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Thread: Calling on Dr. Kwon and other golf biomechanists

  1. #1

    Calling on Dr. Kwon and other golf biomechanists

    I see that Dr. Kwon is running certification programs around the country. I just have one question. Has anyone seen one case study whereby there is a student demonstrating tangible progress? Tangible meaning that there is quantitative data (CHS and ball speed numbers) to back up the physics of GRF studies or other biomechanical theory suggested by Kwon. Science is great, but if one can't back up with true results, then it's meaningless to me. Anyone agree?

  2. #2
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    The physics are the physics. The CoM and CoP can form a moment arm which can enhance rotational speed, assuming reasonable coordination, face control, grip, etc. There's really not much to debate on that topic. What's up for debate is how to get people to apply or translate this into a functional learning student's game.

    The theories he suggests have but a modest source in peer-reviewed literature. Many of the "leading minds" in the arm of golf biomechanics have shockingly little in the way of peer-reviewed publication. This includes Dr. Kwon. It doesn't make him right or wrong but it is curious, as most prefer that forum to express results. For example, I have yet to find a peer-reviewed paper stating power starts from the ground up.

    I don't know many fine details of the certification course but my guess is:
    1. Basic physics, MOI, CoM, moments, etc.
    2. How forces are calculated and what they represent
    3. How to use his software package (Kwon 3-D) - I expect some hard selling here.
    4. Possible correctives/drills? (I'm skeptical on this)

    Your last statement "Science is great, but if one can't back up with true results, then it's meaningless to me. Anyone agree?" is contradictory to me. Science IS results, null hypothesis, positive, or negative. Simple as that. It's a framework to properly assess and evaluate data amidst a host of potential causes or sequential cascades. You can't have science without results. Now I expect your meaning was a bit different but I think there is an ugly connotation of "science" by some without really appreciating how simple and basic this should be. Sadly, I think some will not share but a smidgen of results to a) protect privacy of high-profile clients, and b) add to the mystique (marketing potential).

    Some of Kelvin's articles and thoughts are terrific science, just perhaps a bit more difficult to precisely report due to 2-D images, clothing, etc. People confuse precision and accuracy all the time. From the modest amount I understand of his students, Kelvin's results are every bit as "scientific" because it's verifiable data based upon interventions (teaching).

    Kwon doesn't teach golfers that I know of, but the tenets can be of help. The basics could be found in a high school physics text/course. Again, the true art is getting a student to progress...in other words putting the knowledge to work.

    I have plenty of results showing increased CHS, carry distance, reduced mechanical joint strain, improved joint positioning, etc., in sessions lasting just a couple hours. In my world, it's very hard to publish these because the interventions are not cut and dry choices - there is no flowchart for publishing literature that if player A doesn't has restricted joint B but does move joint C and the diaphragm is in position X, then do drill D. It's too convoluted for randomized-control trials.

    Over time I hope to post some case studies to provide a flavor of what's possible when "science" and coaching collide.

  3. #3
    Thx for the thorough response. Like Jeff always says, results are what count. If Dr. Kwon is certifying golf instructors, one can only assume that he using this knowledge to apply to the golf swing. I would like to see a before and after validated by Trackman or flightscope whereby Dr Kwons theories have enabled a golfer to produce a more effecient sequence that results in economy of movement that results in higher cHs and ball speed. If you have case studies like this please share.

  4. #4
    One last thing, I play the violin professionally. I don't believe that one can learn to make a radical change in one's ability using science as a starting point in either the violin or golf.

  5. #5
    IMO, there is 2 basic parts to teaching. Knowledge of the science and mechanics behind the swing and the ability to get the student to understand that so they can execute whatever instruction is being given by the teacher.

    For instance, if we look at S&T, we see some teachers that are very good at getting their students to start executing a swing that looks like the mechanics they preach. Conversely, we see some teachers struggle to get those players in those positions.

    I think with S&T, we pretty much know what type of shot they are generally looking to produce, a high push-draw. There's science behind it and when somebody is executing the mechanics prescribed. But, the players that don't execute the mechanics may struggle to hit that high push-draw. Doesn't mean that there is not science behind it, but that there has not been a good translation of that knowledge from the instructor to the student.

    I found it more peculiar a few months ago when we brought up case studies in the GolfWRX forum that the golfers, not so much teachers, would ignore tangible improvement of players from Kelvin and Lucas' work in club head speed. Unless you're playing on Tour and have ShotLink measuring your shots, 'accuracy' and 'precision' are not very tangible. But club head speed is. And there were a lot of amateurs that eschewed that notion of a case study showing massive improvements in club head speed. But, I digress.

    I think that is a big part of the problem that is getting overlooked by these teachers. They have become so focused on the information that they think that the additional information alone automatically makes them a better teacher. It was the same way when Trackman started to become popular...the teachers thought that just by owning a Trackman that they would automatically become better teachers. But in the long run they found out the hard way that isn't necessarily the case.

    I'm not sure what Dr. Kwon's motives are. If he's just looking to present his information to teachers and allow them to interpret it and use it as they deem fit or if he is really looking to develop a teaching program. I think the former would lower my expectations from Dr. Kwon. If he's just presenting his findings then I don't have a need to see case studies. But, if he's looking to develop a teaching certification program akin to TPI, then I think the demands for case studies have more merit.






    3JACK

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Amoroso View Post
    One last thing, I play the violin professionally. I don't believe that one can learn to make a radical change in one's ability using science as a starting point in either the violin or golf.
    Excellent post. IMO, execution is more art than science!!!! We aren't robots. Science can definitely help, but in the end, motion must be fluid and not subject to constant pre frontal cortex processing.

  7. #7
    Lloyd Higley Guest
    I think Dr. Kwon is just presenting information and its up to us instructors to interpret it and use it as we deem fit.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd Higley View Post
    I think Dr. Kwon is just presenting information and its up to us instructors to interpret it and use it as we deem fit.
    Terrific summary - in far fewer words than I!

    I think the trouble lies in the poor assumption that quantification is automatically a better set of information. Teachers who shall remain nameless like to talk numbers and "science," but:
    1. What is the sample from where the numbers came from? (10 handicaps? Short hitters? Elite swings?)
    2. Do we have any context for the numbers (do we even know if 5 more degrees of ankle dorsiflexion is a plus or a minus?)
    3. If we change one variable or parameter, do we have the slightest clue how that will affect other parameters? We've seen plenty of situations where guys lose or gain weight and their swings fall apart...

    "Science" has gone through this conundrum a thousand times. Trying to validate the utility of quantitative data is no easy task. The DSM of clinical psychology is but one example - how many conditions can be diagnosed from the qualitative description of "chronic fatigue"? The Cliffs notes version of the DSM is over 440 pages!

    Golf science is in its absolute infancy - it could develop very nicely. Since many of the big names are not really publishing but turning to certification courses, I'm skeptical.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clay Davidson View Post
    Excellent post. IMO, execution is more art than science!!!! We aren't robots. Science can definitely help, but in the end, motion must be fluid and not subject to constant pre frontal cortex processing.
    We're not robots but IMO that doesn't affect the art vs. science debate. If you knew that the top chairs in the world's top 20 symphonies all have an elbow angle of X and your elbow angle is Y, that is valuable information. You can take that, practice deliberately, and affect a change. Once that is secure, the artistry will likely be easier to express. In fact, we know that artists/pros who describe their feels are often dead wrong in their own interpretations of their own mechanical reality.

    Clay: would you explain what you mean by pre-frontal cortex processing. The sparse distributed arrays of the neocortex can re-shuffle and re-predict roughly every 5 ms, meaning neocortical processing is taking place at a rate such that one who practices hard to become a true artist will refine his/her prediction models to express the desired outcome.

    Are you aware of Jeff Hawkins and work on artificial intelligence (i.e., reconstructing the neocortex and it's sparse array of prediction capacity)?

    Here is a very basic primer on Jeff's work:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNMbsvK8Q8Y

  10. #10
    Call me simplistic, but I learned to play the violin mostly through imitation. (Suzuki methodology) I truly believe that it is my ear and ear training allow me to reproduce great results. Now that we have unlimited resources to listen and watch other great musicians play, your average great classical musician is that much better technically today than ever. I believe a great teacher with a great eye does the same in golf. With hi speed cameras, one sees more than ever. Therefore, we can learn from the elites of today and before. But I don't call that scientific.

  11. #11
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    Hi Rich,

    I wouldn't say that's simplistic, just maybe a narrow (IMO) adoption of what you call "science." In the end it's simply documentation of trial, collecting results, identifying error, adjustments, and re-testing. Biomechanics is just another tool or data stream to those ends. Placing the connotation on it as you've done might pigeon-hole the potential. Eyes and video alone is enough for a group of people, others (with perhaps untapped potential) may need more or approach learning quite differently.

    Now if we're trying to evaluate the notion that biomechanics alone is some sort of stand-alone instructional process, that's quite different and obviously wrong. Beyond a few marketing ploys, I don't see that being done currently.

    Your initial point about posting results is an admirable one. I wouldn't relegate that problem to "science" or biomechanics since tons of instructors don't post results.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Max Prokopy View Post
    We're not robots but IMO that doesn't affect the art vs. science debate. If you knew that the top chairs in the world's top 20 symphonies all have an elbow angle of X and your elbow angle is Y, that is valuable information. You can take that, practice deliberately, and affect a change. Once that is secure, the artistry will likely be easier to express. In fact, we know that artists/pros who describe their feels are often dead wrong in their own interpretations of their own mechanical reality.

    Clay: would you explain what you mean by pre-frontal cortex processing. The sparse distributed arrays of the neocortex can re-shuffle and re-predict roughly every 5 ms, meaning neocortical processing is taking place at a rate such that one who practices hard to become a true artist will refine his/her prediction models to express the desired outcome.

    Are you aware of Jeff Hawkins and work on artificial intelligence (i.e., reconstructing the neocortex and it's sparse array of prediction capacity)?

    Here is a very basic primer on Jeff's work:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNMbsvK8Q8Y
    My reference came from The Fluid Motion Factor. Fantastic book that deals with motion and the brain for golf.

  13. #13
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    Thanks Clay - add another to the reading list.

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