My last post on video analysis caused a bit of a stir; I spent most of the day on Twitter debating the merits of video analysis.
I still can’t see what video adds to learning. Those supporting the use of video analysis mooted various ideas.
The first was “video aids understanding”.
I can see how slow motion video of great players can increase our understanding of the functional anatomy of the golf swing. And I can appreciate this will help refine swing theory. But what I can’t see is how this helps the individual player. Although it might be helpful to see how each group of clubs should interact with the ball, you only need to record a few swings to do this.
This doesn’t explain the use of video in day-to-day teaching.
I was also told:
“Video can help with making changes – sometimes it can feel like you’re being asked to move the club a foot when in reality it’s less than an inch”.
Again, this seems reasonable at face value. But in reality, it’s never been something I’ve needed. I trust my coaches, so even if the movement feels strange at first I’ll persist…and the subsequent improvement in ball flight will do the rest.
I just can’t see why video is relevant. Yes it will tell you how your swing looks from where it the camera records it. But why do we think this will help? I’ve never had an out-of-body experience when swinging a club, so it’s unlikely I’ll get to have that view during my backswing. Life isn’t a video game – we can’t change our point of view at the touch of a button.
How something looks is a poor substitute for how it feels. It’s that kinesthetic/proprioceptive experience that helps us when we’re swinging a club. I’ve spent some time growing my awareness of my swing, and I’m starting to understand what I’m doing.
So I know what it feels like when I try to turn too far and throw the club off plane on the backswing; I can feel when I’ve rolled my arms shut on the down-swing as I move between my old and new method of hitting a draw (I used to swing in to out with a relatively weak grip and manipulate the club round. I now use a strong grip, but I still sometimes turn the club over leading to a pull/draw). With the aid of my coach, I’m making my swing as simple as possible; fewer moving parts means fewer errors.
In addition to that awareness, I know golf balls aren’t able to make decisions. They have no free will, no sense of direction, no burning desire to go and play with the ducks. They fly where they are “told” to go by the club face and to a lesser extent the swing path.
If we’re aware of our swings and able to interpret the ball’s flight, what can video add? And, if you’re wondering, video can’t replace awareness. Yes, it might be able to help with detecting the issue (although an experienced pro is able to do the same) but if we don’t know how the swing we’ve just made feels, how do we know we’ve changed it? We could use video every time we’re at the range – but we can’t take a camera out on the course.
Although several people were making the case for video analysis, they really didn’t offer much in the way of substance to change my mind. This may, of course, be a problem with the medium we used for this discussion.
Twitter’s 140 character limit aids brevity but can cause difficulties when trying to express a complex concept. Might I suggest any similar debates take place in the comments section? At present, I have to moderate your 1st comment, but later ones appear immediately. I’ll approve comments as quickly as possible, but work may cause a brief delay. Feel free to send me a message via Twitter (@The_Golf_Geek) if you want your comment approved!
So what do you think? Do you agree, or are you undecided? Do you feel like I’ve missed your point? Is there a case you want to make using more than 140 characters? Drop a comment in the box below and let me know!