With the end of the season approaching all too quickly, the practice season is just around the corner. So before you spend another winter beating drivers down the range, take a minute to assess the way you practice.
1) Are your practice sessions productive? I see such a range in how people practice at the range. Some will hit a bucket’s worth of drivers in 20 minutes whilst others change club every other shot. Before you set off to the practice ground, have a goal in mind.
BE SPECIFIC & REALISTIC!
This doesn’t mean “Today I’m gonna learn how to drive 350 yards every time” or “Today I’m gonna hit my irons more solidly”.
Go for something like “Today I’m gonna make sure I’m aligned perfectly every time” or “Today I’m gonna work some drills to improve my hip action”.
2) Diagnose and treat. I’m sure most of you will have a specific area that you feel you need to work that’s really let you down this season. But it can’t hurt to double check. You might be surprised.
DO THIS NEXT ROUND
Tally up your fairways hit from the tee, greens in regulation, failed hazard recoveries and putts for each hole. This will give you a clearer picture of what is holding your scores back. Then you can work on that area specifically first.
3) Practicing doing it wrong will make you great at doing it wrong. Sounds obvious but it’s so true! The body learns through repetition. That’s how neural pathways are created and we can perform an action without thinking about it. If you swing 10 times and get 2 swings spot on, that’s 8 times your body has been learning an undesired action.
I’m not saying don’t make bad swings. That’s inevitable, believe me! If you make a poor swing, just step back, acknowledge what went wrong and work a drill that tries to cure it for the next 5 balls. Then step up to the ball confident that your body can make a great swing.
4) Acknowledge your good swings. After you make a great swing, hold your follow through. Whilst you’re watching the ball sail to your target, allow yourself to ask how each body part felt during that swing. How did my left shoulder feel through that swing? How did my right foot feel? Doing this can help to develop positive swing thoughts for next time.
5) Let your competitive side out. Next time you’re at the range with a buddy, each save 10 or 15 balls and have a pitching competition. This makes practice fun and may even add a bit of pressure just like you would feel out on the course.
Putting competitions on the practice green can be brilliant fun. Make up your own rules. 1 ball each, 2 balls each, matchplay, strokeplay, each play 2 balls and your worst ball plays. Just have fun with it.
Alrighty! Hopefully you are doing these things already and enjoy productive and enjoyable practice sessions. If not, give it a go. I love belting drivers down the range to see if I can clear the fence at the back … it’s fun! But it is very unfulfilling after a while and won’t help your game much at all.