How do you get better at golf faster?
This is a question and frustration I often hear when listening to golfers and aspiring golfers. I will answer this question and provide a solution to help all golfers progress better and faster.
Well documented research and studies of expert and elite performance show us that after 50 hours of deliberate practice we develop a level of competency regardless of what activity we engage in. In this case with golf, 50 hours of practice on a golf course can take a long time to complete. This is especially true if you are working with a coach who believes you cannot go to the golf course unless you learn to fix your swing on the range first. We now know that the learning process is accelerated when we participate in game-like activities and in the actual game itself. In other words, by practicing in the environment one is going to perform or compete in. After decades of not having this information it has been difficult to bring our minds around to seeing a beginner on the golf course straight away. It looks terrible, chaotic and completely out of place. But this then poses another question: Are we more concerned about losing our golf balls and digging up divots than we are about teaching people how to play the game, and to play the game better? It has been a long and exciting quest searching for what deliberate practice actually is within the golfing arena. With the help of master teaching professionals, professors and research analysts around the world have concluded that deliberate practice in golf is how many hours a golfer gets in practicing game like repetitions or actual games themselves.
Can you ride a bike? Did you go to bike riding school? Did you do bike riding drills? Did you complete technical progressions when learning how to ride a bike? If your answer was no, then how did you learn to ride a bike? The answer is simple – you sat on a bike and learned by pedalling until you fell over. Then you got back up and tried again. How did you learn to walk? Sure you watched many people walk from the stroller, carrier or the crib, but you learned by doing it, along with many errors during the process. Here’s one last example, and it’s my personal favorite. You have sat in your mum’s car for 16 years seeing her push the gas pedal, push the brake, put the hand break on, accelerate, decelerate and steer. Does this mean you know how to drive? Of course not. You don’t know how to drive until you get in the driver’s seat and attempt to do so. You can also take a look at insurance bills to confirm how by doing, by driving, over time lowers the rates. The process of learning how to play golf is exactly the same. In golf we hear of the term ‘specific sport IQ’, which is basically a term describing the individual’s knowledge and abilities within their particular field.
In golf we do examine a golfers IQ, but do we improve it as quickly and effectively as we can? I understand that the game and game-like practice teaches the game itself. It gives rapid increase in our students golfing IQ. An extremely important question to ask yourself when practicing or arranging practice for your students: Are you practicing to look good in practice or are you practicing to improve performance? We ask ourselves that every day when structuring practice. Making game like practice part of your everyday practice is the key contributor to getting better faster.