The right kind of practice is vital but it’s mileage that makes champions.
Boring and tiresome as it may be, the greatest improvements are seen after putting in the hard graft, for hours on end.
And evidently the same can be said for the golf swing.
But hitting balls mindlessly for hours is not an effective use of your time and focusing on “how” to practise has been a fundamental part of my lessons.
If I hit a bad shot, I know exactly what to do to ensure the next shot is better.
Step away from the ball. Do a practice swing, hit a tee out of the ground.
Better yet, hit two tees out of the ground to make sure the club is as low to the ground as possible.
And when you are standing above the ball again, start with a half swing and slowly build from there.
Chances are, the ball will fly just as far after a half swing because the connection will be that much cleaner.
With this in mind, another stint on the driving range showed me I had made some real improvements.
A bad shot for me now is low, flat and travels 70 to 80 yards. A marked improvement from the shots which trickled from the tee in my first lesson.
A positive lesson with coach Simon Harrison showed me exactly what two elements of the swing I still have to hone to ensure more consistency.
The finish is my main concern in the swing. I tend to bend the arms, shortening the radius between my sternum and hands, and shift my weight from my front foot so I have effectively stood up in the swing and scooped the ball with the club.
But when Simon told me to hit the ball along the floor, my focus changed. I had to drive my body and chest forwards, shifting my weight to my front foot and ensuring the radius between my chest and the club remained the same.
And guess what? The ball didn’t roll along the floor, it flew through the air.
Drills have proved vital so far. Half swings, practice swings standing on a slope and hitting tees out of the ground have forced my body to move in a way conducive to a clean, effective swing.
But of course, everyone has faults. Take a look at US Masters champion Bubba Watson; a superstar with one of the most unconventional swings on the circuit.
While his swing could be seen as technically flawed, years of practice have been rewarded with one of the greatest accolades in the sport. He has made his unusual swing work for him.
Best get back to the practice green and make that swing my own.
THIS week Laura had once again made huge strides forward but was still concerned with her inability to be playing to nearly a pro standard, so I felt it necessary to explain how she would improve through more structured practice.
As a coaching professional I constantly surprise my pupils by telling them NOT to hit too many shots while practising.
It’s important to remember that practice does not make perfect... instead, practice makes permanent.
Permanent is only good if the practice you’re doing is of benefit to your swing. The action of striking a golf ball is not practice.
Albert Einstein famously was quoted as saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result.”
So therefore in order to change your swing and groove a better action you need to change its motion.
Practice will only improve your technique if you’re making a change to the action.
To make a noticeable change requires an individual to first of all understand the need and the benefits of the change, and then be able to identify the changes occurring through sensations.
Once, and only once, the sensations are achieved should you hit balls to evaluate whether the change is taking effect.
Top pros and top amateurs will spend hours at a driving range yet they will hit very few balls.
During that time they may swing the club hundreds of times giving them the sensations required to learn and groove the motions.
Only after a sensation has been achieved will they hit a ball to see if it can be carried over to the real thing.
Learning comes from the practice swings assessment comes from the ball
Whenever you practise you must always have a desired outcome you are working towards, the outcome must be attainable and realistic but at the same time it must be challenging.
“I want to stop slicing the ball” is not a realistic practice outcome.
You must first of all diagnose the cause of the slice and then work on improving an aspect of the flawed movements in order to gradually build up to changing the entire action which causes a slice.
Practice is one of the most dangerous things to any golfer if performed incorrectly.