Effects of implement and distance on the performance of a discrete motor skill


Golf putting is an example of a discrete motor skill that needs to be developed to produce success in the game of golf. Golfers attempt to use various putter designs and practice in numerous different ways in order to generate a successful putting technique. The counterbalanced putter design has been developed in order to replace the long putter now banned by PGA rules and there is no conclusive knowledge of its effects on performance. The aim of this study is to identify kinematic variables that change when novices putt from various distances using a conventional and counterbalanced putter. 8 novices (minimal to no experience with golf) performed 75 trials at 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 feet from a target per putter for a total of 150 trials. Means and standard deviations for backswing timing (BST), downswing timing (DST), backswing amplitude (BSA), downswing amplitude (DSA), and putter path (PP) were determined using Visualeyez Motion Analysis system and subsequent software as well as Matlab and other processing software. A 2 putter (conventional/counterbalanced) by 5 distance (3, 5, 7, 9, 11 ft) ANOVA with repeated measures at p<0.05 was be completed with Tukey's HSD post-hoc test. Results show a significant change in mean BST and BST, PP variability, mean DSA and variability, with increasing distance but no significant changes between putter. Performance analysis based on radial error scores shows constant error is lower when a counterbalanced putter is utilized by novices in comparison to the conventional putter. These results support previous force control research and suggest counterbalanced putters, while changing the performance may not change variability.

Acknowledgments: Ran Zheng, Felix Ling