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Understanding Muscle Memory: Part 1

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  • johnyandell
    started a topic Understanding Muscle Memory: Part 1

    Understanding Muscle Memory: Part 1

    Let's discuss Archie Dan Smith's first article, "Understanding Muscle Memory: Part 1"

  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    I have not read “Zen and the Art of Archery” but I just downloaded it and will read after I finish my current book
    Yes....speaking of "Zen and the Art of Archery". I shot one over par for nine holes today. After three short practice sessions. Forty five minutes each. It's coming. The practice is paying off. Now some positive results. What to do? Double down...on the practice. You are going to like this one. Keep up the great work!

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    I have not read “Zen and the Art of Archery” but I just downloaded it and will read after I finish my current book

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    -Related to your comment on Visualization, again, I could not agree more. First go to John Yandell's excellent book "Visual Tennis". Imagery and Visualization is so important and does not receive the heavy-weight emphasis that it deserves for all tennis players, beginners to Top 10 pros. Also, remember the title of my book is "Muscle Memory and Imagery: Better Tennis". Visualization is a form of imagery. The latter part of the book goes in detail on this, with multiple research studies being referenced.
    Have you read..."Zen and the Art of Archery" by Eugen Herrigel? You might like to give it a whirl.

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    Related to post #23, by don_budge on 08-29-19 01:28 am -

    -Related to “the speed of development in creating muscle memory paths between a pre-adolescent, an adolescent, a young adult, and an older adult 40 years plus….”. You learn faster when you are younger, but I am still doing pretty well as a 67 year old. It may take a bit longer, but to paraphrase a favorite quote: “Never give up doing something because of the time it will take to accomplish... The time will pass anyway”.

    -Also, I understand your point of each shot representing a day, but the remarkable thing about Muscle Memory Practice (MMP) is I sincerely believe you can get substantial long-lasting improvement in your game within just 2-3 weeks. To specify, the MMP is just one aspect of your game, say the FH cross court, with no practice or even hitting other strokes, no going more than 1-2 days without practice on that one aspect, etc.. But if you sequentially focus on only one part of one stroke at a time (example of cross court FH), it adds up quickly. With daily focused practice, I think you will be surprised at the rate of improvement. The steps of muscle memory development are to first acquire the skill you want (daily slowly focused practice), that is acquisition. Then have that improvement become long-term muscle memory by repeatedly hitting that shot for several days (1-2 weeks?) even after you have acquired the ability to hit it well; this would be consolidation, or as some others call it, retention. (as research by Smith and Joiner has shown, because the greater the degree of overbearing (hitting the same thing), the greater the retention."

    -I also, like your point about your friend's golf game and hitting sets of balls with different key swing thoughts in mind. Part of the ‘common sense’ of MMP, is that there are so many components to ‘just’ a cross court FH. An analogy wold be learning a piece of music. A musician may have difficulty with one section of music, so they repeatedly go over that one section until they get it down cold. They do not practice the entire piece of music and think that the bad section will somehow get fixed. Yet, this is how some lessons on tennis strokes proceed. Again, common sense. You can't fix half a dozen flaws in your FH stroke at once, then proceed to the backhand in the same lesson. In fact, to really be honest (and again common sense), you can’t fix this (one bad flaw in your tennis stroke) in one session. It will take several sessions to make meaningful improvement that stays with you.
    But I believe MMP narrows down the focus to an achievable few critical elements - the flaws in your FH technique (even as basic as watching the ball, or the contact point of the ball and the racket). With a concentrated focus of 1-3 weeks, you can fix a substantial part of the problem. You do not have to fully repeat the 'learning' again next month, and the month after ..... (as is so often the case). I feel confidently that you will find this to be true. So, fix the problem in technique by dedicated singularly focused practice sessions over 1-2 weeks. At this point you have reached “acquisition”. But to transfer it to long-term memory, that is, consolidation, or muscle memory, will take repetition of the newly acquired and improved strokes for another several days, really at least 1-2 weeks to make it long lasting, so your game will be substantially better 6-12 months from now (because of your 2-3 weeks of effort at this time). If true, and I believe it is, then that would be remarkable.

    -I did not know about the Bill Tilden example, so thanks for that. However, as noted above, I think you can make a surprising amount of improvement in just 1.5-3 weeks, emphasis more toward the 3 weeks time. Of course, as you suggest, a year is better, but few can do that. A period of at least 1.5-3 weeks is doable, although it too can take real effort. Please, thoughtfully consider giving it a go. It might well be worth a try!
    Thanks for all of your feedback...archiedan. When taking on a long term project like learning to play golf or tennis the work is never done. Ben Hogan described such individuals as detectives. Sherlock Holmes who leave no stone unturned. This kind of thought process is transferable to any sort of endeavour. The most interesting series of articles in a while. Not that they all aren't interesting but this one strikes a core aspect of tennis...and golf. The Value of Intensive and Intelligent Practice. One interesting aspect of this sort of practice is that many people would find it boring. Perhaps it is. But when you have a plan and stick with it...that's discipline. Excellent feedback by the author on forum comments. You talking to me?

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Related to post #23, by don_budge on 08-29-19 01:28 am -

    -Related to “the speed of development in creating muscle memory paths between a pre-adolescent, an adolescent, a young adult, and an older adult 40 years plus….”. You learn faster when you are younger, but I am still doing pretty well as a 67 year old. It may take a bit longer, but to paraphrase a favorite quote: “Never give up doing something because of the time it will take to accomplish... The time will pass anyway”.

    -Also, I understand your point of each shot representing a day, but the remarkable thing about Muscle Memory Practice (MMP) is I sincerely believe you can get substantial long-lasting improvement in your game within just 2-3 weeks. To specify, the MMP is just one aspect of your game, say the FH cross court, with no practice or even hitting other strokes, no going more than 1-2 days without practice on that one aspect, etc.. But if you sequentially focus on only one part of one stroke at a time (example of cross court FH), it adds up quickly. With daily focused practice, I think you will be surprised at the rate of improvement. The steps of muscle memory development are to first acquire the skill you want (daily slowly focused practice), that is acquisition. Then have that improvement become long-term muscle memory by repeatedly hitting that shot for several days (1-2 weeks?) even after you have acquired the ability to hit it well; this would be consolidation, or as some others call it, retention. (as research by Smith and Joiner has shown, because the greater the degree of overbearing (hitting the same thing), the greater the retention."

    -I also, like your point about your friend's golf game and hitting sets of balls with different key swing thoughts in mind. Part of the ‘common sense’ of MMP, is that there are so many components to ‘just’ a cross court FH. An analogy wold be learning a piece of music. A musician may have difficulty with one section of music, so they repeatedly go over that one section until they get it down cold. They do not practice the entire piece of music and think that the bad section will somehow get fixed. Yet, this is how some lessons on tennis strokes proceed. Again, common sense. You can't fix half a dozen flaws in your FH stroke at once, then proceed to the backhand in the same lesson. In fact, to really be honest (and again common sense), you can’t fix this (one bad flaw in your tennis stroke) in one session. It will take several sessions to make meaningful improvement that stays with you.
    But I believe MMP narrows down the focus to an achievable few critical elements - the flaws in your FH technique (even as basic as watching the ball, or the contact point of the ball and the racket). With a concentrated focus of 1-3 weeks, you can fix a substantial part of the problem. You do not have to fully repeat the 'learning' again next month, and the month after ..... (as is so often the case). I feel confidently that you will find this to be true. So, fix the problem in technique by dedicated singularly focused practice sessions over 1-2 weeks. At this point you have reached “acquisition”. But to transfer it to long-term memory, that is, consolidation, or muscle memory, will take repetition of the newly acquired and improved strokes for another several days, really at least 1-2 weeks to make it long lasting, so your game will be substantially better 6-12 months from now (because of your 2-3 weeks of effort at this time). If true, and I believe it is, then that would be remarkable.

    -I did not know about the Bill Tilden example, so thanks for that. However, as noted above, I think you can make a surprising amount of improvement in just 1.5-3 weeks, emphasis more toward the 3 weeks time. Of course, as you suggest, a year is better, but few can do that. A period of at least 1.5-3 weeks is doable, although it too can take real effort. Please, thoughtfully consider giving it a go. It might well be worth a try!

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Related to Posts #18 (08-26-19) by arturohernandez and #19 (08-27-19) by don-budge

    -Love your statement in post #18 "Yes, a lesson is great but it is only to show us what we have to do on our own". See post #16

    -Related to your daughter hitting "90 backhands in about 20 minutes" - It is going to take a several days at least to get the better technique. For the better technique to stay with her, it will take several more days of repeatedly 'doing it right', or 'doing it better' than her usual. In my book, I note research that says additional training that has little effect on performance can lead to substantial improvements in long term retention (WM Joiner and MA Smith). Just as the post says, "Practice until the cows come home".. Why? To really become muscle memory, the 'better hitting' needs to continue over many days. Research shows the laying down of brain pathways are dynamic, constantly building and deconstructing. It becomes more stable (laying down of myelin etc) by stroke repetitions early enough to be building on the improved pathways before any deterioration in the new improved path occurs. It is going to take more than 90 BHs, but it not so much about a single day's practice (although important), it is mostly important to link together several days practice in a row, totally focused in on what you are trying to accomplish related to that BH cross court (or whatever you are working on) - nothing else!

    -I’m sure you know from reading the article, it is not just about repetition. It is about doing really good repetitions, quality reps, just as you are describing in your post! Add one element at a time. Be sure the improvement stays. MMP is all about quality repetitions, but in a prescribed manner. Please, give the MMP a try, and be ‘pure’ about it. Only focus on her BH, maybe the BH cross court, or down-the-line. Three weeks of not hitting the serve, or FH, or even playing matches or hitting around, will not be the end of the world. Yes I know matches are important, etc, but I believe this could really really help. So maybe let’s compromise. Just try to be ‘pure’ for a week and a half. See what you think then. Note, people miss days to weeks all the time and their previous game comes back reasonably quickly. But to substantially and quickly improve one’s game (for her the BH, with a real focus on proper technique) for the long term in just a 3 week period is a big deal. (I guess that means it takes 2-3 weeks for the cows to come home)

    -Also, Shadow swings (or as I prefer to call them, “Tai chi” swings” - that is a shadow swing in slow motion) are incredibly important in learning new technique!!! Do just 5 minutes 2-3 times per day at home. It speeds learning new, better technique.

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Related to Post #17, by don_budge on 08-26-19 at 10:46 AM
    -I really like your reference to Bill Tilden. I certainly can't say he practice Muscle Memory Practice (MMP), but how he had completely dedicated highly focused practice on just one stroke sounds completely consistent with what I am advocating.

    -I love the "must be practiced until they are etched in stone" statement. This is what MMP is all about.

    -Older and wiser is great. I am clearly getting better, although I am age 67, and I am not genetically a good athlete.

    -Related to MMP principles and golf, I wonder if a more singular focus on a few key aspects of your golf game, for maybe a couple of weeks at a time, would be better for your overall game when spanned over a 3 month period. Disclaimer, I know almost nothing about golf - just a wild thought, so do not put too much into it. Philosophically, I believe in being open minded and trying new things, even if radical, esp when stalling out using the 'usual' methods, and the trial period is relatively brief, say a few weeks (and no harm to self or others etc). So, MMP principles applied to your golf practice???

    -Agree with your statement " The point of taking a one hour lesson and how to break that down is an interesting one. What it should accomplish is to show the student how and what to work on in his own time." - see my reply to post #16

    -Also, love the statement" nobody is going to outwork me". Ditto!!!

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Sorry but I had been away on vacation and just getting caught up now. To address a few comments. (Note I shall address another post or two later today, but then not for 2-3 days, as I try to avoid 'too many' comments' in a brief time period. Also, I am a bit wordy, so please forgive.

    Related to Post #16, by arturohernandez on 08-26-19 at 07:26 AM
    -I love Daniel Coyle's "The Talent Code". In fact I write about it and "Highly Recommend" it in my book!

    -I could not agree more about the vital importance of a coach, videotape etc!!! Quality quick feedback!! Absolutely essential!!! (This is also perfectly described by K. Anders Ericsson in his classic article: "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance"). I so believe. In fact, deliberate practice IS the first part of my proposed Muscle Memory Practice (MMP). But MMP takes it beyond that.

    -I really like the Daniel Coyle article you referenced from the New York Times. I did not know about it before. Interestingly, I have a section on "The Click" in my book

    -However, lessons can be expensive. What to do? I would favor shorter, narrowly focused sessions (say 20-30 minutes) on one aspect on one's game, say the cross court FH. (Not 10+ improvement instructions related to your FH, BH, serves, volleys, etc.). The student then does homework. He/she practices using the feedback, (whether hand feeds from a parent or friend, ball machine, etc) over the next week. That is, really work on the 'main thing'. This would be the key points that need improving as pointed out by the pro. (Not 10 different things to work on). The student returns next week for further refinement and homework.
    Think of it like a college lecture. You learn some from the hour talk, but real learning comes from studying, from doing the homework. You return next week for the test (feedback from the pro). You then build on what you have learned, providing you have progressed on that one topic. I do not have proof, but I believe this model would work well for tennis. Of course, all this is conditional on the student actually doing the prescribed homework, but that is another topic.

    -Yes on Larisa Preobrazhenskaya. I include her example in my book, a section "The Shadow Swing and the Tai chi stoke". I still debate with myself if I should have titled that chapter "Technique is Everything".

    -A very definite "Yes!" on your question if the "motor memory extreme practice approach is better for an entirely new stroke", or at least, so I have concluded from my research. But there are no controlled experiments to support this belief. Someday there will be I hope.

    -Related to your comment on Visualization, again, I could not agree more. First go to John Yandell's excellent book "Visual Tennis". Imagery and Visualization is so important and does not receive the heavy-weight emphasis that it deserves for all tennis players, beginners to Top 10 pros. Also, remember the title of my book is "Muscle Memory and Imagery: Better Tennis". Visualization is a form of imagery. The latter part of the book goes in detail on this, with multiple research studies being referenced.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post

    My Father taught me many things. One of the chief and foremost was to play...and how to play. He took up the game of tennis at the age of 37 and I watched him do so. At first it was family outings and he was hitting with Mom. The sisters and I more or less fooled around. We hit a couple as well. But things started to get serious for Dad. Parents got divorced so Dad needed an outlet I suppose. His biggest disappointment in life was not being with his children. So he spent more time on the tennis court. In his box I suppose. That security blanket we surround ourselves with in life to protect us from the hard facts. But he became a student of the game. Being a great student he studied from every conceivable angle. And he practiced. He was an excellent practicer.

    He would spend time in front of the mirror looking at his strokes...trying to find the underlining meaning I suppose. But I watched him as only a boy watches his father. Studying him and trying to figure out how to become a man. Well he taught me a lot of things and one of the most important was this aspect of "play". Your daughter is taking all of this in and later in life she is going to remember you. Keep up the good work Arturo!
    Thanks! I tested out the pro that will work with my daughter. I wanted to see what he would give me in a session. Quickly diagnosed and tweaked my forehand. Looked at my serve and gave me two tips that brought things together.

    Now, I am very curious to see how my daughter and her game is imprinted by his approach. He is a former college women's team coach and has worked with many junior girl players. When you meet someone that gets tennis it is refreshing.

    don_budge Funny, that you looked at your dad. My kids look at me. But I also look at them and learn tennis through them. I agree that it is a security blanket. But more than that to me it is a glue. A way to interact with people and learn things with and through them. Even tournament play and competition has taught me a lot.

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post
    Today I went to practice myself because I need to keep my game up or very soon I won't be able to rally with my own daughter.
    My Father taught me many things. One of the chief and foremost was to play...and how to play. He took up the game of tennis at the age of 37 and I watched him do so. At first it was family outings and he was hitting with Mom. The sisters and I more or less fooled around. We hit a couple as well. But things started to get serious for Dad. Parents got divorced so Dad needed an outlet I suppose. His biggest disappointment in life was not being with his children. So he spent more time on the tennis court. In his box I suppose. That security blanket we surround ourselves with in life to protect us from the hard facts. But he became a student of the game. Being a great student he studied from every conceivable angle. And he practiced. He was an excellent practicer.

    He would spend time in front of the mirror looking at his strokes...trying to find the underlining meaning I suppose. But I watched him as only a boy watches his father. Studying him and trying to figure out how to become a man. Well he taught me a lot of things and one of the most important was this aspect of "play". Your daughter is taking all of this in and later in life she is going to remember you. Keep up the good work Arturo!

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    2. Old muscle memory paths do not go away, so you must form new paths that become the ‘preferred’ paths. This happens through consolidation (really equates with establishing muscle memory). So the questions are how to maximize consolidation in the most efficient/fastest manner, and one that leads to permanent results? I review this in detail in the book. What we all want, are “permanent results” after we improve, especially if the ‘effort’ of meaningful improvement only took a couple of weeks of about an hour a day (4-5 times in a week) for a single period of 2-3 weeks. Is there evidence to support this? Yes! It has been found that additional training after improvement occurs leads to better long term retention. Imagine around 8-10 hours (over two weeks, or better yet 12-15 hours spread out over 3 weeks - see book for details) leading to long term meaningful improvement in you tennis game for months to years!

    3. Consistent with the article in this month’s “Tennisplayer”, you must continue hitting after the improvement occurs because additional training that has little effect on performance can lead to substantial improvements in long-term retention. In other words, like the example of 250 shots in the article, repetition by hitting it right is how you increase the odds of hitting better (your ‘better shot’) during the match. The more ‘hitting it right’, the less the odds of hitting it poorly (it really does seem like common sense after you think about it), and the longer it stays with you. One of my favorite quotes from the book is
    Don’t practice until you hit it right
    Practice until you can’t hit it wrong!
    Then, as per my proposed muscle memory theory, after you are hitting the ‘better’ improved shot, keep hitting it another several days so it stays with you for months or years

    Ads
    Interesting...old muscle memory paths. How about the question regarding the speed of development in creating muscle memory paths between a pre-adolescent, an adolescent, a young adult and an older adult 40 plus years. I wonder how it was that I could start golf on my fortieth birthday and become a 2 handicap. Now as I embark on that path again...I am actually trying to improve on these old paths and become "reborn" in a superior level. Is it possible at 65? Instead of 250 shots...why not 365 shots. Each shot representing a day in the year. Do this over the course of one year and count up your profits.

    You ask the excellent question..."So the questions are how to maximize consolidation in the most efficient/fastest manner, and one that leads to permanent results?" This is meaningful stuff.

    The third point about reinforcing the improved version is also an excellent point. Surely don't quit once you start to "feel" the new enhancement. Continue to work hard and reinforce that new "feeling" until it is etched in stone. Common sense? Absolutely.

    During my return to the States in July I was doing some golfing with a friend who is an ex PGA professional. I wouldn't say that he is the absolute sharpest tool in their shed buy he made an interesting point with regard to practice. I touched on this in an earlier post. He said given you are going to hit for instance a hundred balls at the range. He recommended hitting sets of balls with different key swing thoughts and at the end of the session attempt to blend all of the components while keying in on the best results swing thought. I really like this idea and I was exploring this with arturohernandez.

    But never put a limit or set the goal too short. Give it time and an honest full effort. Like Bill Tilden did in the 1920's when he went indoors for the winter to develop his backhand. Real improvement is a long haul. Substantial progress cannot realistically be thought of in terms of weeks. Give it a whole entire year. This way you do not get discouraged initially when things don't go your way in the beginning. Be prepared to pay the price over time. You are making instalments.

    That reminds me of one of my favourite authors...a book he wrote. "Death on the Installment Plan" by Ferdinand Celine. A very "cheery" novel written in the 1930's it captures a realistic picture of Life...and Death.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post
    Another specific point to work on with the backhand is the point of contact where the racquet meets the ball. One thing about the cone...I forgot but I am certain that you know. After every shot she has to go around the cone and immediately get ready for the next ball.
    Oh, yes. I will take a cone out and work on her coming around it. Thanks!

    And, yes, I am slowly becoming secondary. Today I went to practice myself because I need to keep my game up or very soon I won't be able to rally with my own daughter.

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Another specific point to work on with the backhand is the point of contact where the racquet meets the ball. One thing about the cone...I forgot but I am certain that you know. After every shot she has to go around the cone and immediately get ready for the next ball.

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post

    And self-practice and self-correction with some guidance may be the most underrated aspect of tennis.
    Spot on. Coaches can point students in the right direction and hopefully coax out good things but, ultimately, the player makes him or herself. It comes down to hard work, determination, and love of the game to succeed. Love of the game should be the biggest motive.

    Leave a comment:

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