Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

When you come to an equipment fitting the aim is try and get a few extra yards from your game and that normally comes from a club fitting, but today I’m hoping to do that with a new kind of FootJoy shoe fitting. I met with John Thorp, VP Operations for BodiTrak who has worked with FootJoy on their new Performance Fitting System to find out more.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

Hi John. Could you explain to me how the FootJoy Performance Fitting System works please?

FootJoy’s sole focus in on performance and performance in golf and in better understanding how golfers and their footwear impact their game.

At BodiTrak our focus is on the interaction between an athlete and the ground so we build tools that help either athletes or instructors better understand that ground interaction and then make changes based on that information.

We came together in 2013 and started by doing some research to better understand the link between footwear selection and golf performance. The first study that we did looked at a poll population of golfers over the course of a number of swings and the only thing we changed was their footwear.

So what we were testing for was what is the impact of different types of footwear on performance and in that study we tested at the time the most mobile footwear that FootJoy made and then the most structured, which at that time was the XPS-1.

What we found was that there were three populations of golfers. There were those that performed better in more mobile footwear, those that performed better in more structured footwear, and then those that we call dual performance fit who could perform equally well in both types of footwear. The performance changes were pretty significant and we saw up to 3 mph of clubhead speed gain just be switching footwear which is pretty significant.

So how do you measure the performance of different shoe types?

Our technology is a proprietary pressure sensor. Inside is a sensor layer and it reads how much force and pressure you are putting into the ground anywhere on the surface. So when you are standing on it it picks up the placement of your feet and if you move back and forth or put different amounts of pressure on each feet you can see on the display how that changes in real time.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

You will see that the pressure can change from left to right and from heel to toe as you swing the club, so this is really a reading of how much force you are putting into the ground.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

This information is supplemented on the display by a white dot that is called your “Centre Of Pressure”. Think of it as the most average point of vertical force you are putting into the ground.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

Over the course of a golf swing or any movement it creates what we think of as a signature of that movement pattern and it is that Centre Of Pressure and the trace that it creates that our algorithms analyse and then predict footwear based on those results.

What is the process a player would go through in their Performance Fitting session?

Everything is assessed over 3 swings the player makes with their driver. We will video and record each of those 3 swings taking notes of simple checkpoints and then the algorithms go to work. The system then gives us recommendation of the which suggested area you fit into, Mobile, Dual or Structured and then within that you can make a selection of shoe style and colour.

OK, let’s give it a try

Click here for full video review

So as you can see your swings were recorded and the display shows the video of you golf swing and lays that next to the pressure data that was recorded as you swing the club.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

When we look at your BodiTrak data we can see that you started at a balanced position, you loaded into your trail foot with the centre of pressure reflecting that load and then the centre of pressure moved back toward your lead foot on the downswing.

So what we are going to do next to allow the algorithms to work is to set some key points during your swing and we think of these as reference points. The first we are going to set is impact, the next is shaft vertical downswing and finally we set the top of the backswing.

When we look at your BodiTrak data we can see that you started at a balanced position, you loaded into your trail foot with the centre of pressure reflecting that load and then the centre of pressure moved back toward your lead foot on the downswing.

When the system processes this information it is recommending you as a Mobile Performance Fit and what that means is that you are likely to unlock more power in your swing by using footwear that has more mobility.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

The algorithms have looked at the data for your swing and compared your Centre Of Pressure trace with the thousand’s that we have in our database and matched up certain parameters with those. So based on the data that the mat has picked up as you swing you are likely to perform best in more mobile footwear. So in the FootJoy range that would certainly be the FreeStyle and then working down from there would be the Contour Casual and then the HyperFlex.

So what is it about the extra mobility that would give me greater distance?

That’s a really good question. One of the ways to think about how a golfer uses the ground during the swing is that it is like a summary of what is going on in their body and what they are doing with the club during the golf swing. There is a great expression that says “how we use the ground is a reflection of every move that we make”, so I can’t tell you it is exactly because your left ankle is doing something or isn’t doing something. When you take all of what is going on in your swing, all you were taught, any injuries that you might have, it is producing a reflective pattern or trace and that is what we are comparing to our database of analysis.

FootJoy Performance Fitting System

So how do you go from this to picking an individual style of shoe?

Now the best way to think about it is that we have given you a bucket to choose from and the beautiful thing with FootJoy is that they have a large selection within each bucket.

In the Structured bucket you have shoes like FJ Icon, Icon Black, Dryjoys Tour and the Contour, before moving into Dual bucket with shoes like DryJoys Casual, DNA and Versaluxe which could suit either type of player.

For you in the Mobility bucket, you can go and look at Contour Casual, HyperFlex, Superlites CT or the most mobile shoe in the range, the FreeStyle, and select one based on feel for you.

Feel is hugely important in golf so your choice will probably based on what you have used before, the sort of feel that you have liked and the style.

So really you have split the FootJoy range into Mobile and Structured. Is there any way you grade it further within those two broader sectors based on the swing characteristics?

Yes, the first shoe that comes up as a recommendation would be the one that is most suited to you based on our mapping to your swing pattern, but then the bucket allows golfers to perhaps pick a shoe that will still benefit their swing but will match with their preferred style or preference.

When and where will this be available to golfers?

FootJoy are rolling this system out in the second half of 2016 to their mobile fitting service and it will also be in selected key FootJoy accounts so the best thing is to check on the FootJoy website to see when and where the Performance Fitting System is in your local area.

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