Have you ever struggled to make a swing change and take that change out onto, not only the practice tee but also onto the golf course.
WHAT IT ACTUALLY TAKES TO MAKE A SWING CHANGE
If I could share a way in which you could practice better, implement the desired swing change, and give you a better chance of taking it out onto the golf course, WOULD YOU BE WILLING to do the work to make that happen? In this blog, I'm going to dive into the hard truths behind what it actually takes to make a swing change, and to make it last!
Ok, let's be honest here. Learning any new skills or new movement within the golf swing is not an easy process. A significant swing change is not something that happens overnight. Unfortunately, In today's world, many of us (including myself at times), are often looking for a quick fix solution to our problems. In some cases, this is possible. But to make a significant change, and to make it last, takes time and purposeful application. The first thing we need to do here is ACCEPT this and be OK with the fact that we may need to take 3 steps back in order to take 6 steps forward.
HOW TO PRACTICE BETTER
When I'm at a driving range I often see golfers hitting the largest bucket of balls available and in 20 or 25 minutes, that bucket is empty, having just smacked ball after ball, often with just the driver, and very little intention behind each shot. After the practice session, they'll no doubt walk away, not only feeling sore but also, not having achieved anything of substance and missing out on what they could have potentially achieved if they'd made better use of that time.
When learning a new skill, practicing it at full speed is very difficult to do. For example: When you first learned to drive a car and use gears, did you go straight into trying to change gears when cruising down the freeway? No, of course not. That would be very dangerous! Your instructor would have broken the process down for you and you may have started initially with the car at a standstill and doing practice movements with the clutch only. Then you might have layered in changing the gear stick after pressing the clutch. Once you felt comfortable with that, then you may have attempted to change gears with the car moving at a very slow speed, in a SAFE place, with no one else around that you could crash into, and so on.
IT'S OK TO BE FRUSTRATED
When trying to implement a swing change in practice we need to break it down and be more detailed in how we practice that movement. Therefore, you can accept that it may take time and it's OK to get frustrated. It's all part of the process. Look at the best players in the world, it can take months and months or even years sometimes, for them to be comfortable with a swing change out on the golf course.
WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?
When making a swing change, Tour players and their coaches will often pick quiet time's in their schedules to make a change, and not during the season. Why? Because Tour players have A LOT to lose. If they play badly for a few months, it could mean they lose their livelihoods, lose majors, and lose their careers! So they have to be very careful about when they implement certain swing changes. The good news for the everyday golfer like you is that you have much less to lose, and A LOT more to gain from making a swing change. Golf is your recreational time, it's time for yourself, perhaps away from the stresses of work and family commitments, and a time to play with your buddies. Ok, maybe there are a few side bets you may lose whilst making a change, but hey, just accept that your scores may not reflect the work you're putting in initially, but in the long term with an improved golf game your average scores should begin to improve.
THE BENEFITS OF DRILLS FOR GOLF
You may have been given a drill by your coach but perhaps not using it to your full potential during practice. Here is the process I recommend you try next time you go to practice using the club/s in your bag that you most need to work on, and using training aids/feedback tools where advised:
STEP 1 - NO CLUB. NO BALL With no club in your hands and no ball, rehearse the exaggerated body and arm movement slowly and deliberately. 3-5 reps. Full focus on the quality of movement.
STEP 2 - INTRODUCE THE CLUB. NO BALL With the club in your hands and no ball, rehearse the exaggerated body and arm movement slowly and deliberately. 3-5 reps. Full focus on the quality of movement.
STEP 3 - INTRODUCE THE BALL ALONG WITH THE CLUB. With the club in your hands and a ball, rehearse the exaggerated body and arm movement slowly and deliberately make some very slow swings, and let the ball get in the way. 3-5 reps. Full focus on the quality of movement. Zero focus on the result of the shot. You can top it, thin it, shank it, fat it or even miss it completely. I don't care at this stage.
STEP 4 - INCREASE THE SPEED Increase to 50% speed staying very focused on the movement quality, and with a little bit of focus on the shape of the shot. 3-5 reps. Hopefully, you're coach has given you, or you have a sound understanding of what desired effect the swing change you're making should have on the golf ball. STEP 5 - INCREASE THE SPEED TO 75% Increase to 75% speed staying mainly focused on the movement quality, but with more interest in the shape and result of the shot. 3-5 reps. Whilst you're learning the new skill, this is the point where you're new technique may begin to fall into old habits, particularly when you become a little more interested in the outcome.
STEP 6 - INCREASE THE SPEED TO FULL PLAYING SPEED (APPROX 90-95%) Increase to full playing speed staying trying to feel a new movement but with some more interest in the shot shape and result. 3-5 reps. This stage begins to really challenge how well your new technique holds up at full speed. This won't be very good initially. Once you've completed one round of the above which may take around 15 - 20 minutes when done properly (and with only 20 balls at the most with only 5 full swings), I would suggest repeating another one to two times depending on your time available. On completion of the above-blocked practice (training to learn), I would always recommend finishing a long game practice session with a pressure test (training to perform). This is where you can start to add a little pressure to your practice and bridge that gap between the practice tee and the golf course. PRESSURE TEST Using 10 x balls, pick a target that is approximately 10% wide of the total distance of the club you are hitting. If it's the driver and you hit the driver 250 metres, then pick a designated fairway that is approximately 25 metres wide on the driving range. This could be a distance between a couple of markers on the range to give you a visual for your 'fairway'. Hit 10 shots, going through your full pre-shot routine for each. Score yourself for how many shots out of the 10 you hit within your target. Record your score and monitor the progress with this club over future practice sessions. If you're only hitting 25% of the fairways in a practice pressure test, then please do not expect to hit anywhere above that consistently on the golf course, when you have a scorecard in your hand or the with the added pressure of competition and long waits between swings. This gives you an honest appraisal of where you're at and will help you manage your expectations on the golf course.
STICK WITH THE PROCESS
So there you have it, the TRUTH behind what it ACTUALLY takes to implement a swing change. So the next time you feel like jumping from drill to drill or even coach to coach, just understand that it is a process, and it needs to be followed through in order to achieve lasting success. If you're able to see the bigger picture and process of what you're doing long them, then please stick with it. Whenever you make a significant swing change, this is the reality of what you need to go through.
And just imagine how good it will feel when you begin to hit 1 out of 10 shots on the golf course, the best you've ever hit it before in your life, because of the changes you've made. And if you can do it once, then chances are if you stick with it you'll be able to increase your chances of hitting it purely when it matters most!
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