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How to Practice Smarter, Not Longer

We all realize that repetition of a skill will improve performance. So practice is an essential ingredient in maintaining and improving your golf game. However, I have rarely come across an individual that practices correctly or has 8 free hours in a day to spend practicing! Practicing properly and with a purpose is the key to improvement. I recommend that you divide your time up about 50/50 between full swing on the range and time spent at the short game area. When practicing, there are 3 stages of training. The first is the warm-up; second is block practice; and the third is random practice. Warm up. Warming up is just that and nothing more. Swing the club to loosen up and find your rhythm and balance. This is what you should do before playing a round of golf or at the beginning of your practice session. Before a round of golf, pick targets and hit different clubs. Get your body and mind ready for your round. This is not the time to work on swing changes! Block Practice. This type of practice refers to the traditional way that we see golfers on a range practicing. Hitting twenty 7 irons at one target until you start feeling good about your swing! With this type of practice, the brain will tend to go on autopilot and golfers generally do not transfer what they are working on to the golf course. The reason it is difficult to take your range game to the course is because only doing block practice will not challenge the golfer to go through the problem solving process that we go through on the course. At the same time, all golfers need to make sure that they have a good setup and are performing their proper swing technique. It is similar to a mechanic checking to make sure the engine is working properly. Once all is in order, then the player can progress to random practice. Random Practice. Now the real learning begins and discipline is very important. Every single shot during a round of golf is different; no two shots are ever the same. They may be similar, but are always different. We need to duplicate the problem solving process that we go through in practice in order for our range game to transfer to the golf course. The process that we go through on the course looks like this: 1) read 2) plan 3) do. In step 1, we are reading the lie, wind direction, and getting our yardage. In step 2 we are planning the shot to play and we have to choose a club, shot shape, and trajectory. In the final step, we execute the shot. Try to establish a routine in practice that mirrors this 3-step process. Do not to hit the same shot two times or more in a row. Jump around with club selection, shot shape and distances. Keep it interesting and play a game. One great range game is called imaginary fairway. Create an imaginary fairway about 30 yards wide using flags or trees. Hit 14 drives, but the catch is that you must hit one different club to a different target in between each tee shot. This is more realistic to playing a round of golf. Keep track of your total fairways hit out of 14 and try to improve that score next time. The most effective way to train is by practicing in a manner that will help you transfer your skills to the golf course. Your golfing goals will only be met or exceeded and personal best record scores broken if you have a more structured practice program designed specifically for you. I design plans for my students and give them different drills and games that are both fun and engaging. Most importantly, students who have a structured practice plan are practicing properly on a regular basis. The discipline that you show in your practice will soon become evident on the golf course. Practice smart, you will enjoy your time on the range more and your golf game will be more enjoyable because you will shoot lower scores.

"The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important"
~ Bobby Knight

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