Golf Practice - The importance of context
A golfer’s practice needs to recreate and simulate specific situations they will face on the golf course. This will allow you to regulate your practice and help you master a vitally important piece of psychological processing – chunking.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced golfer, recreating and simulating the specific challenges you will face on the golf course is such a powerful training methodology for one main reason – it gives you the opportunity to chunk. Which isn’t as terrible as it sounds.
Imagine a piece of information. Within that piece of information, there are details, nuances, concepts, movements and much more. The piece of information is what’s being referred to as a chunk and is stored in our memory. Chunks then become accessible pieces of information that, if trained to do so, golfers can retrieve and use in a tournament situation.
To be accessible during the competition, your practice must have heavily involved both the recreation and the simulation of game-like situations.
Over a period of time the stimulus that is created from the environment around a golfer will fire the right patterns, connect to the right chunks of information and allow you to transfer skills you’ve practiced into tournament play.
It’s this interaction between the brain, body and the environment that must happen for golfers to a.) acquire new skills and b.) transfer them into competition, or as some like to say, take their range game to the course. Therefore golfers must practice in the environment that the game is played, this is known as contextual practice.
Experts in the fields of motor learning, cognition, sports science, as well as leading golf coaches, say recreating and simulating specific situations a golfer will face on the golf course directly influence the development of ‘chunks’ – and therefore the development and 'retention' of the corresponding skills.
Performance games are specifically designed tasks that relate to different areas of your game.
Players at a level closer to beginner may decide to try a single performance game at any one time, such as a putting game, while more advanced golfers may decide to interleave 2 games, for example…
Hit 5 shots from a full swing game……and then 5 putts from a putting game……before returning back to the full swing game…
… and repeat!