Analyze & Assess – During the first step we analyze whatever aspect of the game we are working on, and assess current status. We basically ask, “What are we doing right now?”
Identify & Understand – During the second step we identify the root cause of the issue as well as the solution. In this case we ask ourselves, “What should I be doing?” Here is where the teacher offers his expertise in a comprehendible way so that the student has a clear understanding of what is happening and what should be happening instead.
Take Action & Change – Finally, now that we assessed current status, identified the issue and understood what we should be doing, we must find a way make the change actually take place. Here is where the teacher steps in to “design a roadmap”, for the student, so that he has a clear vision of what to do next. This can be a drill, or a sequence of exercises that will help the student perform better.
Have you ever noticed that at times you walk off the course feeling that you didn’t play well, yet for some reason your score says a different story? Have you ever noticed the opposite too? You walk off the course happy about your ball striking, decent putting and yet your score is worse than your average? Well, it is clear to everyone that golf is not just about technique, but it is much more than that. It is about what I call “The 5 Elements of Golf”.
1 – Technical
Under the term “Technical” I most importantly identify:
Swing Mechanics – it refers to building through repetition, feeling, drills and training aids those patterns necessary to achieve consistent, powerful and repetitive ball striking, driving, accurate putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play and specialty shots.
Golf Specific Skill Development – it refers to the ability to hit a draw, a fade, control trajectory, distance control, etc.
Golf may not be only about technique. However, it most certainly is about CONSISTENCY and REPETITIVETY. Players with sound and repetitive technique, that leads to consistent and solid ball striking, will have better chances at scoring well. In a nutshell, solid ball striking leads to fewer and the better misses, which in return leads to better chances at scoring well.
2 – Physical
To compete in today’s golf and achieve consistency and repetitivety in our performance, our bodies must be healthy and fit. The physical element of golf comprehends different facets as well, such as:
Fitness – building mobility, stability, strength, power and flexibility is no easy task, yet if we want to improve and feel better in daily activities, setting up a physical screening and signing up at a gym is a great idea!
Injury prevention and recovery – to perform at our potential we must be healthy. If we warm up properly, if we are physically fit, there are fewer chances of getting hurt and encountering setbacks.
Skill Development – this is different from golf specific skill development. This relates more to Junior Golf, and refers to fundamental/functional movement skills such as running, jumping, throwing, kicking, and all hand-eye coordination related skills.
Diet – needless to say, what we eat and when we eat it has an impact on physical performance.
3 – Mental/Emotional
The Mental/Emotional aspect of golf relates to many aspects such as the ability to handle pressure and bad luck, visualization, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, establishing a routine, etc.
4 – Course Management
Course Management refers not only to strategy, but also to having a game plan, playing the percentages, shot selection, properly analyzing risk-reward situations
5 – Equipment
Equipment is about club fitting, Driver through Putter, and it is also about properly spacing gaps through the set thanks to modern launch monitors like Flightscope or Trackman. Distance control is key to lower scores
What I have noticed after years of teaching is that many players not necessarily improve proportionally to the time they spend practicing.
This can be for many reasons such as: reinforcing a wrong pattern, practicing without feedback, only practicing what they are good at, only practicing long game, ect.
However, the most common mistake is that players don’t practice… they exercise! They just hit ball after ball getting more of a cardio workout if anything!
Effective Practice or SMART Practice – We all have busy schedules, therefore, we must prioritize in order to be efficient. To be efficient and practice effectively and purposefully, you should:
Following these steps will allow you to develop a practice plan that improves your weaknesses and maintains and improves your strengths.
Why SMART Practice?
Beacause when setting a GOAL you should always follow the SAMRT model
Playing is the time when you show off all the hard work that you did on the range. A lot of players play while they are still on the “practice mode”. They walk on the first tee and worry about whatever it is that they are working on their swing rather than focusing on playing golf, and they fail miserably on the course!
The whole point of practicing on the range, especially if you are working on swing mechanics, is to make something uncomfortable become comfortable, hence natural, so that when you play on the course it happens naturally without having to think about it and it holds under pressure!
When you are on the course your focus should be on strategy, target selection, club selection, routine, focusing on the process, there should not be any major swing thoughts. Therefore: