I have recently started to develop and test a program that I have been operating manually for the past four to five years. This was a program that was ran through an excel document and require long hours of recording data for players. I have referred to this style of practice as “measured practice” in the past, so hints the name Measured Practice. This program is still under a testing phase, but will be ready for release mid 2016.
Measured Practice™ improves your game by showing which shots are costing you the most strokes on and off the course. This allows you to focus your efforts on the areas that will provide the most improvement. Measured Practice™ uses one metric that averages the number of strokes to hole out from each lie and distance. The values are calculated using strokes or sometimes fractions of a stroke that add up at the end of a round or practice session. The baseline has been estimated for a player who would shoot even par and your skills will be evaluated off of this baseline. This website is optimized for use with your smart phone, but will work great on your PC or tablet.
Research shows that practicing in a manner that creates accountability and consequence is one of the most effective forms of practice. Incorporating Measured Practice™ into your practice will help you develop that accountability and allow you to take your skills from the practice area to the course. Additionally, successfully transferring your skills to on-course performance requires actual practice in the environment. This means that practice sessions have three key elements: they are completed on course, have accountability, and are randomized. These three key elements are what Measured PracticeTM is all about. Adding Measured PracticeTM to your training will help you understand, on a deeper level, where your technical skill bases or mental focus training should be concentrated.
A Few Thoughts on Practice…
Taking your Practice Progress to the Course
Players ask all the time how to you take what they are working on at the practice facility to the golf course. The answer is, how you practice and the environment you practice in. Practicing a skill with repetition can have great benefit to building a more consistent motion, but there is no substitute for hitting shots in the actual environment and learning to adapt to the lie and situation. Players spend quit a bit of time hitting the same shot multiple times in their practice sessions and then go to the course and they have to hit one shot, one time. As you can know this is a difficult task, so practice sessions that also include shots that are on course or one at a time and then change positions or targets will help you preform while you are playing. While at the practice facility I would also try to play the holes at Skokie on the course, meaning hit your drive, then hit the next club you would typically need, and so forth until you get to the green. Play all 18 holes one the range in this fashion to help randomize your practice sessions. Practice that simulates playing will help you calm your nerves and also help you take your skill to the course faster.
Practicing with Purpose and Not Chaos
Players need to practice smarter, not always harder. One of the best ways to retool your swing on the range is to work on hitting full shots slow motion, around 50% speed, to feel the changes you are working on and allow the pattern to take hold. As you can accomplish the positions or change at a slower speed then speed up the swings to help develop confidence in the new motion. The image above has two types of practices stations setup, Purposeful practice and Chaos practice. I encourage my students to have a goal when they go to the range, no matter their handicap. Setup your practice station in stacks of 5 balls, whenever you finish a stack of balls slightly speed up the motion as you go through the stack of balls to eventually be at full speed. Repeat the process and you should have a better chance of making some of the changes you are working on. Remember, practice with a Purpose and not with Chaos.
Practicing with Feedback
Players that practice with feedback and aids typically have faster success. Trying to change a motor pattern skill can be quite difficult and without the proper feedback it can be even more difficult. Your instructor is not always there so being able to give yourself the correct feedback is very important. Feedback drills can be very simple in nature and can give you the proper feel for the technique. Here is a short list of things that would be considered feedback drills:
Mirror: Watching your body and club move in a mirror will help you make changes and place yourself into the correct positions you are trying to obtain.
Alignment Sticks: If aligning your body to the target is difficult for you, then use an alignment stick (driveway markers) to help you get the proper feel for alignment.
Towel: If distance control in putting is difficult, you could hold a towel under your biceps while putting. This would help you control the speed of the putter with your torso, rather than your arms and hands.
There are several feedback drills that can fit your specific golf needs. These are just a few random examples to give you an idea of what a feedback drill looks like.
Quantify your Practice Sessions in a Journal
Often times we do not have time to play the course, but we might have an hour to practice. If this is the case I would suggest quantifying your practice session occasionally. What I mean by quantifying is tracking the results. I would setup a certain type of shot and record the outcome in a journal to compare to past sessions. Here are a few suggested shots to keep track of when quantifying your practice sessions:
Ten putts, 10’ away: Track how many you can make
Ten putts, 25’ away: Track how many one putts, two putt, and three putts
10 Chips, 40 yards away: Track how many stayed on the green
10 Chips, 20 yards away: Track how many stayed on the green
20 shots, between 50 – 130: Track how many stayed on the green
10 Drives: See how many stay between the blue and red flags on the range
Not only is this a more effective way to practice, but creates a game like atmosphere and will make your sessions more fun and challenging.
Adding Layers to your Practice Sessions
Learning a new skill can be quit difficult and relearning a skill in a new way can be even more difficult in some cases. Learning to swing the club in an improved method can take some time as we all know. How you go about that can dictate how successful you are and how long it takes you to relearn the skill or improve the skill you already have in place. Layering in levels of difficulty while at the practice areas can be the catalysis to your success. Layering is a simple method and in some cases would require a player to add in levels of difficulty as their practice session progresses. A suggested laying practice session for full swing learning would look like:
– Start by making 10 to 20 slow motions swings focused on the swing changes you are working on
– Hit 10 to 20 half speed shots, teed up off the ground controlling your club and body, all at one target and with one club
– Hit 10 to 20 half speed shots, teed up off the ground controlling your club and body, while alternating clubs in your bag to the same target
– Go back to hitting the one club but start to do this at a full speed pace to one target
– The last 10 to 20 balls should be hit while alternating clubs and targets on every shot to help simulate playing
If you will take the time to practice in this manner your odds go up significantly over time to help learn or reprogram your current skills.