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Explaining golf swing ‘pressure,’ the new term every golf nerd should know

I’ve seen one tool and metric becoming more and more common in the teaching bays of the top instructors. It’s looking at the interaction between you and the ground. It’s a a metric called “pressure.”

What is pressure?

Pressure, in a nutshell, is a measurement of how much force is being applied to a given area. In golf, we use pressure to measure how much force being applied by our feet into the ground.

It’s become an important of the way golf coaches teach. It’s why, for instance, you see Francesco Molinari practicing his squat-jump drill on the range.

It’s similar to the way swimmers can glide through the water faster after they push themselves off a wall. The more force — pressure — a golfer applies into the ground at the start of their golf swing, the more they can push off the ground later on. It’s a powerful move that helps golfers pull the club down faster and hit the ball longer.

The way coaches measure “pressure” is with a device like BodiTrak or SwingCatalyst, which shows you a heat map of where the most force is being applied by your feet. For instance, if you rock back on your heels you’d see that the “heat map” of pressure lights up red to illustrate more force being applied to your heels.

What we typically see in the golf swing is the pressure moving more towards the trail foot in the backswing and then forward to the lead foot in the follow through.

One of the instructors I see using pressure mats and data in almost every lesson (even more than launch monitors) is GOLF Top 100 Teacher, Tony Ruggiero. One of the reasons he loves using pressure when teaching is it takes “something that was once just feel and can now be measured.”

When helping a player understand how they need to be pivoting and loading into their backswing, it’s incredibly valuable to have real numbers to visualize exactly what’s going on vs what they’re feeling.

How many times, for instance, have you tried to change something in your swing, felt like you’ve made a massive change, and then looked at a video and it seems like you’ve almost changed nothing at all? Maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Being able to measure how we’re using the ground, how we’re pivoting back, when we’re applying the most pressure during the downswing, allows golfers to really actually know if we’re making significant changes or not. It’s taken a concept that was once only a feel and given concrete data for players to get feedback from.

How can looking at pressure data help us?

Like anything in golf, there’s no one way to apply pressure data and we all need to find what’s best for us. The more pressure you can put into the ground, the more your body can use the ground to whip the club faster in the downswing — but how you put that into use depends on your swing.

One of the experts in this field is biomechanist Dr Scott Lynn who has been helping golfers find their dominant leg and then understanding how to best apply pressure for their swing.

Here’s an example of how understanding a players application of pressure and forces can help them become more efficient and ultimately gain more speed:

“If you’re trying to create more vertical forces (the forces players like Justin Thomas and Lexi Thompson use to jump off the ground) in your swing, you would need to see pressures in the ball of the foot and not in heel. Pressures in the heel make it very difficult to produce these vertical/jumping forces.”

By understanding your golf swing and how you use the ground, you can get more efficient with your use of pressure and help you create more effortless speed.