Friday, December 18, 2009

System vs. Method

Got a question from a blog follower (click HERE to follow my blog) about what is a 'method teacher' vs. TGM's 'system' of instruction.

I think this is very, very important to understand the difference because not only can it help you find the best teacher for you, but even if you understand most of the yellow book, you really need to use its system to develop your swing. Understanding the TGM system was a H-U-G-E help in my golf swing and I plan on continuing to use the system to help with other components to my golf swing.

First, let's look at Webster's definition of 'system':

SYSTEM
2 : an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole (the Newtonian system of mechanics)
3 a : an organized or established procedure (the touch system of typing) b : a manner of classifying, symbolizing, or schematizing (a taxonomic system) (the decimal system)
4 : harmonious arrangement or pattern

Notice some of the key words here like 'organized set', 'arrangement', 'established procedure', 'manner of classifying', 'pattern', etc.

We use systems quite often in life, especially in teaching.

For example, if one wanted to learn advanced statistical analysis, they wouldn't jump right into learning statistical terminology such as Analysis of Variation, Cross Tabulation and Linear Regression.

Instead, they would go thru the process...or system...of first learning how to count. Then learning addition and subtraction. Then learning multiplication and division. Then long division and build up until they were ready to move to the next level of mathematics.

In other words, a system can often be thought of as a process or a curriculum.

Homer Kelley put together a curriculum for golfers to improve their golf swing. Here's a Lynn Blake video that IMO is essential to better golf, even for the PGA Tour player (although it depends on what the golfer's swing problem is).

By using this system, the golfer can eventually discover a swing that works best for them. As we all know, there is no one way for all golfers, but there is a particular best swing for each particular golfer. The key is finding that swing and the TGM curriculum prescribed by Yoda in the video above is an excellent way of immediately finding that swing.

The key is to get the proper alignments at impact with each motion in the curriculum, regardless of what the parts of your swing look like, and then understanding what it FEELS like when you get those proper alignments. That feel will allow the golfer to get those alignments at impact consistently.

In other words, learning feel from mechanics.

The issues that golfers tend to run into is that they don't really know how to feel and/or they don't have the patience to use the Basic Motion curriculum properly.

Instead of going from Basic Motion to Acquired Motion to Punch Motion to Total Motion, they'll go right to Total Motion. In other words, they are trying to learn 400 meter hurdles before they learn how to walk.

'Method' teachers basically state that there's really one way to hit the golf ball well and here's how it's done. It's more or less a 'this worked for me, so it should work for you' type of instruction.

Some teachers have a 'corridor' that says there's a certain range of where a golfer can be, but unfortunately their 'corridor' is usually much smaller than what can actually happen. Somebody like Lee Trevino probably wouldn't fit in most of their 'corridors.' Plus, these teachers tend to have too many imperatives as if you look at enough golf swings of great ballstrikers you'll start to realize that the imperatives for the golf swing are far and few between.

In other words, while they have leniency in what they teach, they are still not lenient enough.

But even a bigger issue with these type of instructors is that they never provide an effective system for the golfer to improve their golf swing. Often times their 'system' is more or less telling the golfer they should feel this or that and those feels should give them proper mechanics and alignments. In other words, learning mechanics from feel.

The problem is that feels are usually subjective and a feel that may work for Ernie Els may not work for Fred Couples. The same with you and I.

It's not to say that method teaching does not work. And it's not to say that there are no TGM Authorized Instructors that are method teachers either. I've met a few AI's that prefer to teach one type of procedure because it's what worked for them and what they feel comfortable teaching. And they don't provide that Basic Motion curriculum that Yoda showed in the video.

A good analogy of a method teacher and a true system teacher is that if this where say football, the method teacher would run their preferred style of offense and defense regardless of the players they have on the team. The true system teacher would be like the football coach who adapts his schemes according to the talent he hss on his roster.

Those 'method coaches' can still have great success. Get a player who happens to pick up their method naturally or a player with great hand-eye coordination who eventually adapts their method quite quickly and they can greatly improve their game.

But you've greatly increased your odds of getting things to work by going with a method over going with a system.

3JACK