On Kinesiology (Why Things Work And Don’t Work)

tiger-woods-acl-reconstructive-surgeryOriginally posted September 17, 2015 – Re-Posted as this goes great with yesterday’s posting

The main problem people have with golf swings is that they don’t realize that kinesiology is more than just the study of human motion.

If you look at the actual definition of kinesiology, say from the wikipedia version of the word, you’ll see that kinesiology actually involves much more than the basic (mechanical) motion.

From wikipedia: Kinesiology

Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics, is the scientific study of human movement.

Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms.

There’s more, of course, but let’s look at the second sentence in the definition.  We know that kinesiology addresses not just the mechanical, but also psychological and physiological mechanisms.

This is where golf swing gurus go off the tracks.

They come up with a swing motion that they can perform, and because they can perform this action in a setting outside of competition and without pushing the performance limits of that action, they completely disregard that the action is flawed from a physiological and psychological viewpoint.

The very simplest way to point this out is to pick on the left-biased models (or even the so-called centered models) of a golf swing.  Take either the Stack & Tilt or Sean Foley’s swing models.

They are predicated on keeping a significant portion and body and/or weight to the left side during the back swing.

You can do all of the swing modeling that you wish with such a model, but there’s one major problem – the nature of motion is that you do not ever keep your weight or body in the impact or release position (left of center) when swinging any other object.

That is because we have a physiological requirement of having the spine leaning away from the point of impact in a free-swinging action for power and speed.

By that, your swing is not stopping at the ball as it would if there were a wall there.  If there were, your stance and weight shift would be different.  But momentum science requires that you be positioned to absorb and channel that force.

So you’re hitting a golf ball and the motion does not reach terminus at the ball.  There is a follow-through involved, and at very high speeds with a full and powerful golf swing.

Where do you think any other athlete would end up if swinging a bat or anything else as if the swing stopped at impact?

In traction, is the answer, and that’s where you’re apt to find yourself trying to swing hard from a center or left-biased position.

Tiger Woods went from the arguably greatest player of all time to what he is now, when he changed his swing bias from this:



To this:



That second stance above would work for a swing that ends at the ball, you see what I’m saying?

Look at how beautifully Tiger moved and swung with a right-biased swing model, even one that wasn’t mechanically perfect:

tiger woods drive 2008

So now you’re going to change your setup to bias the balance and stance to either the center or the left, and it’s certainly possible, physically, to do so.

But remember that the swing doesn’t stop at the ball.

And because the club and body keep going past impact, you get all of the nasty stuff that you didn’t take into account when you built this model:

Now looks what happens to that flowing motion when you have to somehow get your spine leaning away from the target when your weight is trapped in center-left territory and there is a follow-through involved:

tiger new swing


And sooner or later you end up with pictures like this:



Which leads to this:





5 thoughts on “On Kinesiology (Why Things Work And Don’t Work)

  1. bigtoilet

    I hope we all appreciate the simple brilliance of Mr. Watts. I mean, who else writes this honestly?

    Answer: Nobody!….I mean NOBODY! It’s flat out simple genius.

    Most are afraid to be this honest, OR are just afraid of upsetting the status quo, OR are just blinded by the modern swing.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Argh… you know I don’t like that word, BT – this stuff didn’t fall out of the sky onto my head, it’s the result of ten years of unrelenting research and performance testing.

      And I don’t know why being honest about something is so controversial – we all know the modern swing garbage is exactly that, but I suspect many swing instructors and players just don’t want to admit how flawed their process has been lo these many years.

      When this generation is weeded out of golf history, perhaps some semblance of actual swing science will take hold again and make golf an actual sport and not niche game where the laws of physics are ignored or simply presented incorrectly…

      One can hope! 😉

  2. Donalm

    I am gobsmacked. I second everything JC says, a great article, great – in fact before i got to the end I was already mimicking Jerry’s thoughts and thinking why cant someone sit down with Tiger and have him read this?

    It’s never to late or is it?

    DJ respect


    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, Donal!

      Tiger would have done far better to have stayed away from voodoo swing theories…but when you think you know it all, you lose sight of what you dont know…

      I used word with Foley two years ago that I believe has been proven in spades. That word was “hubris.”

  3. Laser

    Where do the gurus go wrong? Wow, there a lot of ways to go with that.

    To start with, the actual swing (as opposed to setup) is motion. So, I think I could learn more about the swing from that 3-D type .gif of TW than all of the face-on and DTL’s in the world, combined.

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