Published on Enhanced Fitness and Performance (http://enhancedfp.com)

How Many Golf Balls Should You Hit? by www.Yourgolffitnesscoach.com

By DMorgan
Created 03/14/2006 - 10:55am


I have a question for ya.


Do you really want to be a better golfer?


Silly question, huh?


See, I don’t think it’s so silly for a number of reasons.


I ask a lot of golfers that same question and without hesitation, just about all of them say, “YES!”


My follow-up question is, “What are you willing to do to get better?”


“Whatever it takes, of course.”


“What if I told you that you have to stop playing so much and hitting so many balls?”


This is where they squirm…”Well, I can’t do that.  I need to practice and I love to play.”


How would you respond???


Let me work my way to my point.


Some professional golfers practice and play many hours each day, every day.  They hit hundreds of balls a day and thousands of balls a week.  They play four consecutive days of very high-level golf in most tournaments and then practice some more afterward.




Two reasons.


The first reason is because they can.  It’s their job.  They don’t have the tough commute every morning a 7 a.m.  Their boss isn’t on their back about getting this months report on his desk by 9 a.m.  They don’t “work” through lunch


Sure they work hard and have stresses just like everyone else.  They obviously have to play well to make a good living, but at least their stresses are a bit more focused.


Want to see the best golfers in the world play crappy.  Take away their sponsors, endorsements, and make them work 40-50 hours a week AND try to travel, practice, and play with their typical number of swings per week.


The second reason they can take so many swings per week and still play well is that they have developed the work capacity to do it.  Just like a 10k runner has to develop the specific physical capacity to run a long distance at a very high percentage of effort.  A golfer must develop the capacity to take a high number of swings each practice session and each round.


Many golfers I work with hit too many balls, too frequently, and try to play too often to get better.  The “More Is Better” attitude runs rampant throughout the golf ranks.  The thinking is that by hitting more balls and playing more rounds, skills will improve.


If you hit 100 balls a day, hitting 200 does not necessarily make you better.  In fact, it can make you play worse.


See, we all have a specific amount of stress that the body can tolerate and a specific amount of mental and physical energy that the body can provide before performance begins to decline.  The body doesn’t have the capacity to tell the difference between mental or physical stress so it can accumulate to a significant level without you ever knowing it.


By constantly hitting too many balls, skill and technique will decline.  Repetitively swinging with less than optimal technique simply ingrains bad technique into your swing.


So are you willing to NOT play to get better?


Now don’t worry.  I’m not going to leave you hanging here.  I’m actually going to tell you how to determine how many balls you can hit each day, each week, and so on without “running out of gas” and negatively affecting your technique.


To save time, we’re only going to talk about full swings for maximum distance.  These are the most physically demanding, energy draining swings you’ll take, and therefore, strongly impact your skills in the golf swing.


The first measure you need to determine is your maximum drive for the day.  Here’s how to do it.


First warm-up.  I know it takes time, but to achieve your true maximum it will make a difference.  The thing I want you to avoid during your warm-up is the stretch and hold type of flexibility training.  It will limit your power output and reduce your practice performance.  Your warm-up should be dynamic.  Without getting too deep into it (it’s another article in itself), start with arm circles, neck circles, trunk rotations, body weight squats, lunges, etc.  Then take partial swings with your 6 or 7 irons working up to full swings.  Then take you driver and do the same.  Now you’re warmed up.


Now you’re ready to go for your best drive of the day.  You’ve got FIVE balls to do it.  Yes, that’s right.  FIVE balls, FIVE full swings.




We don’t want to be wasting time and energy.


Next, take your best distance in the air from those five swings.  This is your MAXIMAL DRIVE DISTANCE FOR THE DAY.


The next measure we need to determine is how much fatigue you can accumulate before performance begins to decrease.  In the training game, we call this the DROP-OFF.


It is the percentage of drop-off that will determine how many balls you will hit with maximum effort for that day. 


Now let me give you some guidelines to determine what drop-off you want choose.


For the normal human being who likes his job, has a happy relationship, and makes decent money, the typical drop off that can be tolerated to reproduce performance on a day-to-day basis is about 1-2%.  That means that you can accumulate 1-2% fatigue and still come back the next day and perform at that same level.  If you hate your job, travel a lot, just got a divorce, and your cat died, your drop-off will be less.  Remember, stress accumulates.


Now hitting balls to a 2% drop-off isn’t much in the way of total maximum effort swings each day.  Good.  It’ll reproduce a little bit of the pressure you may feel during a round and demand a higher quality of practice.


Let’s put some numbers in front of you to clarify things a bit.  If your maximal drive distance for the day is 200 yards in the air, you can take as many swings as it takes to only be able to drive it 196 yards at a 2% (200 x 0.98 = 196) drop-off.


Now, I realize that there are skill related issues here, so a measure of self-honesty is required to make this system work to maximum effectiveness.  That’s why you get a bit of a cushion regarding the percent drop off to eliminate issues of skill.  To make sure that it is fatigue limiting your efforts and not skill, a total of five balls below the drop off distance OR three consecutive balls below the drop off distance is an indication that you are finished with maximum effort swings for the day.  Time to move to another less demanding part of your game or just go home and give your sweetie a smooch.


I can hear it now, “But Bill I don’t hit balls every day.”


Terrific!!  You can actually hit more balls at one time.


Say you only practice at the driving range Tuesday evening and play a round on Saturday morning.


Using the same maximum drive distance in the example above we’ve got about three days between periods where maximum effort swings are required.  That means your drop-off can be larger on your practice day.  Simply multiply your 1-2% fatigue factor by 3.


If your maximum drive distance is 200 yards for the day, and you’re practicing to a 6% drop-off, you will hit balls with maximum effort until you hit a total of FIVE balls or THREE consecutive balls less than 188 yards (200 yards x 0.94 = 188) in the air.


This entire system of using a drop-off in performance effectively manages fatigue rather than simply accumulating it and causing chronically poor performance.


Here’s another application to consider.  I’ll use the 200-yard maximum drive and two percent drop-off from the example above. 


Let’s say that you hit 20 maximum effort swings before reaching your 2% fatigue drop-off of five balls shorter than 196 yards.  Considering that a round of 18 holes of golf could include as many as 40 maximum effort swings, your drop-off would indicate that you are not in sufficient physical condition to play a full 18 holes without a decrease in performance. 


You may see this situation arise if you live in an area of the country that has a forced off-season due to weather conditions.  One of the biggest mistakes you could make would be to attempt to play beyond your physical capacity.  It will only result in lower performance, higher scores, and greater frustration.


The answer to increasing your physical capacities lies in the strict adherence to the drop-off method explained above AND sticking to a rigorous, appropriate golf-fitness program for your level.  Over time your work capacity will improve and fatigue will not be the primary factor that limits your golf performance.  Then it all comes down to you and your golf-skills.


So are you willing to play less golf to play better golf?


Source URL: