5 Phase Plan For Junior Golf with Adam Young
As author of The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers, I spend a lot of my time designing practice plans for elite level golfers. Based on the science of motor learning and my coaching experiences, I have 5 staples in a practice plan that I like to see players conduct.
This phase is where you refine the body motion or club motion directly. During this phase, the result of the shot is not as important, so this phase is usually periodized to the off-season, or periods in the season where the player is not trying to peak for an event.
Lots of repetition with a movement-changing focus is the call of the day here. We are trying to ingrain the new moves so that we can be more prepared for the later phases. However, we are not just making our swing pretty during this phase – the changes must serve a function to improve ball flight, consistency and/or injury prevention.
During this phase, we are opening up our skill and coordination via use of exploration. I use two methods in this phase – differential practice and variability practice.
Variability practice is where you try to do what you desire, but in different ways. For example, shaping a shot onto a target, or trying to hit the sweet-spot while standing different distances from the ball during set up.
Differential practice is a little wilder, but there is evidence showing improvements in skill over traditional practice. This is where you try to do shots that you wouldn’t normally use in the course of play, such as intentionally hitting the toe, or attempting the biggest hook/slice you can hit.
If you have ever seen Tiger or Seve demonstrate in clinics, you will understand that the best players can not only hit standard golf shots, but they’re very inventive with other shots.
As we get closer to tournament play, we may decide to hone in on a more stable technique.
During this phase, players will focus more on calibrating a stock shot (straighter ball flight, or modestly shaped flight). The main focus will be on club and ball impact – so a working knowledge of ball flight laws is necessary here.
Not a lot guarantees successful performance in golf, but performance training does. For this reason, we enter this phase pre-tournament.
During the performance phase, we A/B test our game for different thought processes, techniques and/or strategies which produce the best performance. For example, do you produce a tighter dispersion when thinking about the target, or about a component of your swing?
This is essentially polishing your game before an event, but players often see huge leaps in performance using these strategies (hence the name). I often see jumps of 10-30% fairways hit simply by changing a thought process.
During the days before a junior golf tournament, the focus is shifted to transference training – so called because we are learning to transfer all of our learning to the place it matters most – the course.
During this phase, we play games with pressure which simulate a course/tournament situation. We also switch predominantly to random practice (hitting different clubs to different targets each time), as science has shown this to be beneficial to performing better on the course.
These 5 phases are often scheduled to be more dominant during one part of the season. For example, technical refinements would not typically be done before a tournament, as it is too late to ingrain them by that time, and it often causes performance disruption due to the increased self-awareness of the movement.
I also design plans where each phase may be conducted during the week. For example, Mondays may be dedicated to technical refinements, and Fridays may be transfer-training dominant.
If you would like to learn more about these advanced methods of training, as well as many other golf-improving methods, “The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers” is available from Amazon. Click Here to be directed.
Adam has worked at some of the top facilities in the world, including the Leadbetter Academies and the World famous Turnberry Resort. He currently teaches at one of Europe’s most prestigious resorts in La Manga Club, Spain.