Helping a Tour Pro Differentiate Real from Feel

We recently had the opportunity to work with PGA TOUR and KFT veteran Anders Albertson.  Anders turned pro in 2015 after a decorated career at Georgia Tech.   He’s won multiple times on the Korn Ferry Tour, but has recently taken a medical extension after he started to experience lower back pain.

Our experience with Anders offers a good example of how golfers can develop multiple strategies for working around physical limitations, the importance of distinguishing real vs feel and how feedback can be a powerful tool in directing swing changes.

Building Patterns Around Physical Limitations

When we screened Anders, we found that he had several mobility restrictions, especially on his trail side.  Limitations in the hip or thoracic spine are extremely common in golfers who are experiencing back pain.  When golfers don’t rotate well through their "mobile joints," they often compensate by trying to turn through "stable segments."  This can cause excessive stress on the joints, potentially contributing to his injury.

Screening doesn’t necessarily tell us what a golfer is going to do in their swing, but it can help explain why they do it the way they do.  Movement patterns are often developed around physical limitations, but sometimes a golfer’s compensation is not what we’d expect it to be.

We might have predicted that Anders’s limited hip internal rotation would lead him to losing posture or swaying, but he chose a different strategy which Dr. Rose described at a recent Golf Level 3.

As Dr. Rose says in the video above, if a golfer has limited hip mobility on their trail side, we might expect them to sway.  In Anders’s case, he avoided his right side on the backswing, preferring to “load left” instead.  Well, that makes sense too.  

We didn’t create the screen to predict what an athlete is going to do in their swing.  We created it to help explain why.

Distinguishing Between Real and Feel

One of the most powerful benefits of data is helping athletes distinguish between real and feel.  Anders told us that he felt he was “hanging back” in his golf swing.  When we put him on force plates, it was clear that almost the opposite was true.  

He wasn’t stuck on his trail side, he was avoiding his trail side.  He was loading on his lead side in the backswing and almost shifting to the trail leg in the downswing.  Golfers who hang back might feel like they don’t get to their lead side on the downswing.  Anders wasn’t just not pushing, he wasn’t loading.  

His feel was different than his real.

Feedback Drives Decision Making 

Lateral force is one of the key kinetic variables we measure in the golf swing.  Golf is a rotational sport, but elite ballstrikers generally initiate rotational with a linear move or bump towards the target.  Similar to a pitcher striding down the mound, we want to see golfers shift towards the target to help generate speed and move the low point of their swing.  TOUR players that we’ve measured typically generate around 23% of their bodyweight in lateral force.  Anders was at 12%.   Since he wasn’t loading, he couldn’t push off his trail side. 

Now that Anders was doing a better job loading into his trail side, he had to re-learn how to push to his lead side.  Elite players like Anders have an unparalleled ability to make adjustments and being able to provide immediate feedback was invaluable, as we could verify that he was heading in the right direction.  

Greg and Dave didn’t have to provide cues, they just offered confirmation.

“Do that.”  

“Keep going.” 

Without data, we can’t provide feedback with such conviction.  After just a few swings, his lateral force had jumped from 12% to almost 20% of bodyweight.  

Helping an elite athlete associate a feel with a result is incredibly powerful.  Coaching with feedback can feel like a cheat code compared to coaching without. 

If you are a coach, fitness or medical professional interested in learning more about how to evaluate golfers in this way, check out our newly updated Level 1 online course.

If you're a golfer experiencing back pain and want to know if your swing or movement capabilities could be part of the problem, you can find a TPI Certified expert via our Find an Expert page


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