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Have a plan and use workstations when you practice

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This time of year, many golfers are starting to take lessons and work on their games.

What do you do once you take a lesson? How do you start making changes? When does a change become permanent? Ultimately, how do you practice effectively? I hear these questions often from students.

When I see my students around the club, I always ask them how their golf is progressing.

I get a variety of replies but when I hear these responses like “I’ve played a few times and hit some good, some bad” or “I haven’t played much but I’ve been to the range a couple of times and I still don’t see any improvements yet” I become challenged as to why they're not improving.

During the lesson, I can see students improving. So what happens when they are not with me and practicing on their own?

My response to them is “tell me what specifically you have been trying to accomplish during your practice to make these changes.”

That’s when I hear a long pause, and then usually nothing. I realize they don’t know how to apply the changes during their practice sessions.

So here’s what I recommend:

Work on one thing at a time and devote 100 percent of your time to this change. A corrective drill is usually given to make changes in the right direction. It also gives you a feel for what needs to happen.

Also, always create a workstation.

We know that a good golf swing usually results from good fundamentals. And since golf is an individual sport, we typically work on our swing by ourselves. So how do we know that we are lined up correctly, or that the ball is in the proper position or that our backswing is on plane? Well, that’s where a workstation comes in handy.

It’s essential that practice has value and that we have drills or obstacles to give us feedback. A workstation is a hitting area that encompases aids. For example, alignment rods, which can be placed on the ground to assist with a good setup for the feet, body and golf ball.

Most golfers tend to line up to the right of their target, if they are right-handed. Alignment rods aid the golfer in getting comfortable on the range and taking it to the course.

We can lay down clubs to know for a fact how we are lined up, and if it feels different on the course, we know we probably aren’t lined up correctly.

Other examples of items you can use to create an effective workstation could include:

A water bottle: Used often in relation to swing path to avoid an over-the-top swing, or outside-to-inside path. This is great for eliminating a slice.

A headcover: Place one under your lead arm, as it’s good for keeping the forward arm connected on the downswing.

Tees: Use these to see where you’re striking the ground or the path of the backswing. They’re also effective on the putting green to work on your stroke.

A chair: Using a chair is a great way to work on upper body motion, as well maintaining stance and posture during the swing.

Mirrors: Sometimes feel isn’t real and using mirrors to check your positions will always reveal the truth about your setup and swing positions.

If you have a game plan when your practice and set up workstations that will help you accomplish your practice goals, you’ll see the benefits on the course.

Take an online lesson with Vikki Vanderpool.

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