, ‘Sequential Movement and Body Segments’ and ‘Club Motion’. The parameters Posture and Body Rotation were further sub-categorised and compared to the existing biomechanical literature whereby gaps in knowledge were identified. The results of this study can be used to guide future golf biomechanics research and coaching technologies.

ABSTRACTINTRODUCTION

An important aspect of coaching involves the analysis of sporting movements in order to effect a change in performance. Coaches are required to make accurate and reliable observations of a performer’s movement patterns and subsequently guide their performance towards a more optimal or ideal technique through appropriate coaching sessions. To do this, it is assumed that coaches have a well-developed internal model of a technically correct performance against which they compare the performers technique. The formation of such a model is proposed to be influenced by several aspects including a coach’s technical knowledge, which includes their biomechanical understanding of the technique. The extent of a coach’s technical knowledge is an area often not investigated in research studies and this has led to the development of the coaching-biomechanics interface.

The coaching-biomechanics interface is a term that conceptualises how coaching can be informed from a biomechanical perspective and inevitably aims to bridge the gap between underlying biomechanical parameters and coaching information. The coachingbiomechanics interface begins by examining the content of a coach’s technical knowledge regarding a performer’s technique. The information gleaned from such insights, through interviews or observations, is then converted into measureable biomechanical parameters that may be directly related to a successful performance. This information can provide new insights into the technique, reinforce previously accepted coaching ideas, enhance a coach’s technical understanding and assist in optimising performance. Assessing an expert coach’s technical knowledge and the sources of such knowledge has been conducted for sports such as gymnastics and sprinting and has provided information to guide future biomechanical studies, which were largely uninvestigated in the literature.

Sherman et al. reported that regardless of golf coaching ability, golf coaches seemingly individualised their perception of key technical swing parameters based on the golfer’s expertise and physique. The key technical parameters being analysed, however, were pre-defined by the authors rather than based on the content of the coaches’ current technical knowledge. Other studies have attempted to understand how expert golf coaches learn and the sources of this information; however, this has not subsequently been related to the content of their technical knowledge of the golf swing. Indeed, despite numerous golf instructional books, there have been few, if any, scientific studies, which have investigated the content of a golf coach’s technical knowledge. Adlington provided a review of ideal swing technique and biomechanics aimed at reducing the risk of injury. Similarly, Hume et al. reported key technical parameters based on a review of the current golf biomechanical literature. Neither review, however, investigated the golf coaches’ perceptions of the key technical parameters based on the concept of the coaching-biomechanics interface.

In studies investigating coaches’ perceptions, no attempt is made to assess the validity of the coaches’ views and it is acknowledged that their views may be based on personal experience rather than underpinned by scientific evidence. Nevertheless, high-level golf coaches have a vast amount of practical experience with regards to developing a golfer’s swing and therefore can offer a valuable perspective. Studying the methods, beliefs and technical knowledge of high-level coaches with a view to provide new insights and hypotheses that can be explored scientifically is a recognised approach [9]. Thus, using the high-level golf coaches’ technical knowledge to help inform future biomechanical studies appears a sensible route to explore

The purpose of this study was to use the principles of the coaching-biomechanics interface to identify the key technical parameters that high-level golf coaches associate with a successful golf swing. These parameters would then be used to identify similarities or differences to current golf biomechanical literature to guide future biomechanical research. The term ‘successful’ was used to define a golf swing that resulted in the intended shot direction and displacement, as was defined by the golf coaches during the qualitative study. The purpose of this study would be achieved by addressing two objectives. The first objective was to qualitatively analyse the coaches’ responses regarding the key technical parameters of a successful golf swing. The second objective was to compare, and place, the key technical parameters within the current golf biomechanical literature. The results will allow technical parameters to be investigated in future biomechanical analysis, which may help to reinforce existing coaching knowledge, provide new insights to assist future technique development, enhance understanding of the golf swing and direct new technologies to aid golf coaching.

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