Hope this finds you doing well. Today’s topic has to do with effective practice drills without major assembly. Whether you’re someone who has limited time to practice, or want to prescribe drills for students to easily do on their own, the following list includes some of my favorites for teaching and practicing. These drills are convenient and useful for golfers of all abilities.
(1) Hot Lava Drill
Importance: Tour pros are the golfers who are the best in the world at repeatedly hitting the ball before the ground. Those nice divots you see flying after the ball is struck are a huge insight as to what makes these Tour golfers so good. One favorite drill I like to use to help practice this fundamental is the “Hot Lava” drill.
Instructions: Often, I’ll tell junior golfers (and adults!) that there is hot lava behind the ball. If the club touches it… it melts! The forward side, target side, or “good” side of the ball is grass. That’s where we want the club to touch after striking the ball. To practice this, you can simply draw a line (representing the ball) and make practice swings making sure the club bottoms out on the grass on the forward side of the line, and not the hot lava. Once you get good at this, place golf balls on the line and start with chips then half-swings, then slow full-swings, then real speed full-swings — always making sure to avoid the hot lava!
What You’ll Learn: This drill is so telling because it forces the golfer to learn how to move and the sequence involved to promote solid contact.
(2) Follow-Through Drill
Importance: A proper follow-through move supports the speed and direction of the arms and club through impact. The more beginner player and higher handicappers tend to let their arms do the follow-through without the support of their body. For instance, take a look at this amateur in comparison to Rory McIlroy. Notice how Rory’s weight and hips have continued to move forward and are rotated, with nearly all of his weight on his front foot. The amateur’s weight and hips are pressed against his back foot, and subsequently, his arms are collapsed as there is no support for them to stay extended.
Instructions: Simply enough, the Follow-Through drill is just a follow-through motion. I’d recommend a mid-iron such as a 7-iron. Set up as normal and move the ball forward without taking a backswing. Wait! What? YES. This drill forces you to learn the proper movement from the ground up. In time, you should be able to move the ball in the air about 10 yards.
What You’ll Learn: Let’s use Zach Johnson as an example. Here’s Zach at address, impact, post-impact, and well into his follow-through. This is the exact motion you’ll use while doing the drill. Hint: If your arms finish collapsed, the lower body hasn’t supported the arms and you’ll lack power in your real swing. However, if like Zach and Rory, you finish with your hips forward, legs extended, and arms straight, you’re on your way to added consistency and power.
(3) One-Handed Pitch Drill
(4) Ball-Forward Drill
Importance: Moving forward with the theme of consistent contact, the Ball Forward drill makes practice harder than the game, and also teaches a player how to make an effective move while striking the ball.
Instructions: The instructions for this drill are very simple. Place the ball about 5 ball positions more forward than normal. For instance, start with a 7-iron and set up as though the ball were in the middle of your stance. However, the ball will actually start up by your front foot (say a little more forward than your standard ball position for a driver). As scary as it seems, make some slow swings at first and do your best to make contact with the ball. Once they get the feel for it, most people are shocked at how well they strike the ball.
What You’ll Learn: It’s twofold. First, if you’re somebody who bottoms out behind the ball, this drill provides the opportunity to exaggerate the feel, movement and sequence you’ll need to move your divot more forward. Second, if you’re somebody whose swing path is severely in-to-out, or severely out-to-in, you’ll recognize this immediately as it may be hard to strike the ball with your normal swing path. This proactive drill let’s you figure out what club path is most beneficial for striking the ball. Let’s take a look at the illustration below. While Jordan Spieth is not doing the Ball Forward drill, this edited picture shows the following:
White: The white circle represents the ball, and the ball position well forward of normal.
Teal: The teal represents a severe in-to-out path which would make contact quite difficult.
Pink: The pink represents a severe out-to-in path which would make contact quite difficult.
Yellow: The yellow represents a path, for all intensive purposes it could be slightly out or slightly in, but that is effective (or neutral) enough to make contact with the ball.
(5) Starting Line Drill
Importance: The drills listed above are useful for contact, distance and power. Once you establish your ability to strike the ball well every time, it’s important to start paying attention to the shape of the shots. This drill applies to both drawers or faders of the ball, or, for those looking to practice both. In order to groove a ball flight shape (note: I personally would get really good at one before trying to do two), your starting line is incredibly important. Let’s say you draw the ball. Those who draw the ball the best on Tour always start the ball to the right of their target and let the ball draw back towards the target. And vice versa, starting to the left, for faders of the golf ball. The big miss occurs when a drawer starts the ball left, or a fader starts the ball right — as then the ball moves further from the target when it takes its curve, rather than towards it.
Instructions: Take either an alignment stick and place it vertically, or another club and place it horizontally on the ground. The location is important. You’ll want your aid about 5-10 feet towards the target so you can tell on which side the ball is starting. Note: you can adjust the side to side location of the aid as appropriate for you desired amount of curve.
There are a couple ways to do this drill. If you know your desired shot shape, you can use the drill to groove your starting line. Often, I’ll also use this drill as a learning experiment too. Let’s say someone continually starts the ball left due to a shut club face at impact. Instead of trying to describe how to start the ball more on-line or even to the right, I’ll have the student hit 3 balls in a row (at any speed and any distance — often small chips and pitch like swings are useful to start with). The important thing here is to always line the feet and body up squarely. I’ll ask them to please start the first ball in the direction they are accustomed to (left in this case). The next ball, right of the stick. And the final ball, straight at it. This drill teaches “feel”. Many times students say, “I have to feel like I’m starting it right (in this case), just to make it start straight.” I like this because they figure out what it feels like and then own that feeling, as opposed to me trying to describe what I think it feels like.
What You’ll Learn: Starting direction and club face control are extremely important. This drill teaches “feel” by engraining and individual learning.
Thanks for stopping by today. Hopefully one or more of these drills are useful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.
Have a great day,