Give Your Plan Time And Enough Repetitions
By Oliver Darby
In last month’s article the discussions centered on setting an actionable plan using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-phased).
Let’s now understand how your plan needs time and enough correct repetitions.
New skills that are crucial to succeeding in your plan will not be developed overnight. Creating improvement that is permanent requires commitment, dedication and time. If you’ve played the game long enough I’m sure you’ve discovered golf is an extremely challenging game. Patience is a quality that is required. For some of us this is a skill that needs mastery.
Unfortunately the elusive “quick-fix” is rare and usually temporary in golf. While we live in a high-speed world where instant gratification is sought at every turn this approach to golf improvement will typically lead to disappointment and a failure to achieve your goals. Understanding that achieving your goals will be a process can help you to choose a good attitude towards improvement.
Enjoy the challenge of practice and embrace the time that you commit to realizing your goals. We all have 24 hours in a day, if you truly want to achieve your goals you’ll find time to stick to the plan.
Value the time you are committing to the process. Time is a precious commodity – don’t waste it. Turn off the cell phone – no emails, no texting, no Facebook or Twitter! When practicing your diligent focus is a priority. Interrupted practice time creates scattered, chaotic thinking and rids you of the calm focus that you need in order to develop your skills.
Creating a learning environment (interruption free) is crucial, however, the structure of your time must also be taken into consideration. Divide your time according to the goals laid out in your plan. For example, if one of your goals is 3-putt avoidance and another goal is hitting more fairways you should divide your time between both disciplines evenly. Standing on the range beating balls with a 7-iron may not be the best use of your time.
Achieving your goals may very well be a 6-12 month process initially. More realistically the process of golf improvement never ends – enjoy the journey of mastery.
In addition to the time-phased nature of realizing your goals we must understand that significant repetitions are required to make deep, lasting, permanent new habits to help performance. There are several components that must be understood from the outset. First you must have a fact-based diagnosis regarding why are you missing fairways and why are you 3-putting (to reference the earlier example). Without a sound understanding of cause and effect your practice (repetitions) are a waste of time. Typically as golfers we need help deciphering “the why”. Please contact your local GolfTEC Certified Coach/PGA Professional to guide your understanding. When you have the knowledge regarding the cause of the problems you can embark on implementing the correct repetitions to improve your game and achieve your goals.
Your practice repetitions must have a purpose. For example plan out how to achieve 3-putt avoidance. Spend your allotted time holing out from 3-5ft. Becoming skilled from this range will lower your scores. A large majority of amateur golfers spend time on the putting green hitting putts from 15-25ft. Whether you practice or not, statistics from Shotlink show that almost all of the time you will 2-putt from that range. Practice those short ones and also practice the long lag putts from 35-40ft. This is a wise use of time to help lower scores and achieve your goals.
It is also sensible to chart how your practice sessions are progressing. Keep track of how many putts you hole from 3-5ft in every week of your plan. Assuming as the plan progresses you are holing more putts in practice it is fair to expect that you can transfer these new skills out on the golf course. You must understand if progress is taking place in practice so that expectations on the golf course are realistic.
During practice repetitions that pertain to the full swing you should set up an effective “practice station”. To do this you need three or four alignment rods. This will help to set the tone for disciplined, focused practice. Hitting balls on the range can really lull us into a false sense of security. Typically the range is a 100yards wide! (Not too many fairways are that generous). There are also no consequences for poor shots. There is no out of bounds and always another ball. So, a practice station should have one rod on the ground lined up with your target. The second rod can lay parallel to this line and sits close to your toe line. A third rod can lie on the ground representing ball position. It is becoming popular to also stick an alignment rod in the ground directly in line with your target (see photo). A practice station with clearly defined, specific targets is of paramount importance. Use trees in the distance or other visual markers to create a picture in your mind of a realistic fairway. Chart your progress as we did with the putting to be able to set realistic expectations.
It is imperative during your practice you need feedback. Embrace some modern day technology. Have a friend or partner capture some swings on film. (Yes this breeches the aforementioned cell phone rule but accurate feedback is critical in order to make the improvements necessary to achieve those goals).
Your practice does not need to be limited to the driving range only. Make time to practice at home or in a hotel if you’re on the road. Slow motion swings in front of a mirror can have a profound effect on your progress. This further visual feedback will help you monitor your progress.