These are two ways of practicing within any sport which allow quicker development and greater learning to take place. The more popular of the two is block practice, this is the one that we invariably see players doing on the range. Ball after ball, shots fly in unpredictable directions with varying amounts of success. This leads to every golfer becoming frustrated with their time they spend practicing. However, it needn’t be this way. For most people block practicing should allow us to hit great shots and transfer it over to the golf course, but it doesn’t. Why? Block practicing when done in the way most people do it, enables you to get into a rhythm. Once you stop hitting, the rhythm stops. One of the first things we must know is, what we should expect of ourselves? We mustn’t expect instant results. Block practicing is great for working on a new position within a golf swing, concentration and focus on that move should be our only concern, not the resulting ball flight! This is where most people get frustrated. Amateur golfers must accept that when working on a swing, it will take a lot of hard work and patience to make any meaningful changes.
There are both positives and negatives of Block practicing.
Can lead to greater confidence
Improved “muscle memory” (Neurological and Physical conditioning)
Great for learning something new
High repetition may lead to injury
Poor transfer over to the golf course
Boredom could be an issue
Random practice is exactly what it sounds like, it means that for each shot that you hit, you will be trying to hit a different shot. For a beginner golfer it may mean using one club, then changing the distance. For someone who is more skilled changing your target and club and methodically going through your routine is hugely beneficial.
However this type of practice is used less by the majority of golfers, one of the main reasons, I believe, is the fact that it requires more discipline than block practicing. Each shot requires more preparation and calculation. However because it is more difficult, its rewarding aspect is that you are going to retain the skill much quicker. You will hit far less balls with random than you would block. This is due to the fact that you are putting in much more thought and that there is a process/routine to it. These random shots are a lot more realistic as to where our skill levels are. We will therefore get better feedback from a shot that simulates the environment that we would find ourselves in on the golf course. This means that Random practice is more transferable to the course and may then benefit our golf scores in quicker. The more you perform Random practice, you will start to build a better “shot library”. This is something that I reference to my students. Simply put it is the ability to recall information or skills from past experiences to help with any current situation. Tour professionals worldwide use this to help hit crucial shots, in tournament winning situations.
Here are some of the positives and negatives of Random practice
Not easy to commit too, as it is very difficult
Discipline is a necessity
Player is engaged in the activity
Less stress on the body, less injury
Transferable to the golf course
Retention of information is greater
As you can see, the positives of Random practice outweigh the negatives. If we compare the two types of practice, Random has more positive factors, whilst Block has more negative. This doesn’t mean that you should only ever do Random practice. What it means is that you should have a mixture of both whilst having an understanding of what to expect during practice. This will help to prevent you from getting too frustrated during practice.
Continual reinforcement of this is something that is continually encouraged at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Where some of the worlds’ finest athletes come to improve. The combination of world class facilities and the highest expertise of coaching staff help to contribute to the incredible success of our athletes. For them to achieve their best they must learn how to make the most of their time. Knowing when to block and when to random, are key to helping to achieve our dreams.