If you have the chance pull up the 2018 British Open, Francesco Molinari was crowned golfer of the year through a mix of great play and not so great play by most players in contention. Francesco Molinari played steady, 16 pars and 2 birdies and you had the likes of Justin Rose, Tiger, Jordan and Rory in the hunt for the major championship. But as you know only one winner, Francesco Molinari. What can you learn from Molinari?
I am not sure if you read or noticed anything Molinari said after his rounds or did after his rounds? He spoke about his new “performance” coach, who is not an avid golfer but has helped other athletes perform at high levels. Molinari said the difference in his recent play was not about his skills not being good enough or at a high enough level but how he prepared himself to perform his skills through more effective practice habits. We often talk about, you play like you practice, however that could be misleading because you may practice well but then have a bad score, didn’t play well or you may talk yourself down and say you stink! When players say these things about their game it will leave a mark on the central nervous system. So why did Molinari play so well and why are the best players in the world so good?
Why? Well, there has been a lot of research on the human brain or in neuroscience as to why it does what it does. First, if you are not practicing with full intent to perform as though you are playing, the brain doesn’t give the new swing or swings much information to use it during competition on the course. It is though it didn’t happen, not exactly but it is not as effective as you would like it to be. The best players in the world spend many, many hours practicing in effort to hone their skill sets, putting, chipping, full swing, driver swing’s, pitches and such but the real magic doesn’t happen until they give specific command to their bodies to perform. What? Yes, the brain has a way to blend all the swings together, so that it can be efficient, in other words, it gets lazy about what it is doing. So, in a practice session if you are not being specific enough or giving yourself commands with challenges that has consequences, chances are you are just going through the motions. This way to get the most from your practice isn’t about hitting the most shots, putts or pitches, it is about engagement of the brain to create purposeful session that will enable you to enhance your performance on the course. As you approach your tournament season, make sure your practice has a purpose of performing better not just going through motions of hitting the ball or putting. Give it commands, say like, this putt is to win the Northern Junior or the US Open. If you have a tournament coming up in a week or two, your practices should be spent physically and visually practicing the shots you believe you will encounter during your rounds of competition. This will have a greater affect on your tournament performances than just practicing. Transference of motor patterns, to skill, to performance is a lasting and sure way to achieve your best results more consistently.
A great way to stay focused on better practice habits is to follow your practice plan and or write out a plan of action for the time you are going to spend practicing. While writing down your goals for the practice session visualize yourself doing those drills, putts or bunker shots, use detail and you will have a better chance of executing your purpose and developing transferable skills!
Enjoy Your Journey!