Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Practice Session

February 22, 2019- by Steven E. Greer, MD

Over the last two-years, I have discovered that it is very easy to go to a practice range, hit a bucket of balls, and not learn a thing. The pile of balls becomes a big distraction, tempting the golfer to focus on the goal of hitting them all rather than focusing on the swing.

As the golfer hits more and more bad shots, the pace of hitting increases, until the player enters a fugue state of insanity and anger. When the player drives away and calms down, they often think, “Gosh, I should have done (this or that).”

These are some of the practice methods or tips that I have discovered to be useful:

Form a plan before leaving the house: Do some air swings and write down a plan of what you want to do at the range. If you do not, you will forget once you start hitting. Treat each hitting session just like a football or basketball practice.

You must have either a second person watching or a camera on a tripod. One will never improve without video feedback.

Put the golf ball in your pocket, do a practice swing, then hit it, for every shot. This does many things. First, it prevents you from mindlessly beating balls in rapid succession. It also tricks your brain. When you see the ball, you tense up.

The Practice-Swing- Away-From-The-Ball Tip: For the same reasons, making practice swings without the ball in sight is very helpful at rebooting the brain to focus on the proper task.

The “50% Effort” Tip: Address the ball and think about applying 50% of the normal force into the downswing. Pick out a spot 100-yards away as your target and hit a driver, for example.

This tip works so well because it frees up the brain. When the brain prepares to hit a full-effort hard shot, ingrained subconscious neuropathways kick in and the old habits appear.

The Two or Three-Pause Drill: When one is working on a new swing move, this drill is very helpful. The new swing is not yet part of the automatic neurocircuitry, so the pauses give the player a chance to make the right movements.

First, make a full shoulder turn without turning the wrists, then pause. Most people make a fake backswing that uses the arms instead of the shoulders.

Then, turn the wrists 90-degrees and pause at the top of the swing.

Finally, there is also a third pause that you can do in the transition to get the club shaft flat. Move only the right elbow toward the target line as you supinate the right wrist to get the palm facing the sky. This flattens the shaft plane, which is crucial for the downswing.

Finally, be sure to wear a sun blocking large bucket hat and have plenty of water on hand.

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