"Slow Motion" practice a la golfer Ben Hogan


So I can’t find the video now, but Adam Neely mentioned this concept on one of his videos and even showed the Ben Hogan golf swing.

Basically, it’s concerning the idea that even when practicing at a very slow tempo people tend to use motions that are quicker than necessary to execute the music.

I have yet to do a deep dive into this kind of practice but I feel that it could promote a much more relaxed technique. Of course, there is some consideration amount of velocity you’d want to hit the string with - even if you’re only playing whole notes - in order to get the kind of attack you want.

Any thoughts on this approach? Has anyone spent time with it?

Related video below.


Well, I suck at golf… so I couldn’t help you much here. But sorta along those lines…when I play in ‘slow motion’… I try to move like I am ‘sloth stuck in molasses’… basically… moving as slow and as little as possible, yet still hitting the notes. That way… when you move up to speed… you can speed up your sloth motions without any problems.

But I actually used this technique more for my fretting and legatto than for picking. My fretting is kinda uniquely motionless… and I know this was a product of my slothy ways.


It seems to me this is really being discussed as a diagnostic tool. I.e. doing the movement slowly supposedly gives you a greater opportunity to become aware of exactly what is happening at every stage of the movement. The caveat is: is your attempt to perform the motion slowly actually representative of what’s happening when you do it “fast”? Even if it is representative, what is your basis for making corrections to what you discover in the “slow” form? Is there a set of heuristics from a source you trust that prescribe what “good” form is supposed to look like? Where a movement includes a significant ballistic component, is it even really possible to create a “slow” version that’s truly representative of the muscle and nerve activity involved in the fast movement? There are some rudimentary elements in guitar where the answer is probably yes, like “fret the notes with the tips of arched fingers” and “fret right up against the fretwire rather than midway between frets”, but I think for the picking hand it’s much less clear, especially since there are several different approaches that have been shown to work. At bare minimum, I think you need to have a well-defined choice of what the “correct” technique you’re striving for is actually supposed to look like before something like this will be beneficial.

And like a lot of folks, I think tension gets demonized beyond reason in guitar circles a lot of the time. I agree that there are excesses to be avoided, but any time muscles have to do work, there will necessarily be some sort of tension. I think a lot of people use a very narrow definition of tension that entails only that type of tension which is excessive and harmful. But in reality, in any feat of high performance physical activity, some degree of tension will experienced by the performer, even if they don’t notice it, whether we’re talking about a pole vaulter or a ballet dancer. What’s important is recognizing where tension is being helpful and where it isn’t.


Thanks for your replies.

@hamsterman I’d be interested in hearing more about your slothy ways. I definitely feel a difference in my technique when I take some time to play in “slow motion” as opposed to just playing slow but with a “normal” technical approach.

@Frylock I wonder about this too, and I agree that one must have a clear picture of what approach they are going for when attempting “slow motion” practice otherwise it could very well be a waste of time or possibly even cause confusion for motor skills.

Also, I agree about tension but as someone who has held a lot of tension in various parts of his body while powering through performance anxiety issues, I’ll take as little tension as possible beyond what is required.


Yeah, if that’s your situation I totally get what you mean. I’m reacting more to the school of thought that seems to preach that your entire body should be a wet noodle when you play.


It actually is a really good investigative tool. I did the ‘sloth’ movement… for my legato playing… I did about 30 bpm 16th notes… and saw that I did certain finger movements that took way more time and movement than others… so I knew I had to fix those movements.