or Connect
TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Practice Range › Swing Thoughts › Simple, Specific, Slow, Short, and Success - The Five "S"s of Great Practice
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Simple, Specific, Slow, Short, and Success - The Five "S"s of Great Practice

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 

The Talent Code is a good book, but the message it preaches is quite simple: to become great at something, some ways seem to be better than others. Whether you're a violinist, a soccer player, or a tennis player, you can practice things in a way that makes you improve faster than mindlessly playing songs, kicking balls, or turning on the automatic ball server.

 

Take for example the story of a violinist that stood out to me. Upon learning a new piece, this violinist would play the notes without regard for pace, duration, tempo, or artistry. She'd take the sheet music and simply play the notes in the proper order. It rendered the song unrecognizable. When she encountered a tough part - a tough finger change or something - she'd slow down even more and practice that part again. She'd start at the beginning of the song, play through until she made a mistake, and restart. Each time she'd get farther into the song and the more she played a particular section the more like the song it would sound because she'd played it - correctly - tens or hundreds of times before.

 

This process took weeks. She might spend an hour working on a particular three-note sequence. Towards the end of the time she was technically proficient enough that she could use her "educated hands" to add "artistry" or "feeling" to the notes. The violinist succeeds fastest and makes the greatest progress by making thousands of tiny mistakes but instantly correcting them. This converts those thousands of errors into thousands of successes or, if you prefer, thousands of learning experiences. The violinist was constantly practicing at the edge of her ability, and in doing so, keeps expanding her talent's horizon.

 

Golfers, by and large, suck at practice. The better players will tend to do more than "hit some wedges to loosen up, then hit 50 drivers in a row and leave" but not much.

 

A guy was hitting some balls in our downtown building the other day. He's a +1 or so, and he was hitting the ball poorly. He said "I just don't have it today. It doesn't feel right." So why was he hitting balls? I doubt he could have told you. "Because" isn't a good answer! Instead of mindlessly hitting balls hoping to "find" something, we told this guy to work on a drill. Make the longest swing he could make, the fastest he could make it, feeling that it was completely under control and that felt right. If that was a four-yard chip shot, so be it. Build up from there. Practice at the edge of your ability, not beyond it. That day, this player's talent horizon had shrunk a bit, so he was doing himself no good practicing beyond the edge of it. He was learning nothing from his failures except that if he kept it up, he'd continue to fail. There was no learning, and thus, no success.

 

A near-scratch golfer responded that he hates working on the range because he feels like a 20 handicapper, and my response was perhaps a bit too firm in saying that he was practicing wrong. Oftentimes, I'll be perfectly happy to hit shanks, top the ball, hit it thin, or otherwise hit some terrible looking shots so long as I'm improving (or often exaggerating) certain moves. In that sense, the moves I'm making are equivalent to the violinist's fingerings, and the unrecognizable song is the shank or cold top.

 

In that thread, I said "simple, slow, and short." I'm adding a fourth and a fifth "S" word to the list: "specific" and "success."

 

Simple - It's absolutely critical to boil down the thing you're working on to its most basic state.

 

Specific - "I want to improve my footwork" is not specific. "I want to bank my right foot inward more to prevent my right knee from kicking in towards the golf ball on my downswing" is better.

 

Slow and Short - These two go together and speak to practicing at the edge of your ability. If you're changing the way your right elbow works in transition, you're not going to do this at speed. If you're working on how your wrist hinges from P1 to P2, why swing past P2.5? Just swing to P2 - slowly - and chip the ball.

 

Success - If you can have a simple, specific idea, and practice it with slow and/or short swings at the edge of your ability, constantly making small mistakes with instant corrections, you'll have success with every swing you take.

 

One thing I didn't exaggerate in the post I made: when I'm working on something (which is virtually any time I'm not "warming up" for a round):

  • My pace drops substantially. I'll hit one ball every few minutes. The time between is spent looking in the mirror, at the video, rehearsing a practice move, or thinking.
  • I don't care about distance, direction, contact quality, etc. I'll almost never hit a ball over 75-80% of its normal distance. Most often, because I'm reasonably skilled, my shots will still be "okay" because I can "find the golf ball," but one of the best swings I've made (and posted) resulted in a cold shank. I have faith in my ability to change the swing and then very quickly "find the golf ball" again. Develop that faith in yourself, just as the violinist has faith in her ability to speed things up and still hit the notes.

 

When you're practicing properly, the song may be unrecognizable, but you're doing the right things and improving the fastest.

 

Analyzr Image Export.jpg

 

 

 

Golf Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 89

I do a decent amount of Evolvr's telling student to make slow, 20% speed swings on the piece they're working on.  See so many fast paced practice swings while they're trying change a motion they've been doing for years.  

 

On the forums or on the range you'l hear, "I tried this, it didn't work, so I'm not doing it anymore".  Or my favorite, "It feels weird".  Well of course it does!  Anything you do that takes you out of your comfort zone should feel different so you know you're doing it right.

 

Arnie was just talking about practice yesterday on TGC, about players just hitting balls with no purpose

 

And a couple examples of how slow and deliberate practice can be

 

 

post #3 of 89

Well said. As I always tell my students, fast is slow and slow is fast. 

post #4 of 89

Thanks for the posts Gentlemen!  I am going to spend the long cold winter in Boston doing just that.  I've got a few drills and items to work on as recommended by Mike, James and Erik.

 

I've got a gym at work with a room with lots of mirrors.  I can't hit balls but can see my swing.  Do I need something to swing at or is a mark on a mat sufficient for some of this work?

 

There is also an indoor range near by that I can hit into nets.  I am going to ask if it's OK to film my swing in there as well.

 

Have a Merry Christmas.

post #5 of 89

I am going to make a commitment to practice in this way starting today.

post #6 of 89
Well put Erik and Mike.
post #7 of 89
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlee7 View Post

I am going to make a commitment to practice in this way starting today.


That's a good idea. Everyone should make this a new year's resolution. It's probably more boring than "exercise more" or "eat better" and it won't make you healthier, but it will make you happier and it will help you to improve your golf game.

 

If I knew someone who could print up wristbands - those little rubber ones or something - I'd seriously consider making these and selling them at cost. Simple • Specific • Slow • Short • Success.

 

Maybe a bag tag.

post #8 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Oftentimes, I'll be perfectly happy to hit shanks, top the ball, hit it thin, or otherwise hit some terrible looking shots so long as I'm improving (or often exaggerating) certain moves. In that sense, the moves I'm making are equivalent to the violinist's fingerings, and the unrecognizable song is the shank or cold top.

 

 


It's like the internet startup mentality - you have to fail to succeed. But in this case, you're progressing but it looks like you're failing.

 

 

post #9 of 89

When my students start complaining and say, "this feels weird" I say, "if it doesn't feel weird you're probably not doing anything different." 

post #10 of 89

Thank you. Now I feel slightly better about my swing feeling so horrible right now.

 

PS: Is everything going to have precisely five keys from now on? a1_smile.gif

post #11 of 89

Hmmm, maybe Erik is writing a book? I've been reading and getting alot out of his posts here for awhile and he definitely has no shortage of good material. I'd most certainly buy it.

post #12 of 89

So Erik, is this what the five keys are for in your Avatar?

post #13 of 89
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

So Erik, is this what the five keys are for in your Avatar?


No. Heck, a few days ago there were only three "S"s.

 

Let's please stick to the topic, as I think this post can stand on its own and does a good job of that. Thank you. a1_smile.gif

post #14 of 89

An excellent post Erik - one of the top three reasons why golfers fail to improve as much as they would like.

 

Perhaps you could consider a 6th "S" - see or study - as my video camera (OK, iPhone!) is now my 15th club these days. I cannot imagine practicing without it. It never ceases to amaze me how much my feel deceives me.

 

 

post #15 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwlee7 View Post

I am going to make a commitment to practice in this way starting today.

 

Count me in, gwlee.
 

 

post #16 of 89

IN with gwlee7 and JetFan1983...i've also went by my head baseball coaches driving words, "each day you either go up a step or down a step, never stay the same, what'd you do today to go up?"

post #17 of 89

I went to the range yesterday and did a simple and specific slow motion drill that helped me with my shoulder turn on the BS and not letting my right knee over flex on the DS.  I had success.

post #18 of 89
Great post Erik..count me in to use this going forward.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Swing Thoughts

Golf Gear mentioned in this thread:

TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Practice Range › Swing Thoughts › Simple, Specific, Slow, Short, and Success - The Five "S"s of Great Practice