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Structuring Practice to Optimize Golf Skill Learning Dr. Bob Christina, Professor Emeritus Assistant Men’s Golf Coach University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Presentation on theme: "Structuring Practice to Optimize Golf Skill Learning Dr. Bob Christina, Professor Emeritus Assistant Men’s Golf Coach University of North Carolina at Greensboro."— Presentation transcript:

1 Structuring Practice to Optimize Golf Skill Learning Dr. Bob Christina, Professor Emeritus Assistant Men’s Golf Coach University of North Carolina at Greensboro The Pinehurst Golf Academy Precision Golf School

2 Why is it Important to Know About Practice? “Nobody---but nobody---has ever become really proficient at golf without practice, without a lot of thinking and then hitting a lot of shots.” Jack Nicklaus

3 Why is it Important to Know About Practice? Golf skills cannot be learned without physical practice Some practice conditions facilitate learning more than others

4 Three Things Can Happen When You Practice Your skills and play can get better They can stay the same, or They can get worse

5 Why is it Important to Know About Practice? “The Way Golf Skills are Practiced Affects How Well They are Learned, Retained and Transferred to Play.”

6 Why is it Important to Know About Practice? “As PGA teachers, you are responsible for designing practice conditions that optimize student learning”

7 Six Conditions of Effective Practice Practice with a Specific Purpose Practice the Right Things Practice the Right Way Practice the Right Amount Practice with Relevant Feedback Practice when Motivated

8 Practice With a Specific Purpose “The secret to beneficial practice is keeping a definite idea upon which to work.” Bobby Jones

9 Practice With a Specific Purpose “Whenever I go out with a bag of balls I have a very specific objective in mind… I have a clear-cut purpose in mind on every swing.” Jack Nicklaus

10 Practice With a Specific Purpose “If you practice hitting balls without a purpose long enough, you will start out doing it right and eventually find out how to do it wrong.” Harvey Penick

11 Practice With a Specific Purpose “The most common practice error is to drift aimlessly to the range and start banging balls at random. This isn’t practice. This is a waste of time. The worst thing you can do is practice your mistakes.” Tony Lema

12 Where do Students Find Specific Practice Purposes? What the teacher worked on with the student in the previous lesson(s) What the student thinks should be worked on What other sources recommend: –Golf magazines or books –Instructional DVDs or Golf Channel –Golf schools –Playing partners

13 Practice the Right Things “Work on the fundamentals constantly.” Nick Price “ Every golfer has a fault he falls back into repeatedly. The trick is learning what that fault is and how to correct it.” Ken Venturi

14 Practice the Right Things Did You Know That The Driver, Wedge, and Putter Account for About 75% of Your Score?

15 Did You Know That Your Golf Game is About 43% PUTTING 25% WOOD PLAY 13% CHIPPING 7% SHORT IRONS 5% TROUBLE SHOTS 4% MEDIUM IRONS 3% LONG IRONS

16 What Are the Right Things? The golf, mental, and course management skills and playing strategies that must be practiced to learn to improve one’s game: Skills fundamentals Scoring skills Weaker skills Most frequently used skills Green reading skills etc

17 Practice the Right Way The purpose of practice determines the right way to practice

18 Three Major Purposes of Practice Skills development –Learning Skills maintenance –Retention Skills transfer –Transfer of learning

19 Two Major Ways of Practicing Skills development (learning) and maintenance (retention) are achieved through skills practice Skills transfer is achieved through transfer practice

20 SKILLS PRACTICE

21 Elements of Skills Practice for Skills Development Hit balls in practice contexts Hit balls repeatedly from good, level lies with the same club Hit balls the same distance to one target using the same alignment Hit balls using drills and training aids

22 Elements of Skills Practice for Skills Development Distribute practice (take a break after several of shots) Receive relevant feedback about swing and/or shot performance Reflect on how to improve during each break based on relevant feedback

23 Elements of Skills Practice for Skills Development No practice of pre- and post-shot routines No practice under competitive pressure

24 Elements of Skills Practice for Skills Retention Same as for skills learning, except: Fewer repetitions of each skill are performed Drills or training aids used only to check for correctness of form and maintain feeling

25 Transfer Practice is Certainly Not New!

26 How Did James Braid Practice? “For practice to have full value, make each swing with the care of a stroke from a tee on medal day” 5 Time British Open Champion

27 How Did Ben Hogan Practice? “WHILE I AM PRACTICING I AM ALSO TRYING TO DEVELOP MY POWERS OF CONCENTRATION. I NEVER JUST WALK UP & HIT THE BALL. I DECIDE IN ADVANCE HOW I WANT TO HIT AND WHERE I WANT IT TO GO”

28 How Did Jack Nicklaus Practice? “ALL MY LIFE I’VE TRIED TO HIT PRACTICE SHOTS WITH GREAT CARE. I TRY TO HAVE A CLEAR-CUT PURPOSE IN MIND ON EVERY SWING. I ALWAYS PRACTICE AS I INTEND TO PLAY”

29 How Does Luke Donald Practice? “ When I practice my short game, I try to simulate real golf. I chip or pitch to several different targets, or spread the balls around and hit to one target from a bunch of different spots. I use it in the practice bunker and on the putting green, too.”

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31 CLEARLY, BRAID, HOGAN, NICKLAUS PRACTICED AND MICKELSON, WOODS, DONALD PRACTICE THE WAY THEY PLAY TO TRANSFER SKILLS FROM THE RANGE TO COMPETITION ON THE COURSE

32 Elements of Transfer Practice Practice Like You Play Practice on a course Play a simulated round on the range or short-game area Play shots from varied lies Use different clubs to hit balls to different targets at different distances

33 Elements of Transfer Practice Practice Like You Play Play shots with the same club to different targets of varied distances Play shots with different ball flights Play shots using pre- and post-shot routines

34 Elements of Transfer Practice Practice Like You Play Use one swing for each shot, regardless of the outcome Use one ball for short game shots and putting---keep score Practice shot accountability under simulated competitive pressure

35 Elements of Transfer Practice Practice Like You Play Vary accuracy demands of shots Play shots with different clubs selected at random Putt from different distances selected at random

36 A QUESTION “IF YOUR STUDENTS’ GOLF SKILLS DON’T TRANSFER TO PLAY THE WAY THEY PRACTICE, WHY NOT HAVE THEM PRACTICE THE WAY THEY DO TRANSFER?”

37 Practice the Right Way Spacing of Practice Frequent, shorter practice periods benefit learning more than fewer, longer ones

38 Practice the Right Way Where to direct student’s attention when practicing a swing Internal cues External cues

39 Practice the Right Way Internal cues: – Focus attention on the movements or mechanics that produce the swing External cues: – Focus attention on the effects the movements have on the environment such as the clubhead

40 Where Did Jack Nicklaus Direct His Attention? “Some people think about what they’re mechanically doing through the ball. I think about what I want the clubhead to do through the ball to make the ball do what I want.” “… I didn’t play by swing mechanics. I played by feeling things that would make the mechanics happen.” (Nicklaus 2011)

41 Examples of External Cues Imagine the top half of the putter face contacting the ball before the bottom half Whisk the shot on its way as though you were swinging a broom for proper chipping action The club’s acceleration from the top of the backswing should be gradual, like a car coming down a roller coaster

42 Examples of External Cues Swing the clubhead along the target line Take the clubhead back along the target line such that the toe is pointing to the sky when the shaft is parallel to the ground Visualize hitting a fade when hooking or hitting a draw when slicing

43 Distance of an External Cue from the Student Any distance if it works More experienced (skilled) the student, the further it can be away

44 Concluding Remarks About Internal and External Cues Students can learn and perform using either internal or external cues Often external cues can produce a faster rate of learning than internal cues Often external cues can be used more easily than internal cues when playing Often internal cues are used when external cues would be more effective

45 Practice the Right Amount “I learned a long time ago that there is a limit to the number of shots you can hit effectively before losing your concentration on your basic objectives.” Jack Nicklaus

46 When to Stop Practicing Stop practicing when: –Goals are achieved –100% concentration cannot be sustained –Lack of progress leads to frustration and discouragement –Boredom sets in –Physical fatigue begins to impair skill performance

47 Amount of Practice Effects Amount of Practice Learning Proficiency of Performance Retention & Transfer Reliability of Performance ImprovementImprovement High Low

48 “On What Should the Amount of Practice be Increased?” 48

49 “How Can the Amount of Practice be Increased While Maintaining the Motivation to Learn?”

50 How Much Practice is Needed to Reach Elite Performance? AMOUNT OF PRACTICE NEEDED TO BECOME AN EXPERT ABOUT 10,000 HOURS OR 10 YEARS Ericsson, et al (1993) AVERAGE NUMBER OF YEARS 11 MAJOR WINNERS PLAYED THE GAME BEFORE THEIR VICTORY

51 Amount of Practice Needed to Become a Major Champion

52 A Test of the 10,000 Hour Hypothesis: The Dan Plan Dan is 30 years old; never played golf before Quit his job as a commercial photographer on April 5, 2010 to test the 10,000 hour hypothesis Practices 30 plus hours per week

53 Practice with Relevant Feedback Relevant feedback is essential information about how students performed compared to how they should have performed

54 Sources of Relevant Feedback Intrinsic Feeling the swing or ball contact Hearing the clubface contact the ball Seeing the ball flight, shot, and divot pattern

55 Sources of Relevant Feedback Augmented Verbal or non-verbal cues from a teacher, coach, or playing partner Video Launch monitor or swing vest Drills or training aids

56 What Relevant Feedback Provides A basis for evaluating the correctness of performance, from which students can learn to improve or maintain their level of skill Information that can positively or negatively influence motivation to learn

57 How to Administer Relevant Augmented Feedback in Practice Provide augmented feedback more frequently early in learning and less as learning progresses Encourage each student to learn the golf swing and shots through guided discovery by providing augmented feedback only when needed

58 Practice When Motivated High Low More Less Motivation Level Effort Learning

59 Practice When Motivated Students’ motivation determines how much effort they expend toward learning each practice goal Thus, the teacher must find ways to motivate each student

60 Ways to Motivate Students Set specific practice goals that are meaningful and moderately challenging Work on each goal only as long as the student can maintain 100% concentration Strive to achieve a variety of goals in each session

61 Ways to Motivate Students Incorporate variety, friendly competition, games, play, fun, humor, and rest breaks Use motivating feedback that compliments the student’s effort, desirable performances, and progress

62 Ways to Motivate Students Show enthusiasm for the student’s learning Show empathy and provide encouragement when the student struggles with learning Have student practice with other students

63 THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION


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