Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ikkos Advanced Motor Learning Review

The product that I was most excited about at the PGA Merchandise Show was the Ikkos Advanced Motor Learning system.  I don't know all of the specific details, so I will explain Ikkos as best as I can.  If there are any inaccuracies, I apologize.

The Ikkos system was developed by former US Olympic Swimming Coach, Sean Hutchison.  Swimming is very technique oriented and Hutchison was frustrated that his swimmers would struggle to incorporate the techniques he coached them on.  Eventually, he decided to research as much as he could on how people learn.  He eventually compiled enough information thru various scientists and researchers and thru trial and error came up with the Ikkos system which uses virtual reality headgear, a blindfold or blacked-out goggles along with binaural beats.  This system was then used by his swimmers and their techniques and swim times greatly improved.  So, why not try and apply this to another technique oriented sport like golf?

The Ikkos system consists of 3 things:

1.  The virtual reality headgear.

2.  A blindfold/blacked-out goggles.

3.  The app on your smart phone.

The app is actually free.  They charged for the headgear and the blindfold/blacked-out goggles (they were supposed to give me blacked-out goggles, but I received a blindfold instead.  I purchased some goggles and blacked them out myself which I will go into later on in the post).

Here's a video where I explain how things work.

The beauty of Ikkos is that you can use virtually any video.  Whether it's a video of your own or one off of YouTube.  For me, I had been having issues with shallowing out my shaft angle on the downswing and doing Kelvin Miyahira's 'right elbow move.'  So, I decided to tape my swing from DTL a week ago, Sunday February 28th.  Here's what I had:

I decided to use this drill which was basically me going in slow motion focusing just on making right elbow move.

I had been working on this for about 2 months.  In the past I had gotten it down for stretches at a time, but would lose it.  However, for the most part this was a move I struggled to execute.

I decided I would practice using the Ikkos Advanced Motor Learning system once a day for 6 straight days.  I would use the head gear as prescribed, then do the emulation with the blindfold on and then go to the range going at slow speed and working my way up to full speed.

I never taped my swing during the week.  I wanted to see how good the Ikkos system was, so I waited until today to video tape my swing and see what the changes looked like.  Here's what I had.

All I was really working on was my right elbow and right shoulder motion in the downswing.  I did not work on the backswing or any other part of the body.  Most people don't understand Kelvin Miyahira's work, so one of the main purposes of this drill was to flatten out the shaft angle.  Yes, I know there are potential parallax issues, but I think there are legitimate changes as to what has been going on in just 6 days.

Before (Feb 28th) is on the left, after (March 6th) is on the right:

These stills are not exactly at the same time in the swing, but I don't think it makes a difference when we look at the big picture.  The shaft in the Feb. 28th swing is bisecting the top of the right shoulder while in the after swing (March 6th) it is bisecting lower, closer to the mid-humerus bone.

Here the club head on the Feb. 28th swing is difficult to see as it is on the hands and almost outside the hands (closer towards the ball). In the March 6th swing, the club head is inside the hands a little.

So in just 6 days of using Ikkos, I have seen results.  And I have not hit anything more than a large bucket of balls each day which is about 85 balls.  And again, I only use the headgear once per day and follow the instructions.

There are a few things to note:

1.  In a presentation that Hutchison made at the PGA Merchandise Show, he said that they found that blacked-out goggles were preferable to blindfolds because the blindfolds close the eyes and the goggles do not and having the eyes open, but blacked-out advanced the person's learning.  That is why I bought my own goggles and found a way to black them out.

2.  You will feel a weird effect of the binaural beats that I can't quite explain.  As my friend Justin Blazer said when I showed him the system 'it feels like you're being brainwashed.'  It's not hazardous nor will it make you sick, but it has a mesmerizing sensation.

3.  The question was posed if Tiger Woods could watch his old swing and get back to it.  The question was 'yes' and 'no.'  The idea was that the swing would be a close facsimile, but the person's ability to come closer to replicating the model will depends on their flexibility, range of motion, injuries, etc.  So if you want to download Ben Hogan's swing, don't expect to make an exact swing like his if you don't have the body for it.

4.  Does this translate to better performance?  For me, it has.  I've noticed some increased ball speed and shots I simply couldn't hit before.  I don't know if that's due to the Ikkos system helping or the mechanics working.

To me, the big difference between this and learning something like swimming is that there is more timing involved in golf and you have to time that with a golf club and direct all of that towards a golf ball.

There were a couple of interesting things I have found:

A) You can execute the mechanics like you want, but the timing becomes a factor because your brain is not used to the new positions that your body is in.

B)  *IF* you understand the mechanics of what you *want* to do going into this, it is a great help and you can focus on working on 1 part and get a bunch of other mechanics to fall into place.

For instance, in my work I was trying to work on the right elbow and right shoulder movement and that started to move the path more towards the right.  After a while that started to produce some over-draws.  When I started to think about it for a second, I knew that my hip slide was problematic and only helping promote the over draw with the shallower shaft plane.  While I could not do it every time or even 75% of the time, my brain started to more naturally adapt and started to develop more pelvic rotation and that made it easier to straighten out the ball flight.

David Orr ( says it a lot, there's a 'inner genius' in golfers.  In my mind, I translate that as golfers are far better at adapting than given credit for.  Unfortunately, too many golf instructors coach that 'inner genius' out of the golfer because they don't recognize the human's ability to adapt.  Since I knew Kelvin's mechanics with some competency, it was easy for me to understand why I was struggling with the over-draws, but with the Ikkos system my brain was able to SENSE the lower body action I needed to make to adapt and straighten out the over-draw without me actually having to *think* about it during my swing.

Thus far, I am very pleased with Ikkos and I'm very excited to continue to work with it in the future.