Each year I start off with noble and very aggressive goals, most of which I don’t reach or require far to many resources. This year is going to be different. I’m not going to focus on the outcome, I’m going to spend my time on the process and how I am going to get there.
My overall goal is to work on my golf game and lower my average score, but I’ve created multiple small and achievable checkpoints that will help me improve my game. I typically shoot around 75 but have those rather rough days. I’m working on a swing change and didn’t play well the other day….not well at all.
Checkpoints for the year
- Practice 156 times (45 balls and 10 min of short game)
- Workout 260 times (5 days per week)
- Play 30 rounds of golf
- Compete in 6 tournaments
My focus is on the process and journey I take to improve my game, I want to enjoy myself along the way. I know I can achieve each of these goals and they are all realistic for me. All of my checkpoints are broken down into monthly and weekly goals with a sheet for me to keep track. I’ll check back monthly and make sure I’m holding myself to the journey.
Strong grip, loose hands, keep my head still, club head outside of my hands, balance, tempo, posture, alignment, railroad tracks, inside – out, outside – in, draw, fade, where is the wind….and on and on.
Sound familiar?? I would be willing to bet it does to most of us. We have so many things going on inside our head that we forget to actually focus on anything which leads to counterproductive practice sessions. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen golfers banging golf balls so fast that they actually get worse.
Next time on the range try this!
Pick ONE swing thought or goal for your practice session. One mechanical swing change or feel that you are working on, just focus on that. Use a “block” practice method (see earlier post) until that change is more consistent and then switch to “random” practice. As the change becomes more routine and part of your natural swing think Balance. Start your swing in balance and try to finish in balance.
Example: If your weight is on your heels, your momentum will take you to your toes on your finish.
Balance is one of the things you can adjust and focus on while on the golf course, mechanics are very hard to change and adjust while playing. Always remember we are trying to practice what we do on the course but how often do you practice “Balance”.
For more insight on your swing and a great place to practice visit: Del Mar Golf Center
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.
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.