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After playing and teaching competitive golf during the majority of my life, I’ve seen lots of different approaches to the game that have or have not worked. It’s safe to say that there are at least two games out there. One is golf swing, and the other is golf. It makes sense to practice both how to swing the club and how to play because they are very different from one another. From the very beginning of this program I want you to start thinking about the concept of how to make your practice transfer to the course.
When you practice your golf swing on the range, you have a number of things going for you.
- You have flat lies for every shot
- You have nothing creating any visual stress
- You have the security of knowing you can always hit another one if you don’t hit this ball well
- The time delay between each shot is as much or as little as you would like - it helps you get a "groove" instead of a swing for the course
These advantages instantly disappear when you go on to the golf course. Each lie is slightly different. The distances change each shot. There is consequences for bad shots. And you have to negotiate about 5 minutes of down time between shots.
Practicing on the range can be a great thing, but you need to devote part of your practice to mechanics and an almost equal amount to practicing playing. We now know that muscle memory doesn’t really exist as it was once thought. Simple repetitions of the body parts does not transfer a skill to game time performance. You need to integrate the brain in the whole experience.
Here are a few ways to make your range practice more effective.
MIX it up!
Change clubs and change targets often. It will be amazing to you how you can hit 20 seven irons beautifully, but then, if you hit 5 drivers, and switch back to the seven iron, there is a good chance that your next swing won’t be solid. You should practice going from long clubs to short clubs, and vice-a-versa.
Never miss an opportunity to learn
Let me ruin the ending of this movie for you, you are going to hit bad shots. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from them. Before you get emotional and reach for another ball, take a second, hold your finish, and imagine what the club did to hit that shot and what you are going to do differently. Make a single rehearsal of this new correct swing, then approach another ball. This helps with two skills of playing golf. One is visualization, and the other is the ability to recover. Elite golfers, even the ones who get mad and throw tantrums, are able to accept the shot they hit and let go. I’ve played with a lot of GOOD, but not elite, golfers who have a hard time letting go of a single bad shot.
Movement vs memorizing
When learning a skill, you want practice to provide repetitions with specific feedback, but you also want to use it as the chance to experiment with overcoming challenges. Think of learning a movement more like training a muscle than memorizing a list of words. To memorize a list you COULD just read it over and over again and probably do just fine. But to train a muscle, if you want it to keep growing, you have to stress it with increasing weight. You can’t just lift the same 5 pound weight every time you workout and expect to gain a lot of size or strength. The true can be said for a movement.
Think of this skill progression of weight.
- hitting it well a couple times within a practice
- hitting it well most of the time within a practice
- hitting it well on the range with someone watching
- hitting it well with multiple balls on the course
- hitting it well with a single ball on the course, by yourself
- hitting it well with a single ball, on the course, with playing partners
- hitting it well, with a single ball, on the course, in a tournament
- hitting it well, with a single ball, on the course, in the most important round of your year.
Mechanical AND transfer are important
When you go to the range, do some mechanical practice, but also focus a lot on transfer practice, like playing imaginary holes or scrimmages with yourself on the range. If the skill breaks down on the course, it could mean that your expectations are unrealistic for where the skill is and you need to practice at a different level of the skill progression.
Tags: Fundamentals, Beginner
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In this concept video, we're going to go over the introduction of how to practice and how to play golf.
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So I put this in the fundamental section because I want you to be able to start thinking about our long-term goals right away.
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Yes, I'm going to cover a lot of the details of the movements that build a swing that's going to get you hitting the ball the way you want.
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But I've done enough playing lessons to see that there are often struggles in taking that driving range swing to the course.
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And I find that a lot of those struggles come from how to practice.
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So in the rest of the video, I'm going to go over the details of what's different on the course and what's different on the range.
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And I'm also going to go over the details of how to structure a practice session so that you're maximizing your time and not wasting it just putting in mindless reps.
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When you practice on the range, you have a number of things going for you.
00:00:52,000 --> 00:00:58,000
You have flat lies pretty much all the time. You have nothing creating any real visual stress.
00:00:58,000 --> 00:01:03,000
And you have the security of knowing that you can always hit another one if you don't hit the ball well.
00:01:03,000 --> 00:01:08,000
Also, the time delay between each shot is as much or as little as you would like.
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For example, you could hit a ball every five seconds if you really wanted to.
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These advantages instantly disappear when you go to the golf course.
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And you can't realize slightly different. The distance is changed for each shot.
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There's consequences for bad shots. And you have to negotiate about five minutes of downtime between each shot.
00:01:28,000 --> 00:01:41,000
So practicing on the range can be great, but you need to devote part of your practice to mechanics and an equal or greater percentage to practicing playing.
00:01:41,000 --> 00:01:45,000
We now know that muscle memory doesn't really exist as it was once thought.
00:01:45,000 --> 00:01:52,000
But the more repetitions of the body parts does not teach you a skill. You need to integrate the brain in a whole experience.
00:01:52,000 --> 00:01:58,000
Here are some ways to make your range practice more effective while you're going through the positions and movements.
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First, mix it up. Change clubs and change targets often. It's often amazing how you could take your seven iron hit 20 shots in a row beautifully.
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And if you hit five drivers and switch back to your seven iron, there's a good chance that the next swing will not be as solid as those previous 20. You should think why.
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It is important while you're working on these movements to practice with different clubs. You should practice going from long clubs to short clubs and vice versa.
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Secondly, never miss an opportunity to learn.
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Let me ruin the ending of this movie for you. You are going to hit bad shots.
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That doesn't mean that you can't learn from them. Before you get emotional and just reach for another ball, take a second, hold your finish, imagine what the club did to hit that shot and what you are going to do differently next time.
00:02:48,000 --> 00:02:53,000
Make a single rehearsal of this new correct swing and then approach another ball.
00:02:53,000 --> 00:03:00,000
This helps with two skills of playing golf. One is visualization and the other is the ability to recover emotionally.
00:03:00,000 --> 00:03:06,000
Even the ones who get mad and throw tantrums are able to accept the shot that they hit and let it go.
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I've played with a lot of good but not elite golfers who have a hard time of letting go of a single bad shot. They will talk about it, holds later.
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When learning a skill, you want practice to provide repetitions with specific feedback, but you also want to use it as a chance to experiment with overcoming challenges.
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Think of learning a movement more like training a muscle than memorizing a list of words.
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To memorize a list, you could just read it over and over again. Wouldn't really matter where you are reading it, you could just read it.
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To train a muscle if you wanted to keep growing, you have to stress it with increasing weight. You can't just lift the same 5 pound weight every time you go for a workout and expect to gain a whole lot of size or strain.
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The true can be said for a movement. Here are some benchmarks or milestones that you can look at to know that you're ready to challenge your skill.
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Number 1. If you're hitting it well a couple times within a practice session.
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Number 2. If you're hitting it well most of the time, let's say better than 50 or 60 percent within a practice session.
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Number 3. Hitting well on the range with someone watching.
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Number 4. Hitting it well on the course with multiple balls, basically having moments.
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Number 5. Hitting it well on the course with a single ball but playing by yourself.
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Number 6. Hitting it well on the course with a single ball and playing with playing partners.
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No Mulligans. Number 7. Hitting it well on the course with a single ball in a tournament with people that you don't know.
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And then the last would be hitting it well with a single ball on the course in the most important round of your year.
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Whether that's with your father-in-law or in your club championship or the back-9 at the masters, whatever is important for you, that's where the most pressure is going to be.
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So when you go to the range, make sure that you don't just do mechanical practice but did you also focus on skill transfer.
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Some examples for skill transfer would be playing imaginary holes, scrimaging with yourself on the range.
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Playing games that have consequence. You'll learn more about these in the fine tune you session.
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But if the skill breaks down on the course, it could mean that your expectations are unrealistic for the level that the skill is at right now.
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If you've only done successfully during that first stage of hitting it well within a practice session, then you may not be ready for in a tournament.
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Be patient with yourself as you go through the process and as you challenge the skill to increasing difficulty.