Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Laterality. Part 1.



The title of the thread is a very basic one and refers to preferences people show for one side of their body over the other. I have been dealing with some aspects of it, such as eye dominance during my studies on biokinetics and I share the opinion of some experts that it is a very underrated aspect. I claim that cross dominance (not only in eyedness) gives an advantage to a golfer.

Macroscale researches should not deal with individual cases (as Hogan wisely resumed once: "no matter how people may differ anatomically, the mechanics are the same, assuming no physical deformity"), however, if one of the main goals is to use only subcionscious-friendly motions we need to adapt them to our own type. If we pay attention only to three main areas, i.e. eyedness, handedness and footedness, golfers can be divided into the following ones:
1. rear side dominant -- rear eye (RED), rear hand (RHD) and rear leg (RLD), which is the most common scenario;
2. all cross dominant -- lead eye (LED), lead hand (LHD) and rear leg (LLD), which is rare;
3. combinations of the above -- e.g. RED and RHD but LLD, which happens relatively commonly in case of having a cross dominant leg while having parallel dominance of eye and hand;
4. total ambidexterity -- extremely rare.


It is worth noting that as regards leg dominance, I think this is not as easy a subject as in case of arms or eyes. I have assumed that in golf, it is much more important to determine which leg is being used to jump while running so that one can jump as high or as long as one can. In light athletic it is called "jumping leg" or "bouncing leg" issue (sorry for a possibly inadequate translation from Polish to English), because one of the major components of golf swing motion kinetics is transverse plane commpression and expansion -- in short, creating power from squatting and extending legs.
Thus, I would recommend determining the "jumping/bouncing leg" experimentarily, i.e. while attempting to jump as powerfully as possible leaving the choice to one's subconscious mind. I have no experience in skateboarding at all but I guess it can be used as well as long jump in light athletic.
In order to make the golf swing instruction serve better for golfers, we would need some researches how to react to a given human type described above. For instance, forcing a RED player to keep the whole head behind the ball or forcing a LLD person to use rear leg more (instead leaving it to subconscious mind) can bring more harm than good. Moreover, terms like swingers and hitters, that describe golf swing in a very misty and unfocused way) should be replaced by these types of letters which describe reality much more precisely.


Let's try in practice on my own example. I am a heavily RED and RHD person and not RLD but LLD person. 
Some experts claim that being a RED & RHD & LLD is a more common pattern than all rear dominance (vide long and high jumpers in light athletics), but let's not deal with it now. What are the conclusions for my motions then ?
- being a RED person, e.g. I am naturally inclined to focus my rear eye on the ball the whole swing, which makes me unable to turn so much effectively during the backswing as well as makes me shift my head oin the sagittal plane more than optimally; moreover, being LED you're always bound for peripheral vision in the downswing. Being RED not necessarily, if you are forced to leave your dominant eye from looking at the ball at any moment of the motion.
- being a RHD person, e.g. I am naturally inclined to power the swing with my rear arm and hand which favours slap-hinge release type as well as makes the OTT motion a very required one;
- being a LLD person, e.g. I am naturally inclined to load the motion on my lead leg and it is hard for me both to sway away (which is good) as well as to use rear leg power after transition longer (that's not so good). It is worth noting that, unfortunately, being a RED person brings practically all bad things in view of kinetics -- and I do not have on mind head turn as they both performed. As I mentioned earlier, problems of a RED golfer begin with inability to make the optimal body turn during the backswing; moreover, either one is willing to accept it or still forcing it and swaying the head and upper body in consequence.
The downswing that consists of delivering the dominant eye on the ball (or better said, slightly behind) causes the head and upper body sway more than needed not letting the parametric acceleration work as efficiently as in case of LED person (early release, losing angles prematurely). When I try to swing more like Snead and not post-secret Hogan with rear foot much more flared out I am reaching the rear hip biolimit very late, too late for my rear eye; thus, either i need to sway my head and upper body antitargetwise or need losing rear eye vision. Both are creating problems, but definitely it is harder to me to swing well without my rear eye on the ball the whole swing.
As regards the downswing, if I let my head + upper body sway during the backswing, it is inevitable that both must sway more in the downswing, especially aiming at delivering the dominant eye just behind the ball. Mac O'Grady, whom I heard is a big proponent of using peripheral vision allows the head sway targetwise in the downswing but does not mention that RED player's backswing can contribute to a too excessive one. Last but not least -- if one's upper body sways excessively it is not possible for our subconscious mind to create enough big secondary (downswing) axis tilt and, in consequence, we cannot use as much parametric acceleration (for simple image using lead shoulder moving up and back) and we are losing leverages sooner than needed, creating an image of a powerless older man hacking at the ball.

Now, since I never put any special attention to the division into hitters and swingers before because it was usually a very feel-oriented issue, thus not objective one, I am as close to discuss it when talking about RHD and LHD golfers. Who feels to be a hitter and who a swinger ? The easiest common sense explanation is that RHD golfer wants to hit the ball with his dominant rear hand (tennis forehand) while LHD golfer wants to use lead hand as one-hand backswing in tennis and slide the clubhead this way taking the ball from its way.
Is my logics good or not ? If yes, we will be able next to see if dangers for hitters/swingers are tha same for RHD/LHD players and help all golfers who:
- either are forced against nature to use non-dominant arm with all consequences;
- or diminish negative issues of using rear/lead dominant hand in context of the overall motion.
We shall leave answering that question to microscale specialists. The conclusion is, however, that the best is if nature equipped us with the best combo which is being LED, LHD and RHD person.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Common Denominators for the Best Ballstrikers in the History of the Game. Part 3.


Let's continue our travel -- lastly, we mentioned about a correct sequentiality in the sagittal plane resulting in having great pivot ensuring great sequentiality from the ground up which means that hips are more open at impact than torso and torso than shoulder girdle. When we look at this scenario from the eye on the coronal plane (best observed from DTL view) we shall immediately notice that the so called tush line is being beautifully maintained and there is no sign of early extention of the lumbar part of the spine called informally "goat humping" -- which is another common denominator of the greatest ballstrikers in the history.


The coronal plane balance is being achieved and maintained throughout the swing (with a vivid help from what happens below pelvis which we shall talk about next). As we said before, the coronal plane balance is being achieved and maintained throughout the swing. Mind you, it is not just balance (even a goat humper can learn to maintain 'artificial' balance) It cannot be done without properly directed work of the under-pelvic section of the body...and this, in consequence, cannot be done without proper transverse plane compression/expansion, other words without effective use of ground forces. This is another common denominator of the greatest ballstrikers. Note that this goes exactly in feedback with the last one, i.e. with maintaining the tush line and overall great coronal plane balance.


Of course we should mention here maintaining balance in the sagittal plane, but it is not so much important taking into account that regulating the width and diagonality of stance settles the issue almost completely (almost -- because without proper weight shift for a biped it would be tough to do).


Reasumming, the most obvious and visible common denominators of the best ballstrikers are as follows (in order of no importance):

-- as small as possible rate of clubface closure in the wide impact zone;
-- pivot guided motion from both the ground up as well as from the core out without stalling of the pivot in the wide impact zone;
-- plane shift to the elbow plane as early as possible resulting in rear humerus being supported by the pivoting body and rear forearm supporting the shaft;
-- balance in the coronal plane maintained without a sign of early extension;
-- transverse plane compression after transition with a muscular effort to use ground forces (both vertically as well as horizontally oriented) as well as possible.

Now is the time to think about finding causality between given denominators and put them in the correct order. Unfortunately, it won't be so easy a task because of lack of direct and full automating processes in a motion of a living organism. However, the causality is noticeable enough both from anatomic as well as physical part so that nothing can stop us from formulating the following 'cascade of biophysical events'.


Let's revert again to the above list of denominators and try to put them in a queue:

(1) -- pivot guided motion from both the ground up as well as from the core out without stalling of the pivot in the wide impact zone

(2) -- balance in the coronal plane maintained without a sign of early extension

(3) -- transverse plane compression after transition with a muscular effort to use ground forces (both vertically as well as horizontally oriented) as well as possible

(4) -- plane shift to the elbow plane as early as possible resulting in rear humerus being supported by the pivoting body and rear forearm supporting the shaft

(5) -- as small as possible rate of clubface closure in the wide impact zone.


The pieces liniking these elements -- includig the initial key of building great fundamentals -- are real keys to build a repeatable and consistent motion for everyone in his/her class. Other words, if someone knows how to obtain all these elements and know how to create a possibility to one's subconscious mind to act the desired way because there are no other options left with a subconscious-friendly motions -- he/she will be an outstanding ballstriker in one's class.