Technique: Be ‘On Purpose’ To Improve Intelligently

At the gym the other day I found myself at a locker next to a middle-aged guy in the dressing room. He was droning to his friends about how he came to the gym regularly but never saw good results: he chalked it up to advertising hype, age, genetics, diet and a busy schedule.  Full of excuses, he trooped off to the gym with his buddies.

55 minutes later, as I finished my workout, I took the time to observe him. You see, I love going to the gym, but I am constantly amazed when I see people wandering around aimlessly like sheep looking for fresh grass. He was picking up a dumbbell here and pumping out a few reps and then wandering over and chatting with a friend, then pumping a few reps out on the bench press. No routine, no systemized sets or reps, no apparent purpose or outcome to his workout.

Sound familiar? How many times have we found ourselves at the driving range or on the putting green aimlessly hitting shots with no sense of purpose, defined here as the lack of any plan or specific objective when engaged in an activity? Yet still we feel dissatisfied because we aren’t getting better? This is self-defeating and needs to stop now!

Would you be offended if a friend told you that you ran your life without purpose, that by definition you were “purposeless”? Most likely you would be, because you reject the idea that you are just wandering around. However, the reality is that this concept reflects how most people go about playing the game. Remember that old adage: If you don’t change, you will keep getting the same results. Damn, there’s a concept!

Begin to do something different now. To start, get specific with the outcome. As opposed to going on to the putting green and just randomly hitting a bunch of balls in the direction of the hole, think about what you want to accomplish. For example, today, I want to work on left to right putts from the 20 foot range and make sure I am swinging the putter on the right path to the point of break.

Secondly, use your training aids to ensure you are practicing the right technique and getting the right feedback. It takes a bit more effort, but the energy output pays you back with solid data about your performance. It only takes a minute to set up the putting strings or pull the Eye-Line device out of the trunk and take it to the green.

Third. Keep a journal about your progress and track your progress and results from each training session. The act of writing about your results in your journal forces you to become analytical and translate your feelings into left-brain terms that will help you recall them as needed. The technical term to describe this process of translating feeling to thought and vice versa is called modality synaesthesia.

In golf, as with most sports, we generally think of taking a concept and translating it to feel.  However, what should you do once you acquire the feeling and you want to be able to reproduce that feeling with consistency? Our experience is that you want to store that feeling in as many ways as possible. Take pictures, write it down, and put it in your own words. The importance is that you have a process for being able to recall and repeat the movement on demand.

Remember, improvement and growth in your game come incrementally based on high-level distinctions you make. Most of these improvement distinctions will come as a result of practice. So be ‘on purpose’ with every practice session and improve with intelligence.