You know that saying... practice makes perfect. But, does it really? Every time I hit the range, I think about a concept that was taught to me by a pro instructor a few years ago. He told me a story about a golfer who would go to the range to practice and would only hit balls for 10 minutes at a time, taking frequent breaks. When you're out there, the gut instinct is to just start hitting as many balls as possible without stopping. But, do you realize how pushing yourself to fatigue can affect your game ?
This instructor asked that every time I step up to a ball I treat it like I'm stepping up to my next shot on the course. Because it is practice, I should set a timer for 10 minutes and practice my pre-shot routine, approach and swing, being careful to be deliberate in every move I make and then when the time goes off, step back and rest for a bit. By just swiping at balls over and over, I'm not thinking about what a real-life situation would be like and I'm more than likely not preparing for each shot before I hit it. By doing 10 minutes of deliberate (and perfect) practice, I will see far better results.
Let's also be real - hitting golf balls repeatedly can get exhausting. You don't realize how much stress you're putting on your body until you reach the 75th ball in the bucket and you're feeling little aches and pains in your back and shoulders. The farther you get into practicing, the more your body starts to compensate for any stress your shoulders or back are feeling. What happens then? More than likely, you start picking up some bad habits and next thing you know you're actually practicing how to hit a slice instead of practicing the swing you want.
If you can do anything differently at the range the next time you go out, be sure to take care of your body, rest between shots and focus on every shot. As this article from Hazeltine National suggests, it's definitely quality over quantity. Splitting up the focus of your practice will also help you from getting fatigued mentally. If you spread out your practice objectives and focus on one element at a time, you can accomplish a lot more. By trying to fix everything at once, you're likely to be unorganized and waste the time you spend out on the range.
In this insightful Golf Magazine article, the author dives deeper into K. Anders Ericsson's research on deliberate practice and why pro-golfers use this tool to attain their low scores. There is a lot of value in following the 4 keys this author lays out, but it's especially important to just understand why deliberate practice is really the only way you're going to improve. It's our brains - focus.
The human brain is incredibly powerful. It does things that the conscious "you" doesn't even know it's doing and doesn't even comprehend. So, when it comes to taking your clubs out and smacking balls all day, if you're not slowing down to let your brain focus, then you're going to be subconsciously hurting yourself in the long run.
Are you ready to go out and practice perfectly and deliberately?
THE LESSONS BLOG FROM AMY, THE GOLFER BABE
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