Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why You Have to Put Pressure on Your Practice

If you practice and don't test yourself with simulated pressure, it will be tough to transfer your game to the golf course. Instead of grading your practice by how well you struck the golf ball, after you have practiced and are hitting the ball well, you should then add more pressure to simulate what the golf course will be adding.  It's not enough to stand there and hit great shots one after another to make your ego feel better. How many times has it stayed with you when you went out on the course? The reason is how you practice.  Most amateurs can't accept a bad shot.  "What am I doing incorrect"? Isn't that the typical internal dialogue? If you ask that after every shot, you really can go down an erroneous path.  Once you are hitting the ball consistently for your skill level you need to change your lie, change your targets and go through your routine. If you want the skill to show up on the golf course, you have to expose it during practice to different simulated on-course variables that you will encounter. You have to practice from bare lies to fluffy lies.  You have to practice to different targets and practice full shots and in between yardage shots.  The secret is adding variability because that simulates what you will be having to calculate when you are on the golf course facing the same situation. You want the shots that you practice to be a set of different variables each time.  Then you can add the pressure to your practice which is easy to do. Set a goal for the shot you are practicing and establish a consequence for success or failure or you can make a bet with a friend.  The pressure that you add will enhance the transfer of the skill to the golf course.   When you are in the comfort of the practice range, the flaws in your game are not so apparant. When you place pressure on your practice, suddenly your weak link will be exposed and usually whatever is your weakest link will break down.  That's why when you go to the golf course anything that adds a little bit of pressure can expose your weaknesses, for example, a four foot putt to win a bet with your friend, wind, a hole that is intimidating, anything that puts a mental strain on you during the round. Most people assume they are choking on the golf course.  What it means most of the time is that pressure does expose your weaknesses and most likely the skill that breaks down on the golf course is the one that is the weakest in your game.  Work on repairing that weakness in your game through practicing by integrating mental demands of decision making, pressure and simulating on course conditions.  Exposing your practice to pressure over time will lead to that skill performing consistently well under pressure and ultimately lead to transferring it to hold up on the golf course.