IM Sports Research

Golf Digest referred to IM as “the hottest piece of workout equipment on (the PGA) tour.” The difference between a golf swing that produces a nice, high draw and a lousy snap hook can be measured in milliseconds, So, it’s no surprise that one of the hottest pieces of workout equipment on tour is the Interactive Metronome®, an audio-based training device that improves an athlete’s timing.

You won’t break a sweat using this machine — it’s little more than a laptop computer, some headphones and a sensor that attaches to your hand — but player’s like Vijay Singh and Glen Day have made it a part of their workout routine in the tour’s Health South sports medicine trailer.

To use the Interactive Metronome®, slip on the headphones, listen for a repeating tone and clap in time with the beat. The computer measurs how close your claps come to the tone. The average person claps within 40 to 80 milliseconds before or after the tone, but the average score of 30 PGA Tour members tested was 28.24. Without practice, Day and Singh scored less than 15, which is a strong indicator of how good a golfer’s timing has to be; says Scott Riehl, head strength and conditioning specialist for the tour.

The machine originally was intended for rehabilitatiing stroke victims and patients with other brain dysfunction. But it’s use in athletics is gaining popularity. In golf, players can mimic parts of the game, like a putting stroke, while using the device. Or they can improve their timing when fatigued, a key to finishing the round strong.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Golf Digest Companies, “Training in Timing Improves Accuracy in Golf”
The Journal of General Psychology, 2002. 129(1), 77-96

 Sports Research

Student – Athletes

Staff of Interactive Metronome, Inc. trained 29 student/athletes from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. IM training was conducted on a
group basis with 15-17 student-athletes working in each of two groups in a computer classroom. Training occurred over a span of 15 days. Timing and
focus results produced and measured by the Interactive Metronome®. Mental processing results measured by a nationally standardized test for academic
achievement. Functional improvements and execution results provided by the student-athletes themselves through a written survey conducted post IM training.

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Improved motor-timing: effects of synchronized metronome training on golf shot accuracy

This study investigates the effect of synchronized metronome training (SMT) on motor timing and how this training might affect golf shot accuracy. Twenty-six experienced male golfers participated (mean age 27 years; mean golf handicap 12.6) in this study. Pre and post-test investigations of golf shots made by three different clubs were conducted by use of a golf simulator.

The golfers were randomised into two groups: a SMT group and a Control group. After the pre-test, the golfers in the SMT group completed a 4-week SMT program designed to improve their motor timing, the golfers in the Control group were merely training their golf-swings during the same time period. No differences between the two groups were found from the pre-test outcomes, either for motor timing scores or for golf shot accuracy.

However, the post-test results after the 4-weeks SMT showed evident motor timing improvements. Additionally, significant improvements for golf shot accuracy were found for the SMT group and with less variability in their performance.

No such improvements were found for the golfers in the Control group. As with previous studies that used a SMT program, this study’s results provide further evidence that motor timing can be improved by SMT and that such timing improvement also improves golf accuracy.

Interactive Metronome® – Research applications in sport:

The human brain’s efficency and performance depends on the seamless transition of neuro-network signals from one area of the brain to another. Findings in a recent study by Neal Alpiner, MD, Functional MRI Study of the Effects of IM on Auditory-Motor Processing Networks, suggest that IM works by augmenting internal processing speeds within the neuro-axis. The key regions of the brain that are affected appear to include the cerebellum, pre-fontal cortex, cingulate gyrus and basal ganglia. These parts of the brain are responsible for sensor-motor timing as well as other day to day functions such as sustained attention, motor coordination and balance.

Timing includes observing, controlling, and differentiating the rhythm of a specific motor action depending on the situational demands (Martin, 1988). Moreover, timing is described to be an important factor in learning, development, and performance of any motor skills. (Pelz and Frank, 1999)

Several studies have drawn the conclusion that timing is critical in the generation of coordinated motor actions (Ivy, 1996; Mauk and Ruiz, 1992; Meegan et al 2000, Medina et al 2005. Motor planning requires a combination of attention, sensory integration, synchronisation, and timing (Baht and Sanes 1998), and because movements involve changes in muscle length over time (Mauk and Buomonano, 2004), motor control and timing are inextricably related.

Most complex movement skills involve synchrony between physical and cognitive activation and functioning. For instance, to optimize the outcomes of different sport activities (e.g. when playing football or performing a golf swing), dynamic processing and integration between attention/concentration, motor planning, sensory motor coordination, timing, mental organization, and sequencing are required. Recent findings from synchronized metronome based interventions like the Interactive Metronome®, have reported benefits across many diverse domains of human performance as well as rehabilitation of different clincal conditions. Synchronized metronome training (SMT) such as the (IM) may also benefit diverse sport performance (Libkuman et al, 2002, Zachopoulou et at, 2000).

Meegan et al., (2000) found that training on a perceptual task can significantly be transferred to a motor task; that is, that motor learning can occur even without any motor training. This is in line with Prinz’s (1990) claim that training of precise timing in motor performance is linked to the corresponding training and improvement of auditory temporal resolution.

Much research has investigated the timing features/properties of the human being in relation to coordinated motor responses, and many have suggested that enhanced motor timing skills are due to fine-tuning of the precision in the neuronal activity, a higher frequency of neural oscillation (e.g., Rammsayer and Brandler, 2006), or via an increase in the clock speed of the master internal clock (Taube et al., 2007) The Interactive Metronome®works by augmenting internal processing speed within the neuro-axis and increasing “cognitive efficiency” in the information-processing bottleneck (Gorman, 2003). In line with this notion, Diamond (2003) suggests that SMT may increase the efficiency and organization of the central nervous system circuitry, making the brain’s signal processing become more efficient and more consistent. Myskja (2005) states that when movements become more rhythmically stable along the time-axis this rhythmic coordination will generate a more optimal movement in space, as time and space are connected. As a result, movements will become more effective and advantageous. Diamond (2003) suggests that the use of guide sounds using the Interactive Metronome® may help “choice discrimination”‘ and thus increase the ability to exclude irrelevant information.

IM is a demanding task over time and requires a high level of concentration to ensure improvements of the timing performance. Sommer and Ronnqvist’s (2009) interpretation is that the Interactive Metronome® faciliates directed attention. In addition, the online motor correlation based on feedback may contribute to optimization of timing and organized actions. Thus, IM seems to affect the person’s abilities to inhibit irrelevant stimuli and distracters.