Food For Thought...
This often spoken pseudo-science highlights a significant hole in coaching. The myth suggests that with enough practice you can create a "muscle memory" for your swing and/or putting stroke which, one fine day, you will trust. This is THE golf delusion. It results in many golfers believing they are the problem rather than the advice itself.
What are the consequences of believing this coaching myth?
The golf motion is just 1 of 100's of physical tasks you carry out in your life. When you attempt to develop a golf swing you try to build a procedural memory in your BRAIN. Neurons begin to link up and fire your muscles appropriately, the more you repeat the action, the stronger become the connections between those neurons. What happens if you do NOT repeat the same move because you haven't already developed the motor pattern in the brain or continually make changes to your swing? Different neurons attempt to join forces to fire the muscles differently. What about your next swing change? The next? This traditional approach STOPS you from developing a repeatable, TRUSTED motor pattern in your BRAIN. You never develop a trusted memory. How you are being taught golf and then practice lies at the heart of your persistent problems.
Think about this for a moment - what happens when someone has a stroke?
Some physical functions are impaired. Neurons responsible for specific motor skills, destroyed. Physical skills that had been mastered for life can be lost. Why? Because ALL your physical movements in life are driven by procedural motor patterns stored in your BRAIN. If your brain gets damaged your physical body does not perform as it did. It doesn't matter what skills you had mastered, your muscles NEVER retain any memory. If they did, a stroke would not affect your physical actions. Clearly, it does.
How do you correctly develop a swing or putting stroke?
Firstly, you have to develop the motor pattern in the brain correctly. A critical mistake you made when learning was trying to hit golf balls too soon. At this time you created a "flawed" motor pattern in the brain by trying to carry out a very COMPLEX motor skill without the skills to do so. Your brain noticed your movements, good or bad, and the memory begins to form. It doesn't know what you are trying to do, only that you are trying to do something. If you do it enough, the memory forms. If you have developed a poor swing at this time, trying to hit balls, you then try to replace the procedural memory in the brain with another. All further attempts to change your swing requires you develop a new motor pattern in the brain to replace the old. Persistent swing modifications actually STOP golfers developing a trusted technique.
So HOW is TRUST in your swing or putting stroke experienced in golf?
When you STOP paying attention to it. Keeping your Attentional Focus occupied with where you wish to SEND your ball (the task) as you look down at the ball, allows your NON-conscious brain to perform the physical actions. You experience what if feels like to play golf FREE of swing thoughts, just like you perform every other life task successfully today. You experience what it means to PLAY golf, not swing golf clubs.
Allow me to sum up the consequences of promoting the "muscle memory" myth:
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HOW to Focus For Golf - Discover the Psychology of Aiming