Do you spend hours practising but struggle to replicate your form on the course? It's time to change your approach and start training to be a golfer
Simply put, bad practice is why 90 per cent of the people I see aren’t improving. They’re often practising poor concepts, inefficiently with minimal feedback – the opposite formula to what the research tells us is optimal for improvement: Repetition + engagement + accurate feedback = myelination (learning).
This is why poor practice is the greatest inhibitor to improved performance. You could be working on exactly the “right” thing but when trained poorly, it’s likely you’re not going to see improvement – and if you do it’s going to take you longer than it should.
The eagle eyed among you might have picked up on my use of training vs. practice. Truth be told I despise the use of the word practice (definition: repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency) in this context. I find it vague and unintentional and it invites unfocused repetition and disengagement.
I much prefer to use training (definition: the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained). It invokes specific and focused attention to effectively prepare for play far more than practice does.
Just think of how people in the fitness world talk: “I’m going to train legs today” vs. “I’m going to practise legs today”.
And in the business and education worlds: “I’m going on a training course” vs. “I’m going on a practice course”.
How to train for golf: Getting started
On my journey, I’ve been fortunate to learn from Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott from Vision 54 and they introduced me to many of the concepts I’m about to share with you.
I see far too many golfers using their valuable time vagrantly, so before any training session you need to answer three questions:
- WHAT do I need train?
- WHY do I need train it?
- HOW will I train it?
To help you answer those questions I propose implementing a simple process to get you on the road to better, happier golf.
How to train for golf: Review
Begin the process by implementing a post round debrief. Make sure to include all aspects of your performance:
- Ball control (greens in regulation, fairways hit, hole out conversion, etc.)
- Performance state (commitment and focus levels, post shot reactions, etc.)
The combination of each aspect provides you with “both sides of the coin”, for example objective data on your specific ball control skills (off the tee, approach shots, short game and putting) and subjective analysis of the state you were in that facilitated your ball control outcomes (the story behind your skill if you will).
I recommend accumulating statistics on your performance to truly understand your ball control skills. Platforms like Shots to Hole and Golf Stat Lab are fantastic tools that help you establish objective data. They provide wonderful perspective and help you manage your expectations, especially when you compare your stats (skill level) to the world’s elite:
To help you commit to the process of reflection, here’s the review tool I recommend that was created by Pia and Lynn called ‘Good, Better, How?’
This reflection tool, combined with stats, helps you formulate a positive action plan to reinforce the positive aspects of your game and develop those that need improvement.
How to train for golf: Plan and do
Reflection is only potent when combined with deliberate and purposeful action. So now comes the time where you need to place all of your attention (focus) on your intention (the aspects of your game you want to reinforce/refine/develop).
It’s important to ensure your training helps you integrate skills that are authentic to (simulate) real golf. So to help you do this and maximise the efficiency of your training, here’s my simple training plan template:
I recommend creating three of these training plans for the areas of your game that you can adapt as appropriate (eg. each week), fuelled by your review/reflection:
- Short game (shots inside 130 yards – including bunkers)
- Full shots
Be sure to involve your coach or alternatively take a look at my connected coaching programme. This structure enables you to attack exactly what you need to in order to consolidate/improve. It also moves you towards task orientated versus time orientated training and ensures you’re working holistically. The benefits of this are four fold:
- You’re not wasting time on menial tasks
- You know you’re not wasting time on menial tasks
- Helps you transfer you skills on to the course
- When you complete your tasks you know they’re complete and you can switch off (works done, time to go)
Implement these plans into your week as you see fit. Here’s a simple example for a keen golfer:
- Monday: Complete full shot training plan
- Tuesday: Complete short game training plan
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Complete putting training plan
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Play event
- Sunday: Rest
Obviously adjust the above to your personal needs and wants. The structure gives you plenty of flexibility to adapt to the time of year, facilities, etc.
How to train for golf: Final thoughts
Understand your brand of golf and tailor your training to ensure you don’t waste a minute of your precious time.
Be authentic. Be you. Make it happen.
Thanks for reading. I hope it helps.
Oliver Morton is an holistic coach based at the Archerfield Performance Centre and founder of the Leading Edge Golf Company. If you have any questions for Oliver, leave them in the comments below or you can find him on Twitter.