The Trackman Combine - Does It Really Help Golfers Shoot Lower Scores ?
High-speed photography, computer analysis, launch monitors, bio-mechanics and sports science have all contributed to an enormous improvement in the understanding of the swings of both elite and ordinary golfers.
This new information has been reflected in an ever-increasing flood of instructional material being made available in books, magazines, videos and online courses.
While at the same time there have of course been dramatic advances in the equipment available to golfers at all levels.
So you might think that average handicaps and scores should be dropping rapidly. But the available statistics in fact show little if any improvement in playing standards in recent decades.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the way the game is being taught and practiced simply doesn't work well for the vast majority of golfers. And indeed this is evidenced by the increased interest being shown in alternative ways of learning.
What is the Trackman Combine?
The Trackman Combine, for example, is a test which enables players to hit a variety of shots, under game-like conditions, and to identify and work on any particular weaknesses in their games.
Players begin by hitting three shots at a target 60 yards away, then repeat this at 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, 160 and 180 yards. Finally, three shots are hit with a driver. This “round” is then repeated to give a total of 60 shots, each of which are scored from 0-100 by the Trackman system.
Every player who completes the Combine gets the following stats -
- a Combine score for each yardage
- an aggregate score for the 60 shot Combine
- a ranking within his handicap group for each yardage
- average distance from the pin at each yardage
- average driver distance and accuracy
More than 10,000 golfers of all abilities and nationalities are now said to have taken the Combine, and it’s easy to see the attraction.
You get immediate and definite feedback about your performance with a variety of different clubs while hitting shots under pressure. You can tell at once where your game is weak or strong in relation to other golfers of similar ability, and you can even take part in Combine competitions if you like.
The Limitations of the Combine
But the Combine has its drawbacks as well.
Most obviously, you can only do it at a facility that has the Trackman technology. Although you could of course practice at your local range by hitting three shots to targets at 10 yard intervals, you would not get the pinpoint feedback and scoring which the Trackman offers.
More importantly, there’s good evidence that this is in any case not the most effective way to practice, and even golfers who improve their Combine stats find it difficult to reproduce this improved shot-making on the golf course.
To find out why this might be, it’s worth taking a look at a well-known athletic training regime which does seem to provide transferable benefits.
For more on Trackman and their combine test click here
What is CrossFit and Why it Works
The essence of CrossFit is the development of all round strength and conditioning through a wide variety of high intensity, functional movements. Participants undertake a Workout of the Day (WOD) incorporating a number of these movements, but the WODs are almost infinitely variable with a different work out challenge being produced everyday. (unlike the Combine which has one version of it's test)
A typical WOD is the so-called “Fran” which involves sets of 21, 15 and 9 reps of barbell thrusters and pull-ups.
A CorssFit participant that does a Fran during their Monday gym session will not do this work out on Tuesday, in fact they may not do this exact workout for months. They will however be exposed to other workouts that contain these movements in the coming weeks (if you have read our other blogs on golf practice you will know where we are going with this, spacing, variability abd challenge)
The interesting thing about CrossFit is that participants report that tackling different WODs seems to improve their performance in all exercises and workouts, as well as their sport of preference.
One main reason for this seems to be that while all the exercises demand strength, mobility, co-ordination and balance, the differences between them also mean that considerable mental application and concentration is required for their performance on a daily basis in training. This is due to the ever changing training tasks and the cognitive demands this organized chaos creates.
But while this may be great news for athletes, what if anything does it have to offer the golfer?
Click this link to learn more about spacing, variability, challenge and why it can help you players better golf
The GLT Answer
Well ultimately the golfer is not being placed under this kind of cognitive demand by a trackman combine, nor does the combine provide a golfer the same level of context that a CrossFitter receives during their training.
At Game Like Training (GLT) Golf, it’s our mission to help golfers of all levels improve their games by incorporating scientific principles of learning into their practice regimes.
We’ve done this so far by devising routines which include the essential elements of spacing, variability and challenge, and it’s occurred to us that these are also exactly the aspects of CrossFit which have made it so successful.
So we’ve decided to produce a regular series of weekly golfing WODs, golf specific performance challenges for all elements of the game, which you can go through with a simulator or on the range.
The reason we have created these golf workouts is because CrossFit is creating an environment that encourages learning and transference of skill, the trackman combine is simply a standardized test and therefore retention and transfer of what you are doing onto the golf course will be low.
If you are a crossfitter every day due to the spacing, variability, challenge and context in the work out of the day you will be getting better at CrossFit, unfortunately due to the lack of spacing, variability, lower challenge point and context that the trackman combine produces you are not getting better at golf, your just improving a test score.
You can get these by following us on Facebook - Game Like Training , Instagram - @gameLtraining and YouTube - Game Like Training, and like the Trackman Combine each will be scorable so that you can compare your skill levels with other golfers of similar ability.
More importantly, each “workout’ will be carefully structured to ensure the maximum transferability of your improved skills from the range or simulator to the course.
Watch the video below access our very first 'Golf-Out of the Day' and see college and professional golfers take it on