Do you practice your golf shots in the range by spending 20-30 shots for each of your clubs? If so, then please stop (or at least read through this first). This could just change your game the way you know (and maybe hate) it for the better. I’ll be departing somehow from a general approach to sport psychology today to give way to you golf-playing and golf-reading enthusiasts with the hope of helping you achieve your golf goals.
Ever since I picked up golf, I’ve always followed Tiger Woods’ practice tips in his popular book, How I Play Golf.
In his book, Tiger hits a number of balls starting with the shortest club (yes, putter first) and makes his way up to the big stick. I’ve always done it this way hoping I’d play to at least 1% of Tiger’s abilities, but until now, I still can’t get my handicap lower than 20 (well, I should have realized that Tiger is Tiger, and I am..well.. me).
That was until I came across this very intriguing Golf Digest online article, You’ve been practicing golf all wrong, and there’s science to prove it, written by Sam Weinman, who writes that having a “random approach” to practice (ex. switching clubs every 3-4 shots) actually makes for better learning of motor skills and movement as opposed to having a “block approach” (ex. make-your-way-up-to-driver-with-20-shots-per-club). This learning phenomenon is known as the contextual interference effect. He references a clarinetist and performance psychology researcher, Dr. Christine Carter, whose dissertation explored this phenomenon in the music setting.
It gets a little too technical if you research more about it, but to simplify, your brain is wired to embrace and adapt to change. It actually gets “bored” with repetition. The more you expose it to a variety of situations and patterns, then the more it engages the situation and directs the rest of your body to execute the necessary response or movement.
Therefore, when you get back to the range, simulate actual golf conditions by practicing your clubs in a random order so that learning becomes more substantial and long-term.
Lower handicap by end of the year? Check.
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