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How to Practice Properly
Making Practice Effective

Learn how to make practice time effectiveMake Your Practice Productive

You have good intentions. You've scheduled the time, you've come up with a practice plan and you made the trip to the range. News flash...you're only about 50% of the way there. Even though your plan tells you how much and what to practice, HOW you practice can make all the difference in the world when it comes to actually seeing results. Remember..."it's quality, not quantity."

It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get. - Arnold Palmer

Is Practicing Wrong Better Than Not Practicing at All?

Is it true that the more you practice the better you get? In my own experience and with that of my students, the answer is "yes." I am often questioned by students as to whether or not one should practice if he or she is actually practicing wrong. Many golfers looking to improve their games are uncertain as to whether or not they are practicing correctly or merely just grooving bad habits. I have found however, that any practice is better than no practice at all. I believe this to be true because each time a golfer goes out to the practice tee, he or she is working on fitness, balance, hand-eye coordination, timing and rhythm. All of those things leave us quickly when we are not repeating a motion over and over. And you've heard Ben Hogan's famous quote of "Golf is not a game of good shots. Golf is a game of bad shots." As we say, it's a game of misses. It's all about how good your misses are and more practice yields better misses in my opinion.

A golfer has to train his swing on the practice tee, then trust it on the course. -Dr Bob Rotella

It's Quality, Not Quantity.

As I said it's quality, not quantity. The practice range should be used for realistic practice. In other words, your practice should mimic what you want to do on the golf course. When you are playing you don't want to go out and hit 500 shots and if so should you hit 500 balls on the range? Isn't that training your brain that hitting 500 times is o.k.? Wouldn't that become a habit? It's a good argument isn't it? Wouldn't you be better served going out and hitting 68 shots with the right proportion being putts and wedges? In most cases I think a mixture of hitting hundreds of balls to groove a new move along with adding in realistic practice (meaning less swings and more on-course like behavior) is a good combination.

Let's look at it this way. If you have a really bad swing flaw, hundreds of repetitions doing it the new way is only going to make it feel more normal and train your brain that the new move is the right move to tell your body to make. So repetition can't hurt, but only doing hundreds of reps isn't probably going to help you translate that to the golf course. Therefore, an even amount of time should be spent "playing golf" on the practice range. This means imagining you are on different holes and going through your entire pre-shot routine from driver all the way down to the putter. Yes, putt off the matt or the grass. You might think it looks weird, but it is exactly what your brain needs to make practice real.

Using our free practice planner will guide you on how much of your time to put into each area of your game. So the plan is set. From there all you need is a proper warm up, time dedicated to each part of your game and then some realistic practice to end your session. I would always end your session playing golf on the range so that you don't get too stuck in a rut of thinking heavy swing mechanics.

The Situation:

You want to make sure that you are practicing properly.

The Solution:

The first step in practicing properly is to set goals and have a game plan in mind. Our free practice planner is a great place to start. Once you have a practice percentage assigned to all the areas you need to focus on, you are ready to get started. Begin practice with stretches and warming up your body. A 5-10 minute total body stretching routine is best. If you are working on full swing, start with an easy warm up with a wedge making 1/4 swings then 1/2 swings and work your way up to a full swing. From there, hit every other club until you've gotten to the driver. If there are swing mechanics you are trying to get grooved, they are best grooved with short irons,so you might save anything longer than a 6 iron for the end of your practice session. Finish your practice session by playing golf on the driving range. Start with 9 hole imagining your favorite course or at least one that you are familiar with. Visualize the first tee shot, hit your drive, then move onto the second shot and so on until you've completed 9 holes. This plan only takes into consideration full swing so obviously you would need to work on your short game either before or after full swing while sticking to the percentages listed in your practice plan.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
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