After last weeks dreaded 'W' word (winter) this weeks dreaded word is PRACTICE. It is a bit of a Marmite word, in that people either love practice or hate practice. If you can do a bit of practice over winter and maintain your handicap ready for the new season, then you are ahead of the game. I must commend the members at Hornsea, as they are very keen to keep up their practice, every time I head to the big practice area I am impressed by the amount of people there, honing their skills. This got me thinking, are you practising the correct things, and what do you define as practice?
At the end of every lesson I give, I make sure that my pupil has something to work on before our next lesson. This gives us a chance to hit the ground running in our next lesson by only spending a few minutes ensuring that last lessons changes have been consolidated. One of the best ways of learning a skill is by repetition which, lets be honest, is another word for practice. The dictionary definition of practice is;
'Repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency'
So when we look at the definition we can see that practice is about repetition. When I give my pupils drills to do, they can often be done at home. For example, to change your swing path, you do not need to be on the practice range hitting ball after ball. If you can spare 15 minutes 2/3 times a week to repeat a drill in the back garden, then the chance of you repeating this out on the course increases considerably. Of course if you do have the time and motivation, it does help to be on the practice range, however if you expect to come out in a rash when you think about practice, today's blog is for you.
In Malcolm Gladwell's book he suggests that it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at a skill, but a more recent study has suggested that it takes 20 hours to go from starting a new skill to being competent- surely this is a good thing? When rehearsing a skill at home, achieving this 20 hours to become proficient, will come a lot quicker.
To those who practice often, have you asked yourself, are you practising the correct thing? It is great that you practice, but if you have a swing fault that is causing you problems on the course you may think that you can practice the problem out of your game. The reality of this is that the practice will only emphasise the swing fault.
Make sure that, when you are practising, you are practising the right things. With practice it is always a case of quality, not quantity. As a Professional I would rather see you hit 20 quality shots, rather than 100 substandard shots. Speak to me about effective practice to make sure you are getting the most out of your game.
This Saturday I organised a special 'Trick or Treat' junior session whereby the juniors on completion of a particular task got to pick a treat, these ranged from getting a free drink or a sleeve of golf balls! If they failed the task then they would pick a trick, these ranged from going for a long run to doing the dishes at home that night. Unfortunately, nobody picked the dishes trick, but Matt McDonnell did walk away with the mystery prize of a carrot...well done Matt!
On a personal note, on of the the 'treats' for the juniors was to send me for a run, which two juniors picked straight after each other. I have never been a particularly fit guy, but doing this running made me realise just how bad my cardio fitness levels were, so today I got back on my bike for the first time in 7 months. I did a 10 from mile ride from my home in Hessle, up to Swanland and back down to Hessle via the Humber Bridge. I found it tough, but very rewarding and I hope to be doing much more cycling in the near future to raise my fitness levels. At the moment, my legs feel fine, but if you see me walking funny on Tuesday, then you will know why.
When I started this blog I wanted to give you an insight into what I do as a Teaching Professional, whilst giving you some hints and tips on how to improve your golf. I wanted it to be appropriate not just for golfers, but for people who don't play golf or are thinking of playing. With this in mind, if anyone has any suggestions on what you would like to read about, then please contact me, it would be great to hear from you.
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