Why is changing your golf swing so difficult? Why does it take lots of time, lots of effort and lots repetition to make a change? People often talk about muscle memory, but muscles don’t have memory. Muscle memory is really going on inside your brain in the form of myelin.
Some quotes from Daniel Coyle’s excellent book TheTalent Code on Myelin.
"Myelin is the key to talking, reading, learning skills, being human.
“All actions are really the result of electrical impulses sent along chains of nerve fibers. Basically, our brains are bundles of wires - 100 billion wires called neurons, connected to each other by synapses. Whenever you do something, your brain sends a signal through those chains of nerve fibers to your muscles. Each time you practice anything - sing a tune, swing a club, read a sentence - a different highly specific circuit lights up in your mind, sort of like a string of Christmas lights. The simplest skill - say, a tennis backhand - involves a circuit made up of hundreds of thousands of fibers and synapses.”
“(1) Every human movement, thought or feeling is a precisely timed electrical signal travelling through a chain of neurons - a circuit of nerve fibers.
(2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed and accuracy.
(3) The more we fire a particular circuit, the more Myelin optimises that circuit, the stronger, faster and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.”
“Getting good at piano or chess or baseball takes a lot of time and that’s what Myelin is good at.”
What do athletes do when they train? They send precise impulses along wires that give the signal to Myelinate that wire. They end up, after all the training, with a super-duper wire - lots of bandwidth.
“Skill is Myelin insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals.”
“Q: Why are passion and persistence key ingredients of talent?
A: because wrapping Myelin around a big circuit requires immense energy and time. If you don’t love it, you’ll never work hard enough to be great.”