Block vs Random Practice
In golf we are usually left to our own when it comes to practicing. This is both good and bad because we learn to become reliant on ourselves but we also rarely understand how to practice effectively. This is where block and random practice comes into play. First we need to understand what the difference between random and block practice is and is one better than the other.
Block practice is described as practicing the same skill under the same conditions over and over. An example of this would be hitting a 9 iron to a flag on the range over and over. Block practice is better at retaining a learned skill but does a poor job of transferring that skill to real situations.
Random practice is described as changing the conditions and skills for each shot. An example of this would be hitting 9 short game shots from 9 different locations to different pins. Random practice does a great job of teaching the player how to transfer skills to real situations but does a poor job or retaining a skill.
Now the question is, is one better than the other? The answer is no, they are both needed. When we get ready for a practice session we first need to understand what our goal is for that session. Too many times players practice without a goal in mind. Is our goal of the session to improve our retention of skill such as one we just learned from a lesson to help us with our swing or is our goal to improve our ability to transfer a skill to real situations on the course? Well a practice session can have both but we need to know when to change the practice and our mindset.
We want to utilize block practice when we are trying to learn a new skill such as one learned in a lesson. It could be any number of things such as your posture, alignment, grip, takeaway of the club, rotation, transition, impact, release of the club, finish position or many others. Let’s say in your lesson with your instructor you worked on the initial takeaway of the club in your backswing. To work on this you would want to use block practice where you practice this change over and over in a similar environment. Your focus would be on how well you are making the change in your takeaway.
Now let’s say you are wanting to improve your short game. This is where you would want to use random practice. This is because when you are on the course playing you never have the same shot twice, especially in a row. We need to practice like we are in an actual round of golf and every shot counts. A short game simulation would be a great way to implement random practice. You would choose 9 different shots going to multiple different pin locations and you only get to hit each shot once. You should go through your routine each shot because you only get one chance. Keep track of your score and keep record of it to compare to other times when you practice this same short game simulation.
The next time you go out to practice make sure you know what your goal is for that practice session and choose the practice type that best fits that goal. If you have any questions about how to practice more effectively make sure to send me a message.