Tour players know to play great golf they need a quiet mind and they strive to keep things simple. They take this same philosophy to the practice range when working on their game. They've identified their strengths and weakness and have a plan before hitting a single shot. Often times, amateur's do the exact opposite! They make their practice complex by continuously changing swing thoughts and working on every tip they've heard from a friend or the Golf Channel. Here's some proven methods to improve your practice.
1) Balance practicing Technique, Impact Skills and Playing Skills: Only work on 1 or 2 technical aspects of your swing at a time. It's counter productive trying to make too many swing changes at once because you won't get enough repetitions of the proper movement to ingrain it. Instead change your focus to improving your Impact skills. This includes having control of the Bottom of the Swing, Center Contact, and Starting line. The next step is to add Playing Skills such as Rhythm, Balance, Routine and being Tension Free. All these skills are required to play solid golf- not just technique!
2) When practicing technique, feel and exaggerate the new movement before each shot: If you get a chance to go to the PGA Tour event definitely check out the driving range. You'll notice that the pros take their time between shots and always make a practice swing before they hit the ball. They want to really feel the new motions that they're trying to incorporate into their swing. It's basically double the repetitions and practice. Don't be that golfer that hits balls fast without thought.
3) Only practice as long as you can stay focused: Golf is a fickle game and you'll have good days and bad days. If you find that you're struggling hitting the ball, just step back for a minute, take a deep breath, and recommit to your practice. It's always good to hit 5-8 balls at a time then take a short break.
4) Use feedback other than ball flight: There is always a difference between "feel" and "real". Sometimes you'll think that you're making the correct movement, only to see on video that it's the exact same swing. Here's a couple ideas to help you incorporate feedback into your practice.
- Spray foot powder on your clubface to see the impact point on the club
- Video yourself with a smartphone and analyze your swing with popular apps like V1 Golf or Ubersense
- Use a training aid like a headcover or alignment rod on the ground
- Use a mirror to see the reflection of your swing
5) Set a goal for specific skills: Examples would be hitting 7 out of 10 on the center of the face, 8 out of 10 swings finishing balanced, hitting the green 6 out 10 times from 150 yards, etc. This helps set benchmarks and measure your strengths and weaknesses.
6) Practice in an environment that's similar to the golf course: Every other sport such as football, tennis or basketball is practiced on the court or field of competition. Only golf is practiced away from where you're actually playing. If possible, go to the course at a slow time, and hit multiple shots from various positions to get used to playing golf, not golf swing.
7) Have fun with the process: There's no way around it: golf is hard. But, it's a journey that's very rewarding and never ends. Enjoying the process of learning golf is mandatory for improvement. If you don't like practicing chances are you're not going to get better.
For help structuring a personalized practice plan, click here to schedule a lesson at MY CHICAGO GOLF.