3 Keys to Effective Golf Practice
Winter is rapidly approaching for golfers residing in the Northern Hemisphere, and in most cases access to the course could be limited in the coming months due to frozen greens or snow-blanketed fairways. This will no doubt impact your golf practice.
So, you're determined to invest the requisite time in golf practice to improve your game during this offseason, taking advantage of a time when the competitive schedule is less demanding. Elite amateur, solid club player, blossoming junior or revitalized senior - regardless your level - you aim to have taken a leap forward by the time tournament season rolls around again.
How you approach golf practice is more important than you might realize.
There are three keys to developing an effective golf practice routine that will last through the year. Each can be implemented on the driving range, at a indoor hitting net or even while practicing at home.
- Spacing - We've all been there, dripping in sweat on the range, swinging a 7-iron and rapidly firing one shot after another in pursuit of perfecting our transition from backswing to downswing or turning that weak fade into a powerful draw. Cognitive research has proven this is the incorrect route to improve. Instead, have a gap between each swing. Aim for hitting one ball a minute for 20 minutes.
- Variability - A strong part of golf's fascinating challenge is how the game changes from swing-to-swing. The lie, stance, angle are never the same from shot-to-shot. Wind direction, hole location and tee placement can make the same course play drastically different from one day to the next. Yet, when golfers head to the driving range they ignore all of these facts. When you practice, change club and target every two balls. This will engage the brain in a similar fashion to how its engaged on the golf course and accelerate the learning process.
- Challenge - In 1942 the Hall of Fame golf teacher Percy Boomer made an astute observation after working with his students. "I had in fact reached the conclusion that any separation of the mental and physical functions in the playing or teaching of golf to be artificial," Boomer said. "Because in the practical job of playing or teaching, no such separation is possible.” The brain is geared to improvise for starters and flourishes when cognitive stress is created. A golfer may be able to develop a pure smooth swing in an offseason training environment, however, it's likely the 'newfound' swing will abandon the player under the heat of competition on the golf course. Properly challenging yourself during golf practice sessions will give your new motion a better chance of holding up. Set a goal for number of well struck shots in a session (14 out of 20 on the center of the clubface, for example) and chart your progress. This 'game-like' training is the key to development.
Try these methods. Stick to them and watch your scores drop.