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Academy Blog

How to Practice: Random vs Block Practice

How to Practice: Random and Block Practice

RGA no brainer pic blogIt is important to learn the difference between “block” and “random” practice. Both methods are valuable and should be used, but many players tend to focus only on block practice and neglect random practice.

Block practice is high repetition, which tends to create a belief system when a new skill can be repeated on the driving range or practice green. An example of this type of practice would be hitting the same five-foot putt 50 times and making 45 of them. This will leave the player with a high level of confidence, but this type practice has a low transferability to the golf course. There is never a situation in an actual round of golf that a can player can stand in one spot and hit shot after shot, making the proper adjustments each time and developing the feel of the shot.

On the other hand, random practice makes creating that belief system more difficult because the high repetition or success rate isn’t there, yet it transfers to the course better because it is a more accurate simulation of the real thing. An example of this type of practice would be hitting 50 putts from scattered locations around green, meaning the number of conversions is likely lower. Because the player will make less putts in this format, that extreme confidence may not be gained like in block practice, but the practice is more efficient as it better simulates the real thing. Random practice could be done on the driving range by not hitting the same shot twice in a row. You can change clubs or change targets with the same club each shot.

Block practice is great following a lesson when you are working on a new skill, whether that is in the full swing, short game, or putting. Your body needs high repetitions to learn and ingrain the new information. Random practice is great when you are maintaining, measuring, or testing a skill you have already developed.

Thus both practice techniques can and should be used, meaning you would develop the confidence of success achieved in block and the transferability to the course achieved in random.

For more information, contact Coach Josh Apple at japple@raspberrygolfacademy.com.

What is Project 130?

What is Project 130?

By Coach Josh Apple

RGA blog pic project 130

Project 130 is a wedging system under the performance-coaching category of the Raspberry Golf Academy. The term wedging refers to shots from about 60 yards up to about 130 yards, of course depending on age and skill level. Similar to the No Brainer short game program, Project 130 is built around the idea that natural swings will produce a consistent distance that can be tested and measured. This program is called Project 130 because it extends out to about 130 yards.

The end goal is to have three different distances with each wedge and potentially the 9-iron depending on your distances. The primary concept behind Project 130 is trajectory control. In order to produce three different distances with each club, the player will need to produce three different trajectories. When executed with proper technique, the high shot will carry the furthest, the mid shot will carry a medium distance, and the low shot will carry the shortest. By effecting change in trajectory, you are also effecting change in distance.

The most important part of the program is that we are measuring natural swings, meaning each player will produce unique trajectories and unique distances, but everyone will finish the program with three reliable distances with each wedge. Because these are natural swings, they are easy to repeat and to trust under pressure. Whether you take the Project 130 group class or learn it individually, you will be trained on how to properly produce three different trajectories, leading to three different distances.

Here is an example of the finished product; remember the numbers on the chart are just carry numbers. Notice some of the numbers are similar or overlap. By working alongside your coach, you can determine a process for picking the correct shot in various circumstances.

 

Club Distance 1
Distance 2 Distance 3
Lob Wedge 61 75 88
Sand Wedge 73 87 101
Gap Wedge 89 104 120
Pitching Wedge 105 119 134

For more information about "Project 130" group classes or private sessions, contact Coach Josh Apple at japple@raspberrygolfacademy.com or click here to register.

Next Project 130 Group Class:

Bull Run Golf Club
Start Date: June 4th
5 Week Series on Mondays: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced

Defining the “No Brainer” Short Game System

Defining the “No Brainer” Short Game System

By Coach Josh Apple

Paul chipNo matter the sport, athletes have an innate, or natural, ability to do the functions required of that particular sport. Football players naturally know how to throw and catch a ball, basketball players natural know how to dribble, and golfers naturally are capable of swinging the club. For golf, just like any sport, the technique can be improved through coaching, but over-coaching can be detrimental. An effective instructor takes what a player does naturally and makes it better, rather than tearing apart the innate to construct a new swing.

These innate swings not only make every golfer unique, but can actually be used as a tool to test and measure shots in the short game. You may have heard of the famous clock system that requires players to think mechanically about a certain length of backswing. This type of practice can be effective, but isn’t natural. Rather, why not make natural swings and then measure how far they go? That sounds like a more reliable and repeatable concept, especially on the course under pressure.

Here are the basic short game techniques:

Chipping: Shots with a carry of about 10 yards or less and a high % of roll, the club head does not get on plane (above the hands)
Pitching: Shots from about 10 to 50-60 yards with a carry to roll ratio of 60-90%, the club head does get on plane
Flopping: Shots from about 1 to 30 yards with a carry to roll ratio of at least 90%, the club head does get on plane

The “No Brainer” system is a way of tracking how far your natural chipping, pitching and flopping motions go in the air without a target and without thought. This can be completed in any open area, whether a short game facility, empty driving range, or even your backyard. All testing should be done from a neutral setup position.

The best way to begin tracking is with the chipping technique and your most lofted club, which is likely a lob or sand wedge. If you are by yourself, place a grid of tees in small increments so that you can clearly identify where the ball lands. If you are fortunate enough to have someone with you, have him or her marking where each ball lands. Either way, you will hit 5-10 shots and then take the average landing spot. This distance will be your “No Brainer” for your chipping technique. Keeping the same club in your hands and sticking with the same technique, you will next track your “No Brainer Minus” and “No Brainer Plus” swings. Again, you should not be thinking about technical positions. Rather, you are using your own natural swing, whatever length that may be, and making slight adjustments.

This process is continued with each club that you use for the chipping technique. Therefore, you will have three different distances with each club for chipping.  Once you have completed the chipping technique, you may begin tracking the pitching technique and even the flopping technique.

Here is an example of a “No Brainer” chart for the chipping technique:

Club No Brainer – No Brainer No Brainer +
Lob Wedge 4 6 8
Sand Wedge 5 7 9
Gap Wedge 6 8 10
Pitching Wedge 7 9 11
9 Iron 8 10 12

After completing the tracking, you will have consistent and reliable distances that you can hit short game shots without technical thought. You can write these numbers down and keep them in your golf bag, or memorize your favorite ones. They don’t require any extra practice because they are innate motions. It is a good idea, however, to re-measure each year, or maybe every few years as the numbers may change slightly over time.

For more information about "No Brainer" group classes or private sessions, contact Coach Josh Apple at japple@raspberrygolfacademy.com or look under "Group Programs" on our website.