This is the 7th part of a series of practice tips titled “Tips for Improving”.
In those practice tips we discussed how we work with our students to create new habits rather than breaking old habits. It is essentially impossible to break bad habits (our mind/body is not set up that way) … but we are set up to be able to create new habits and ultimately make changes/create new movements, etc. we want.
We talked about a book we strongly recommend – The Little Book of Talent / 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle
It is described as a manual for building a faster brain and a better you. It is an easy-to-use hand book of scientifically proven, field tested methods to improve your skills – your skills, your kids’ skills, your organization’s skills – in sports, music, art, math and business. The product of five years of reporting from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds and interviews with successful master coaches, it distills the daunting complexity of skill development into 52 clear, concise directives. Whether you are 10 or 100, this is an essential guide for anyone who ever asked, “How do I get better?”
This book is available at Amazon.com
The last instructional newsletters (Tips for Improvement Part 1 through 6) we discussed 26 tips for improvement from staring a who you want to become, to being willing to be stupid, to finding the sweet spot, to practicing by yourself…. Again, if you have not reviewed these past practice tips, would recommend.
This instructional newsletter (Part 7) we cover the next 5 tips for improving your skills and relate them to you learning/working on your single plane swing and golf game
27. Close Your Eyes
One of the quickest ways to deepen/enhance practice is also one of the simplest, Close Your Eyes. Closing your eyes is a quick way to “enhance” certain senses. Many times golfers/students get WAY TOO “tied up” in ball results and not in the movement/feeling of the movement of the golf swing.
Quite often in our schools, when a student is starting to get the club on plane, or starting to get into proper positions (could be grip, set up, etc..) we will have the student close their eyes and “feel” that position or swing. It is critical to have a good sense of feel in the swing.
The sequence is to work on fundamental positions/swing, as you are starting to figure out and get closer to the model, you want to turn it into “feel”. This is greatly enhanced when you “close your eyes” at times during practice. We are not recommending hitting balls with the eyes closed, but practice swinging and working on fundamental positions with the eyes closed is a wonderful learning tool.
28. Mime It
Swing the golf club WITHOUT a golf ball. Removing everything except the essential action lets you focus on what matters most – making the right/correct action/move. Do this with the full swing, with putting, chipping, pitching, etc… etc. As you are “miming” – think what you want it too look like. Think of the model you are trying to copy. Put this together with tip # 27 – Mime while closing your eyes. Start slow, and eventually build up speed.
29. When You Get It Right, Mark The Spot
One of the most fulfilling moments of a practice session is when you make your first perfect rep. When this happens, FREEZE. “Rewind” the mental tape and play the move again and again in your mind. Memorize the feeling in rhythm, the physical and mental sensations.
The point is to mark the moment – this is the “spot” where you want to go again and again and again.
This is NOT the finish – it’s the new starting line for perfecting the skill/building the new habit(s).
Love the saying – “Practice begins when you get it right.”
This is one of those situations it would really help to video your swing/new positions so you can check against the model (Moe). Many ask how to short cut the process… there is no real short cut – but it can be sped up by a student viewing/watching his swing more. Videoing does this (and it is VERY simple). If you have questions how to video your swing, Chandler Rusk, Master Instructor will be more than happy to assist you – you can contact him at ChandlerR@gravesgolf.com
30. Take A Nap
This has to be one of the best tips… The science: Napping is good for the learning brain, because it helps strengthen the connections formed during practice and prepares the brain for the next session. It has actually been shown that learning improves by as much as 10% after a nap compared to those that don’t take one.
Now, I know if is unrealistic to take naps during practice (or between different sessions) – like going from chipping practice to full swing practice. BUT – you should take a break (can even think of it as a “power nap” … sort of). You should NEVER practice for more than 10 or 15 minute sessions, and between these sessions you should let the mind/brain relax. Take a break…. let the brain take a “nap”.
I like to listen to music (headphones) between practice sessions – a good way for me to get “away” from my golf thoughts.
The more you can relax between your different practice sessions, the more effective the sessions will be.
Example of a typical practice session (1 hour) – Few minutes of stretching. 10 to 15 minute of putting (then listen to a few minutes of music). 10 to 15 minutes of chipping/pitching (then listen to a few minutes of music). 20 to 30 minutes of full swing work (spit up into 10 to 15 minute sessions relaxing between..)
31. To Learn A New Move, Exaggerate It
It you have read past instructional tips you have heard us talk about this many times.
To learn a new move, exaggerate it. Don’t be halfhearted… you can always “dial back” later. Go too far so you can feel the “outer edges” of the move, and then work on building the skill with precision.
Also, for most, unless you exaggerate it, you will not create the new habit/new move.
This is the perception vs. reality concept. You might think you are making a change, but most are not changing enough (if at all). They think they are making a change… and really aren’t. Exaggerating the change will take care of this. Remember, you can always “bring it back” a little. And if you have made the “dramatic” change, “bringing it back” a little will not be hard and will take very little time.
The best way to create a new habit – exaggerate it.
The best way to get feel in a new habit – exaggerate it.
The best way to make sure you created the new habit – exaggerate it.
The quickest way to create a new habit – exaggerate it.
Think you get my point….
Please watch upcoming newsletter practice tips for continuation of the tips for improving your skills/creating new habits and improving your golf game.