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September 2019

Biofeedback Helps Instructors’ Bottom Lines

BY STEVE EUBANKS 

One problem with technology is how quickly people adapt to it so that it becomes the expected norm. Think about wireless headphones. Just a couple of years ago they were a cool novelty. Now they are standard and expected.
When Southwest Airlines became the first carrier to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, it was considered a revolutionary innovation. Now passengers are upset at any airline or flight where they can’t get online. 

Paul Kaster, a golf instructor in Little Silver, New Jersey, gets it.

“Technology has become a necessity for instructors,” he said. “But it’s easy to get lost in the technology and forget that it’s not about keeping up with the latest and greatest things. It’s about doing what’s right for the students, making them better. It’s also not necessarily about investing a huge amount of money (in tech) but it can be extremely beneficial to your business.”

Kaster, a former mini-tour player, has an indoor facility where he teaches. So simulator technology was extremely important to him. He invested in Foresight Sports and serves on the company’s advisory board.

“They make the GCQuad launch monitor,” he said. “I use their launch monitor simulator because it has a lot of great features and can measure things that, for indoor purposes, are very useful.”

He also uses KMotion, those simulator vests and suits that you see with the electrodes for the 3D mapping of swings. “Compared to the older version of the sensors, the garments are a lot less obtrusive,” Kaster said. “The sensors are smaller and lightweight. The garments are light. Once you take a few swings in them you aren’t even aware that you have them on.

“You get sequencing data, bend patterns, rotational velocities for your pelvis, torso, upper arm and hand and now we can get wrist-angle data as the sensors speak to each other. That data is very useful to an instructor.”

It can also be overwhelming; especially to a student who thinks “pelvic rotational velocity” is an Elvis Presley album.  

“Absolutely, data can be useful or it can be confusing,” Kaster said. “KMotion has the ability to provide biofeedback to the data you gather to help people feel proper setup positions, top of backswing positions, that sort of thing. And the coach has a wide variety of tools to customize and train somebody. For example, you can set it so that pleasant music or a tone goes off if you’re in the wrong position. You could set it so that you see your avatar in 3D and that avatar will change colors if you’re in the right or wrong spot.

 “I don’t show students a ton of data,” he said. “There are graphs in the system that I will look at to find a solution and then tailor drills. But you don’t want to overload people with information. I ask students what they want to know, what they do for a living, are they data-driven or do you just want me to tell you what to do.

“As I’ve gotten more feedback from the technology, people seem happier with my ability to help them and to tailor drills and other information to their specific needs. They are certainly coming back, which is great.” 

 Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.

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