I bet I can guess the most annoying thing that can happen to you when you are driving your car. Especially if you are on a long journey.
Here is the story. You see the sign for road works, and you sigh. There they are in the distance — rows, and rows of orange cones on the highway. And as often as not no-one is working! So perhaps you hate traffic cones. I do understand if that sounds like you. But I have news for you. There is a much better use for traffic cones or construction cones as they are also known. They can be used to improve your golf! Welcome to our practice guide to cone drills.
How can cone drills help my game?
It’s all about your swing. It takes practice and patience to get your swing right. And you can always improve.
One of the most common swing mistakes is hitting at the ball rather than through the ball.
It is often a rookie mistake. But if you do not keep practicing, then errors can slip in. Be self-aware as you play and be honest with yourself. Is your technique going bad? If you find you are losing games against opponents you used to beat, then it’s time to take action. If that happens, it is worth going back to basics.
The key is body coordination
When we are learning the game of golf, the most challenging thing is to get your whole body together. You know what you want to do. You want to get that lovely smooth following through movement which you see the professionals make. It is easier than you think. Take a look at the better players at your local club. You will notice that amateurs who practice and take their game seriously can do this as well.
If you are finding it difficult, then coordination is probably the error. The mistake is often matching your upper and lower body. It is likely that your upper body is moving too much. At the same time, your lower body is too stiff.
It leads to two problems which make it impossible to make a good shot. Your body will not be in the best position when your club connects with the ball, and this means that your ball will not go exactly where you want it. On top of that, you will fail to use your body strength to its full effect. It means your shot will be underpowered and the ball will not go as far as you want.
To correct this, you need to ‘hit through.’ The aim is to hit through the ball, not at the ball.
Concentrate on your swing, not on the ball
How will you know when you do this? The primary way is to look at what happens to your swing. You will instantly realize that all is well and ‘hitting through’ the ball is if your swing continues through after you have made contact with the ball. If you are hitting at the ball, this will not happen. Instead, your swing will stop as soon as your club makes contact with the ball.
There is a mental process here, as well as the physical control of the club and the ball. If you concentrate on the ball rather than on your swing, then your brain will tell your body to stop when you hit the ball. But you cannot stop immediately. So, what will happen is that you will decelerate your shot before you strike the ball. You will be losing the power you need to get that ball down the fairway.
It is a good idea to get out on the practice course and make a few easy shots. Notice where your swing stops. Are you hitting at the ball? If you are then a cone drill can help.
Stop ‘hitting at’ the ball by getting used to how a golf swing feels
A golf swing looks like a lovely natural physical movement. If you do it correctly, it feels like this too. But the truth is you have to learn it.
Build your technique away from your golf equipment
A recommended way to do this is to practice that fluid right-through movement before you get anywhere near a golf ball. You can build up muscle memory and get your brain to feel familiar with this movement by throwing almost anything. But it just happens that a road traffic cone is the right size and a good weight for this exercise. If you can’t find a cone, don’t worry any object which is reasonably heavy yet easy to manipulate will work.
You need to be outside to do this drill, a large backyard is excellent or go to a quiet outside space as you do not want to hit anyone!
The road cone drill to improve your golf swing
Take something which you can make a target. A hula hoop or two sturdy buckets will do fine. Or you can use tape to make a rough circle.
- Take ten traffic cones
- Place your target ten to fifteen yards away from you.
- Toss your cones at the target in a quick but smooth series of movements
- With each toss, make sure that your hips and your shoulders are in line when you finish.
Once you can achieve this, you will have succeeded in the aim of this exercise. Your whole body will be working as one to deliver momentum to the object you are swinging.
You may find at first that you get it right on some tosses but not on all. Keep practicing until your hips and shoulders are in line after every toss. Eventually, you will not even notice you are doing this. It will become effortless.
Once you are getting it right and you can say to yourself ‘this is easy’ do a body check. Notice how your body feels every time you do this exercise. Paying attention in this way makes it easier for your brain and your body to remember.
Once this movement is in your memory, it is easier to recognize it when you are under stress and playing the game. This cone drill exercise will enable you to get thoroughly familiar with how your body should behave when you are making a perfect golf swing.
You are working with your body here and cultivating a natural movement, and it will feel good. You will notice that the more you do this cone drill, the smoother it feels. Very soon it will become completely natural.
Now it is the right time to introduce golf.
Here is a good routine. After you have finished the cone drill hit some golf balls, through a full swing. Follow with this after the golf cone exercise. It will help you transfer the good muscle learning and memory that you have built up to your golf skills.
A rule of thumb here is ten minutes of cone drill then ten minutes of the golf swing — then repeat for as long as you have got.
I would highly recommend golf drills which do not involve golfing equipment. The great thing about this road cone exercise is that you are not holding a golf club and hitting a golf ball! Let me explain.
If you are an enthusiastic golfer, then you undoubtedly watch the professionals on TV and watch the best players in your club hit the ball. You will want to try to emulate them. It is a great way to learn, but you can miss out some vital stages. There are some steps and skills you need to pick up running. You need to give your body and brain the chance to assimilate the physical movements that go to make up a great golf swing.
It is why doing practice drills, like this cone drill, which does not involve any golf equipment are so useful for getting to know how your body works and developing those skills.
You can then pick up the golf club with more knowledge and more confidence.
I can’t emphasize enough how much your game will improve if you get this right. If you swing through, then your club will still be accelerating as it hits the ball. It means that your swing will have more power. The ultimate aim is to get the maximum velocity at the moment of impact between the clubface and the ball. That means the ball will go further.
Cone drill for distance control
It is about your short game as well as your drives on the fairway. It is an excellent way to correct a widespread mistake. Perhaps the most frequent error new golfers make is hitting the ball too far on the green. Even experienced golfers can have a bad patch where the ball rolls off into the distance past the pin.
If you are doing it for the first time or need a refresher of your skills, cones can be your friend.
You can use the cones as targets and get a much better feel for how hard you need to hit the ball to get it to go the distance you want in any given circumstance. This drill can cover both your short game and longer shots in one practice.
Here is the cone drill for distance
You will need some space as you will need to spread out your shots.
To do this drill, you will need six cones.
Place them in a line starting at thirty yards from you and moving away from you in increments of ten yards. (You now have targets at different distances and can diagnose and learn.)
First hit your ball aiming at each of the goals. (You can soon discover which targets you miss by the most).
Then remove all the cones apart from the one you have missed by the most. Hit shots until you improve your distance to that cone.
Then replace the cone ten yards nearer to you from the first cone. Hit twenty shots. If you are accurate, you can move on. If not keep practicing until you are on target. Or why not try this cone drill to improve your swing.
Then replace the cone ten yards further from you, and hit another twenty shots. Again, if you are not missing by a lot keep practicing until you are on target most of the time.
Then set out all the cones again This time hit one ball at the nearest one, then one ball to the next until you are at the sixth cone. Then repeat starting at the furthest cone. It will build up your skills over different distances. It will also give you a general feel about how hard you need to hit to get the ball a certain distance.
Cone drills conclusion
I hope this article has shown how everyday ‘non-golf’ objects can help you develop your golf skills.
Cones are a handy tool here, but there are other objects which you can use. What is important is recognizing that practice is not just about the control of your golf club but about how your body behaves in precise movements. Get that right, and you are on your way to the lowest handicap in your club.