Exaggerated Practice-Are You Willing To Look Different?
By Greg Schulze
Should your practice energy and goal be to change yourself or what happens to the ball? In early learning stages you CAN’T have both. Process is CAUSED and outcomes are EFFECTS. If, for example, you head to the range after a poor round which included a lot of slicing the ball, attempting to stop slicing the ball is most likely wasting your time. Changing the ball flight without understanding its root cause will never lead to long-term development or consistency.
Consider thinking of the practice areas as the “parts department” like your local auto shop. The goal is to gain greater awareness in one area of your set-up or swing at a time knowing that the “engine” will not run very well at this stage. If you deem any given practice session “successful” because the ball began flying the way you want and believe that you have “captured it” into your “muscle memory” (a myth by the way) but don’t understand cause and effect of why it is happening, your “success” will be fleeting.
Following a recent lesson; should your goal be to feel the suggested changes AND expect an immediate change to your ball flight? Not necessarily. Your PGA Professional most likely will ask you to exaggerate the changes so you can feel the difference between what you felt before and new sensations. Exaggeration is an accelerated way to change any “part” of an undesirable process. If the pro gave you a drill to do, please do it, and do it as often as instructed, with no additional goal or self-imposed pressure to see good-looking shots necessarily.
During most full swing lessons, I will explain and demonstrate a drill or two pertinent to the needed changes observed. Next, during my demonstration, I often exaggerate it to such a degree that the ball doesn’t move! At that point, some clients may think that I have failed in the drill, or the drill will not work because it lacked a desirable ball flight, but then they “missed” the point. In over 35 years, I have yet to see anyone exaggerate it to the degree which I just demonstrated. If you allow a sub-conscious DUAL goal of doing the drill as asked while still expecting a satisfactory ball flight, the change will be very slow if at all. Each time you try to hit a “good” shot, your brain will “crave” your previous feelings, reverting you back as you have always done it.
Efficient/law-abiding swings must be “located” in the brain first, in our understanding, so that it can send the proper sensations and messages to the body to perform. If you ever feel embarrassed, self-conscious, uncomfortable, “weird” etc. when practicing pro-provided drills to the people in the range stalls near you, progress will be stalled dramatically.
A learning scientist made this quote, “CHANGE CAN ONLY OCCUR WHEN IN THE STATE OF DISCOMFORT.” Your “old” swing is comfortable but will keep you in that level of play. Are you strong enough to resist the urge to go back to your old swing? The choice, of course, is up to you…