Are You Practicing?
There is a saying that "practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect". I don’t know if perfect is such a great word for golf. We all know how difficult the game can seem at times. I do know this; the quality of your practice over time will directly correlate to whether you are improving or not. With regards to quality, if there are 15 people hitting balls on the range, there are not 15 people practicing. There may not be even one person out of the fifteen doing the things necessary to really improve. They are likely in their comfort zone, doing what they always do, and if they aren’t getting the results they want, then they will try something just a little different. Changes are made with no regard to an overall plan or improvement strategy and still within their comfort zone. I don’t believe that there is a lot of opportunity for growth in that. So if that’s not practice, what is?
The practice that leads to growth demands high intensity and complete focus, and therefore should be somewhat short in duration. Annika Sorenstam always said that the key to her practice was that she always "paid attention to her intention." If you are going to work for the next 15 minutes, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish in that time. Focus has to do with the process and not the outcome. Real practice must be highly repeatable (you need to be able to do it a lot) and you need feedback on whether you are doing it right or not. Like I indicated above, if you are doing it wrong, you may be just ingraining a bad habit. This is the hard part. How do you know if you are doing things correctly? If you decide to make a change to get your take away "on plain", you could easily set up a practice station using a couple of fiberglass sticks to guide you, practice in a mirror, or have a coach watch. There are a lot of possibilities, but they all take forethought and focus. They will most likely take you out of your comfort zone ,and may not be very much fun to do. Wow, no wonder not very many people really practice. Why would you, if you have to do all that?
The answer is passion. If you know what you want, then your passion for the game will see you through it and the fun will come when you are winning trophies or seeing improvement in your performance. This is the practice path that Benjamin Franklin used to become a better writer, Jack Welch used to run a better business, and that we can all use to become better golfers. Good luck! - James