The Perfect Swing
February 25, 2016

The Perfect Swing

The University of Derby has invested in a Vicon motion-capture system to help with research aimed at improving the quality and consistency of golf swings. Vicon mocap technology will also be used by the university to support student learning and give lecturers stronger tools to teach biomechanics.

The university has bought 12 Vantage V5 cameras and Vicon’s data-capture software, Nexus 2. These will be installed at the university’s Performance Suite in the brand-new Sports Centre.  Launched this year, Vantage is Vicon’s new intelligent flagship camera platform that combines innovative technology with accessible design to open up motion capture to a broader audience.  

Working with the Derbyshire Institute of Sport (DIS), the university will use Vicon technology to examine the sequencing of segment kinetic energy in the golf swing – the energy that it possesses due to its motion. The Vicon system will also help researchers understand the causes of energy generation and track how each segment of the golf club and the body performs and reacts during the swing.

The project will be led by Dr. Tom Outram, lecturer in Biomechanics and Performance Analysis, who will work with elite and amateur golfers to improve their sequencing of body segment movements, with an ultimate goal of increasing the distance and accuracy of their shots. The research is due to be published this spring, with Vicon technology being used for further data collection after this date. 


“An accurate golf swing is as important as power when you tee off. While the velocity possessed by a segment is relatively simple to calculate, the kinetic energy generated by movement is much harder to quantify. The key is understanding where the energy is coming from, and motion capture is vital in that process,” says Outram. “Understanding of factors such as which segments are responsible for the generation of kinetic energy, how club type affects the generation of energy, and how to transfer energy from the feet to the club will lead to producing better players.”

He continues: “More and more universities are investing in motion capture, and we felt that Vicon technology was the next logical step for the department for biomechanics research. Our department were unanimous in their choice of Vicon, which has a market-leading reputation in biomechanical analysis. And for us, the hardware was the best on the market and the software was the simplest to use.”

"Using powerful mocap systems like Vicon Vantage to track the movement generated during the golf swing means the university will be able to get a really accurate picture of the energy generated," said Andy Ray, sales director at Vicon. “While we all can’t be Rory McIlroy, knowing how body movements change when different clubs, such as the 5 iron and 9 iron, are used will help teach our golfers to get it right. I’m looking forward to seeing Dr. Outram’s results, especially as it might give a few of us a bit more hope of winning the Open!”

Motion capture will also play a big role in teaching and will act as a draw to attracting more students to the university. As well as research, the technology will aid student learning and help staff deliver aspects of the final-year biomechanics module, which focuses on motion capture in striking and throwing movements.

The university also plans to use the technology to support research in other disciplines in sports science – for example, examining the impact of psychology on putting and how anxiety affects the mechanics of the stroke. They also plan to use motion capture to test movement in other sports, like the long jump, hurdles, and weightlifting.