5 Tips For Effective Practice

Practice, practice, practice. If you’re going to improve your game, you better be willing to hit a lot of balls and go to the range at least a few times per week! That’s the common mentality most golfers have towards improvement. Unfortunately, in golf, pure enthusiasm and a penchant for hard work don’t add up to results. Just like the act of hitting a great golf shot, the art of practice itself is a skill. If you care about your game, here are a few strategies to help you get more out of all those range buckets.

Make A Decision

Any success is the product of a rock solid plan. Before heading to the course, make a conscious decision to focus on a specific aspect of your game. Write it down, stuff it in your golf bag and review on the tee before beginning your training session. You’ll become more excited about the process of practice, while putting yourself in position to get consistent results. Following your session, rate yourself on a scale of 0-5 with “0″ representing total lack of attention to your goal and “5″ remaining supremely organized and focused throughout. Commit to building a higher level of discipline each time you work on your game.

When I was a kid I heard that Greg Norman hit 1,000 golf balls per day.

Find Your Line

Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. If your goal is to turn all those reps into something worth keeping, you had better make sure you’re creating a perfect training environment. Be brilliant with the basics by learning to set up an accurate practice station. Lay a ball on the ground in the area you plan to hit from. Next, take the club you plan on hitting and lay it on the ground so that it points “through” the ball and directly at your target. This will identify your target line. Now, lay another club inside of the target line and parallel to the first club. I like to slide the second club forward so that the ball rests at the midway point of the shaft. Pick up the first club and you’re ready to go. By going through this simple process you’ll not only perfectly define your target line, but also create a reference point for your body and club face alignment.

Shake It Up

The best way to set yourself up for on-course success, is to practice like you play. Instead of hitting a bucket of 6 irons or multitude of shots with the same club, focus on making your practice more random. Random practice mirrors how you might progress through an actual round. As you work through your session, change clubs after each shot, just like on the course. Sometimes I’ll even play 9 or 18 holes of my home course or upcoming tournament location on the range. This is a great exercise that makes practice more interesting and effective, while creating an easier transition between training and playing.

Complete A Task

When I was a kid I heard that Greg Norman hit 1,000 golf balls per day. Naturally, I believed the key to taking my game to a championship level was built on determination and quantity of balls struck. I did my best, but quickly found that goal to be both painful and frustrating. The good news is research has shown a more effective way of developing your skills. Instead of focusing on time or volume, you’ll actually find the best results when you base your practice around completion of a specific task. Say your normal routine is to buy a jumbo bag of balls and hit until you run out of gas. Upgrade your effort by creating a few specific tasks or goals for the day related to putting, short game or full swing. If a task is completed within a few minutes, you’re finished and free to head to the first tee or move on to another task. This type of approach removes the pain equals gain mentality. Some practice days may become longer, while others are shorter. As skill improves, you’ll be rewarded with less time on the range and more time on the course.

See videos below for task based practice drills!

Make Mistakes

Great players understand the difference between training and playing. The training environment is all about learning. It’s where you adjust and experiment without being concerned with the outcome of any given shot. It’s where you permit yourself to make mistakes and fall on your face in the pursuit of developing your skill. The next time you practice, think of ways you might stretch your comfort level both mentally and physically. You’ll find both growth and discovery become most available when you’re not afraid of failure.

Looking for some fresh practice strategies? Check out these videos from our MTT Weekly Challenge Series on Golf Digest TV!

Hogan’s Practice Secret
Start Your Engines
One Minute Swing
Short Game Showdown
Worst Ball Workout
Speed Reader

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