Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Structured Golf Practice

As a student at the University of Northern Iowa, I earned a minor in Coaching.  I'm not sure how many schools offer that as a course study, but I can tell you that those classes were great.  Our professors were the head coaches on campus and I had the honor of learning from Coach Berry and Coach Arabi-Fard.  One thing both of them stressed was to have a controlled practice in order to accomplish what you wanted each day.

From The Well Prepared Coach website.

At SMU, our goal is to spend half of our practice time with structure and control and allow the players to play and focus on what they need in the other half of the time.  Golf is a bit different from other sports in that most athletes have come to college with a great deal of self-direction and discipline regarding their games.  Our structured days are generally focused on putting, short game, mental game and skill development.  Our unstructured days are called OYO or "on your own" and play days.  It is important to have both types of practice to ensure that as coaches, you are leading the players to be their best, but also allowing them to feel in control of their game and the time to play on the course and score.

Here is an example of a structured day.  You will notice that there are time limits associated with each segment.  This is much the same as a basketball practice that touches on 10 different skills or play development over the course of two hours.  If you allow your players to choose what they want, they will often avoid the very area that they need the most.  None of us like to feel unsuccessful or bad at a skill so we will unconsciously steer ourselves away from them.  On the other hand, you will sometimes find the player who wants to stay with something until it is accomplished.  While that sounds good as a theory, there are too many skills needed to play great golf to get stuck on one skill for hours.  It is important to vary the skills and keep the players fresh and challenged.  

If possible, we meld competition into our practice schedules.  It ensures focus, since we don't have any players who enjoy losing.  Another thing we do is introduce visual aids to help players with identifying targets and focus.  In this practice, it was paper plates on the greens held in place with a tee.  It doesn't need to be fancy or extravagant, but if you can make it colorful or fun, all the better.  We also had string on the green for lag putt putting practice.  

Mustang Golf

Thursday, February 21    6:30 AM Workout
            2:00 Practice at DAC
            Putting - 1 hour
                Short Putt Challenges - 20 minutes max
                 Put 10 tees down at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 feet.  Start at 1 and putt from each tee going back, then up and then back.  Do it until you make at least 25/30 putts.
                Play Around the World. Put 5 tees around a cup with some break.  Start at 4 feet and make all 5 in a row, move to 5 feet and make all 5 in a row and then do the same from 6 feet.  Use your routine and SFT!
                Mid Length Putt Challenges - 20 minutes max
                Annika Challenge - Put 3 tees in a triangle around the hole from between 10 and 30 feet.  Make 2/3 to finish challenge.  If you do it quickly, find a new hole with more break.  Go through your routine.  You get one putt from each tee and cannot start over. 
                Find 2 holes about 10-20 feet away from each other.  Play the make it game with a teammate.
                Put a club 2 feet behind a hole.  Putt 1 ball from 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 feet.  You get 5 points if you make it, 3 points if you are high side within the hole and club, 1 point if you are within 1 foot after putt and -3 if short or low side.  Play until you get at least 15 points.  Go through your                 routine.  SFT!

                Long Putt Challenges - 20 minutes max
Putt until you get a ball within a clubhead of the string from 30, 40, 50 and 60 feet.
            Chipping - 30 minutes
           Pitching - 30 minutes
                Hit Your Mark - 15 minutes
                    There will be flags out and targets on the greens.  Hit from each flag until you hit each target twice.  Vary your clubs and trajectories.  Which club makes the shot easiest for you?  Which                     trajectory makes the shot easiest.  Make sure you drop the ball and don’t improve the lie.
                Compete - 15 minutes    
                    Use one ball and play at least two matches to 5 points.  Get the ball up and down.  Point for an up and down.  No points if you both get it up and down.  Drop the ball.  Make it tough!
            Bunkers - 30 minutes
                Hit 50 bunker shots today in sets of ten.  How many did you get within 5 feet?  Double that and it is likely your up and down %.  Tell us how you do.
            Ball Striking - 30 minutes
                Spend time with a partner on the range.  Your partner can put your ball in any lie and will call your shot for you.  She can put imaginary trees in front of you or ponds of water on the range.  Be creative, be mean, have some fun and hit some great shots.

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