The PRACTICE Initialism: A Series (Part 2)

  • Author: TJ Sullivan
  • PGA Certified Professional
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Golf Practice


Autonomy over Practice

Concept: I have to give credit to Dr. Gabriele Wulf and Dr. Rebecca Lewthwait for this one. According to their research, having autonomy over your practice allows you to be more engaged and increase your self-perception.

Application: This one is fun because it allows the students to have some control over their practice sessions. According to one of Wulf’s studies, it was found that people who had some control over their practice, regardless of whether it was directly related to the practice or not, led to more engaged sessions. It could have been as simple as having a player choose what color sports drink they wanted after their session.

I apply this to my current teaching by allowing people to choose what club they want to hit, and I even ask them to decide how many attempts they want to allow themselves in order to achieve a goal we set. Going back to the Purposeful Practice, this further helps my players stay focused on each shot and allows them to have a feeling of control over their practice.


Golf Practice


Constraint-Based Practice

Concept: The concept of constraint-based practice comes from Peter Arnott. He basically said, “create problems and challenge individuals to come up with solutions to those problems.” According to some brain research (from Dr. Medina I believe), it can be beneficial to ask someone a question that they have no idea how to solve before showing them the way of how to solve it.

Application: Dr. Bhrett McCabe uses an impossible putting game in which you have to make 24, 5-foot putts in a row within a certain timeframe. Another constraint would be to consider the left rough out of bounds. One of my favorites is to play 9 holes with a limited number of clubs. Garrett Chaussard also gave me an idea that I’m excited to try this year which involves hitting shots as close to the flag as possible. If the ball comes to rest within a flagstick (could be multiple, but we will get to that in an upcoming section), you can move on and continue to play. If you don’t get the ball within a flagstick, you have to move the ball back off the green in a straight line between where it came to rest and the flag and try again. This puts a huge amount of pressure on approach shots, but it also really hones short game practice as well.


That completes the Autonomy and Constraints dimensions of the PRACTICE initialism. Keep an eye out for the next part of this series!