When you head to the driving range, you likely have plans to get a bucket or two of balls and practice hitting. You’ll probably work on your swing and focus on mechanics, but then what? Ever wondered what else you can do to make the most of your time on the range? Even if you head to the driving range with good intentions for how to use your time, you can likely improve how you spend your time with these three tips:
Tip #1: Have a Plan
You’ve planned to go to the range, but to really maximize your time, you want more of a plan than that. Before you even hit, consider what you want to work on: hitting with a certain club? Shooting a certain distance? Accuracy? For a newer golfer, you might want all those ideas to go together, but working on each one individually may be a better use of your time. When your focus and efforts are divided, you might not see progress in any area, or that progress would be slower than if you narrow your focus.
Also, before you arrive, decide what you’ll do if your shots aren’t going the way you’d like to. If you’re struggling with mechanics, for example, plan to take some breaths and think positively.
Tip#2: Use Imagery
Imagery is creating or recreating an experience in the mind, which you can do before you get to the driving range, but also when you’re there. Picture in your mind the shot(s) you want to make before you swing. By getting into the habit of doing imagery before a shot, you’re starting to build a practice a pre-shot routine. If you’re struggling with the execution of your swing or shot, step aside to do imagery of it until you feel a bit more comfortable. Then, return to the ball more focused on how the correct mechanics felt and with more confidence.
Remember that imagery is a skill and it can take time to experience the shot the way that you’d like to. Practicing at home, away from the course can be helpful. You can also strengthen your “imagery muscles” by recreating the great shots you take. After you hit a good one at the range, or on the course, take a moment to picture that shot again in your head.
Tip #3: Use Deep Breathing
When we get frustrated, distracted, or nervous, we tend to tighten our grip and our breathing changes, typically to become shallower. This tension and change in breathing do nothing good for your golfing efforts. To change this, use deep breathing to help you calm down and release tension. To breathe deeply and correctly, slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, aiming to keep your shoulders relaxed. Continue with a few deep breaths trying to release physical and mental tension with each exhale. Shake your body out if you need to. You can take deep breaths in-between shots—even when you feel fine—to get in the habit of taking a breath before each shot. This is another potential part of your pre-shot routine, so consider adding a breath or two before and after each time you imagine a shot.
Heading to the range had the potential to be fun but can also create challenges that are tough to push through in the moment, but with these ideas, you can do it. Make the most of your time on the range by stepping out there with a plan for your session, but also with a plan for what to do if things get challenging: this will hopefully positively influence the outcome of your time spent at the range.