Arm Speed and Club Head Speed

Players on both the LPGA and PGA tours have been measured.

There is a noticeable difference in hip speed, a minimal difference in torso/rib cage speed and a very noticeable difference in arm (specifically left arm) speed.

Average hip speed is higher on the LPGA, rib cage is barely higher on the LPGA and left arm speed is significantly higher on the PGA tour.

A kinematic sequence chart shows left arm speed to be the body part most directly responsible for club head speed.

A left-handed cross court back hand and left handed frisbee throw are similar to a right handed golf swing and in those motions, the left arm fires off the chest. Only firing the body would get you nowhere.

Not even in things like jogging, field goal kicking and martial arts kicking are the arms taught to be passive.

So why in the (fill in your choice of expletives) is golf the only activity where we’re taught to have passive arms…and why are we firing the lower body for speed?

For much more on this, check out this post.

 

 

 

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24 Comments

  1. Kieron

    My wife has tremendous left arm speed from the waist, to my wallet and back to her handbag.
    Extremely accurate, very consistent, torso remains still and with little hip turn. Strangely, her feet and eyes remain passive.

    She has never been taught these skills, doesn’t even practice but delivers no matter what the weather or occasion.

    Reply
    • Derrick V

      Kieron,

      I suspect that the movement you describe is part of the female DNA.

      Derrick

      Reply
      • Kieron

        Apologies for making light of what is, obviously, very interesting information but yes, DNA and a few other things.

        For the 6 years I’ve been playing I’ve maybe missed out on Montes simplistic explanations of the swing and what it might feel like. As it is now, I just focus on ‘bump, dump & turn’ and for the most part this works for me and I’ve totally bought into his concepts.

        From what I can see, the Pro commences all facets in very close sequence, each one then drops away leading up to gradual club head acceleration into ball impact. For me, that just reinforces the BDT principle and encourages me to work to make that sequence closer and matching.

        I played this morning with the charts in my head and for most of the round hit the ball poorly. Just returning to what was in my head before – BDT – got me right again.

        Interesting to know, but sometimes, for me, less is more.

        Reply
  2. Peter Ratcliffe

    Thanks for this Monte. It’s brilliant insight.

    As an automation engineer with a lot of experience in motion and motion profiles, I find the periods where the Pro is moving slower than the amateur most interesting.

    Relative to clubhead speed, at and through impact the pelvis, thorax and arm of the Pro are moving significantly slower than either amateur. The Clubhead speed of the Pro continues to rise at a significant acceleration, while the amateurs are not and fall off before impact in spite of “throwing everything they’ve got” at the ball.

    Simplistic Conclusion: The Pro clubhead speed comes from building speed early to store more energy, then the slowing down the pelvis, thorax and arms “releases” the energy stored into the clubhead. Note the steeper slope of the significant deceleration of the arms prior to impact.

    If the arms are not somewhat passive at release the transfer of energy will be reduced. But the arms apparently can’t be passive early in the swing or they won’t reach the potential available.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Well done Peter. You understand the graphics and concept perfectly.

      Reply
      • Peter Ratcliffe

        Thanks Monte. You help debunk an industry full of bunk.

        I especially like to look at the arm speed of Amateur #2 as an example. That one started to slow down, perhaps ran out of speed. While they slowed the arms a bit, the hips and chest were still accelerating. Then they took one last push for arm speed just prior to impact, effectively reducing the energy transfer and wound up with the fastest arm, hip and chest speed at impact of the 3 plots and the slowest clubhead speed as a result.

        The Zepp Golf 2 sensor and app produces hand speed and club speed graphs and includes several Pro swings for reference. I quickly noticed that, compared to the pros, I accelerated my hands slower for much longer than a pro and I started to try to figure out the results and make some changes.

        This slow down to go faster effect is obvious on those Zepp plots and now such real time motion feedback for interested hackers like me is available to anyone with $150 bucks and a smart phone or tablet.

        Better info than a Trackman for the amateur because the ball centric monitors only show the results at impact and provide no clue into the mechanics that generated those results.

        Reply
  3. Gary Eidet

    Thanks Monte for this useful info. Could you please suggest a drill/drills to increase left arm speed? Perhaps you already covered it in your videos. A reference would be helpful. Gary Eidet

    Reply
  4. Pete

    Very, very clear. My explanation to wy, is that most amateurs have no idea on how to accelerate the left arm by kinetic chain and correct rythm and tempo.

    Therefore It all turns the pointing finger to those people teaching us the golf swing with all the golf-jargon, planes and positions, while the swing is by no means still-shot image pile, yet a dynamic motion, where you try to maintaina good balance in the middle of your stance accelerating bodyily turn, which throws the hands – left arm off your chest at suitable point. If and when the accelertion does not happen ground up and transfer thru your whole body to the arms and hands one has to turn the torso and hit the ball.

    Mostly professionals insist on having quiet lower body to maintain ballance, yet that is the culprit to have low handspeed and way lower clubhead speeds than skilly throwers of their arms and butt end of the club.

    The motion of them amateurs having pelvis speed about equal to their shoulder speed is basically generated by shoulder turn and “hitting” with the hands themselves, yet the hand speed is a result of correct sequence of motions underneath the visible.

    The visible thrives people to go after a “perfect impact position”, yet their rythm will never allow them to produce such position in the middle of their swing. The problem is that the feel of hitting the ball come too early and the potential stored in the backswing is thrown away halfway thru downswing. Biggest effort should feel to be deployed after the ball, not at the ball.

    Hip speed needs to step up relatively late and have at least some separation compared to shoulder turn in order to store the un-coiling energy to accelerte the arms, not the clubhead thru impact.

    Transition and rythm is the hardest to figure and teach in golfswing, yet they and only they make a golf swing.

    Reply
    • Pete

      One more thing. The reasin why accelerating your hands does not work by accelertaing your arm is, that there are only little muscles in the shoulder, rotator calf as the most importanta. One arm weighs about 1/6 of your body weight.

      Due to that the arm can accelerate to high velocities only by “throwing” it by your body action!

      Reply
      • Peter Ratcliffe

        Notice how long in the start down that the Pro swing doesn’t spread out. For approximately 1/3 of he way to impact the hips, thorax, arms and clubhead remain at the same speed.

        Then in phase 2 the hips level off gradually, but the thorax and arms accelerate way, with the arms accelerating much faster than the thorax. At the end of this section the clubhead is still accelerating in sync with the arms.

        The hips, thorax and arms decelerate at almost the same time but in that order and the arms “whip” away accelerating at a higher and higher rate.

        What’s not well visualized in an acceleration graph is actual position in degrees of each part. Because the hips turn less than the thorax which turns less than the club.

        Also the horizontal (time) scale on the charts does not appear consistent. But the biggest waste of energy in these graphs is the early separation of the arms from the other parts on the other swings, and that does indeed involve using smaller muscles in the shoulders.

        Reply
  5. Pete

    By the way, the Pro chart is not by far the most efficient. Looks like Freddy Couples -style swing.

    If Rory McIlroy or Henrik Stenson, not to mention Sergio Garcia were charted, the hand speed drop would be really very much closer to impact and the clubhead accelertaion even more steep.

    PS. Sorry for getting exited on this.

    Reply
  6. Les Kennedy

    Jesus!! These guys should have their own golf Chanel called “golf from the open university” I thought I’d found the golf pro of my dreams till I tuned in to this lot. Monte I recently came across you on YouTube looking for a cure for early extension, this last week youve put a smile back on my miserable mush. I have always known that getting my arms out in front of me suits my game, but there’s always been that little bit missing. Every teacher you follow, always rams down your throat…pull the hips to start and everything will drop in on plane…Shank!!! The best I’ve found close to you is Bobby Lopez Its no coincidence I seem to be drawn to the guys with a great sense of humour. I know you can get bambuzzled with too much info, but I am hooked on your videos. Apart from the great 90 deg drill, the two that have stood out for me are the the right shoulder out in front and the non side tilt that traps in to your pelvis, it’s great to see a pro explain the secondary axis tilt the proper. I haven’t had chance to get to the range yet, but I have tried practice swings with the club just inside the ball, and on every swing, I’ve not come close to hitting it……could this be the end of dreaded S word. Hope I can get to meet up with you one day, I know you’re coming to England soon, oh and by the way, we’re not all football hooligans, sorry..soccerrrr!!!!! as you lot across the pond call it.
    Thanks for all the great vids
    Les Kennedy (no relation)

    Reply
  7. Calvin

    All four measures for the pro are married in the first third.
    Then the clubhead takes off and the hips thorax and arms all
    peak at two/thirds and then slow. The ams four measures are not at all in sync from the start to the finish.

    Reply
  8. Dan

    Monte, maybe you could demonstrate this in a small video?

    Reply
  9. Andrew M

    Very interesting and if you keep this up Monte I’m going to think your blog is just directed at me alone! 😀

    Would be interested in seeing more content from you on this subject and improving sequence — which is definitely the key piece you gave me from the last lesson!

    Makes me think briefly if this is why non-dominant hand players can do well. Slightly wish I’d have learned how to play golf left handed when I see this! My right arm speed would absolutely be better than my left arm speed.

    Reply
  10. Phil

    From the posts you’ve made and the things I’ve heard you say on video, you’ve lead me to believe that increasing the speed of the right/trail arm is the most significant factor in increasing club head speed.
    However, Your explanation of these graphs attributes club head speed to the left/lead arm.
    when I started reading your stuff about a year ago, I worked hard on my backswing, which now ends as soon as the shoulders stop, my shoulders also start the downswing and control my entire swing. This and operating under the premise that everything that happens after the transition is a foregone conclusion and a direct result of the backswing and transition, has made me a significantly better and longer player.
    In a nutshell, I cannot comprehend how I can start my downswing with/consciously increase the speed of my left arm. So naturally my thoughts are that the right arm speeds up the left arm, which would explain what you/the graphs are saying? however, your analogy of the frisbee throw and cross court back hand make me question my perspective, as I cannot link the feelings of those motions, which are completely left arm movements, to my golf swing as I consciously do/feel nothing with the left arm.
    The only reason I am intrigued by this is that making exactly the same swing with my driver and irons, I swing my driver faster and hit it significantly longer than the tour average but swing and hit my irons significantly less/shorter. So I am obviously missing something when it comes to club head speed, or my titleist driver is illegal….?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      These are just different spins on the same topic. I have 120 videos and they cover about 4 things.

      Would have to see your swing to know why irons are shorter.

      Reply
      • Tim

        Monte My Drives are 30 yards longer and my irons are 15 to 29 longer. Awesome.

        Reply
  11. Tim

    Monte: In the Drive 4 Dough Video which is incredible, (I literally gained 30 yards on my drives and 2 clubs on my irons)you are describing a set up and alignment which allows you to swing the club with efficiency and proper sequence. All equates to more arm speed and therefore more club head speed. I feel like I am able to swing without getting in my own way. The Humorous forward and Femur down keys are the transmission from body to arms for me. More please!

    Reply
  12. NOLRAC

    Just think about a long fairway bunker shot from a good lie.
    Since you need to keep the lower body very quiet what propels the ball… the arms?

    Reply
  13. Hannes

    One thing the above chart does show is forearmrotation. If pelvis-, thorax- and arm-speed drop at impact, SOMETHING has to be fast in order to accalerate the clubhead. I suspect it could be the turning over / crossing of the forarms (professional golfer). Amateurs would rather flip at the ball and thus not generate much clubheadspeed. Could it be?
    By the way, love your website as well as vlogs w/wo be better golf.

    Reply
  14. Hannes

    Sorry, meant I believe it does NOT show forearmrotation…

    Reply
  15. Dave

    Monte,
    You forgot Irish dancing. Thanks for this. It’s working for me.

    Reply

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