Practice Tips: The Illusion of Learning

Golf Ball Pyramid | The driving range at Tumble Creek Golf C… | Flickr

I have written a few blog posts in the past  about Block vs Random practice styles and how they can both be useful. It still shocks me how little a lot of golfers know about these styles and how to implement them. After all, no one wants to waste their time practising poorly, right!

Block practice can be great when you first try out a new swing drill as the focus is purely on technique and movement. This can include training aids (use for short periods of times and sparingly where possible). You should however then test yourself with some random tests before the end of your practice. Try changing clubs regularly for these random tests. If you feel you need to revert to some movement training you can.

This brings me on to the ‘Illusion of Learning’. If you are doing block practice, for example hitting 100 balls to the same target with the same club, it can make you think that you are learning because you are getting better at hitting the target. In reality you are only getting better at completing the single task and in fact you only had to think or learn on the first few swings. Once you knew what to do it almost becomes automatic. This is not a learning situation. The illusion  of learning heightens your expectations of your ability and come your next round you’ll think you are going to play great. Random practice creates a fantastic opportunity to learn as each shot is different, therefore meaning you need to adapt, will make mistakes and learn from them and become more aware of your movements despite hitting the target less often.

Don’t be fooled folks!