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Movement Variability in the Golf Swing of Male and Female Skilled Golfers


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 8 - p 1474-1483
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318210fe03
Applied Sciences

Background: Despite the complexity of movement, the swings of skilled golfers are considered to be highly consistent. Interestingly, no direct investigation of movement variability or coupling variability during the swings of skilled golfers has occurred.

Purpose: To determine whether differences in movement variability exist between male and female skilled golfers during the downswing of the full golf swing.

Methods: Three-dimensional thorax, pelvis, hand, and clubhead data were collected from 19 male (mean ± SD: age = 26 ± 7 yr) and 19 female (age = 25 ± 7 yr) skilled golfers. Variability of segmental movement and clubhead trajectory were examined at three phases of the downswing using discrete (SD) and continuous analyses (spanning set), whereas variability of intersegment coupling was examined using average coefficient of correspondence.

Results: Compared with males, females exhibited higher thorax and pelvis variability for axial rotation at the midpoint of the downswing and ball contact (BC). Similarly, thorax-pelvis coupling variability was higher for females than males at both the midpoint of the downswing and BC. Regardless of thorax and pelvis motion, the variability of hand and clubhead trajectory sequentially decreased from the top of the backswing to BC for both males and females.

Conclusions: Male and female skilled golfers use different upper body movement strategies during the downswing while achieving similarly low levels of clubhead trajectory variability at BC. It is apparent that the priority of skilled golfers is to progressively minimize hand and clubhead trajectory variability toward BC, despite the individual motion or coupling of the thorax and pelvis.

1School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Griffith University, Queensland, AUSTRALIA; and 2Musculoskeletal Research Program, Griffith University, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Sean A. Horan, B.Ex.Sc., M.Phty., School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Queensland, 4222, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2010.

Accepted for publication January 2011.

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine