The Biomechanical Approach
Ryan Lumsden, the renowned biomechanist who is recognized internationally as the leading authority in 3-D biomechanical measurement and the practical application of collected data. Jon Wallet, HKGA Golf Development Director, talks to him while they were h
Jon Wallet: How important is to ‘quantify your game’ for junior golfers to excel?
Ryan Lumsden: Measurement of all aspects of a developing players’ game is essential. With all the assessment tools and technology now available, the current generation of juniors expect you to provide evidence-based information in relation to their game. If you cannot show them how they are improving or help them understand how the work you set is going to improve performance they are not inspired to do the work.
JW: How do you utilize and interpret biomechanical information to help junior golfers to establish technical priorities?
RL: The interpretation of the data is the key over the past 15 years I’ve analysed thousands of elite players. Through this experience, I have learned a lot from these players but you also start to see the patterns and correlations between certain movements and shot outcomes. Applying this knowledge and experience helps us to prioritise the key things they should focus on, which more often than
not influences the things they have been trying to achieve but in a simpler way as they are focusing on causes rather than effects.
JW: What is the role of biomechanic plays in the development path from talented junior to tour player to tour event winner? Any example?
RL: I’ve been fortunate to be part of the team with a number of players through their journey from junior to tour winner, a number of whom became world No. 1 amateurs. Examples would be working with Minjee Lee from when she was 13, and Thomas Pieters through the VVG Program, and Lydia Ko through NZ Golf. Effectively regular screenings, skills testing and biofeedback becomes an essential part of keeping players and their coaches on track with their physical and technical development so they are ‘ready’ when they reach Tour level. I believe that this is a ‘must-have’ in a cutting-edge Player Development Program and without it a National Association is putting their players at a disadvantage when they come to compete internationally.
JW: You have worked with National Teams including Australia, Scotland, England, Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand. What is your general opinion on HK Team golfers? Do you think they have any competitive edge over other national players?
RL: One of the main things is how any information I provide at camps is followed up and reinforced and I have worked with many of Jon’s Elite players and Tour players over the last 10 years, so having a good relationship with him was important and he said this could be a great project as there is several talented young players in HK. And he was right – there are definitely some good players and with the right input, structure, and foundation work, HK could really enjoy some strong success over the next decade.
JW: How do you foresee the use of 3D technology with HK players and Teams in the future?
RL: We are looking to have 2 day camps periodically - from 2 to 4 times per year. For this to have any long term enduring success it requires a consistent program over a number of years. This will allow Jon and I to create a blueprint for each individual player and then we invite all local coaches to attend the sessions and they can then reinforce the work done in-between these camps.
JW: How does biomechanics help to prevent elite golfers’ increasing number of injuries?
RL: Essentially, we are getting more players specialising in golf at an earlier age, often with equipment that is inappropriate for them and before their bodies are ready to cope with the number of repetitions they are making. Thus, we are dealing with far more injuries at an earlier stage in their ‘careers’ (particularly wrist injuries). Through biomechanical analysis, we can identify and ‘red flag’ the movements being made that put stress on certain areas of the body, and whilst always trying to correct any swing movements and integrating appropriately with their physical programs, ‘load management’ (balls hit) is always going to be key to reducing injury risk with developing players.
Biomechanical analysis allows us to correlate the physiology of a player to how they swing. We can then prescribe gym exercises that reduce the risk of injury, as well as correct any swing movements that are putting excessive stress on joints or other parts of the body.