Muscle memory is what determines your strokes and makes your tennis game what it is—for the good or for the bad. Developing muscle memory means consolidating a specific motor task through repetition. Eventually you can perform the task without conscious effort.
At a cellular level, motor learning occurs in the neurons of the motor cortex. But it also happens on the muscle and skeletal level. You "memorize" your strokes through these changes in the complex interactions between your brain, nerves, and muscles.
This is not simply my opinion, it is a conclusion based on years of research in many overlapping fields, something I have extensively detailed in my book shown below.
Muscle memory is created through permanent changes in the brain, nerves, and muscles. Research shows that permanent change in muscle memory occurs only through repetitions in a concentrated period of time.
Archie Dan Smith, MD is a retired physician living in Austin, Texas. Here is how he describes his tennis journey, leading to the creation of his work on muscle memory:
"I played for 2 years at my small town high school. For the next 10 years I played a dozen times a year with friends. Then I did not play for decades. About 10 years ago I began to play again. I was a mid-level 3.5 player but I could tell over time my game was slipping.
During this period I came up with and started implementing my theories on muscle memory. I started getting better. Two years ago I won the 3.5 men’s singles division in the long running main City of Austin tournament. I beat a 26 year old in the finals. Now I am recruited by USTA teams that have won regionals, and I play #1 doubles for a team in the Austin Tennis League. I conclude that there may be something to my theory."
Muscle Memory and Imagery: Better Tennis
This book is based on the science of muscle memory. Most practice only reinforces the status quo of the shots we are trying to improve. If you want to win you need techniques to create permanent muscle memory improvements. By practicing differently than you have ever been instructed, you can substantially improve your game. This book tells how.