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Practice, as the saying goes, makes perfect.

While short game practice is essential to a golfer’s performance on the green, if not done properly, it can be ineffective. It can even be a waste of your time.
Feel like your short game practice isn’t helping you? Wondering why all those hours you clock aren’t doing much for lowering your handicap? Chances are it’s because of one (or more) of these reasons.

1. Your Practice is Stale.

You get out on the green. You work through your usual practice routine. Then you’re done. While you may feel like you’ve accomplished a lot, you’re just going through the motions. It’s critical to make sure your brain and body adapt to different practice routines. Experts recommend developing random practice schedules to stay engaged and to improve long-term learning.

2. Your Practice Isn’t Structured.

There’s more to short game practice than just getting out on the green for a few rounds. And while you don’t need to practice with a full-time instructor, you do need to make sure your practice is structured. That means there’s a clear beginning, middle, and end (along with a warm up and cool down)—regardless of the number of hours you’re practicing each week.

3. You Avoid Difficult Setups

It’s temping, when practicing, to always play ideal setups and scenarios. But think about the last time you played a truly “ideal” game. It’s rare, right? Part of short game practice is challenging yourself by setting up difficult shots that take you out of your comfort zone. It’s uncomfortable, sure. But the point of effective practice isn’t comfort. It’s improvement.

4. You Don’t Play on the Green.

While you think all that time logged in at the driving range is great practice, hitting ball after ball isn’t necessarily the best way to get better. You’re going to play the real game on the green, right? So why not spend more time on a practice green instead of the driving range? In addition to putting yourself in a game-time mindset, you’ll be more likely to hone your short game shots.

5. You’re Not Comfortable over the Ball

Being uncomfortable over the ball, with your mind somewhere else, can result in errant shots and poor results. If you’ve been practicing for an extended amount of time, your lower back is going to tighten up—turning your mind from improvement to fantasies of resting. Next time, try drinking some swingOIL before you head out on the practice green. Its 7 key ingredients promote flexibility and focus, making it the perfect supplement drink for your short game practice.

6. You Don’t Mix Your Strokes.

One of the most important goals of practice is to simulate the unexpectedness of real play. Maybe when you practice you focus exclusively on chips, pitches, or putts. But if you’re not combining these different swings, you’re not preparing yourself for what’s likely to happen in a real game. The idea is not to pick one stroke but to pick them all.