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The Real Reason Why 97 Percent of Elite Golfers Fail to Improve and How You Can Be The One Who Succeeds (Part 3)
The litmus test in high performance golf is to produce a low golf score when it counts. Your approach to training and developing your golf skills should be to achieve this goal above all others.
By now you’re starting to realise that there are a lot of different ways you can go about developing your golf skills and golf game.
You can do what the majority of advanced golfers do and just go about your practice in a random and haphazard way by adapting and finding ways to continually improve which will work, but may take a long time for you to see the results you expect.
Or based on what you have learned so far from our approach at Pro Tour Golf College, you can plan, design and drive your training towards the goal of performing skilfully and confidently under any type of pressure.
Golf is a ‘switch on-switch off’ event or activity. Each time you hit a golf shot you have to switch on your mind to execute the shot and then switch it off. In any round you play you’re going to hit somewhere between 70 and 100 golf shots, with each shot (including a pre-shot routine) ideally taking less than 30 seconds to perform.
So if you took 80 strokes for your round and you multiply each stroke you played by thirty seconds, it’s about 40 minutes in total that you’re actually walking into a golf shot and hitting it. For the other four hours and twenty minutes (give or take) you’re walking and talking whilst you’re strolling down fairways and/or looking for your ball in the rough or trees etc.
"The litmus test in high performance golf is to produce a low golf score when it counts. Your approach to training and developing your golf skills should be to achieve this goal above all others."
So when you train your golf skills your goal should be to train like you wish to play. If you want to hit golf shots and play better under pressure, you will have to train so that this becomes your primary objective.
Remember that the total time it takes to walk in to hit your golf shot is around 30 seconds. It’s short in duration and it should be intensive. Great golfers can switch on and get into the right mental/physical zone to hit their shot virtually every time.
The idea is to learn and develop your skills so you can master the moment of hitting your shot, which as you already know takes a lot of training the right way.
Each golf shot you hit requires that you focus in a way that allows you to engage your well developed and habituated skills without a lot of conscious thought or interaction.
Our students at Pro Tour Golf College are taught to reduce or shorten the duration of the training event to the time it takes to hit a set of ten golf balls at a time (short duration) but at the same time to optimise their focus and readiness for this short duration (high intensity).
In the illustration above the horizontal bar describes the duration of the training event and the vertical bar describes the intensity of the event. In our approach to training elite golfers we aim for short duration with high intensity sets. Picture someone running up a very steep set of stairs. The duration might be short but the intensity will be high.
In our approach to training elite golfers we aim for short duration with high intensity sets. We have found that ten balls per set is ideal for most of the golfers we train. A ten ball set with full pre-shot routine will take between four minutes and thirty seconds (4:30) to five minutes (5:00) to complete.
Golfers with poor attentional control should probably start with 5 ball sets with a full pre-shot routine and learn to develop their attention to 10 balls in time.
The duration of your golf training activity is based on the idea that developing training periods of shorter duration with a higher intensity is better for training to perform successfully under pressure in golf. This is different from drill training where you're habituating a skill and the intensity is lower but the volume of work (repetitions) is higher.
Typically many advanced to elite level golfers we have observed - when practicing their golf skills have a strong tendency to increase the duration of the practice event coupling it with a lower level of intensity because they are led to believe that hitting high volumes of practice balls will make you play better.
Sadly this is not the case. And actually the downside of this approach is that when you increase the volume of balls you’re hitting with a reduced training intensity, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re not training to perform your skills under pressure.
The underlying principle behind this approach to training is the principle of adaptation which refers to the process of getting your golf skills habituated through a particular training drill or training routine by repeatedly exposing yourself to it.
As your body adapts to the stress of the training drill or new training routine, the activity becomes easier to do which explains why when you are learning a new drill or routine in the beginning you discover that your mind and body struggle to coordinate the movement with accuracy.
However after performing the same drill or routine for weeks or even months at the same intensity, you notice that what was difficult to do in the beginning is now becoming quite easy to do. This underpins the necessity to vary the training drill or training routine by carefully managing the volume and intensity of your training volume (what we call the practice performance mix) if you want to take full advantage of your hard work.
The question is if you practice this way compared to the way we’re suggesting, how long will it take you to develop your skills to automatic and at the same time be able to produce stokes successfully under any type of pressure?
There's some confusion about the difference between training a golf skill technically and training a golf skill to produce a shot that travels accurately to your target. When you design your training plan you need to consider that some of your skills are in the technique development stage and some are in the targeting development phase where the skills are being refined to hit accurate shots to targets.
As you can see in this image to the left there is a tapering off of skill development from the technique phase through the target phase and ultimately to the tournament transfer phase.
By building your training plan around a tapering approach you will find that you learn your golf skills more easily and take them from the 'how to do it' stage to the 'forget about doing it' stage faster.
As you have discovered so far, our approach to training golfers to perform at very high levels is based on four training principles that underpin all the training that we do at Pro Tour Golf College. By Assessing-Predicting-Prescribing and Monitoring your performances on and off the golf course you are the one in control of the direction of your golf game.
In upcoming articles we'll cover more of these principles the help you to plan, design and drive your performances on the golf course under par more often.
Both David and I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions regarding our approach or anything else related to golfer development we'd love to hear from you.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - firstname.lastname@example.org