In This Section ▾
Do you know how to Practice? 

Practice_SmallLet’s face it, hitting golf balls on the range just isn’t as fun as playing a round with your buddies.  But let’s say you go out to the range every once and awhile to work on your game.  Did you know that how you practice (how most people I see on the range practicing) could be actually hurting your game?  Or at the very least not helping.

Blocked vs Random - Let’s talk about the different styles of practice first.  There are 2 main styles of practice, Blocked and Random.  Blocked practice is when you go out and hit the same club and the same shot over and over again.  You hit 10 seven irons, 10 eight irons, etc.  Random practice is just what it sounds like.  Every shot is a different shot.  Which style do you think is better for learning?  Most people would say Blocked but the research strongly supports that Random practice is by far the better way to learn a skill.  The only exception is when you are very first learning a new skill then blocked can be better to learn that motor pattern.

Learning vs Performance - when you are practicing are you learning or just performing?  If I asked one person to go out and hit 20 balls with a 7-iron and one person to hit 20 balls but I want them to hit 5 balls with 4 different irons each.  Which person is going to be able to hit a 7-iron better at the end of that session?  Probably the person that hit 20 balls just with a 7-iron.  If I asked those same 2 people to come back 2 days later and test them again which one would be better?  More often than not it's actually the person that hit 4 different irons!  This is learning vs performance.  The blocked style of practice will allow you to perform better initially but random practice allows you to learn and retain it better.

This is the illusion of learning.  Judgements about learning are often confused with judgements about performance.  How often have you said something like this? I was hitting the ball so well on the range, then I got on the course and everything went to crap!  If we practice in a blocked style of practice we tend to overestimate our abilities and can lead to frustration on the course.

Training Aids - I am sure a lot of you have used training aids at some point.  Alignment sticks, video, 3D capture, etc.  Are they good or bad?  Most training aids can be good to use.  The problem is most people could be using them in a better way.  Let’s say you are using alignment sticks.  Instead of throwing them on the ground and hitting shot after shot with them try using them randomly and sporadically.  Use them on one shot and then take them away for a few shots.  Try to repeat what you were just doing with the sticks.  Every few shots throw them back down to make sure you are in the best position still.

The Process - Do you have a process that you go through before you hit each shot on the course?  If you don’t then I would highly recommend starting one.  If you do have one, do you go through that same process before each shot on the range?  I’d be willing to bet that we might have 1 person reading this that would say yes.  Everyone knows that there is a huge mental component to the game of golf.  Going through your process on every shot is a great way to work on your mental game.  If we are going to do it on the course it only makes sense to practice the same way, right?  It doesn't matter what the process is but there has to be one.

Blocked vs Random practice isn’t really the true issue when it comes to the best way to learn.  You can easily eliminate the benefits of random practice and you can overcome the detriments of blocked practice.  The more important issue is understanding why these effects occur and how to avoid and promote them.  Think of it as solving math problems.  If you just memorize the solution then you don’t need to re-solve the problem each time (blocked).  If you are doing a new problem each time then you have to reconstruct the solution each time (random).  Learning is more permanent and also better adaptable to new situations when you need to work harder to solve the problem.

Next time you are on the range try incorporating some different practice techniques.  If you use training aids try to use them randomly and sporadically.  Try hitting different shots each time.  This can be different clubs or different types of shots.  If you hit a bad shot that is ok.  Recognize what you did wrong and the next time you come back to that type of shot try to correct it.  Develop your process and go through it on each shot.  A great drill I like to do is just pretend you are on the course and visualize each hole.  Play the course from the range.  If you hit a bad shot imagine where that ball would have ended up on the course.  You hit a perfect drive down the middle then maybe your next shot is a 9-iron.  You hit a terrible drive way right then maybe your next shot is a low punch shot.

Remember, your practices sessions are not about how well you can perform that night on the range.  It's about learning so that when you get on the course you can prove that you retained the work you did on the range.

Comments / About Us
(937) 294-6842
263 Regency Ridge Dr.
Dayton, OH 45459 
Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

Find Us on FaceBook      Follow Us on Twitter      See us on SmugMug