Practice…..are we talking about practice

This Allen Iverson video is great and brings to light the importance of practice, but specifically the need to practice the right way.  Research shows that there are two distinct types of practice or motor learning; block vs. random.

Block practice is repeatedly performing the same skill again and again (as golfers we do this all the time).

Random practice consists of practicing multiple skills in a random order while minimizing the number of consecutive repetitions of any one skill (as golfers we don’t do this but are required to do this when we play golf).

Our goal is to become better golfers and lower our score, not become better at practicing.  Here is a great article about how Marv Dunphy, 1988 Team USA Gold medal winning volleyball coach and men’s coach at Pepperdine describes the importance of random practice.

1988 Team USA Gold medal winning volleyball coach on the importance of random practice

Understanding how this concept applies to golf is easy, putting this into practice is not.  We are so conditioned to practice the same shot over and over again but when we get to the course how often do we have the same lie, the same distance and the same situation??  Almost never, so why do we always practice like this.

Here is the recommendation of the week!

During your next practice session instead of taking that jumbo bucket with 150+ balls and beating them into submission, grab around 50 balls.  Hit about 10 balls to warm up with.  Once you are ready pick your favorite course, go through your full routine (INCLUDING YOUR PRE-SHOT ROUTINE) and play the entire course.  How often do you hit the same shot or even club two times in a row on the golf course, almost NEVER!  So don’t do it on the practice tee.

The goal of this practice session is to go through your entire bag and never hit the same club two times in a row.  Make sure you work the process…..pre-shot routine and analysis after the shot.  What did I do well, how was my balance, was I rushed, what are my tendencies today?  If you have a recurring trend, write it down.  Compare this to what happens on the course and what happens during your next practice session.

Try to incorporate this into your practice session at least once per week.  Hopefully the statement “I always hit it great at the range but not on the course” will become a thing of the past.

About Coach Matt

Class "A" PGA golf professional and GM of the Del Mar Golf Center, a Top 50 Practice Facility. My goals are to educate myself as much as possible about the game of golf and share that information. I hope to help golfers practice more effectively, transfer those skills to the golf course and enjoy the game of golf.

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Nicely done Matt. Blogging is your new career.

  2. Rick Williams PGA

    Hi Matt, and congrats on a solid start to your blog! I think you raise a great point about the approach to the game in general. I was having this same discussion Monday at the Philly Section Education Summit and talking about different practice ideas and learning styles of students.

    I fall into the “random” end of practice styles. I don’t do well beating 50 balls with a 7 iron, even if I’m mixing up target areas. I’d much rather play games with myself and do the simulation thing. I’ve never understood the idea of “just beating balls”. No purpose, no improvement!

    Personally, I need to stay “engaged” in the practice process and for me, that means keeping it as real as possible. Different lies, angles, distances, clubs, obstacles…

    Keep it up and have fun with this. Let you passion out and tell stories….

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