Challenge Yourself - Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
When was the last time that you were slightly scared or panicky when you practiced golf? For many of you the answer will be never, or maybe very occasionally whilst playing a competition against a golfing rival. How much reward do you think you have got from the hours you spend standing on the range hitting golf balls? Research suggests that practice right on the edge of your comfort zone is what leads to huge gains in ability to develop and improve skills.
I'm just back from a 2 week coaching trip in Texas and have experienced a quick and dramatic increase in skills from an episode on the edge of my comfort zone. Sitting in the rental car I had just picked up from the airport, I had to get accustomed to a steering wheel on the opposite side of the car, an automatic car instead of my standard manual gear stick and the knowledge that I needed to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. I had to learn fast as my life may depend on it!
I managed this through developing a clear picture of what I wanted to achieve, some experimentation to find out what everything did and then getting feedback from the environment around me, as I starting driving slowly around the car park. 10 intense minutes later I left the airport and drove onto the motorway (freeway!). As I write this article on the plane back to England, I am happy to say I am still alive and my practice and subsequent quick adaptation seems to have worked.
So what can you, as a golfer, possibly learn from this?
Make sure you know what you are trying to achieve
I knew I needed to achieve proficiency in driving skills and not remain focused solely on how to manoeuvre the car. My practice session was going to last as long as that required. Try giving yourself a set goal rather than mindlessly hitting golf balls. A target of the number of consecutive drives to hit down an imaginary fairway, or tallying how many shots it takes to be able to hit 3 different trajectories with 3 different shot shapes. Getting instant feedback from your practice, with measurable results, enables you to increase the efficiency of the time you spend.
Stay fully aware of what is going on
Even though I became confident with manoeuvring, there is much more to navigating a car safely. I had to keep focussing on the cars around me and carefully reading the road signs to help me to stay safe. In the same way, playing good golf requires more than a good golf swing. Your practice time can be much more beneficial if you remain aware of what you are attempting to do and how that is progressing. Don’t forget to observe the lie of the ball, wind conditions and all of the other factors.
Go slowly and do it right
For what felt like forever, I sat in the car watching others pulling out, driving on the 'wrong' side and exiting the car park. If I had rushed into driving, my learned patterns would kick in and, before I knew it, trouble. When you are making a change with your golf, start with small, slow adjustments. Make sure you are getting it right before deciding to make bigger changes.
I know that golf is not a matter of life or death, but a small part of the intensity I felt can help your game. Scare yourself occasionally! Play against better golfers or set new challenges and see what extra focus can do for your game. You too, will survive.
Photo Credit: TourProGolfClubs.com
Andy Griffiths is a UKPGA member, graduated from the University of Birmingham with the AGMS (Applied Golf Management Studies) degree and holds coaching certifications with the PGA, TGA, TPI Levels 1 & 2.
To find out more about Andy follow him on Twitter @andygriffiths1 , visit his website at www.andygriffithsgolf.com or via Facebook facebook.com/andygriffithsgolf
Andy is a UKPGA member & graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. He's coached in more than 30 countries and travelled and worked with many of the best in the business. His no. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process!Latest Articles