Mark Bull Golf use the latest in golf biomechanics to analyse the movements in a golf swing and provide physical assessments to help golfers improve their game.
As a golf biomechanist Mark Bull uses real-time sensors to analyse the swing of a golfer; working with golfers of all levels ranging from European tour professionals, national squads to recreational golfers. His work is highly respected in the industry. Mark came to Parabola for a new solution because the software available on the market no longer suited his needs due its limited functionality.
The Biomechanics of Sport
Sports Biomechanics is described as the physics of sport as it studies the structure and function of biological systems by means of mechanics. Biomechanics are used in many sports, not just golf; examples include analysis of the movements in a tennis serve or penalty kick. The skill that biomechanists like Mark have is to take quantitative data from instruments, analyse it and present it to a sportsperson in a qualitative way they can use to improve their game. Data is produced from measurement devices attached to a golfer’s body and could include angle of movement, movement speed and body rotation, which enable the golfer to function and move in the optimal way for them both physically and technically, therefore reducing the chance of potential injury and allowing for efficient and repeatable movement patterns. This data analysis, together with Mark’s knowledge produces better results from each golfer’s swing. The software Parabola created helps Mark do exactly that.
Parabola built the solution on the Microsoft .Net Framework, using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) to show the graphs, and the software is compatible with PC’s running Windows 7 or 8. Mark takes the data in a custom built measurement suite or out on the golf course (albeit with less accuracy). The software runs on his laptop so he can use it wherever his clients are.
“Using Parabola's agile approach to software development suited my needs exactly and allowed me to work with the software and adjust and customise as I worked with it. This helped me tremendously as working with it I discovered new ideas, identified future solutions, whereas operating within a rigid approach would not allowed for this to happen. I cannot recommend Parabola enough and I for one am very excited about the projects that we are currently working on, as I have total confidence in their ability to provide me with all the solutions that I require”
An Agile Approach
Parabola took an Agile approach to the project, using iterative development which involves breaking a project down into iterations or increments and appraising after each one. There are alternative methods of Software Development but for this project the benefits of Agile were ideal for the client:
- Minimum up front analysis
- No technical knowledge required
- Feature driven
- Minimal upfront cost
- Pay as you go
- Able to stop, slow down and accelerate the project.
- Requirements and focus can change
- Fosters communication between parties
The diagram below summarises how our approach works.
In this case there were six iterations defined at the start of the project and after each iteration the software had fully functioning features which were used with Mark’s clients. Using the Agile approach also resulted in a closer working relationship between Parabola and Mark. Regular meetings, emails or telephone calls with technical staff and managers meant Mark Bull could give Parabola the right information at all times to produce software perfect for his needs. The iterative approach meant change could be incorporated easily into the development by enabling and welcoming modifications and adjustments. No sacrifices had to be made because of cost.
One of the key factors of an agile approach is continuous testing; testing early and often enables Parabola to stay on top of any bugs or snags that needed fixing. Another efficiency made from using the Agile method was cutting out management time. Mark could come to Parabola with questions or ideas at any time and avoided the normal necessity of in-depth analysis at the start of the project.
A Graphical Output
The software Parabola delivered parses the data files the hardware creates and analyses them in order to make the data readable and accessible. The next step the software takes is to produce graphs representing different parts of the swing.
The graphical output is interactive, enabling users to view the same aspect of different swings, different aspects of the same swing or a combination of the two side by side. Users can click on the graphs to see the exact angle/reading at a certain point or drag and drop the graphs to see different views. This interactive element is what we come to expect from modern software and was missing from the software Mark was using prior to working with Parabola. This allows Mark to identify problems, relate to the customer and tailor exercises quicker than before.
The Swing Analysis Software records this data in its system so it is available for peer to peer comparison or historical comparison. This allows Mark to have all the information about his customers to hand at any time. Another customer facing aspect of the software is that it produces PDF reports for the player to take away which Mark can adapt by highlighting problem areas for discussion and adding comments to a notes field.
Customising this report was not part of the original scope and came about as a concept during iteration, showing just how flexible the approach is. The iterative approach allowed Parabola to build a better product for Mark. You can see part of a report in the image below:
After six weeks of working with Parabola, Mark had received a number of successful iterations of the software, with new features at each stage. Mark was so confident with the software that it was unveiled to National, Regional and County coaches at the English Golf Coaching National Conference at Woodhall Spa on January 10th 2013.