Do Muscles Remember?
Golfers, welcome to My Golf Mind, especially if you are a female, male, junior, high or low handicap, off scratch, or even a PGA professional who needs to build strong mental tenacity and stop struggling with the mental and negative interference, and self-confidence, when playing golf.
Do Muscles Remember?
So, what is meant by the term muscle memory, as this seems to be such an important element in honing a great golf swing? There’s no such thing as a perfect golf swing that a golfer can repeat on every shot or we would be seeing scores in the 50s on a regular basis. I see (and, no doubt, you do) golfers at the driving range hitting ball after ball with well over 95% not focusing on specific swing refinements or practicing with purpose. It’s a waste of time, money and effort, but the driving range is making a tidy profit, thank you!
Various neuroscientific research has taken place over the years on the issue of muscle memory and whether or not it can be achieved. Well, due to our ancestors, the pre-historic man repetition was not very useful when using a spear or knife to catch dinner or do battle with dinosaurs or another tribe. So, the modern human being's physiological and psychological structure eliminates the idea of developing perfect muscle memory, e.g. a study in 2010 at Standford University by researchers Shenoy, Churchland and Afshar confirmed this theory after carrying out extensive research, among others. On the other side of the coin, Depak Chopra MD in his book Quantum Healing confirms that every cell throughout the body is bathed in neurotransmitters!
So, what really is muscle memory? – from my perspective, I believe it’s purely the physical process obtained through practicing to swing the golf club and the muscles become used to the physical movement more easily; so when called upon to swing the golf club, your muscles will perform the action with relative ease, coupled with minimum stress and anxiety through mental toughness training that allows a free-flowing muscle movement. As our bodies are changing daily (i.e. our organs, skin, skeleton are rebuilding themselves constantly), we cannot repeat the golf swing exactly the same every time we step out on to the golf course. So even if there is a slight element of muscle memory, it is lost due to the ever-changing body structure. Another factor is that the golf course and weather are going to be different from one day to the next – in fact, it changes for those teeing it up in morning to those who tee up after lunch!
So how does this help the amateur and professional golfer? – well, the important thing to remember is that to make a free-flowing golf swing then all forms of stress and anxiety need to be minimised, if not eliminated from the mind and body. You can do this by:
• Being physically fit through regular exercise and nutrition
• Using the two-box routine every time you execute your golf swing, thus building up your self-confidence and managing your stress and anxiety levels
• Accept that you’re not going to make a perfect swing on every shot – but you do the very best that you can on that particular swing
• Stop beating yourself up every time you hit an imperfect shot – remember, golf is a game of consistent inconsistencies!
• And just enjoy the game with golf nuts like you and me, fresh air and exercise