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Even with lessons, instructional videos and store-purchased aids, your golf game will continue the way it has been without consistent and efficient practice. Consistent because practice sessions involve exercises that are meant to develop muscle memory. Efficient because pacing your energy to the kinds of exercises you’ll do is important as well.
Simple as this point may sound, it is one that is easily overlooked. Many golfers think that for as long as they spend enough time on the practice range, their score will improve. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily so. To get a better game, it is important that your practice sessions be as regimented as the way you play the game itself, if not more.
Before you groan about how boring practices are, it might help to think that practices are what build good playing habits when you hit the greens. And if you approach your practice sessions as more than chores and see them as yet another fun aspect to your game of golf, the results can only be a game all the more fun than it already is.
First of all, think of your practice session in three parts consisting of:
- the warm-up,
- the fresh stage
- and the fatigued stage.
In these three stages, you will carry out different sets of exercises that when done in the right stages will make your practices more effective giving you results you can see on the greens as you play.
Many are deceived into thinking that golf requires no strenuous physical activity as it only involves swinging and walking. Nothing could be further from the truth. The very nature of swinging causes your muscle groups to work in ways not common to everyday routine.
Your upper torso, arms, as well as your lower back muscles are the groups most worked when playing golf. Which only shows then that it is important to warm up with some stretches. Start from the top of your head and work your way down to your feet. Flexibility and getting your muscles’ full range of motion is your goal. If you are unfamiliar with stretches, you may consult a trainer or the instructor in your club for some tips.
- Fresh Stage
After your warm-up, start working on exercises that build on a skill you haven’t mastered yet, or on parts of your game that’s been causing you higher strokes. This could be anything from putting, chipping or driving.
The idea is that when you work on these problem areas while you’re still fresh and limber from a stretch routine, your body responds more positively to the exercises you’re subjecting it to.
The thing about most people’s idea of golf practice is simply spending time on the driving range without even considering whether or not driving is their waterloo. But if you’re aware that your short game is what’s giving you problems, then you’d do best to hit the greens to work on your putts as soon as you finish warming up. (As an aside, it has been observed that more than 60% of a player’s strokes take place on the green. Unfortunately, this fact is overlooked by many players thus resulting in poor practice habits.)
- Fatigued stage
Once you start feeling winded from the earlier exercises, move on to work on facets of your game that simply need reinforcement. Since your body already knows this motion, this stage in your practice serves as maintenance to your form.
If any correction is necessary, your stressed out body isn’t as pressured to master a difficult form. As in the previous example, only after working on your problematic short game can you then go to the driving range to give positive reinforcement to your drives.
Finally, here are some more observations and suggestions in carrying out your practice.
- To be able to see continuous improvement, a good practice-to-play ratio is about 2:1, which means giving twice as much time to practice as to what you would spend in playing.
- However, give yourself sufficient time to rest in between exercises and in between stages. While it is a work out, you should not be winded down by the activity. Doing so may actually do more harm than help.
Your game should see improvements as you give your sessions a more defined structure. Be consistent and note the results of your exercises to step up that game one stroke at a time.
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