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Practice With a Purpose
By mustang6560 on 9/13/13
I read an interesting article on titled "Missing ingredient to lower scores is something called deliberate practice".

The premise of the article is if you want to get better, you have to practice with a purpose.
I always thought "the secret" to golf was finding the correct physical sequence to make the clubface hit the ball hard and straight. It turns out that what happens in your brain is more important than what happens with your body. You can play all day, but if you aren't intensely focused on doing a specific thing better than last time, you won't improve.
This paragraph resonated with me because I enjoy practicing and I actively work on trying to practice with a purpose. But, it's difficult. I often catch myself just going through the motions. When I do, I back off my shot to refocus my efforts at the task at hand.

The article goes on to list "The 4 Laws of Perfect Practice", which are:
  1. Deliberate Practice Is Highly Personalized

  2. Deliberate Practice Should Push You Just Beyond Your Abilities

  3. Deliberate Practice Must Be Repeated At High Volume

  4. Deliberate Practice Requires Continual, Specific Feedback
Like I said, I actively work on the mental aspect of my practice. If I'm on the driving range to practice, then I implement a longer-than-usual preshot routine to help me stay focused. I place a ball down, walk behind it, pick a target, check my grip, rehearse my take-away, address the ball, check my alignment, rehearse my take-away again, then hit. When I do this, I am able to stay focused on trying to improve. But like the first law of says, practice is personal.

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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
In the book "Golf Flow" by Dr. Gio Valiante he advocates a similar concept and it really resonated with me. He basically said that how you practice will show up under pressure. Hence, if you practice just like you expect to play, follow your pre shot routine, in rhythm with the appropriate tempo that is what your body will produce in tournaments. Here is a quote from his book.

"Regular, deliberate practice develops habits by wrapping myelin around neurons that make circuits fire with more efficiency. When it comes to practice, there is no substitute for careful, focused, repetition."

Great stuff! Its change how I practice for sure!

Valiante, Gio (2013-04-01). Golf Flow (Kindle Locations 2764-2765). Human Kinetics. Kindle Edition.
jasonfish11 says:
I wish I did more of that. Maybe that will be my goal next year. I tend to just pound balls too often.
mmontisano says:
Opposite for me. I have a tendency to think too much, so I work on trying to clear my mind, have fun and not worry too much about swing mechanics.
Matt McGee says:
Sometimes, for me, "just going through the motions" covers all four of the "laws of perfect practice." I'd love to have a golf swing that was good enough that I could concentrate on something very specific... but I don't.
DougE says:
I love to practice. And no matter what, when I practice, I have a plan, whether it's for chipping, pitching, bunker play, putting, knock down shots, 8-iron draws, whatever. I create theoretical situations that I might find on the course for every shot I make while practicing. Or else I challenge myself to make, say, 4 out of 5 up and downs or fairway bunker shots (from the practice bkr) to a spot out on the range to within 20 yards. It doesn't matter what the little virtual scenario you make up to play in your head, but whatever it is, make it a challenge. A challenge to do it better each time. Added pressure during practice, makes the added pressure of actually playing, that much less. It makes practice fun for me. And, it certainly helps my game tremendously in the long run.
elliottgaryusa says:
Having success in sports like gymnastics, springboard diving, running and hockey I've learned many training methods so I totally get the point of the article. However, I think how you apply this might need to vary depending on your experience. e.g. A beginner may actually benefit from beating a bunch of balls with one swing thought because they need the reps. A intermediate player may do better slowing things down. Obviously that beginner needs to focus on something specific. I do think you can't ignore the value of getting in the reps. Swing mechanics needs the reps. Practicing to a target or a specific shot shape needs focus.
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