|This week I want to discuss the topic of practice and how to get the most out of it. Most people do practice, whether it be on the driving range one or two evenings a week or a few hours on the chipping and putting green. However, from what I see I wonder how much these golfers are actually gaining from their visit sometimes.
The most common situation I see is someone hitting 50 balls on the range, starting with a 7 iron and then grabbing the driver to smash a few and then heading home. If what you are looking for is a bit of stress relief then this probably isn’t bad but it won’t help your game much. I’d like to introduce the 2 different practice types to you and some games that you can try to make your practice more fun!
Block practice is when you pick the same target and the same club and hit repetitively i.e. 50 balls with a 7 iron to the same place. This is what most people do when they go to ‘practice’. Block practice works well when you are learning a new technical move in your swing and you are just looking to build the reps with it. After a lesson this is an ideal way to go about it at first as you can start to get the right feels and refine the movement with no particular target or consequence.
Variable practice is a style where you start to practice like you would play. It involves adding in consequences for poor shots, multiple targets, lies and variations of shots with specific outcomes in mind. For example: same target with 3 different clubs. Then change target and do the same again.
Which style works best?
For me, if you want to lower your scores and improve your skill level overall you should use more variable practice. On the golf course, you’ll never get 2 shots the same so why not prepare for this with your practice routine?!
If you have a new swing feel after a lesson then block practice initially is a good way to start but you have to apply targets, and variety at some point to really test whether you have control over the new move.
Tips and games to try
If you are someone who heads to the range to get 50 balls then why not break the 50 into 10 x 5 shot blocks of the following:
Pitch shot, 9i, 7i, 5i, 3w, Driver, Hybrid, 6i, 8i, PW.
You can use nearly every club in your bag and change targets as you do it.
Around the chipping green try my favourite game: Par 18
Pick 9 different locations around the green. You have to finish out to the hole each time and add up your score. Simple!
18 is a perfect score of chip and putting each time. Set yourself a target and see how you get on. You can then make it more difficult or easier with different lies, hole locations etc.
The best practice games though are ones you make up yourself. You can be completely specific to the needs of your game and use the practice facilities at your club in the best way. Just make sure that you have consequences for a poor shot or miss, maybe by having to start again or try it a different way. Be creative!