When a movement is repeated over a time a long term muscle memory is created for that task.
Muscle memory which can be also called motor learning is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating or programming a specific motor task into memory through repetition.
When a movement is repeated over a time a long-term muscle memory is created for that task. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. This decreasing need for attention is extremely important for golfers as to much thinking normally spells for disaster and tends to distract the golfer from the job at hand. A great deal of concentration is needed simply to hit the ball cleanly. “Over thinking blocks feel”
The process of programming specific motor movements to the brains memory takes different lengths of time. This is influenced by several factors. Depending upon the difficulty of the movements, one’s talent level, whether we are changing muscle memory (experienced golfer) or learning a new movement, e.g. (beginner or novice), and how we of course practice and how many repetitions are involved.
Nerve cells or neurons are long narrow cells found in the nerve tissue throughout the body. A single neuron cannot transmit information very far but fortunately, neurons can connect together (axons to dendrites) to form what are called neural paths. Every time we learn to perform a new movement or thought, a string of neurons connects together end to end, to form a brand new neural path. Neurons are the building blocks of your mind and personality and neural pathways influence your muscle memory and motor learning.
When you first learn a new movement, the neural pathway is weak, a wimpy path at first. The movement at this stage is awkward or clumsy. But every time you reuse this path it gets stronger. More neurons join in and this thin wimpy string of neurons becomes in time a neural highway. This is when a movement can be performed strictly on a subconscious level.
Think of it like this. Imagine renting a cabin close by to a lake. The first time you walk down to the lake to go fishing you have to walk through chest high grass and weeds. Difficult work. But as you return from the lake to the cabin it’s a touch easier you’ve stomped down a bit of a path. By the end of the week after walking back and forth a few dozen times you have a nice wider stomped down path and it’s much easier to walk through. A neural path works much the same way. The more you use them the easier it gets, and the neural path gets wider and stronger and more robust. And if you stop using them, they tend to fade out, just as the cabin pathway to the lake would get overgrown if you stopped using it.
Over the years i have contacted cognitive and neural scientists and physiologists and read many articles and books in attempt to learn more about muscle memory and this has helped me tremendously. But there is still nothing better than actual experience. After 25,000+ lessons, and with trial and error, experimenting with my students and my own game. Using information from some of world’s best trainers and specialists. I have very effective ways of programming muscle memory. Having said that a great deal of discipline and patience and an understanding on how long certain movements will take to or change and program is needed. This is very important for the student to understand what is ahead of them.
Changing Muscle Memory
Through the use of repetition training hitting golf balls is of course an extremely effective way of programming muscle memory. However, it is important to note that many people make the same old motion while practicing and therefore programming the mistake or old movements even father or deeper into their muscle memory. By developing a practice swing with the desired motion or movements and even exaggerating these movements with a couple of practice swings helps the golfer feel the movement more before hitting the golf ball. This takes discipline. But helps the mind to recognize and feel more effectively the desired motion or movement.
Feeling the certain or major muscles activated when performing drills or when hitting or using practice swings. This is a great way for the brain to recognize or feel the desired change. Swinging or moving with your eyes closed further enhances your feel of the motion and the muscles activated.
Learning by seeing. It is said that we learn up to 40% visually. With the use of mirrors and reflections and watching the desired motion on a screen is amazingly effective. There are mirrors on nearly all driving ranges throughout the world for good reason. We all know how well children can mimic motions of their favorite stars and it is often astounding to see there mini-pro-swings at such a young age. Even as we get older we do not lose this ability completely. Closing your eyes and visualizing your desired motion for several minutes can be very effective, e.g. before fading off to sleep or laying siting in your favorite chair. If you can develop a practice swing with the desired motion and play in back through your iPad or smartphone or watch the swing of a great player this can also help speed up muscle memory process. Many tests and experiments have been done on the power of visualization its not to be under estimated.
When doing certain drills and exercises they are much more effective when done slowly so that you can see and feel the desired movements or motions. To many people do there drills faster than their mind can follow it. It is not the quantity but the quality of your practice that is important.
Resistance exercises = pushing or pulling, holding positions for longer periods of time. This can also be done in the gym or at home and sometimes it can be done like a workout. Holding or standing or resisting certain positions not only builds strength but creates great muscle awareness, e.g. if you are disciplined or let’s say even crazy enough to stand in an awesome finish position for several minutes and keep repeating this your body will find this position in a relatively short period of time.