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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"

  • doctorhl
    replied
    Great stuff archiedan! Goes along with the “Talent Code” by Dan Coyle and his 10,000 reps theory to use neuroplasticity in the brain to lay down myelin to make new neural networks. So called “deep practice” requires enough reps to have the new myelin replace the old neural pathways. But, as you say, you have to hit and lock in CORRECT reps. However, correct feel and correct effectiveness don’t always match. If I want to lock in truly CORRECT strokes, then I think the most cost effective way is to get QUALITY feedback on my reps from a coach, videotape or a device that gives me speed/spin ratios on each rep while I practice. I can’t always tell when I hit a “heavy” groundstroke unless someone tells me which of my reps looked or felt heavy on their racket. So, .....quality feedback to get correct reps quicker and locked in on one stroke before moving to another stroke? Like Arturo, I have several mediocre strokes temporarily forced underground, just waiting to resurrect themselves during a point or game under pressure!

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    Again, thank you for your interest!


    Hopefully this helps to better understand my proposals. I might suggest to reread the article in this month’s issue. It should make more sense.



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    I just did and it does! Make more sense. I am glad I came around. I look forward to reading the next one.

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Again, thank you for your interest!

    In response to the above comment, I think you’re doing great in understanding the concepts I am making.

    Note that although I plan to enable a free download of an electronic copy of my book in a few months, you can read more about my proposed Muscle Memory Practice (MMP) in ResearchGate. (Note: I could not get this to link correctly, but I will work on that.)

    Although this Muscle Memory summary in ResearchGate is a fairly comprehensive review (and technical and heavily referenced), my book (“Muscle Memory and Imagery: Better Tennis”) has other material that should be of interest and useful to improve your tennis game (IMHO) to any level of tennis player.

    A few points below:

    1. Interference and decay - I considered “Decay” as something that happens over the long term. I think of “Interference” as a very short-term ‘thing’. In trying to learn a new skill and/or in refining an existing skill, interference is the thing to worry about.

    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



    4. Has anyone used this ‘stuff’? Well it certainly helped me quickly. I had seemed to stall out with taking lessons, going to clinics, hitting against ball machine, and playing 3-4 times a week. The usual routine to improve just did not seem to be getting me anywhere. But MMP changed, that and I got meaningfully better. Also, I have been emailed and messaged from some others who have really tested my hypothesis. It seems to work well! Hopefully the details will follow in a future article. However, having said that, I must note that a few anecdotal reports means nothing scientifically, but it is certainly something to seriously thoughtfully consider. Hopefully the future will bring some real studies to test my proposals.

    5. I did read the “Mechanics and Magicians” article. It is absolutely GREAT! Me, I have to take a “Mechanic” approach because I am so severely lacking in genetic athletic ability (literally the bottom 5%), small size, slow, old, etc.

    6. Think again about the 250 strokes example from this month’s article. Now think about the usual tennis lesson or practice (whether club player or pro). The usual routine is 15 minutes for forehands, then 15 minutes for backhands, then 15 minutes of volleys, then 15 minutes for serves. Then maybe mix it up (yes ‘variable practice’ works - results over the years have proven this). However, thinking in terms of muscle memory, what have you really accomplished? Yes you probably did hit a few ‘better than normal’ shots, but mostly you probably reinforced your ‘usual’ shots (the ones you are trying to improve). If only, say 15%, of your practice shots are ‘better than usual’, and the rest are poor to mediocre, then how likely are you to hit better in the tournament match tomorrow??? Again, it just seems like common sense. Further, if you read the research about muscle memory, you realize there may be a better way to “Better Tennis”!

    A question I propose from the book: Question to ask every practice…If you practice to improve, after every practice, ask yourself this:

    Did I merely reinforce my existing muscle memory for my usual mediocre shot?
    Or
    Did my practice further improve my muscle memory for the better shot?


    Hopefully this helps to better understand my proposals. I might suggest to reread the article in this month’s issue. It should make more sense.



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    Last edited by archiedan; 08-15-2019, 09:42 AM.

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  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by archiedan View Post
    Thank you for the kind comments. A few points on my proposed, Muscle Memory Practice (MMP):
    1. MMP includes any change of technique you are trying to make. That is why one of the reasons for lessons from a pro (and video) are so important
    2. MMP includes “Deliberate practice” - It especially requires challenging yourself. That is, strive for what you cannot consistently perform. You must practice a skill at a more challenging level, whether it is more spin, more angled, more power, etc, all with more accuracy. This also ‘helps’ remove the possible element of boredom from hitting against a ball machine or receiving feeds from the coach.
    3. MMP requires repetition, but what kind of repetition or practice? Variable? Massed? Distributed? Actually it includes all this, especially “Massed” AND “Distributed”! It is “massed” practice over a brief brief time period of 2-3 weeks (three weeks is best but I strongly believe you will see changes after 1 1/2 weeks if you follow the prescribed approach).
    4. Remember, if you learn or even practice two patterns back to back that it may cause you to forget the first. Yes there is literature to support this. It is key! (See next month’s article). That would include not ‘hitting around’ after practice or playing a match that night (yes, difficult I know but try for at least 1 1/2 weeks and see if you become a believer). This is one reason why so many people find tennis lessons don't result in real change, and struggle with changing their technique or shots
    5. MMP is also “Learner-adapted practice”. In this, practice changes as a result of performance outcomes (something all coaches do but literature seldom addresses). This means that learning can be optimized by adapting task difficulty to the player’s consistency (but first get consistency). For example, if one can hit at least 2-3 sets of 20 (or 15 etc) FH CC in a row from a ball machine feed of 100 balls on a consistent basis, then the pro needs to make the practice more difficult by moving the targets to a more angled cross court, or more power, or spin, or hitting a slower/faster fed ball, approach and hit a ball in mid-court, etc. But importantly, ALL ON ONLY THE CROSS COURT FH.


    FREE!!!

    Although I would like to become a millionaire in terms of book sales, I sincerely believe the message of my book is way more important than making a few dollars. Therefore, I will work out a future date with John Yandell to where you can download a FREE Ebook copy of my book. This can be arranged via Amazon Books. Note, I am not sure how well this works overseas.


    Okay, I get it. So it is adhering to the idea of interference. The memory literature has a lot of work on decay vs. interference. Do memories fade with time or do they get written over by newly learned things? So what you suggest is that there is a form of interference between strokes when trying to make a change.

    I think I understand and have worked a lot with this approach on my serve. There have been periods were I only serve with a basket and play no points.
    As soon as I played points the old serve would come back. It took a long time for the serve to finally "resolve" itself.

    So, is your idea that the old stroke is kind of built into the whole game? Almost as if every other shot "reminds" us of the forehand (in your example). If that is the case, then working just on that stroke will create a new memory. But my experience with the serve and the memory literature would suggest that we could get "flashbacks."

    This is kind of the idea with PTSD. My sense is that establishing new muscle memory will still lead to occasional "butting in" of the old memory. Then we would have to reinitiate the exclusive cycle of one stroke.

    Then back to mixing it up. Then back to exclusive practice.

    Eventually, the flashback would get smaller and smaller.

    Today, on my serve, I can feel it when I toss the ball. My serving arm will get stiff and then I will stop the serve. Then I have developed a set of physical cues to trigger the new serve. It is especially severe in tournaments or on game or set points. Here I literally loosen my arm completely and abandon control of my serve. It is a very odd feeling but if I abandon control of my serve, it is better. So I have a set of cues and feelings that help keep the new serve afloat.

    But the old serve is in there lurking. It existed for more than ten years so it always wants to come back especially under stress when I want to guarantee that a second serve will go in. My trick is to hit a lot of spin and create an image of the serve being way above me head. My old serve had a falling elbow and was very tight and stiff.

    Are those later steps passed the first stage you are describing?

    I find this whole thing fascinating because it is literally as if my body has a mind of its own.

    Any thoughts?

    Leave a comment:


  • archiedan
    replied
    Thank you for the kind comments. A few points on my proposed, Muscle Memory Practice (MMP):
    1. MMP includes any change of technique you are trying to make. That is why one of the reasons for lessons from a pro (and video) are so important
    2. MMP includes “Deliberate practice” - It especially requires challenging yourself. That is, strive for what you cannot consistently perform. You must practice a skill at a more challenging level, whether it is more spin, more angled, more power, etc, all with more accuracy. This also ‘helps’ remove the possible element of boredom from hitting against a ball machine or receiving feeds from the coach.
    3. MMP requires repetition, but what kind of repetition or practice? Variable? Massed? Distributed? Actually it includes all this, especially “Massed” AND “Distributed”! It is “massed” practice over a brief brief time period of 2-3 weeks (three weeks is best but I strongly believe you will see changes after 1 1/2 weeks if you follow the prescribed approach).
    4. Remember, if you learn or even practice two patterns back to back that it may cause you to forget the first. Yes there is literature to support this. It is key! (See next month’s article). That would include not ‘hitting around’ after practice or playing a match that night (yes, difficult I know but try for at least 1 1/2 weeks and see if you become a believer). This is one reason why so many people find tennis lessons don't result in real change, and struggle with changing their technique or shots
    5. MMP is also “Learner-adapted practice”. In this, practice changes as a result of performance outcomes (something all coaches do but literature seldom addresses). This means that learning can be optimized by adapting task difficulty to the player’s consistency (but first get consistency). For example, if one can hit at least 2-3 sets of 20 (or 15 etc) FH CC in a row from a ball machine feed of 100 balls on a consistent basis, then the pro needs to make the practice more difficult by moving the targets to a more angled cross court, or more power, or spin, or hitting a slower/faster fed ball, approach and hit a ball in mid-court, etc. But importantly, ALL ON ONLY THE CROSS COURT FH.


    FREE!!!

    Although I would like to become a millionaire in terms of book sales, I sincerely believe the message of my book is way more important than making a few dollars. Therefore, I will work out a future date with John Yandell to where you can download a FREE Ebook copy of my book. This can be arranged via Amazon Books. Note, I am not sure how well this works overseas.



    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Muscle memory is very tenacious. I have noticed I can do plenty of shadow swings, but the moment the environment changes and you are on the court in a game situation, the old muscle memory takes over.
    Very true. I can feel that too. It’s almost like PTSD or dejavu. Suddenly out of nowhere a game situation will trigger it.

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by klacr View Post
    Hi Arturo!
    "Mechanics and Magicians"
    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton
    Magicians and Mechanics...

    https://www.tennisplayer.net/bulleti...-and-magicians

    Leave a comment:


  • gzhpcu
    replied
    Muscle memory is very tenacious. I have noticed I can do plenty of shadow swings, but the moment the environment changes and you are on the court in a game situation, the old muscle memory takes over.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by klacr View Post
    Hi Arturo!
    Great question. Thanks for asking.

    The Monica Seles mindset is accurate, but there are very few players like Monica. Everyone learns slightly differently on a granular level but a good teacher can herd them up, find a common bond and connect those different points to the process and make it seem as though everyone is learning or being taught the same way. Science will say in a deep and condescending tone that specific data suggests that most people are a certain style of learners and group them together, and for the most part that is true, but on a deeper level, coach connecting to player, teacher connecting to student, there is an adaptation and mental dexterity that happens in which the practice becomes beneficial because of the proper practice at the proper time in development.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton
    Great point!

    Science is not the problem. It is thinking that science and humanity are at opposite ends. The epitome of this approach is the current data science movement. Data is great but we are ultimately human and reducing everything down to numbers misses something.

    And some problems cannot be easily reduced to data. Your point about the magic of practice and putting people together is very valid.

    This summer my daughter has been practicing with a bunch of very good players at a local academy. They do a few drills but nothing major. Yet, she seems to get better by just hitting with very good players. Her high school practice is similar. She is just out playing with a bunch of older good players.

    I could work one on one with her on particular strokes. She and I could hit all the time. I could have her working with one coach exclusively with private lessons.

    But this would miss the greater social aspect.

    Somehow the presence of the coaches and other players have an effect on her. One that I could not really capture with numbers.

    And I think the latest data science ideas are only part of the solution. If you read a really data driven person like O' Shaugnessy you can see that in some cases he cannot trace the loss or win to any particular point or strategy. I think there was a match between Nishikori and Wawrinka a few years ago at the US Open where he simply noted that it came down to a couple of points that could have gone either way. It was even all the way down to those few points.

    Medicine is finally catching up and realizing that you cannot just eat a Mediterranean diet and live longer.

    It's having really good friends, a job that makes you want to work every morning, physical activity, and a good diet.

    A great tennis pro goes a long way.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leave a comment:


  • klacr
    replied
    Hi Arturo!
    Great question. Thanks for asking.
    In my experience, I have seen the benefits of both. I think in order to truly answer the question I should recommend you reference another exceptional article/video on here about "Mechanics and Magicians" as that will give you some clarity. I have the link here https://www.tennisplayer.net/members..._and_magician/

    I feel that both methods certainly have advantages but it really depends on a couple factors. What I call "The 3 P's"
    1. The Player - What type of mindset/style are they?
    2. The Purpose - Why are they on court? What's their agenda?
    3. The Process - How are we going to make The Player Enjoy The Purpose to maximum effect?

    These practices of massed and distributed are nothing new. But I've seen players improve from one or the other. I've found that the "mechanics" really absorb the massed practice. While the "magicians" get bored and tend to coast through them. The "magicians" enjoy the distributed while the "mechanics" feel like its too much, too fast. Knowing the type of player you work with is critical in implementing the style of practice. It is also important to know what shot or tactic they are working on. Obviously, there is a point in a player's development where they need to hit a boat load of forehands and backhands and serves and volleys and returns but the trick and skill for any good coach is to know how to implement it without the player knowing it or feeling like its a tedious task.

    The Monica Seles mindset is accurate, but there are very few players like Monica. Everyone learns slightly differently on a granular level but a good teacher can herd them up, find a common bond and connect those different points to the process and make it seem as though everyone is learning or being taught the same way. Science will say in a deep and condescending tone that specific data suggests that most people are a certain style of learners and group them together, and for the most part that is true, but on a deeper level, coach connecting to player, teacher connecting to student, there is an adaptation and mental dexterity that happens in which the practice becomes beneficial because of the proper practice at the proper time in development.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by klacr View Post

    Agree Arturo
    This is such a great article for numerous reasons. I hope all coaches and players can read this to better understand the why's and how's of improvement and practice. I'd love to see more articles on topics such as this.
    On a funny note, I had a very nice collection of articles I had bookmarked on this page as my favorites...then I counted and realized that the amount of bookmarks I made were actually a vast majority of all the articles on this site. So this site is just one big required reading bookmark that automatically updates each month.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton
    So I am curious. How do you see the opposing forces of extreme (called massed practice in the literature) practice and spaced (called distributed practice)? Memory research suggests that it is good to space out our practice and mix it in with all sorts of things. Bob Bjork once suggested that Shaq practice his free throws but vary the distance not just at the line. Much like some advocate for practicing the serve from varying distances.

    Memory research would even advocate that we mix our practice all up. Volleys, overheads, groundstrokes, serves. All mixed up across time.

    But that doesn't make sense either. We need to build something up before we mix it.

    So, how much do we mix and space and how much do we focus on just one thing? Does it matter whether it is a child or an adult? Advanced, intermediate or beginner?

    Any thoughts on that Kyle from your vast experience. My experience in tennis practice is just 4, my three kids and me. Not a lot of people.

    Leave a comment:


  • klacr
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post
    I was about to write a strong counterpoint but then realized that the approach of extreme repetition has its place in building up skill. People are notoriously bad at recognizing improvement that occurs at irregular intervals. So massed practice leads to fast improvement but spaced practice is also crucial. Bob Bjork at UCLA has written extensively on spaced practice and the importance of forgetting. I have had extensive discussions with my son who believes in massed practice. I think spaced practice is very valuable based on the literature. I am really curious how people view these two opposing forces. Specialize a lot or spread practice out and hit all kinds of shots even in lessons. Thanks for reminding us skeptics about the importance of working on one thing.
    Agree Arturo
    This is such a great article for numerous reasons. I hope all coaches and players can read this to better understand the why's and how's of improvement and practice. I'd love to see more articles on topics such as this.
    On a funny note, I had a very nice collection of articles I had bookmarked on this page as my favorites...then I counted and realized that the amount of bookmarks I made were actually a vast majority of all the articles on this site. So this site is just one big required reading bookmark that automatically updates each month.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    I was about to write a strong counterpoint but then realized that the approach of extreme repetition has its place in building up skill. People are notoriously bad at recognizing improvement that occurs at irregular intervals. So massed practice leads to fast improvement but spaced practice is also crucial. Bob Bjork at UCLA has written extensively on spaced practice and the importance of forgetting. I have had extensive discussions with my son who believes in massed practice. I think spaced practice is very valuable based on the literature. I am really curious how people view these two opposing forces. Specialize a lot or spread practice out and hit all kinds of shots even in lessons. Thanks for reminding us skeptics about the importance of working on one thing.

    Leave a comment:

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