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Improving your swing

The 61 million golfers in the world can look forward to a new training facility.

Golfers who wish to improve their skills often use video filming in order to study their balance and correct their movements. However, an optimal stroke deals with a lot more than just balance.

”We ’take a step back’ and make the invisible visible, and focus on the forces leading to good balance.”

Those are the words of Kristian Rathe, General Manager of the company Initial Force AS which has developed a so-called force platform custom-made for golf training. The company is located in NTNU’s Innovation Centre at Gløshaugen in Trondheim and cooperates closely with the Programme in Human Movement Sciences at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The first prototype of the platform is currently being tested in NTNU’s movement analysis laboratory.

Force platforms are not a new invention. Ski jumping, shooting and javelin throw are sport branches that have benefited from such platforms. But this one is custom-made for golfers.

Seeing the invisible
The system, named Swing Catalyst, consists of two main components working together: the force platform and video analysis software.

The golf player enters the platform – which can be individually adjusted – and strikes the ball. The platform registers the golfers’ every movement, and a camera films the swing of the stroke. The platform contains multiple load cells – points that register all forces involved between the feet and the ground. It also registers the body’s rotating movement in detail as the club is swung. The information is added to the video image as easily understood colour markings.

”What the platform registers is impossible to see with the naked eye and cannot be caught using only a video camera,” explains Steinar Bråten, former trainer for Norway’s national ski jumping team, and co-owner of the company. “These details are important when creating the best starting point for the stroke. And if you manage to do a particularly good stroke, you can store this movement and try to recreate it.”

Large market

Initial Force cooperates with the product development company Mechatron on the design of the platform, to ensure industrial production suitability. The main target group is golf instructors internationally. On a world basis there are 61 million golfers and 62,000 instructors, and the company has great faith in a few thousand of these wanting their product. They estimate the cost of the first version to NOK 200,000 and gradually decreasing to around NOK 100,000.

Kristian Rathe does not think the price will scare people off in view of the fact that golf simulators used for entertainment cost between NOK 500,000 and 700,000.

The idea was first tested through the Take Off programme at NTNU’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. The company has also received help with the commercialization process from NTNU Technology Transfer AS. The foundation Næringslivets Idéfond has contributed financially.

By Nina E. Tveter

Nina Tveter | alfa
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