To quote Allen Iverson’s amazing press conference of 2002 … ‘We talking about Practice’[i]. Practice can be viewed in many different ways. Some people see it as a waste of time, others dream of it but can never find the time for it, and a select few put a lot of time into it and really get nothing in return. All are valid but changeable.
So what exactly is practice?
There are two basic types of practice; Massed (block) Practice and Distributed (random) Practice. Massed is simply the repetitive practice of the same skill[ii]. For example, a golfer on the range hitting 7-iron after 7-iron at the same target grooving a swing until they see what they like, and then switching to their driver and repeating the exact same process. Distributed on the other hand, is practice of the same skill spread over time[iii]. An example of this is a golfer on the range who, although working on one particular skill, changes targets, distances, lies and clubs. They may still get similar reps when compared to the mass practice, but changing clubs and targets on every shot makes the golfer think more about what they are doing, thus making the practice session more similar to what they see/feel on the course. This causes the golfer to go through the entire learning cycle for each shot[iv].
Massed practice does have its time and place. Great examples are individuals new to the game and/or individuals working on specific swing changes in the off season. However, distributed practice is a lot more game like. Studies by Levit and Pirozzolo (golf specific), along with Smith, Glenberg and Berk, have shown that varying the task at hand (distributed practice) enhances retention of skills over time[v].
Now that you understand what practice is and what type of practice is best; one last piece of the puzzle needs to be put into place. You must have a PURPOSE. This means that while you are doing your distributed practice you must be focussed in on that one particular skill. This also means you are not required to hit 3 buckets of balls or spend two hours on the range. What is important is that you know what you are working on and spend the necessary time doing it.
Hitting ball after ball on the range without any thought process is not the answer. Set up a station or two. Use the drills given to you by your PGA of Saskatchewan Instructor and/or Coach and reward yourself for completing the drill(s) with a golf ball.
Stay committed, be focused and distribute your practice. Learning and Results will follow.
[i] Gallo,DJ.(2012). Allen Iverson’s ‘practice’ rant: 10 years ago. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/blog/playbook/fandom/post/_/id/2026/allen-iversons-practice-rant-10-years-later on Feb 18th/2017.
[ii] Rink, J. (2006). Teaching physical education for learning (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
[iii] Rink, J. (2006). Teaching physical education for learning (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
[v] Cooke, M. & Walker, C. (2016). Game Like Training Course. Week 1 – Varying the conditions of learning for optimal retention and transfer. Retrieved from www.Training.golfsciencelab.com on Feb. 18th/2017.
PGA of Saskatchewan Professional Jason Schneider is a regular contributor to the SaskGolfer community. For help with your golf game, contact Jason at (306)975-3320