In 2011 through a series of happy accidents, I stumbled on to a golf instructor by the name of Jim Waldron. Jim is the owner of Balance Point Golf School in Oregon, and is in my opinion the individual who holds the golden key to unlocking the secrets of the golf swing. His work on sensory illusions, specifically a concept he calls the Arm Swing Illusion is, I believe, one of the biggest swing discoveries in the game in the last 75 years. As we continue through this series of articles about the commonalities between the golf swing and the fly cast, Jim is one of the folks I will reference often. Some of the concepts and techniques I have learned from his teachings have been very profound, and I feel they are very worthy of sharing...even if you're not a golfer.
Among many of the other mental and physical exercises in his arsenal, one of the practice techniques Jim recommends to players of all skill levels is "Slow Motion Practice". More specifically, slow motion practice in front of a mirror, and then eventually with your eyes closed to ingrain the proper movements into the "feel channel" of the brain. Slow motion practice is most probably closely associated with the Martial Arts, and that is precisely where Jim learned it and then adapted it to golf. The beauty of practicing the golf swing in slow motion is that it allows one to practice with PERFECT INTENTION, without the myriad of thoughts that can flood our mind and dilute the effectiveness during real time execution. I can say from first hand experience it has translated over very well for me into fly casting practice regimen as well. Tracking, late wrist rotation, pullback, drift, the timing of the double haul....all of these benefit from training in slow motion, especially when combined with the discipline of conscious intent.
Without a doubt, where slow motion practice has benefited me the most, is sight fishing on the deck of a flats skiff. Those of you who are engaged in this style of fishing, whether it is for freshwater snakehead in Malaysia, or saltwater bonefish in the Florida Keys, know first hand that when the pressure is on, it can be very much like a Navy Seals tactical maneuver. Regardless of environmental conditions, a very complex set of motions have to be executed in a very short period of time....often just a second or two to make a proper and effective presentation before the opportunity disappears. I have found that the smoother and more deliberate these motions are, the faster and more efficient the execution becomes. To that end, I often practice the entire routine I go through on the deck in slow motion, including managing the fly line, monitoring wind direction, scanning the flat for fish. Not only has my fishing become more effective, but I have also found in times of stress I don't react nearly as impulsively or haphazardly as I used to, and I believe slow motion practice is the reason for my improvement in this area.
The famous gunfighter Wyatt Earp once said "Fast is fine but accuracy is everything. You need to take your time in a hurry". Slow motion practice is another one of those crossover techniques, that when done correctly can be a valuable tool in any fly anglers toolbox.
Hope you enjoy the footage of Ben Hogan engaged in his slow motion concentration drill!
Have a great week,