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Practice small for big results

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When you think of working on your technique, most people think big changes in body movement. Changing how your body pivots, how your hips move, the top of your backswing position etc., are all typical things which golfers work on. I would call these things “macro techniques,” as they involve big-scale changes.

Macro techniques are usually difficult to do, as they often require complete re-training of the big-body movement patterns you have built up over the years (sometimes referred to as gross motor patterns). Not a lot of people look at the micro techniques of golf though – the small variations which can make a massive difference, such as where you strike the ball on the face, club face position at impact, contact point with the ground, etc.

An example of this is a player who makes very similar looking movement on video camera (macro technique) yet the club head comes through impact a couple of centimeters too far away from the body and they shank it (micro technique).

Most people think that they have to change the macro techniques to see an improvement in the micro techniques, but this is not always true. Often times, we see big improvements in the macro technique, yet we still shank it because we hit the hosel (through not controlling our micro techniques). On the flip side of this, I have seen some great positive changes in macro technique as a result of focusing on the smaller areas of technique, such as strike awareness.

Practice drills for micro technique

Below I have three of my favorite drills for improving your micro technique game. You can build a high-quality game from these drills alone.

  • Spray paint a line on the grass perpendicular to your target line (as long as you are allowed). Place golf balls on the line, and proceed to hit the balls, making sure to take a divot. Look at the divot after each shot – the aim is to try and strike ball first, then make a divot, by first contacting the ground on the white line, or slightly forward of it (target side). Having the line there is great feedback for you to note improvement.
  • Take a dry erase market pen and draw a dot on the back of the golf ball (where your club face will contact the ball). Proceed to hit the ball from a clean lie, and you will be left with a mark on the club face. The aim is obviously to work out how to hit the middle of the sweetspot, but this drill is massive for awareness and feedback. You may spot some things you didn’t realize before, and you will build up a great feel for controlling the club head
  • Try to control the shape of the ball by focusing on getting the club face into a different position at impact. Place a sleeve of balls on the ground in a way which you could hit the middle ball in the box. Work on swinging back and down (don’t hit the balls) and get a sense for how the club could hit the box toe first (closed face/more left) or heel first (open/more right). Then try to hit different shapes by producing this feeling at impact with a real ball. The ball flight is your feedback here (combine it with the sweetspot drill for maximum effect)

How to practice these things

The great news is you don’t have to know how to do these things, it is enough just to know that you do them. You are equipped with an amazing computer in your head, and given the right goals and awareness, it is capable of teaching itself. Just make sure you get quality feedback by using the divot, the mark on the ball or the ball flight, etc. Allow your body to figure out the most efficient way for you to produce the desired motion, and practice variants of the drills. For example try to hit the divot from different ball positions in your stance, or practice intentionally hitting the heel and toe of the club. See my last article on experimentation for more information http://www.golfwrx.com/68121/boost-your-practice-regime-with-experimentation/  

Balance

As with most things in life, balance is key. If all you did was focus on improving the bigger parts of your technique, you might have a good overall movement, but you may lack the skills which turn a player from good to great. Likewise, if you simply focused on the smaller things, you may develop great skills and get close to achieving your potential with your swing, but likely your potential will be limited by the poor macro movements you possess.

So in your practice regime, make sure you strike a balance between working on the big things in your movement, and the small things which will make a real difference to how you hit it. They tend to feed into each other, but make sure you don’t ignore the small techniques. Often, when there is a problem in your play, it is not that your macro technique has changed much, but the small techniques just need a little tweaking to get you back on path. After all, wouldn’t it be easier just to tweak a small thing than to produce a radical swing overhaul every time things went a little awry?

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Adam is a golf coach and author of the bestselling book, "The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers." He currently teaches at Twin Lakes in Santa Barbara, California. Adam has spent many years researching motor learning theory, technique, psychology and skill acquisition. He aims to combine this knowledge he has acquired in order to improve the way golf is learned and potential is achieved. Adam's website is www.adamyounggolf.com Visit his website www.adamyounggolf.com for more information on how to take your game to the next level with the latest research.

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Instruction

Shallowing the Club: Two Moves to Avoid (Part 1)

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It’s the move we all want in the downswing… and rightfully so. Shallowing the club is a great way to put your swing on plane and really start to narrow you misses. All shallowing moves are not equal, however; in fact, there are a couple that you’ll definitely want to try to avoid because they can actually have the opposite effect!

We’ve broken this series into two parts to make it more digestible. This is Part 1. Thank you for watching!

Shallowing the Club: Two Moves to Avoid (Part 2) is coming soon!

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Instruction

WATCH: How to hit better pitch shots by improving weight transfer

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In this video, I use technology to help you better understand how you can pitch the ball like the pros.

When pitching, you may have learned to keep your weight on your lead foot throughout the shot. That’s not always the best approach. With BodiTrak, I show you how to move your weight correctly to achieve more consistent strikes.

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Instruction

A fool-proof technique to hit the short chip shot, with Gabe Golf

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Short game guru Gabe Hjertstedt recently provided a number of short-game tips to GolfWRX Director of Original Content Johnny Wunder, and Editor Andrew Tursky at Scottsdale National Golf Club’s all new short game area. Each day this week, we released a new video from this 5-part series.

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In the final episode (part 5), Gabe helps Johnny overcome his fear of the easy shot around the greens. Enjoy the video below!

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