Slow to Learn, Slow to Forget

The title is a quote by Abraham Lincoln and I often find myself saying it to my students.  Don’t be in a rush to make your changes – be patient as it takes some time. I want my students to be more aware of what they are feeling during the swing but that is pretty difficult when you’re moving at normal speeds.  I can’t count how often I’ve asked what they felt and the response is: “I have no idea, I didn’t really feel anything”.  This is typically a great time to talk about slow motion training.

Slow motion training can have a huge impact on your swing training. I see a lot of great players doing it, but not a lot of average golfers. And when I mean slow, I mean sloooooooooooooow. Can you make a swing last 10 seconds? 15 seconds? 30 seconds?

Here’s a video of Ben Hogan doing some slow motion swings.

Why does it work?

Todd Hargrove from the better movement blog has written about slow motion training for motor learning a few times. His blog is fantastic and worth checking out. I love what he says here:

Accurate movement depends on a good proprioceptive map. When I say map I mean the physical areas of the brain responsible for controlling and sensing the movement at each body part. These brain areas or “maps” develop their neuronal linkages in response to physical practice and the sensory feedback that occurs as a result….

We know that gentle movement leads to a more accurate and discriminating perception of the mechanics of the movement. In other words, there is more detailed and refined information available to the brain to build the movement map. The map becomes clearer with greater resolution. 

I want my students to have a general picture of how they want to move their bodies and club in the golf swing and then to slowly figure out what their feels are to make that happen. The more they do this, the better their ability to feel the movements and know when something is off track. If you slow down you are increasing your ability to feel differences in the motion, and you are increasing your ability to sense and correct any unnecessary movement. On the other hand, if you move fast it makes it very difficult to sense and correct any problems.

It’s interesting, when I spend time with mini-tour players or high-level amateurs they have a much better ability to sense the movements at a higher speed than other golfers. Often it’s a little easier to make changes because their awareness and feelings in their swing are heightened compared to the average golfer. If the average golfer practiced more slow motion swings, I think they would also start feeling their swings better and would be able to make changes that last.

It’s also important to note that becoming more coordinated is essentially rewiring the neural circuits that control movement, which is a very fashionable process called “neuroplasticity”. Slow movement can help your ability to pay attention to exactly what you are doing when you are doing it.

Todd Hargrove, Better Movement Blog

Here is how I incorporate slow motion training in my practice:

  1. At home in front of a mirror: 5 minutes of slow motion training/day
  2. Warm up before practice: 2 to 3 minutes of slow motion training
  3. During practice: take the odd break to do a few slow motion feels (frequency of this increases if I’m struggling or learning something new)
  4. Do a few slow reps with my eyes closed.

To summarize:

Slow motion training can have a positive impact on your golf swing and it only takes a few minutes each day. Mix it in with your normal practice or take some breaks during your work day. The more you do this, the more detailed and refined the movement map becomes.

Practice well,

AC

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