Differential/Variability Practice

I just wanted to give a shoutout to differential and variability practice (i get confused between the two honestly) that is talked about in @Adamyounggolf 's book The Practice Manual. In it, he talks about doing drills like hitting the toe, then the middle, then the heel of the club or hitting it thin or fat on purpose.

For me, it was a little leap of faith that spending time on swinging incorrectly was a waste of time or worse at the range, but I can honestly say, after incorporating it into my range sessions my ball striking ability has dramatically improved. My original belief was that it would be helpful if I started having toe strikes, the practice would help me consciously correct for it but what I found is that my body has just gotten better at fine-tuning without me really being conscious about it.

Af this point, each range session I take at least 20-25 balls or so and use them in some form of this practice like moving the ball forward or back in my stance, hitting toe or heel, fat or thin, or outside in/ inside out swing path and I think it’s worthy investment. It’s surprisingly helpful although it still seems a little like voodoo to me. I’m still reluctant to try it on the putting green if I’m being honest.

Just wonder if others have seen similar results or incorporate regularly in their practice?


I haven’t really tried that method, I’m still trying not to hit hosel rockets by accident, I surely don’t want to do them on purpose for now. However, I do a fair bit of percentage swings with different clubs. I’ll pick a target about 100 yard away and try and hit every club in my bag to that target. Then I’ll switch to a target closer or further and try again. Sometime you have to thin one of the wedges to hit that 125-150 yard target. It’s been very beneficial for me and my tempo, which I really used to have a huge problem with.

1 Like

Wonderful practice technique that everyone should be trying!

1 Like

I think Monte Scheinblum said he knows how to hit a hosel rocket and can do it on command- and if you know how to hit one, you know how not to hit one!

I totally support experimentation on the practice tee, as opposed to trying to hit every shot perfectly. See what happens with an open face, closed face, up in stance, back in stance, open stance, closed stance, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%, high, low, draw, fade. You don’t have the same emotional reaction to bad or good shots, but rather you have the curiosity of a child and you learn a lot and you learn how to hit the shot you actually want to hit. Best of all worlds!


It certainly is a leap of faith - as the old mantra of “perfect practice makes perfect” is so ingrained. But differential practice will just have more and more research come out in support as we gather more data.

There are many benefits - when players are able to consciously strike any part of the face at will (within reason), calibrating a desired impact is easy. It also allows for very rapid fixing of poor patterns before they emerge, as well as better awareness of patterns as they are emerging (an important trait to not let a poor pattern become ingrained or get too far off-scale).

And, as you rightly mentioned, when practiced enough, the brain learns to control the whole process unconsciously.

@Gisclairj - Perhaps learning to intentionally heel it is not important for you right now. But spending a good amount of time learning to actively and precisely hit the toe side of the club will come in handy. It will help shift your heel biased pattern (we call it an attractor state in motor learning) more towards the center as well as giving you a tool to be able to fix shanks, should they pop up on the course.

@devonpetersen - most good players can hit intentional toe/heel/hook/slice etc on command. The best players can do it precisely (I have players who can move strike around the face in 3mm increments). Some good players don’t possess this skill, but those players are the ones who struggle when they are having an off day (in my experience) as they don’t have the tools to re-calibrate.

I’m even able to change my strike pattern if someone calls it out mid-backswing. Of course, we don’t need this level of control, but I use it as an exercise to show that it is a consciously controllable skill


@Adamyounggolf awesome advice, didn’t even think of it that way. Thank you!!!

@Adamyounggolf I hit all of my irons out toward the toe and have done this for years. If I want to hit more in the center of the clubface can you recommend some drills or practice techniques to try?

Buy the strike plan :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, @Adamyounggolf “Strike Plan” and “Practice Manual” are awesome.

“Strike Plan” will improve your practice and development regardless of what swing model you are working on with a coach. It is devoted to improving the skill of the strike! Adam can go deep on why this helps with self-organizing improvement and a bunch of other well researched stuff but “strike plan” is very applicable and not too heavy on theory

“Practice manual” is for the nerds like me. The book is actually about motor learning and he just happens to use golf for all the case studies. I think “practice manual” is more info heavy. I would not give it to my buddies who can’t handle info and get in their head

1 Like

Where can you buy The Strike Plan? I have The Practice Manual but Amazon doesn’t show The Strike Plan.

1 Like

@jon has it listed somewhere on practical golf with an affiliate link. Adam has a website as well.

Thanks. I found it on Adam’s site. It’s a course, not a book.

1 Like

I’m a little late getting to this forum topic as I just got the Strike Plan. Strike Plan is very informative and easy to follow video’s. Haven’t had a chance to work on the Differential and Variability practice yet, but the Driver and 3D aim point videos helped to consciously make changes on the golf course. My ball striking after two rounds has me wanting to more time on the range to try these different practice plans to improve my skill level. Any thoughts on implementing these thoughts with the more finesse part of the game of chipping and putting. I have some ideas, like toe/heel and thin/fat shots. I know a lot of it just comes down to hitting a lot of chips and putts on the range to get comfortable feel.