I believe that most golfers are becoming more aware of how to practice properly.
Gone are the days when a golfer would turn up to the driving range and bash all of the balls in their basket with driver to the point of exhaustion!
Admittedly, there are still a few people out there that try 40 different swing thoughts during a bucket of 40 balls, but in general, I believe people are far more educated on how to practice more effectively.
One area that I believe is yet to be discovered by the club golfer, that has been known to touring professionals for some time, is practice periodisation.
So what is practice periodisation?
PERIODISATION IS THE SYSTEMATIC PLANNING
OF ATHLETIC OR PHYSICAL TRAINING
To understand this, we need to recognise that there are several different forms of practice.
Target practice (on the range)
On course practice
We must also understand the reason we practice:
WE PRACTICE SO THAT WE CAN GET THE BALL AROUND THE GOLF COURSE
IN THE FEWEST SHOTS POSSIBLE. NOT TO HAVE THE PRITIEST SWING
The goal of a structured and periodised practice plan, should be to improve a golfers technique and to create the ideal state of mind to score as low as possible.
Periodisation of practice includes all of the elements above but in the correct order at the right time.
Technical practice can cause some disruption to the form of a golfer and as a result is generally carried out during the winter months. This phase of practice is carried out with plenty of lessons and video analysis.
Transfer practice is a key part of a golfers ability to take what has been technically changed onto the golf course. If a golfer spends a lot of time working on technical thoughts it is very difficult to switch to a non-technical thought process, which is needed for peak performance. Because this switch is difficult, the golfer has to spend time hitting balls without any technical thoughts whilst on the range.
Target practice should be carried out within a few weeks of the start of the season. This phase is a great way of getting the golfer into a target orientated state of mind rather than a technical state of mind. Aiming at different sized targets on the driving range whilst going through a pre-shot routine is an area of practice that most golfer miss out.
On course practice is done by playing a few holes but with several balls. Taking the target practice on the range to the ultimate arena, the golf course, but still being in practice mode is the ideal progression for a golfers new skills. Playing games, such as “Worse Ball”, is a great way to make practice tougher than the real game. An important factor for skill development. (For more on-course practice games, please click here and write the subject line “Practice Games”)
Warm Up. This is a trick section! The warm-up is exactly what the name suggests. It should not be used as a time to cram in a little more technical practice before the round. Technical practice at this time is only ever done in worst case scenarios. My advice is to not try any new technical thoughts (read in magazines or seen on YouTube) in your pre-round warm-up. Use this time to simply find your rhythm for the day.
Ultimately, a practice plan must have an end goal in mind. If you are looking into building a practice plan, make sure you include all of the above phases at the right time.