Posted: June 18, 2012
People are not graded by their performance in practice, but rather their performance in games. We are told in our growing years that if we put in the hours, we will reap the rewards. When applied to golf, many people take it to represent the amount of golf balls they strike on the range. The more balls you hit, the lower your scores. Hmm... If only it was a true guarantee. I am going to introduce two styles of practice in this article; Blocked Practice and Random Practice.Blocked Practice involves consistent repetition in a controlled environment with limited variation between reps. In golf terms, this style of practice would be like hitting forty 7-irons at the same flag on the range. This is what you would see most commonly if you were to observe a local driving range. It is a more comforting, less pressured way to hit balls. There is not a lot of attachment or emotion tied to each shot, so generally more balls are hit in a shorter period of time and people “generally” walk away satisfied. Random Practice involves a constant change to the environment with complete variation between repetitions. This would involve changing club, target, shot pattern and lie for each shot. This is a style of practice rarely seen at your local driving range. Random practice requires the golfer to enter a completely new shot process for every golf ball. They could pick a flag or side of the green to hit at, decide on which club they need for that respective distance, choose the trajectory in which they want to fly the ball, and then execute the task. After impact, they would consider their quality of contact and determine whether they committed to their plan. Research shows strong evidence that individuals practicing in a blocked setting will appear to have better results while in the practice environment while those in the random setting will have less successful results. However, in the game environment, results are overwhelmingly in favor of the random practice style. Though the blocked practice process looks great on the range, when it comes to choosing shots and adapting to what the golf course gives the golfer, they may struggle to handle the pressure or comfort with adapting to the shot. As random practice requires an ever-changing scenario, there is a greater reliance on adaptation and a much larger emphasis on pressure and adaptation. Yes, it does take more time to hit the same amount of balls, however more work is being accomplished with a random style practice routine. The next time you hit the range to “put in the time”, try treating those golf balls the same way you would if you had to go fetch every last one of them. Change up your target after every shot. Choose a different club and a different trajectory. Take the time to go through your routine and analyze the result. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself mentally exhausted after completing your session. Practicing with a purpose is much more taxing than practicing because you want to chip away at your 10,000 hours. Stay strong and commit to getting better. No one said it was going to be easy!Happy practicing,Alex RiggsPGA of Canada ProfessionalTPI Golf Instructor Level III & Junior Coach Level IIITwitter - @RiggsGolf
I recently told my buddy to try switching up his practice/warm-up routine. Start a game on the range. Play the hardest 6 holes, in your warm-up, hit your drive, approach, chip (if needed) then hit the putting green with one golf ball. Anyone, and anything can hit two golf balls in a row and get drastically different results for the better. Treat everything like a game situation!
wrote on June 19, 2012