For most of us, the conscious mind is only capable of dealing
with one thing at a time. We call this concentration. In any
sports activity our inability to hit a straight shot, or sink
a basketball or hit a target with our fly rod, we blame this
on the wind, on back ground noise or anything else that
interferes with what we are doing.
When I was in school, I read several studies on how the body
learns athletic motions. I had plenty of time for this after
successive sports injuries and my second ACL and 7th knee
operation. It gave me something to do while I was in rehab.
I have also observed the same phenomena while working on my
own skills and from observing my students. What I have observed,
and what the studies mentioned, is that it takes a certain amount
of time for the body to learn a simple motion, much longer than
most of you would imagine.
My anglers almost always fall apart when they see what we've
been searching for - Happy Tails. Cast to the side. Cast beyond.
But Cast. All of a sudden we have forgotten how to cast and the
most bastardized versions of casting come to surface.
It kills me to see a seasoned angler or my best friends struggle
with learning advanced casting motions. I know that the double-haul
stroke goes against what most of us learned when we were younger.
It frustrates the hell out of one of my charter clients. Michael
is a fine caster and athlete (College Football). Every once
in awhile he gets into a funk about his casting. He learned to
finesse casts fishing the back streams of his Virginia home.
Using an index finger up casting motion he could set a Blue-Dunn
so softly on the water that the trout didn't even realize it was
there. Michael has a beautiful casting motion and when he is on
his game with the double-haul he is superb. I've seen him
unload his HP887/3 Scott Rod and roll out an 80-foot cast,
without thinking about it.
The double-haul is an easy motion once learned. I recommend
practicing a new motion for at least three to four weeks (if
practicing regularly for about 15 minutes each time). If you
do any less, you run the risk of not learning the motion, or
you may only partially learn it, depending on how often and
over how long of a time span you practice.
For definition purposes, learning occurs when a conscious effort
to put the body in a particular position or to move it in a certain
way is transformed from a conscious action to an automatic action,
requiring no thought.
Many of you would call a learned motion "muscle memory," and I do
too, just for the sake of simplicity. It's as if the muscles have
a mind of their own, they can perform amazingly complex motions
without a person having to think about it. It becomes effortless.
For illustrative and descriptive reasons, I much prefer the term
"muscle memory," even though it may be an inaccurate term. What
difference does it make if you call it "muscle memory," "learning,"
or, as one irate fan of mine prefers, "motor memory." They all
refer to the same principle!
A recent study looking at fiber type conversions during muscle
hypertrophy may have uncovered a possible mechanism for this
phenomenon. For those of you not crazy about scientific lingo
bear with me. Towards the end you will see what I'm getting at
with this study. In this study the distribution of myosin heavy
chain (MHC) isoforms, fiber type composition, and fiber size of
the vastus lateralis muscle were analyzed in a group of adult
sedentary men before and after 3 months of resistance training
and then again, after 3 months of detraining. Following the period
of resistance training, MHC IIX content decreased from just over
9% to 2.0%, with a corresponding increase in MHC IIA (42% to 49%).
Following detraining the amount of MHC IIX reached values that
were higher than before and during resistance training, over 17%!
As expected, significant hypertrophy was observed for the type
II fibers after resistance training, and even remained larger
than baseline after 3 months of detraining.
Myosin heavy chain isoforms, or MHCs, refer to the types of
contractile protein you see in a given muscle fiber. MHCs determine
how the muscle fiber functions. MHCs are what make a fiber "fast
twitch," "slow twitch," or something in-between. Certain MHCs are
known to undergo a change in response to resistance exercise. In
this case, fibers that contain MHC IIX are fibers that aren't
really sure what kind of fiber they are until they are called
to action. Once recruited, they become MHC IIAs. So, fibers
containing MHC IIX proteins serve as a reservoir of sorts for
muscle hypertrophy because they can transform themselves into
fibers containing MHC IIX, which grow easily in response to
training. So much for the scientific explanation.
Bottom-line, repetition builds on muscle memory and lets the
mind concentrate on things like speed, accuracy, distance,
and catching fish. If you are having trouble with the casting
motion, take a lesson. Nip the problem in the bud so you can
get on with having a good time on the water. ~ Doug Sinclair
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.