How the Brain Learns - Pt 1

The key here is understanding how the brain learns new movement patterns. You will struggle to improve your golf swing if you don't first understand how your brain learns.

  • The brain learns new patterns in small chunks, one at a time
  • Repetition reinforces new neural pathways
  • Like any new skill, you have to start slow
  • Going out and hitting balls at full speed will NOT reinforce newly learned patterns

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Mark
Once you have fully drilled a movement pattern into your brain so that you automatically execute it, how often should you go back and perform the drill for maintenance?
May 9, 2020
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Mark. All depends. Chuck and myself just do friendly reminders when we see things slip up. You won't need massive workout sections weekly.
May 9, 2020
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John
Hey Craig. Just having thoughts about how I take my practice into hitting golf balls. I think about everything I'm suppose to do, shoulder blade glide, pull with left side, post up before impact, release. I had a thought today that since I'm putting the reps in my body should be learning how I want it to move. And when I go to hit a ball. Just hit it, the time for thinking is over. Is that what I should be doing?
November 15, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello John. There will be a time for the thinking to take a back seat. But, more than likely you aren't there yet. When you can make the proper practice swing/drill perfect every single time without thought you will be close. Then, you gradually add the ball in smaller motions and chunks where you don't have to think about so many successive pieces. Once that is correct you can blend and let the ball get in the way. Another way to think about it is to take a look at Why Your Practice Swing and Real Swing Aren't the Same Video. The overall result should be to tell me what you had for breakfast and not mess up on a rep. Just let the ball get in the way.
November 15, 2019
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Brendan
Hi guys - amazing stuff, finally a way for me to understand the golf swing in it's entirety. One question that is puzzling me. For all those pro's in the world or low handicappers, they all didn't have this knowledge when they started out, packaged so well and chronologically laid out for them. Did they from a young age intuitively and fundamentally swing in this way (proper weight shift and rotation)? Or was it taught to them from early on? I guess some people instinctively understand the most efficient way their body moves in balance and it never cost them a thought. This to me is revolutionary in my understanding of my own failings - i knew i had to rotate, weight shift, and maximise momentum/efficiency but never knew HOW - thank you. Brendan McCaul
September 4, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Brendan. Love the post and thanks for the compliments. Some had competent instruction early on and other instinctively made the proper motions. I can go to the range and pick out the young kids that will be good golfers with ease. Some allow their subconscious to take over and make the necessary body adjustments to create power without having the strength in their arms. Kinda fun to watch.
September 4, 2019
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Brendan
Wow it becomes so interesting when you know what to look for and why! Thanks for the explanation.
September 4, 2019
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Nicholas
This my first comment on here and I do not wish for it to be perceived negatively as it IS a positive comment. If you tell yourself that you need to do something 3000 times to ingrain it, guess what, you need to do it 3000 times to ingrain it. I can prove to you that this is NOT the case and that is why this is a positive message. There are two ways I can try to convince you. 1) the more esoteric, spiritual, way, or 2) the example of my 3 year old son. My 3 year old picked up a golf club for the first time just before he turned 3. He had been watching people on television swing golf clubs and watching me. He has a repeatable full swing. He wanted to hit a golf ball and guess what he just did it. He didn't practice the technique 3000 times to get it right. He just did it. He has no concept of neuroscience or the 3000 rule. He can do it right or left handed. The trick is, he doesn't allow is MIND to control him. Now for the esoteric/spiritual bit! We, as adults rely on our mind and allow our mind to control our physical body. All the muscles, tendons, cells, etc listen to what our mind tells them, despite it potentially being "wrong". If you tell your physical body that it will take 3000 reps to ingrain a new process it will take that. Hence the old saying mind over matter. I have had an awful swing for years which became ingrained. I watched Chucks videos and signed up. I told myself (or more accurately my physical body) exactly what positions I want it to be in during the takeaway, backswing, transition, downswing etc. and gave it permission to ignore my mind (i.e. when I see a chance to rip a drive and get over excited). I am not saying my new swing is perfect, I can "re-programme" my body again at any time, but after just a few short sessions of talking to myself I have changed a swing of 20 years!! So kudos to Chuck and Rotary Swing but don't limit yourself with self-limiting thought patterns/processes.
July 26, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Nicholas. Thanks for the post and suggestions. I will make sure Chuck sees your thoughts on this subject.
July 27, 2019
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Beat
Dear Chuck you talk about 100 reps per session. How can I do them ? From 1 up to 100 in one go , or 5 times twenty with short breaks in between ? .... Thanks Beat
July 21, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Beat. You can do them in a sequence 1-100, or split them into sessions through the day. Just a minimum of 100 before you go to sleep.
July 21, 2019
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al
can't really hear this - volume maxed out on laptop. have to use external speakers to hear.
June 2, 2019
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello Al. I apologize. It is playing correctly on my laptop. Make sure you have the volume slider in the video window turned all the way up.
June 3, 2019
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
Is it okay if I post a link to a webpage here that not only reinforces what Chuck is saying about how the brain learns, but expounds upon it with some great new research involving how the brain learns new motor patterns and how we can actually accelerate the learning of the new motor skill by making our brain "listen harder" to the stimulation provided by the muscles moving through space?
September 23, 2014
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Craig (Certified RST Instructor)
Hello RJ. I would like to check it out before you post a link. Could you email me the link. Thanks and appreciate the new research. craig@rotaryswing.com
September 23, 2014
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
I emailed it to you, Craig.
September 23, 2014
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Bernd
Hello R.J. Can you share this information with us as well? Thanks and best regards, Bernd
February 14, 2020
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R.J. (Certified RST Instructor)
This was from 6 years ago before I was an instructor. I'm not even sure what I was referring to in the original post any more.
February 14, 2020

One of the first terms that you want to be come familiar with, as you're trying to learn the golf swing or rebuild, the golf swing that you already have is a term called neuromuscular re-education. And basically what this is, is your brain or your nervous system has pathways already developed that you've trained it to do over time. That help you perform movements more efficiently. These pathways are not necessarily from your brain's perspective, wrong or right. Even though your golf swing may be terrible. And you may, as David charity, once quoted look like an octopus falling out of a tree, that pathway to your brain is all it knows your nervous system created that pathway because you trained it to do those movements, whether you meant to, or not each time that you repeat that faulty movement or that bad golf swing, your brain is reinforcing that pathway to make it more efficient.

This process is called myelination or modelization. And basically what it means is that these, these pathways are built up of neurons and these neurons, as you continue to repeat something over and over become thicker and thicker or the with, with myelin, that basically is like an insulator and it allows these electrical signals to travel faster. So the more you repeat something, the more efficient you become at it right or wrong, whether it's a good movement or a bad movement, your brain doesn't understand the difference. And so over time, this is why it becomes so hard to learn new movements in the golf swing, because you've repeated these things, literally thousands and thousands of times, every faulty movement that you've made in your golf swing, your brain has learned each time and tried to reinforce that. And it's a, it's a complicated process. It takes a little bit of time to, to rebuild these, to build these pathways.

But it does happen every time you swung a golf club. So what we have to do is we have to break down those pathways and build new ones when we're trying to build correct movement patterns. And that is the process of neuromuscular reeducation. Basically, we are taking you your nervous system and giving it new information so that it creates new pathways. So that over time, those movements, the correct movements become more efficient. And that's very, very it's a very specific process. And it's a very important one for you to understand what is actually going on and how it happens because so many golfers get frustrated that they don't make changes in their golf swing. When what they're doing is they're actually going against the way that their brain actually learns. There is a very specific way that this happens and it's, you need to have all the pieces of the puzzle.

And so that's what we're going to talk about. This, this slide is of course called how the brain learns. So one important thing that is missed by a lot of golf instructors is a lot of the better golf instructors out there, know how to know, to tell you what they want you to do. They, they know it is they know exactly what they're asking you to do, but the problem is they don't know how to tell you how to do it. So for instance, a golf instructor might tell you, I want you to turn your shoulders 90 degrees to the, to the target at the top of your backswing. Well, okay. But how do you want me to do that? We've talked about, do you want me to push my left shoulder under my chin? You want me to pull my right shoulder back? Do you want me to use my obliques?

Do you want me to use my arms and sling though, around my body? How do you want me to do that motion? And that's where the rotary swing is different. We get very specific and the exact muscles that are designed to create those movements. And so that is the first thing that you need to understand is that you need to appeal to all of your senses when you're trying to rebuild these pathways. And you need to understand the how versus just the what. So the, what is important. That's the intellectual knowledge of what it is that you need to do in the golf swing. The club needs to be in this position or your body needs to be here. Your joints need to be aligned this way, but the catches your brain needs to know how to do it. And because again, each time you do it incorrectly, even though the club may be in the position that that might be right, the body could be in a terrible position.

And you're going to keep repeating that pattern over and over until you learn how to move your body correctly, because that's all we're doing. Everything in the golf swing is related to how your muscles fire, that's it, that's the only way that golf club moves is when your muscles contract. And so you need to know, understand how to contract those muscles, which muscles to contract and when to do it. And that's basically what the rotary swing is, has done is it's given you this platform for understanding how to move the golf club, not just what to do with it. So once you understand that, the next thing you need to understand is that learning is a biological process. Learning the golf swing, the way that it's been taught for the past 50, 60 years, as you've seen with the handicap staying the same for as long as it has, is completely ineffective, 110% going and taking a golf lesson and getting a couple of tips.

And you going out on your own hitting balls at full speed on the range, trying to groove that pattern is ineffective. That is not the way that your brain learns your brain does not learn at a hundred miles an hour. It learns very, very slowly. Imagine the first time you ever sat down at the piano, all those keys there, and you're taught, you're told to play a song or taught to play a song at the first time you play it, you're going to hunt and Peck your way through it. Very, very, very slowly until you, that pathway becomes reinforced enough that your brain can fire those electrical signals very quickly and communicate with the rest of your nervous system, get these muscles to fire and contract in the way that we need them to so that the song comes out the way that it needs to in the right.

Where have we seen this before? Well, we have to, we have to use the classic movie, the classic movie example, karate kid, because that's exactly what Mr had Daniel LaRusso doing during the movie, the first karate kid, when he goes out and he has him waxing the cars and waxing the, and sanding the deck and painting the fence and painting the house. All he was trying to do is teach him very simple movement patterns, slowly through repetition. And by doing that each time he did it incorrectly, corrected him and made him do those movements exactly the way that he wanted him to do that. Now, at the end of this whole process, of course, they have their great standoff where the karate kids all upset that he's just sitting there doing all this housework around for Mr. Miyagi, not learning any karate. And then of course, they go through little sparring match and Daniel LaRusso realizes, wow, I really did learn something.

And there was at the end, there was no other way I could have learned this. I couldn't have learned to fend off Mr. Miyagi, throwing punches and kicks at me. Had we tried to do it this way. How did he just started throwing kicks and teaching it and me trying to do it at full speed. I had to learn over time because those [inaudible] doesn't happen in five seconds. It takes two days to as many as a couple of weeks for that biological process to occur for the myelin to be wrapped around the neuron for that two pathway to start to become more efficient. So in other words, every time you go out and work on your golf swing, and let's say you spend an hour hitting balls, you didn't technically learn, or you didn't re build a pathway to have that reinforced over a long period of time.

In that one session, it takes repeated sessions and it takes time a couple of days to a couple of weeks for that pathway to start to be reinforced. And it's, that's a little bit different for everybody, whether it's a couple of days or a couple of weeks, but the fact of the matter is it's a biological change that's happening in your brain and you need those repetitions to master these tasks. So the first thing you need to take out of this is the a whether or not you become a great golfer is dependent on two things. One, the quality of the information that you're receiving in other words, whether or not the instruction that you're receiving from your instructor is the right information. And B it, you need to understand that it is a change that's going to take time and repetition. There's no way around it.

Whether or not you become a great golfer is not determined whether or not you have some God-given talent. It is a matter of whether or not you're willing to put in the time to rebuild proper pathways, proper movement patterns. And the research has shown that it's about three to 5,000 reps to master a movement pattern. That doesn't mean you can't repeat it after doing it 50 times, but in order for it to become automatic and fully groove, it's three to 5,000 repetitions. And there's just no way around this. So if you want to master the takeaway, you need to a have the right information on how to perform the takeaway and B you need to put in three to 5,000 quality reps of doing that movement correctly before it will ever be grooved. Now three to 5,000 reps again, is, is for it to be mastered.

The number that you want to take out of the session right now is that it's a hundred reps for pathway to even be created. Now think about that. If you're out hitting balls, and let's say you hit a hundred balls and you're doing it at full speed, and you're trying to learn a new thing, a new movement, let's say you're working on the takeaway and you're working on the shoulder blade, glide that we talk about on the website. Do you think that you're going to do that exactly correctly a hundred times when you're trying to focus on making contact, hitting the ball at the target, all those things, of course not. But now, and more importantly, it's going to take more time to hit those hundred balls than it would to take five minutes or 15 minutes away from that and try to do the a hundred reps away from the ball.

So, well, the thing you need to understand here is that in each lesson that I give, we try to get whatever movement pattern that we're working on for that session. We try to at least get a hundred reps if it's a new pattern, because I don't want the student to come back tomorrow or go work on his own the next day and not have had any pathway created, because he's going to go back and start over all over again. He may intellectually know exactly what I told him, but his body, his nervous system, hasn't built the pathway for his muscles to be able to repeat that sequence. That's the key is that you need at least a hundred reps in, in that session for the pathway to be created. So that's always, my goal in a lesson is to get a hundred reps in doing it flawlessly, doing it perfectly so that the brain at least has a chance tomorrow to try and continue to rebuild that path or to build upon that pathway.

So a hundred reps is the goal in any session that you're doing a hundred perfect reps doing it exactly the way that you want to so that your brain is learning the right information. Because again, it can interpret I don't want to learn that, but I do want to learn that it doesn't know right or wrong. It simply does whatever you tell it to do. And it builds those pathways, whether they're right or wrong. So he needs to understand that learning is a biological process that when you're learning a new trait in the golf swing, you're reeducating your nervous system. It takes time for everybody. Even tiger woods has to go through the exact same learning pathway that you do. And a good little refresher might be to go back and watch the karate kid and watch how those movements that he has him doing are very, very simple at first.

But he needs to learn the very basic movements, which is the same in the golf swing. The takeaway, the setup, the grip, you need to learn all those basic movements before you can combine them at speed and combine them in more complex, distracting situations like the golf course. So take some time to understand that the reason you haven't gotten better at golf is not because you don't have talent or that view that you'll never going to be a good golfer. The reason that you haven't gotten better at golf is a, probably that you didn't receive the right information B it wasn't communicated to you in the right way. In other words, you, you had the, what of what you wanted to do and what your off instructor wants you to do, but he didn't give you the how on how to do it. And see, you didn't have a learning program that was built around how your brain actually learns. Did your instructor give you a program that says, look in this lesson, we're going to try to get a hundred reps on this one specific movement pattern over the next month, we're going to try to get those 3000 reps in, and then we're going to work onto the next thing. In reality, you can't avoid that. That is how your brain learns. That's how everybody's brain learns. And that's what you need to walk away from, with this slide today.

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