Block (or blocked) practice is what the majority of golfers do when they go to the range. It is typically characterized by repetition of a singular action. This could be;
- Same club
- Same target
- Same shot type (fade/draw/straight)
- Not moving out of position – scrape and hit
Blocked practice for golf (or any sport) tends to increase performance during training – so it can be very good for improving confidence. As the motion is repetitive, it can also help to increase biological consistency – it is essentially physical training in this regard. For these reasons, it can be a useful tool in the initial stages of learning. However, the retention of performance, or learning, is very low with this type of practice. Typically, we see the performance return back to baseline after training.
In the above study, we see better performance (faster is better here) during practice with blocked practice, but in the retention tests, the performance was lost and Random practice showed to be better.
This is due to the poor contextual nature of the practice – how often do you hit twenty 7 irons in a row? Also, as the planning stage of the shot is omitted, the access of the motor pattern tends to be poor. Players also tend to do blocked practice without a full routine, so the brain never links the routine to execution of the shot – another reason for poor retention.