This weekend… I took some time and observed Golfers on the practice range. Ugh! The majority of them just "whacked" at balls with no apparent purpose!
The putting green was no different! One Golfer dropped five balls and proceeded to "putt" them without ever looking at the hole or to pause long enough to see where the balls were going (I kid you not… oftentimes more than two balls were rolling at the same time!). This went on for about 15 minutes. Ugh Redux!!
Mindlessly hitting balls is NOT "Practice." I call it, "exercising." Specifically cardio training... lots of reps in a short amount of time.
Practicing is when you are actually solving problems. In other words.... you’re finding weaknesses and defects in your golf game caused by poor technique or form. You then set about fixing the problem(s) and work on improving your overall game.
To get the most out of your practice sessions, I'd like to share several practice ideas that I use with my children, Grayson and Madison Rose… both great golfers!
KEEP A JOURNAL
Both carry practice/lesson journals in their bags (as do I). They write down anything we've worked on or they've worked on. Anything! Could be a thought, feeling, drill, idea, quote, etc… Don't trust that you'll remember everything... but trust that paper never forgets!
Grayson and Madison Rose practice daily… not once a week. They practice about six days a week. The practice session duration each day varies according to other activities… but continuity is key to the continued development of their skills. In the excellent (must read!) book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, by Daniel Coyle, he writes.
"With deep practice, small daily practice “snacks” are more effective than once-a-week practice binges. The reason has to do with the way our brains grow—incrementally, a little each day, even as we sleep. Daily practice, even for five minutes, nourishes this process, while more occasional practice forces your brain to play catch-up. Or, as the music-education pioneer Shinichi Suzuki puts it, “Practice on the days that you eat.”
Unfortunately too many Golfers try to "cram practice" right before a big event. That never works. I see this in my junior program. Attendance always goes up about a week or two before high school tryouts. But the juniors who make golf teams are the ones who work on their game consistently and have been with our program throughout the year… not a week before tryouts.
Both Grayson and Madison Rose practice only one or two things each session. That's it! For example… I recently worked with them on their putting. Grayson worked on drills for tempo and putter path. Madison Rose worked on drills for proper setup and light grip pressure. They both spent an hour and a half making putts that were no more than four feet long and used a chalk line for accuracy. That's it!
QUALITY… NOT QUANTITY
Grayson and Madison Rose use the most of their practice time by practicing with purpose. They/We decide what needs to be worked on and that becomes the focus of their practice session. This way they don't waste any time in their practice session and they don’t have to spend countless hours on the range (although at times they do). By being efficient and focused they become better golfers AND it frees them up to still have a life!! Remember... the purpose of practicing is to improve... not get bored, angry or defeated. Therefore, clarity and having a goal are keys to good practice.
Grayson and Madison are constantly asking me during their practice, "Like this?" or "How did that look?" or "Was that any better?" They are seeking feedback to make sure they're on the right track to improvement. Nothing worse then spending an intense practice session only to realize you've been practicing wrong. You need feedback. From a teacher. From a trusted KNOWLEDGEABLE friend. From your phone's camera/video. From a mirror. From what the ball is doing. Ultimately from your golf score!
MAKE IT FUN!
Grayson and Madison Rose work very, very hard on their games. They push themselves to get better and are intense during practice. They do drills that require focused effort and hard work but they finish each practice/lesson session with some type of game, skill challenge, or a few holes of golf on the course. Oftentimes I compete with them and play for "dots," bragging rights, score, etc… Lots of "smack talk" goes on! The other day we had a chipping challenge and they both "drummed" me! Reward yourself with some type of fun activity after the hard work you’ve put in. After all… golf is a game… and games were meant to be fun!!
Peace… Love… Golf!