I wanted to cover golf footwear and its effect on your balance and pressure trace during the swing. Center of Pressure (CoP) refers to the location of maximal pressure being imparted by your body on the ground. It is essentially what the ground is “feeling” under your feet. Your center of pressure will change location as you move through the different components of your backswing and downswing to create a pressure trace. Everyone has a unique golf swing; therefore, it should not be surprising to hear that everyone has a unique pressure trace also.
Anyone who has ever suffered from a pair of poorly fitting shoes will understand just how important our footwear is. This is especially the case in sports where our shoes represent our only point of contact with the ground. Despite the clear importance, many golfers are playing and practicing with incorrect footwear. How many people have you seen practicing while wearing running footwear, boots, or a small heel? The answer is a lot, especially at the driving range!
Current research into the influence of footwear on CoP clearly demonstrates that a player’s choice of shoe has an enormous influence on how they can move and apply pressure to the ground. This, in turn, will influence impact conditions and ball flight. It has also been shown, through testing with many of the world’s best players, that differences in pressure tracings as a result of differing footwear, while clearly visible on Swing Catalyst measuring systems, are not usually perceived by the golfer themselves. This makes it even more important to be aware of the impact poorly fitting footwear may be having on your game. The same high-level players, with the same clubs and on the same day, often produced distinctly different pressure tracings by changing nothing but their shoe type.
I am very fortunate to be part of the Ambassador team for Swing Catalyst back in 2022, an advanced force and pressure analysis system that can analyze CoP, amongst other things. Over the last few yaers, I have noticed that some of my clients have returned for follow-up lessons and that their CoP trace patterns were different when compared to their initial session. When exploring this in more detail, it often became clear that the player was wearing a different pair of shoes from the first lesson. This really got me thinking about how our choice of footwear can discreetly influence elements of the golf swing and lead to differing results.
The main take-home points from what I have learned on this topic that I think are important for players to consider are:
- Each shoe type will influence a player’s movements and transfer of pressure. This, in turn, will influence pressure patterns and ultimately the outcome of the swing.
- Elite-level athletes don’t buy a shoe based on the way it looks; they all get it fitted properly for optimal performance in their sport. Why don’t you?
- There is no optimal golf footwear out there, but there is an optimal shoe for each individual golfer, tailored to their particular athletic capabilities and their resulting pressure tracings. Accurate measurement of pressure difference is only possible with technology such as Swing Catalyst, but it is very important that when purchasing a new pair of golf shoes, you are at least aware of the impact they will have on your golf game. It may influence your decisions when purchasing! A huge amount of focus is put on spending large amounts of money on the newest technology in golf clubs, yet an awareness of the importance of footwear may be the key to unlocking hidden improvements.