Neuro-muscular and Biomechanical
Basis of Putting

Gideon Ariel Ph.D.




The golf game consists of two distinctive skills in delivering the golf ball to its target. One is the Swing from the T which required force velocity and power as well as level of accuracy. The other skill is the skill of putting which require high level of accuracy. High level of accuracy require an efficient Neuro muscular control. The swinging of the club itself, require an efficient Biomechanical technique which will allow the Neuro muscular system to execute the movement in a way that will result in high level of accuracy.

The purpose of this document is to review the Neuro muscular basis for control movement and how it could be applied to golf putting.

The basics:

As early as the 1700's Galvanni studied the movements of frog muscles and saw that they contracted when electrically stimulated. He deduced that electrical current must be involved in the normal muscle contraction process. While chemical mechanical interaction operates muscles, any understanding of movement requires an appreciation of biocybernetics, the study of control and communication in humans. The overall apparatus is called the central nervous system. Its headquarters is the brain which, at a mere three pounds, in an incredible hive of activity. Ten billion cells, about the same number as there are stars in our galaxy, engage in an electrochemical operation that , in conjunction with other body parts, permits us to see, hear, reason, imagine, create, love, hate, move and be aware of exactly which process we are involved in through the capacity to incorporate feedback into the operation.

The building block of the system is a specialized nerve cell known as a neuron. Bundles of neurons are organized into larger entities labeled nerves. These serve as gateways to speed a constant stream of information from eyes, ears, nose and other areas to the neurons of the brain, which evaluate the data in light of evolution and individual experience. They also barrage another set of special neurons, known as motor neurons, with signals. Motor neurons within the brain and at the target sites control the movement of muscles. Input for motor neurons comes form other neurons and receptors via a connecting link known as a synapse. Pathways for signals of motor neurons lie along the spinal column. Motor neurons cause muscle fibers to contract. But the action in which a muscle fiber ceases to contract in which it relaxes or lengthens does not occur because of some signal to the motor neuron. Rather, it is the absence of any signal which orders the fiber to contract that allows the tissue to relax.

The intricate programming that coordinates this choreography of continuous balance resides in the brain and central nervous system and directly responsible to the Putting movement. This network relies on continuous feedback, much as the modern automobile of today. No matter how frail, the modern driver can control a vehicle with a flick of a wrist or ankle which triggers sophisticated mechanism that assist in steering, braking and shifting. These mechanisms have sensors that measure some physical variable and use the "feedback" mechanisms of this kind controlling physiological functions without any mental effort on our part. Some of these sensors control muscle tension and others measure responses to changes in muscle length.

For example, if a person is asked to flex an elbow steadily against a load, a sudden unexpected increase in the weight, that causes his elbow to extend, calls up a larger contraction of the biceps muscle to sustain the load. Conversely, a decrease in load brings a relaxation of the biceps. The control of muscular contraction is very sophisticated and highly programmed. Take, for example, a person's signature. Whenever John Smith signs hi name, it always comes out the same and different from what any other person can write, even if trying to sign the name of John Smith. Even if Mr. Smith uses chalk and signs his name on a blackboard, the signature appears the same though he used different muscles that those employed in writing on paper. The individuality remains.

In this complex handwriting movement there is a preprogrammed control mechanism. Optimum performance depends on the control efficiency. It does not matter how strong the muscles are or how well the metabolism is. The control of these processes is the most important factor.

In the process of Putting, in addition to the motor control the person must think on a particular behavior and adjustment to the environment. In Putting the brain must execute complex computing functions to generate and control extremely sophisticated behavior. Sometimes, this ability to think in addition to motor control, can causes inhibition to our control mechanism.

The fineness of control depends upon the number of motor nerve units per muscle fiber. The more neurons, the finer the ability to maneuver, as in the case of the muscles that operate the eye. When their are fewer motor nerve units involved, the action becomes grosser. The individual muscle fibers that make up a muscle contract and relax in an elaborate synchronization. The arrangement permits them all to arrive at a peak of action simultaneously. Synchronization of muscle firing is critical for optimizing particular movement such as in the Putting. In the power events, such as in the drive swing, it is extremely important that the muscle action be simultaneously activated to optimize the force. This is done by the central nervous system sending signals to the individual muscle fibers. However, in the Putting movement, control is more important.

Lack of synchronization in the Drive Swing results in lesser force and poorer performance. On the other hand, in the Putting a synchronization is important since fewer fibers are needed to maintain the action. The question is how does the brain adapt to the requirements? The answer relies on the great number of approximations that seem to add up to the correct signal. The brain achieves its incredible precision and reliability through redundancy and statistical techniques. Many axons carry information concerning the value of the same variable, each encoded slightly differently. The statistical summation of these many imprecise and noisy information channels result in the reliable transmission of precise messages over long distances. In a similar way, a multiplicity of neurons may compute on roughly the same input variables. Clusters of such computing devices provide statistical precision and reliability orders of magnitude greater than that achievable by any single neuron. These computations results in fantastic number of signals which some of them end up in the other neurons which stimulate the muscles for movement. The signals which stimulate the muscles create muscular contraction which depends on many factors. THE IMPORTANT FACTOR TO CONSIDER HERE IS THAT THE MORE BODY'S SEGMENTS ARE INVOLVE, THE GREATER THE NEURONAL POOL TO COMPUTE FROM !!!


What are the elementary requirements of movement? The first is muscle; the second, a signaling system that makes muscles contract in an orderly manner.

To begin with, not all muscles work in the same way. Consider the muscles of the human eye and arm. Eye muscles must operate with great speed and precision in quickly orienting the eyeball to within a few minutes of arc. At the same time, eye muscle does not have to compete with such external demands as swinging a club. The fine control needed in eye movement calls for a high innervation ratio (the ratio of the number of neurons with axons terminating on the outer membrane of muscle cells to the number of cells in the muscle).

For eye muscle,the innervation ratio is about one to three, which means that the axon terminals of a single motor neuron release their chemical transmitter to no more than three individual muscle cells. (A motor neuron is one whose cell body is in the spinal cord and whose axon terminates on muscle cell membrane.)

In contrast to this high innervation ratio, the axon terminals of a single motor neuron that innervates a limb muscle, such as a biceps, may deliver transmitter to hundreds of muscle fibers. The muscle may, therefore, have a low ratio of one to many hundreds. As a result, the output of the motor unit in limb muscle - the input twitch caused by a single impulse that releases transmitter from the terminals of a singe motor neuron - is correspondingly coarse.


Our movements are generated different ways depending on the level of skill we are enabling to use. In Putting the golf club, golfers recruit their muscles different in different time of their activities depending on the level of skill that they acquired. The motor program is constantly changing to be able to produce efficient movement. Different instructions to he muscles must come from the nervous system, but since the different combinations of different muscles result in the same movement, the internal model is not simply instructions to specific set of muscles. Somewhere in the nervous system we formulate a model of movement which is not related to its muscular means of achievement. Another words, the optimal motor control of skilled movement such as in the Putting, is generated by higher motor program controlled in our central nervous system.



Biomechanics is an integration of the two disciplines of biology, "bio", and physics, "mechanics". it recognizes that allo bodies on earth, animate and inanimate, are affected in the same way by gravity and provides a better understanding of performance. The additional factors which must be included to more accurately assess motion for the biological entities include such things as bone capacity, neuromuscular coordination, and physiological atttributes. From the understnding of eah component will come greater apreciation fot eh integrated result that is called biomechanics.

In addition to the control by the nervous system, the human body is composed of linked segments, and rotation of these segments about their anatomical axes is caused by force. Both muscle and gravitational forces are important in producing these turning effects which are fundamental in body movements in all sports and daily living. Pushing, pulling, lifting, kicking, running walking, Putting, and all human activities are results of rotational motion of the links which are made of bones.

In all motor skills, muscular froces interact to move the body parts throuhg the activity. The displacement of the body parts and their speed of motion are important in the coordination of the activity and are also directly related to the forces produced. However, it is only because of te conrol prvided by the brain that the muscular forces follow any particular displacement pattern, and without these brain controls, there would be no skilled athletic performances. In every planned human motion, the intricate timing of the varying forces is critical factor in successful performances.

In Putting, the accurate coordinatiion of the body parts and their velocities is essential for maximizing performances and accuracy. This means that the generated muscular forces by the various fibers must occur at the right time for optimum results.

In characterizing the Putting movement, it involve contraction of hundreds of thousands of muscle fibers which are synchronized to produce coordinated activity. The more segments involve the greater the complexity of this dynchronized activity. The more body's segments involve in the Putting activity, the more muscular forces interact with inertial forces which resulted from the movement of the limbs. In addition, since the limb is connected to the shoulders and the trunk, the movement of these segments effect the movement of the limb and therefore effect the muscular contraction. That means that there is no pure limb movement BUT ONLY IN ISOLATION OF THE LIMB!!!

Purpose of the Present Study

Base on the previous scientific facts, it was deems reasonable to test the hypothesis, if minimizing the number of body's segment involve in the Putting movement will contribute to the accuracy of the putt.

Since each body's segment involve in movement contribute significantly to the neuro-muscular pool of activity, eliminating a segment will simplified the neuro-muscular computation of the system.

For this purpose, a special Putter was designed to allow a new technique where by the person hold the putter in a way where the swing is performed by a pendulum action of one arm.

The person is standing toward the target and the putter is held with one arm where the second arm just support the club in a position. The movement of the putter initiated by bringing it as a pendulum backward to certain position and swung forward. Forces are produce by the anterior flexors of the arm only. All other movements by the trunk, hips, and other arm are eliminated.

The purpose of the present study was to demonstrate biomechanically the effect of this technique in eliminating movement by not contributing segments of the body and compare it to the traditional method of putting.