In this blog I wanted to cover shoes and their effect on your balance and pressure trace. Pressure is what the ground is feeling under your body and everyone has a trace unique to them. The reason for this post is I have been wearing some shoes that are comfortable to wear all day and teach in but was having issues on the course with balance and feels when playing with students. Normal go to playing shoes for myself is a flat shoe with soft spikes. If you are not a reader Click here for the YouTube video. Here are the findings hitting a few shots using BodiTrak with the shoes on and barefoot:
On the left photo you will see me with my shoes off and the right where they are on. The shoes have a larger heel piece which creates a wedge under the feet and pushes the pressure more towards the toes. Ball in the same spot and take a look at the difference. Same amount of pressure form left to right but to to heel stands out. The shoes pushed more of myself onto the toes which is felt in setup.
These photos are taken when the pressure reached the maximum distance traveled to the right. Notice without shoes more pressure went right and in to the heel with the trace being more linear instead of from the toes arcing to the trail heel.
With the pressure moving more direct, without shoes and having to rebalance from too much getting on the lead toe, the pressure started to move sooner towards the target. Notice how soon the pressure started to move around left arm parallel. We see a lot of higher handicap golfers keep their pressure and even their weight moving away form the target for too long. Stills at P3 or Lead Arm Parallel to the Ground.
Here we are at P6 or shaft parallel to the ground without the shoes on it is easier to get the trace to arc towards the lead heel. I play a cut and that keeps the body turning in order to get the swing direction more left. On the right with the shoes notice how the pressure is more mid foot. This could have more of a neutral path and throughout the ground as the body gets tired if that becomes more toe bias the path can move in to out. Not a good thing for curving the ball to the right.
Here in the finish I noticed not only more pressure into the lead heel but with the shoes on it went into the heel then back to mid foot with the shoe design. Also notice that in both scenarios more pressure finished towards the target (90% and 83%) with more towards the lead heel.
You may be asking what can be learned form this little test? I would say pick your shoes carefully and this will be all player dependent. If you are a golfer that gets too much on their heels at setup a higher back of the shoe will help you stay more centered or towards the toes. Also if you’re a slicer that gets too much on the lead heel at impact they could again help you get the pressure trace going more linear or towards your toes.
If you are a player that likes to fade the ball a more neutral shoe will help get the pressure moving more into the lead heel. If your path is moving too much left a little heel lift might help.
Also what is on the bottom will change your foot work. From a spiked shoe to a soft spike will change the amount of grip the feet have. Some players, especially those with limited mobility, might benefit form shoes that will break traction through the shot and let their lead foot move.
To summarize all of this try a few shoes on. When making a selection make a few golf swings between different styles. See what one you are more balanced in form setup to backswing and into the finish. If your local club has a BodiTrak, Swing Catalyst, or another pressure mat then take a few swings on it. That will give you the feedback on if a lifted heel or flat heel is best for you, what the shoe is made out of from stiffer outer to softer, and what traction the shoe has. Finding the right shoe could also increase your club speed where the poorly fit shoe can reduce the speed.
Here is an unclose view of the traces. Shoes off on top and with heel lifted shoes on the bottom.
Here is a YouTube video with a good drill to get you the feeling of a balanced setup and where your pressure is going during the swing.