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Slow Motion Practice - Does it Work?


Nave

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Perhaps the coaches on this forum can help clarify this.
I wonder if there is actual proof for the benefits of slow motion swing practice.

Athletes don’t kick the soccer ball slowly to improve their shot. I don’t shoot or dribble the basketball slowly to train ball handling and shooting either.

Is it a placebo effect? I did feel good about myself and the convenience of swinging slowly in the living room - but does it translate to anything tangible on the course?

The body moves very differently in full speed compared to slow motion.
Since different muscle groups are utilized to control slow motion movements - what if practicing in slow motion actually harms your swing? 

Nave

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19 minutes ago, Nave said:

Athletes don’t kick the soccer ball slowly to improve their shot. I don’t shoot or dribble the basketball slowly to train ball handling and shooting either.

Kicking a soccer ball isn't the same complex motion as working on the golf swing, but maybe they should if they have a bad kicking motion. 

Also, I could see someone making very deliberate shooting motions with their hand to practice a release for basketball. Maybe they make slow dribbles and then ramp it up to practice. The issue that is, the slower you dribble, the chance you might not hit it hard enough to get it back to your hand. 

I heard stories of Peyton Manning, where he would just practice how he took his arm back so it was consistent. This would be similar to keeping it simple and slow. 

Again, maybe more professional athletes need to work on things in a different way to improve? Just because they do not do it, doesn't mean they are going about things the optimal way. 

22 minutes ago, Nave said:

The body moves very differently in full speed compared to slow motion.
Since different muscle groups are utilized to control slow motion movements - what if practicing in slow motion actually harms your swing? 

The idea of working in slow motion is to try to isolate the feel for a movement. It is also to help train the body in how it should move. I get that there is a bit more flow in the swing. You are suppose to work in progressions, very slow, and then ramp it up over time to full speed. 

I would say practicing the wrong thing can hurt your swing. Yes, in the end, you need to blend it back into an athletic motion. 

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9 hours ago, Nave said:

Athletes don’t kick the soccer ball slowly to improve their shot. I don’t shoot or dribble the basketball slowly to train ball handling and shooting either.

Those aren't really the same as trying to use your arms and body to control a 30-45" long object moving through space at 100+mph down to within a few degrees at impact.

I can think of plenty of instances in other sports in which slow motion practice is utilized. I used to do it quite frequently when I pitched in college when I was trying to change my mechanics. I spent hours and hours doing slow motion reps without throwing a ball. Catchers would do plenty of slow motion drills to get their blocking technique down, do improve their footwork for throwing to various bases, etc. Track and Field athletes utilize slow motion practice to work on technique as well.

 

9 hours ago, Nave said:

Is it a placebo effect? I did feel good about myself and the convenience of swinging slowly in the living room - but does it translate to anything tangible on the course?

No, IMO it's not placebo effect. And it does translate to the course, but only if you have practiced enough outside the course and have fully ingrained the new motion. So just practicing a new movement for 5,10,15 minutes in your living room likely won't result in a different looking swing the next day on the golf course. Doing 10 minutes per day indoors plus a couple times per week on the range then in a month of or two you if you filmed a swing on the course you might start to see a different swing, but the amount of time it takes for it to translate to anything tangible on the course varies by person and on what swing change you are trying to make.

 

10 hours ago, Nave said:

Since different muscle groups are utilized to control slow motion movements - what if practicing in slow motion actually harms your swing?

Assuming the slow motion swings are focused on some aspect of your swing that you need to improve upon and you're not just swinging in slow motion just to swing in slow motion, how could practicing in slow motion harm your swing? It's not like a golf club has any significant weight to it or slow motion swings result in some super excessive load being put onto your muscles, body, CNS, etc. 

 

Have you tried making a swing change without doing a single slow motion swing? And not just one that you "feel" is different, but rather one that actually shows up on camera as a noticeable swing change? It's nearly impossible make and ingrain swing changes while only ever swinging at full speed.

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10 hours ago, Nave said:

Athletes don’t kick the soccer ball slowly to improve their shot. I don’t shoot or dribble the basketball slowly to train ball handling and shooting either.
 

What @saevel25 said is correct. Same with @klineka.

Football Field Goal Kickers do practice in slow motion. So do quarterbacks. 

They both practice their footwork in slow motion and then add speed as they get the motion correct. Slowing down again if they do it incorrect. I had a kicker on scholarship who lived on my floor in college. He was forever practicing his footwork and backswing in slow motion. 

Think of it this way. Quick draw shooters practice a ton in slow motion. Guitar players, Piano players, Dancers, Even Nascar Pit crews. Pretty much anyone trying to truly master and add efficiency to anything they have to do very quickly, all start out doing it very slowly, then adding speed only when they can do it right. 

10 hours ago, Nave said:

Is it a placebo effect?

Not in the traditional definition of placebo. Your brain does gets rewired to make a change. 

10 hours ago, Nave said:

The body moves very differently in full speed compared to slow motion.

It doesn't have to. The key is getting really REALLY good at it in slow motion. Then do it a little faster. If you can't do it exactly the same, slow down to where you CAN. Then get really REALLY good at doing it just a little faster. Then do it a little faster. If you can't do it exactly the same, slow down to where you CAN. Then get really REALLY good at doing it just a little faster. Rinse and repeat. 
IMO - The reason people think working in slow motion doesn't work is because they do the slow motion perfectly and then expect to be able to go right to full speed. THAT'S NOT HOW TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!! You have to add some speed. Make sure it's still correct. Add some speed. Make sure it's still correct. Add some speed. Make sure it's still correct. Add some speed. etc... 

2 of my opinions.... might be factual. 

1 - It only works if you do it until you are REALLY F-ing good at doing it at that what ever speed.
2 - It only works if you ratchet up your speed every time you get really good at it.  

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19 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Not in the traditional definition of placebo. Your brain does gets rewired to make a change. 

Yea, I agree. 

The placebo effect is, "a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient's belief in that treatment."

I do not think placebo works with learning new things. The brain does have amazing impact on bodily functions, but I do not think results from physical training can be a placebo effect. 

23 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

It doesn't have to. The key is getting really REALLY good at it in slow motion. Then do it a little faster. If you can't do it exactly the same, slow down to where you CAN. Then get really REALLY good at doing it just a little faster. Then do it a little faster. If you can't do it exactly the same, slow down to where you CAN. Then get really REALLY good at doing it just a little faster. Rinse and repeat. 

Correct. 

This is why using video, mirror, or having an instructors keen eye helps give immediate reinforcement of the movements so you know you are doing things correctly. 

 

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10 hours ago, Nave said:

Perhaps the coaches on this forum can help clarify this.

Haven't I? 😄

10 hours ago, Nave said:

Athletes don’t kick the soccer ball slowly to improve their shot.

They will practice dribbling and foot skills in slow motion, though. They increase speed as they get good at it.

And… a soccer kick is a much simpler motion with a larger margin of error.

10 hours ago, Nave said:

The body moves very differently in full speed compared to slow motion.

Why? It doesn't have to.

10 hours ago, Nave said:

Since different muscle groups are utilized to control slow motion movements - what if practicing in slow motion actually harms your swing? 

No they aren't.

18 minutes ago, klineka said:

I can think of plenty of instances in other sports in which slow motion practice is utilized.

Yep.

18 minutes ago, klineka said:

Have you tried making a swing change without doing a single slow motion swing? And not just one that you "feel" is different, but rather one that actually shows up on camera as a noticeable swing change? It's nearly impossible make and ingrain swing changes while only ever swinging at full speed.

Yep.

42 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Football Field Goal Kickers do practice in slow motion. So do quarterbacks.

I've seen Olympic swimmers and divers (and ice skating people) do it. Musicians will do it. Etc.

42 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

IMO - The reason people think working in slow motion doesn't work is because they do the slow motion perfectly and then expect to be able to go right to full speed. THAT'S NOT HOW TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you!

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14 hours ago, Nave said:

The body moves very differently in full speed compared to slow motion.
Since different muscle groups are utilized to control slow motion movements - what if practicing in slow motion actually harms your swing? 

Because there is no such thing as muscle memory. There is only position memory - which can be solidified by mapping the positional 'dots' as slow as you can/want and then eventually blend it as a continuous motion.

The brain will recruit muscles it needs at appropriate dynamic rates to to go through guided by positional requirements. That's all anatomical pre-programming - subconscious, not learned memory. 

Vishal S.

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18 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

Because there is no such thing as muscle memory.

Eh.

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5 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

Think of it this way. Quick draw shooters practice a ton in slow motion. Guitar players, Piano players, Dancers, Even Nascar Pit crews. Pretty much anyone trying to truly master and add efficiency to anything they have to do very quickly, all start out doing it very slowly, then adding speed only when they can do it right. 

As a personal example - I play guitar, bass and drums in a couple of different bands.  When I am learning song parts, and let's say the song is at 114 bpm,  I will set the metronome to around half that say 55bpm and work through the chord changes or drum line piece by piece.  As I become more comfortable with it and my brain has learned the pattern(s) that it tells my muscles to do I will step it up a "few clicks" to say maybe 70 and eventually I will get to the required bpm.  Learning golf has to be the same type of experience, back in early 2020 Erik did the 30 day Covid-19 Practice Plan challenge with a lot of focus on "slo-mo" work.  As @iacas has said over and over "Golf is hard" and only when we break it down to parts and pieces and "slowly" work through them do we begin "understand" what we are to do - and I am the world's worst for wanting to jump the gun to full throttle.    So yes, slow motion does help. 

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

Eh.

Ok, there is no such thing as a sequential muscle memory.. is that better? 😊

Procedural or episodic memory is in the brain - i.e. a motion involving a sequence of muscles. The muscles do not talk to each other independently. They can 'remember' how to grow or shrink strengthen/weaken based on previous stress profile. That is intrinsic though.  

And before you say duh.. mapping of 'dots' in space with concurrent use of proprioception or visual and/or auditory cues as a frame (datum) is retained as a 3D sequential memory (i.e. connecting the dots) in the brain.  

Slow movements are great at mapping a sequence because it allows for a better frame of reference (sensory cues) to be retained associated with the map dots in 3D space to be committed to brain memory for recollection of execution via muscles. 

I don't think I am telling you anything you don't already know. 

Vishal S.

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22 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

Procedural or episodic memory is in the brain

Right, but that's what people mean when they say "muscle memory." They're not literally saying your muscles "remember."

So, if the point of communication is to be understood, you know what people mean by "muscle memory." Without it, every golf swing you ever make would be different. And they're not.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Right, but that's what people mean when they say "muscle memory." They're not literally saying your muscles "remember."

So, if the point of communication is to be understood, you know what people mean by "muscle memory." Without it, every golf swing you ever make would be different. And they're not.

Yes, I understand. But there is a a reason for my taking the term in a literal sense. Anyway, I may end up being pedantic in trying to explain that so I won't.

Back to topic.. I have a renewed sense of respect for learning and owning motions via slow movement - touching all the... well, touch points on the map with solid reference cues. We more than agree on that.

Vishal S.

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9 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

The key is getting really REALLY good at it in slow motion. Then do it a little faster.

Boom - that makes sense.

When my golf coach does micro adjustments in my swing, he makes me practice them in slow motion before I hit the ball slowly and work my way up to hit at maximum speed.

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Nave

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On 1/18/2023 at 10:11 PM, Nave said:

I did feel good about myself and the convenience of swinging slowly in the living room - but does it translate to anything tangible on the course?

It should. I just made a small change and I practiced the first move back (hands to right thigh) over and over again. It shows up on the course now without thinking about it because was ingrained with slow motion, regular motion, and drills. 

I remember learning how to turn to steal bases, complex footwork as a cornerback, wrestling takedown, martial arts mechanics, and the golf swing. I think it is part of the learning process. 

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Q: Does slow motion practice work?

A: Yes.

When you're learning a Beethoven Sonata on the piano, you don't play it full speed straight away. You play it slow and in little sections until you get the notes right. It doesn't sound much like music, but then when you know the notes, you speed it up. Now it starts sounding more like it's supposed to, but you're not done. There's still more to learn. There's the expression... the details that you have to learn. You're at a moderate pace and you add in those. Once you know how to play those you ramp it up to full tempo and it sounds like a piece of music.

Same with golf.

 

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3 hours ago, DrvFrShow said:

You play it

I agree with you generally - my original thought was that there is that difference: On the piano you actually “play it” slowly and get instant feedback. 

Nave

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8 hours ago, Nave said:

I agree with you generally - my original thought was that there is that difference: On the piano you actually “play it” slowly and get instant feedback. 

You can get instant feedback on your golf swing. Set up a mirror and look to see if you are doing a move correctly. 

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