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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Nilsson & Marriott on the Two Practice Essentials

Here are some thoughts from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, founders of VISION54, from their book Play Your Best Golf Now. This post is based on the chapter called The Two Practice Essentials. Obviously I'm just pulling some quotes from that chapter; there's way too much good stuff there for me to quote it all. But I'll try to tie it all together so you get some useful ideas.
The Two Essential Practice Skills will maximize your return on practice time... Hitting golf balls until your hands bleed is only beneficial if you are trying to get a Band-Aid endorsement deal.
Effective practice isn't about the length of your practice time. It's about the effectiveness of it.
The key concept that we latched onto is the absolute necessity of tearing down the wall between practice and play. They are both golf. Immerse yourself in the totality of the game. The main thing you are trying to do is play better golf on the golf course -- not hit the ball great on the practice range.
Don't lose sight of your goal. You want lower scores on the course, not a pretty swing on the range.
So the first Practice Essential is about making your practice as much like real golf as you can. We call it Simulated Golf.
To make your practice time effective, you need to practice the kinds of things that you'll experience on the course. Yeah, I know you've heard that plenty of times already, but that doesn't mean you're doing it so I'm reminding you. Again.
The second Practice Essential is to know how to integrate different skills. The three keys to integration are engagement, repetition and accurate feedback.
Once you decide to make your practice more "gamelike," there are methods you can use to do that. Some that Pia and Lynn give are:
  • Change clubs for every shot.
  • Change targets for each shot.
  • Do your pre-shot routine before each shot.
  • Imagine you have a one-shot lead and have to hit the green for a two-putt.
  • Shape shots around imaginary objects.
  • Create a slow-play situation so you have to adapt your routine. (You can make yourself wait a certain amount of time between shots, for example.)
  • Play half-shots.
  • Play from bad lies.
You get the idea. You're trying to duplicate things you have to do during a real game, with each shot being different, and set goals for each shot so you can determine whether you have actually been successful or not. And finally:
If you hit shots on the range while talking to others without your mind engaged, you are not practicing golf, you are practicing being unfocused.
This doesn't mean you can't talk to others while you practice. This means you shouldn't talk to others during individual shots. You want to be thinking about your shot while you're playing it. You can talk to others BETWEEN shots.

That's enough to get you started. It's better to take small steps when you're changing your practice routine. You'll make more progress that way because the changes won't be so overwhelming.

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