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Performance practice session


Increase the robustness of your game for competitive play


One of the main variables that is often missed in practice, and thus causes discomfort in a real game, is consequence. If all your practice is too comfortable, a card-in-hand medal may always feel alien.

A performance practice session is the hardest, but most realistic type, as it creates a competitive, game-like situation where the result matters to you.

In theory, every time you play a round (with something at stake) you are practising this, but you can create games in practice to simulate the same thing.


Unless you find that you naturally up your game under pressure, this form of practice is harder, and so the success rate may be lower than the range (at least initially).


Separately I will offer some practice games you can play, but across all these are themes I would consider when playing them.

Outcome goals

There is no room for being distracted by the intricacies of technique, it's about executing your intended shot, and getting the job done.

Process goals

Paradoxically, often the best way of getting good outcomes, is to focus your energies on the process. Your recipe will include ingredients like clear intention, a rehearsal that would do the job, or clear focus in execution. Since there are many uncontrollables affecting outcomes, investing in your recipe is the smartest way to get good outcomes.


After an attempt, even in a performance situation, there is scope to briefly reflect if you didn't execute your intended shot. Two main questions to answer would be:

  1. What did the club do wrong?

  2. Did I apply my recipe?

By tagging the impact error, or noting if you missed an ingredient in the process, you can solve problems within a game. A valuable skill to have in a competitive round of golf.

Task progression

Given the multitude of competitive games you could play, I will simply say this about task progression. We are trying to stretch ourselves by attempting tasks just beyond our current level of ability.

There are multiple variables we can throw into the mix to make a shot harder (or remove to make them easier). Here are two that often are absent in normal practice, which prepare you for the real thing.

One attempt

If you practice exclusively with multiple attempts, you might feel the pressure a bit when you're not allowed to in a real game. The knowledge you only have one go at the shot you're attempting, ups the ante - so one-ball practice is a must to include.


Practising in a cocoon on your own is great for concentration, but playing in front of others will be unavoidable in a competitive round. Doing nearest the pin chipping comps with a practice buddy, for example, might help de-sensitise you to playing in front of others. The discomfort of being watched is a much reported reason that golfers' competitive play doesn't quite match skill in practice. Not only can it be resolved, but also enjoyed. Hitting great shots in front of others beats you being the only witness.


Brain tips

A performance mode requires a purposeful approach and investing energy into the supporting processes.

The growth mindset actively seeks out experiences that stretch them (and perhaps feel uncomfortable) Perversely, finding the point where your game breaks down is the ultimate lesson, as it more clearly magnifies what needs working on.

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