Why practice makes perfect
By T.J. TOMASI
The practice swing is free, and if done correctly, it gives you two advantages: (1) it’s an instant pre-play — a pre-swing mulligan, and (2) it gives you a perfect prompt for your actual swing.
Located throughout your body are tiny sensors that report to your brain what is going on in their district — what the joints are doing, what’s happening in the stretch receptors in the muscles, how much force is being applied as you hold your golf posture, etc. For a brief time after you make any movement, a trace of it, in the form of electrical impulses, lingers in your sense memory.
Swing a weighted club and it leaves a trace in your sensory tracking system that makes your driver feel incredibly light. Likewise, a perfect practice swing leaves a trace that will remain long enough to cue up your real swing.
The key is to let the trace be the teacher. To extract maximum benefit from your rehearsal, the practice swing must be an exact replica of the swing you are about to make, and you must acknowledge its power to control your actual swing, then make a total commitment to it.
Most poor golfers fail to do either the physical or mental rehearsal correctly. Better golfers often perform the physical practice swing correctly, but not the mental commitment. The best golfers most often perform them both correctly, and so the full power of the trace as teacher is available to them on every shot.
THREE ELEMENTS OF A PERFECT REHEARSAL
First, always take the same number of rehearsal swings for every shot. Doing the same thing each time is what makes a routine routine.
Second, images cue motor responses, so fill your brain with the image of your shot by rehearsing your swing exactly as you see it in your mind.
Third, be certain that you rehearse at the same swing speed and tempo necessary to send the ball to the target.
Insider Takeaway: Don’t waste a practice swing by making a motion that doesn’t track exactly what you are about to do.