Random practice is characterised by a variance of some sort for each shot. For example, you may
• Change clubs
• Change targets
• Change shape of shot (draw/fade/high/low)
each time. Random practice is usually carried out in conjunction with a full routine, although this is not necessary for it to constitute random practice.
Performance is usually much lower with this type of practice, as it is much more difficult to hit different shots and have to re-call how to do it each time, as well as going through the varying set-up procedures for each different type of shot. As a result, confidence may be hampered during these sessions (unless the player fully understands that this type of practice is intentionally more difficult).
Although performance is poorer in random practice (during the acquisition stage), retention of performance is much improved
Learning, on the other hand, is vastly improved (as the above graph shows). Almost all studies show a huge increase in retention of performance using this type of practice due to its higher contextual nature (it is more realistic to the real game). The lowering of confidence levels during the practice may also serve a valuable purpose – to balance out expectation levels.
I discuss different modes of practice and the practical applications for those, as well as some deeper and more complex motor learning principles in “The Practice manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers”. Click below to learn more