Whether the relationship is correlative or causal, increased distance and lower scores are inextricably linked.
And whether the topic is biomechanics, flexibility, sequencing or anything else, the common denominator is speed. As in swing speed.
Though the market now features a variety of relatively similar products, it’s fair to suggest SuperSpeed created the mousetrap upon which others are trying to improve.
What is SuperSpeed?
A quick refresher. SuperSpeed Golf believes its OverSpeed training system has benefits for any level of golfer. The basic premise is that every player can access more speed than he/she currently has because of how our brain receives and communicates certain information.
In plain English: Swinging a training stick faster than normal causes your brain to remember this faster speed—even start expecting it.
Compared to other products that use a single club, the SuperSpeed Golf Training System utilizes three speed training clubs. Relative to the player’s driver, the three clubs are 20-percent lighter, 10-percent lighter and 5-percent heavier. Each training protocol uses all three of these in sequence. The primary reason SuperSpeed says it abandoned the “single-club, multiple-weight” option is, basically, that testers didn’t like it. Changing weights multiple times during a short workout was cumbersome and frustrating, according to SuperSpeed product testers. SuperSpeed also noted a safety concern regarding players who changed weights incorrectly during testing.
That said, in speaking with industry contacts (in addition to personal experience), I haven’t found any of the current products particularly difficult or challenging to use. If anything, consumers seem to be driven more by preference and features than ease of use.
An Aid or a Gimmick?
In the golf industry, training aids are ubiquitous. However, the majority can’t produce evidence to suggest they do anything that helps golfers.
Part of how we evaluate equipment is by putting products in the hands of everyday golfers. Then, as always, we let the data speak for itself. Last year, we selected nine testers to try the SuperSpeed system. After the first six-week session, every tester experienced some level of improvement. That’s not particularly surprising. When you start to train your body differently, an initial honeymoon or shock period typically produces a positive experience.
The real question is: What, if any, ongoing benefit can SuperSpeed provide?
Putting SuperSpeed to the Test
The vast majority of golfers on the planet are amateurs. Some of us swing faster while others swing slower. But very few of us play the game to pay the mortgage or put food on the table. That said, we’re also bound by a desire to improve and, in this instance, gain swing speed.
During the first protocol, testers showed an average increase in driver swing speed of 8.2 mph. The largest jump was 13 mph while the smallest increase was 5 mph. The primary objective with subsequent protocols is to not only to find more speed but to make that speed more permanent. SuperSpeed says “a 5-percent increase is common after just the first session” and with “three workouts per week over a six-week period, this increase becomes permanent.”
After completing two training protocols (roughly 12 to 14 weeks), the results from our testing pool pretty much mirrored SuperSpeed’s stated expectations. But, as always, individual testers offered a unique look into how SuperSpeed works for golfers of differing swing speeds.
A Look at the Final Results
As with any training regimen, fidelity matters. And while 30 minutes per day, three times per week probably sounds reasonable, life has a penchant for getting in the way.
That said, one benefit of the first protocol is that it gives users an opportunity to establish a routine. By setting aside a specific block of time, it’s easier to commit to each protocol, which in turn should lead to more consistent results.
By the end of the second protocol, testers in the slower swing speed group hovered around a 10-percent overall increase in swing speed. It’s reasonable to think the lasting increase would settle in around 8- to 10-percent on average. To the degree that slower swing speed golfers represent an older demographic, the objective isn’t only to increase swing speed. It’s also a function of not losing it as quickly.
The mid-range swing speed group exhibited the largest swing speed gains, both in absolute terms and percentage increase. That said, with only three testers in each group, any single tester can skew the results. In this case, one mid swing-speed tester found 18 mph of additional swing speed. The other two testers in this group produced more typical results, with roughly 10-mph increases (100 mph to 110 mph and 102 mph to 112 mph).
Testers with the fastest swing speeds didn’t necessarily show the same percentage increases as those with mid or low swing speeds. Again, this makes sense, given the reality of diminishing returns. A golfer that already produces 115-plus mph of swing speed likely has fewer “power leaks” in their swing. It’s also more plausible that this golfer is engaged in other golf-specific fitness activities.
That said, it wasn’t uncommon for the fastest players to still find a 6- to 8-mph boost by the end of the second protocol. One tester did experience some downtime due to injury which likely set him back several weeks.
Keep In Mind
In reviewing the progress of each tester, it’s important to remember that growth isn’t linear. Not everyone will see exactly the same results nor will everyone experience gains at the same rate. Also, sometimes life gets in the way and, in spite of our best intentions, we may not get to all three workouts every week.
Also, with SuperSpeed, you don’t hit balls during training. As such, it’s important to monitor on-course play and continue working on ball-striking-specific drills.
The allure of more distance isn’t confined to amateur golfers. Even for professionals, it can be a balancing act. Rory McIlroy admitted his game has suffered this year due, in part, to chasing distance. Tony Finau says that while he knows he is capable of hitting the ball further, his focus is on playing high-level golf, not winning long-drive contests. That is all fine and well for elite golfers who already swing the driver at more than 120 mph. The marginal benefit of an additional 1 to 2 mph of swing speed for Rory may not be worth the time and resources required to do so. But, again, for the rest of us mortals, an increase of 8, 10 or even 15 mph of swing speed is likely to help us shoot lower scores.
We mentioned these stats in the first update but they are worth repeating.
According to research from Mark Broadie (creator of the Strokes Gained statistic):
+4mph = 10 yards = 0.6-0.7 SGPR
+6mph = 15 yards = 0.9-1.05 SGPR
+8mph = 20 yards = 1.2-1.4 SGPR
*SGPR = Strokes Gained Per Round
What you should take from this is that if your experience with SuperSpeed mirrors that of most testers, it’s reasonable to expect a permanent increase of roughly 8 percent. Depending on your swing speed, this equates to one or two fewer shots per round.
Whether you use SuperSpeed or another system, tell us how it’s going!