Inner Game Drills

Inner game drills are designed to develop internal feedback That’s the information golfers receive from what they see and feel during their swings. External feedback from the coach is withheld as internal feedback strengthens.

The Tension-free Drill

The tension-free drill is best done with a partner, but you can easily do it on your own. One golfer hits five shots from the practice tee. After each shot, the golfer who hit the ball tells his partner, who is acting as the coach, how much tension he felt in his swing. Choosing a number from a scale of one to ten does this — with the number one indicating a tension-filled swing and the number ten, a tension-free one

If this is a two-player drill, the golfer who is watching should be careful not to judge – by compliment or criticism – any shot made by the hitting partner

This drill works even if you don’t have a partner. It’s a matter of disciplining yourself not to judge your shot or think about mechanics. No matter how you hit your previous shot, you should strive to remain in the present, concentrating on allowing a tension-free swing on your next shot

Low Energy and Full Release

Take a club – let’s say a five iron – and aim at a target that is about 75 percent of your normal five-iron distance. Take a full swing, making sure you finish the swing completely. It should appear as though you have just made a full swing in slow motion.

The drill is designed to allow the player to experiment with gauging the correct rhythm and tempo that allow the swing to come in on the beat and keep the ball on line. Even higher-handicap players eventually discover the swing synchronization that will send the ball on target.

Try, for example, hitting a driver only 100 yards with a full swing. Most players think they’ve throttled it down, and they still hit it 200 yards or more. Some higher handicappers are amazed at how far the ball goes with such little apparent effort.

Eyes Closed

Take your stance with your eyes open, then just before taking the club away from the ball, close your eyes. This routine is structured to generate internal feedback that will link you directly to the feel of your swing as well as an imagined target. By shutting your eyes only at impact, it still forces you to trust your swing, and you’ll get clearer and more precise internal feedback about how the club head feels as it passes through the impact zone. Try both version of the drill.

Target Retention and the Imaginative Eye

The idea is for you to picture a target – let’s say, a yellow flag 150 yards away and/or the shape of the shot — and hit whatever club gets you there. You should focus on the target and imagine exactly where you want the ball to land.

Throughout the swing – from the takeaway to the top of the backswing and down through the impact zone — the image of your ball landing on an exact spot should remain foremost in your imaginative mind. When you finish your swing, look up and focus on the spot you have chosen. This method of target-focus practice is an initial step toward inclusion of target retention in your pre-shot routine and during your swing.

Let it Go!

Arrange five balls in a row so you can hit them in quick succession. The idea is to hit one shot, then immediately set up and hit the next one. You should come to a stop and address each shot before taking the next swing.

Because the swings are in rapid succession, there is little time to judge your previous shot or to allow conscious-swing thoughts to intrude. It’s great fun with a driver, although it usually works well with any club.

Breathe and swing!

Assume your address position with your abbreviated routine, and as you take your last look at the target, inhale and then exhale as your eyes come back to the ball. Then swing! The breath does two things: it brings you back to the present and relieves stress. Make sure the breath inhale/exhale takes about 6 seconds. It’s a significant breath. Experiment with the timing of the breath and eventually it will become automatic.