Make the Most of your practice in 2014 – ‘make it useful time, not time used up’ Pia Nillson
One of my biggest beliefs why people don’t improve as quickly as their expectations is simply the way they practice. I find this time and time again when I question golfer’s practice habits, even the one’s I’m coaching.
I like to work to the premise that the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. If you feel you didn’t improve as much as you wanted to in 2013 then please read on and these vital words of wisdom and research that will make your 2014.
4 Types of Practice
Warm Up – Pre Round Practice
This is a linking mind and body preparation with no analysis and no change.
Find your own rituals and mannerisms; find your own ideal performance state controlling your physiology (body language) and your ITV (internal television, movie screen in your mind).
Warm up on the range with some dynamic stretches and start hitting shots working through the bag. The final part will be to simulate the real game and work on your pre-shot routine. Use the yardage chart to imagine that you are out on the course and mentally playing a couple of holes.
Technical Training – “Deliberate” and “Blocked” Practice
This is your training session; what is your goal, what’s your intention, and how does it affect your bigger picture or goal? Are you focusing on a deliberate process rather than an outcome? Is your mind total fixed on your technical development, rather than just beating balls?
This is more of a mind game, not just body movement. We need to leave behind the thought that we have muscle memory and understand your golf swing is stored in our brains.
We must aim to make this new move permanent and automatic, thought repetitions and drill. Use techniques like active visualisation or internalisation; instruct the brain with images and feelings rather than a list of words. Be clear and concise.
This part of deliberate practice is better performed alone and is not inherently enjoyable. The research suggests 45 minute bursts of practice. Reflection and focus is key.
Skill Development – Your personal learning and exploration
‘What we have to learn, we learn by doing’ Aristotle
For example what skills do you need that you don’t currently have?
This could be working on ball flight, distance control or spin variation. Maybe different lies, playing in wind/wet or shaping shots. Play games, set yourself tasks and challenge yourself.
‘You are either developing the skills you have or extending the range and reach of the ones you don’t’
“There is a great intensity to what we do on a daily basis. The players train competitively, they behave like champions each and every day. Each practice session is the most important session. Our competitiveness is not something we just turn on match days.” Sir Alex Ferguson
This type of practice is preparation to perform, cementing your performance rituals and habits.
- Your Pre-Shot Routine
- Your Post-Shot Routine
- Make practice measurable; find some facts through skills tests and games. This creates course and competition pressure.
- Varied and random practice, different targets, different clubs, different Situations.
Remember every shot must have a purpose, even in practice.