Chapter 3: The Golfer Who Cannot Keep His Eyes On the Ball

1. What questions suggest themselves to Alexander in regard to the golfer’s problem?

2. For what reason are we justified in saying that the golfer’s habitual use is misdirected?

3. Why does the golfer continue to take his eyes off the ball?

4. What is the golfer’s habit and how does it effect how he goes about making his stroke?

5. Why do people become more or less disturbed emotionally?

6. What are the effects of his being unable to carry out his teacher’s instructions?

7. What will the pupil whose wrong use has been pointed out do?

8. Why does the golfer bring to the act of swinging a club his habitual wrong use?

9. In what direction does the golfer receive sensory stimulus?

10. What effect does receiving this sensory stimulus have on the golfer’s will to do?

11. What is the instinctive desire which humankind has inherited and continued to develop all through the ages?

12. What is the golfer’s primary desire?

13. What are the 3 reasons Alexander gives for the golfer failing to follow the teacher’s instructions?

14. What is the relationship of the intensity of a person’s desire to follow the teacher’s instructions and the following of those instructions?

15. Why does the golfer not change the plan by which he works?

16. What do the instructions from the teacher to “keep his eyes on the ball” reveal about the teacher’s understanding and diagnosis of the golfer’s problem?

17. What other examples of misdirection does Alexander cite?

18. What is found in each of these cases about the use of the mechanisms concerned with the movement required?

19. What is present in every form of activity regarding the use of the mechanism in that activity?

21. What is the “means-whereby” principle?

21. How would a teacher following the “means-whereby” principle diagnose the golfer’s problem?

22. What would this type of teacher understand about “will power?”

23. What is it that makes “willing” or “trying” effective?

24. What would the teacher’s first step be, and how would this step be explained to the golfer?

25. What is the primary activity in making a good stroke? Why?

26. What does the performance of any act involve?

27. How must the directions for use be projected if the desired end is to be satisfactorily attained?

28. What will happen if the chain of directions is broken?

29. How will the connected series of acts preliminary to the gaining of any end be brought about in most people? What will be the result of this method?

30. What will the teacher operating on the “means-whereby” principle recognize about these preliminary acts?

31. What will the teacher emphasize to the pupil must be done to gain the end in a reasoned way?

32. How do the pupil and teacher work together to secure the proper functioning of the primary control?

33. How do they work together to secure the end the pupil desires to gain?

34. In what way does the golfer’s “will to do” become effective?

35. What habit will prove to be the impeding factor in all attempts to profit by any teaching method whatsoever?

36. If pupils could be restored at once to satisfactory functioning throughout their organism, would the habit of end gaining still persist? Why or why not?

37. How must the primary act in a series be thought of if an end is to be satisfactorily gained?

38. What is the great stumbling block in the way of a pupil’s cooperation in Alexander’s plan of operation? Why?

39. Why is it most difficult to work to a principle against the habit of end-gaining?

40. What must happen if any habit, especially one so confirmed as end gaining, is to be changed and not merely transferred?

41. What will happen to the pupil’s sensory appreciation if the foregoing procedure is followed, and what effect will this have on the pupil’s manner of use and functioning generally?

42. What will happen to the pupil’s manner of reacting to stimuli, including the stimulus to gain a certain end?

43. Why should this plan appeal to all who are interested in education in its widest sense?

44. What is essential to all who would make permanent changes from unsatisfactory to satisfactory conditions of functioning?

Thought Questions

1. Alexander writes (p. 51) about the golfer that “…one would suppose that repeated experience of failure would of itself lead him to set to work on a different principle….” Why do we never seem to look to the principle, but only “try harder” to follow the plan which has already failed, and often failed repeatedly? Is end-gaining part of our human make up–an inheritance perhaps from our operating on the primitive plane, or is it a result of our educational and other training? Or both? What evidence do you find from Alexander’s writings for either position?

2. How does the “desire to repeat sensory experiences that “feel right” (p. 53) act as a stumbling block in learning the Alexander Technique? Can we avoid this stumbling block in ourselves and our pupils? If so, how can we avoid it?

3. Alexander writes (p. 59) “It is impossible to put down here more than a bare outline of this technique, because the sensory experience which comes to the pupil in the process of acquiring a new direction of his use cannot be conveyed by the written or spoken word…” If the sensory experience comes to the pupil in the process of acquiring a new direction of use, then it would seem that the sensory experience is both dependent on and of secondary importance to acquiring the new direction of use, and that while a description of the experience would not have any value, a description of the procedure used to gain new experiences would. Most people who begin to take Alexander Technique lessons, however, are more taken with the sensory experience of the lesson than the procedure which produced that experience. Is this occurrence something that most if not all pupils will have to go though, or do we as teachers somehow encourage pupils to pay more attention to the sensory experience than to the procedure?

4. Alexander writes in CCCI (“Incorrect Conception,” p. 131-132) that “we get into the habit of performing a certain act in a certain way, and we experience a certain feeling in connexion with it which we recognize as “right.” The act and the particular feeling associated with it become one in our recognition.” In this chapter he writes of the teacher working on the means-whereby principle giving the pupil directions towards the establishment of the primary control (p. 60): “The pupil will then project this direction whilst the teacher with his hands brings about the corresponding activity, the combined procedure securing for the pupil the new experience of use which is desired. This experience, though unfamiliar at first, will become familiar with repetition.” After explaining that the teacher follows the same procedure for the secondary direction he continues “By this method of procedure the two directions and their corresponding activities become linked together and will remain linked….”

In the first case, from “Incorrect Conception”it is the act and the feeling associated with it which become one in our recognition. In this chapter it is the directions and corresponding activity which are linked. Does the corresponding activity not have feelings associated with it, and if so what prevents the act of giving directions from becoming one in our recognition with the feeling associated with the corresponding activity which results from these directions? And if they do become one in our recognition, what prevents this whole procedure from being nothing more than the new way of directing becoming familiar so that we can unconsciously employ it in much the same way as we now unconsciously employ our habitual manner of use?