This is the 12th part of a series of practice tips titled “Tips for Improving”.

If you have missed any of the first 11 parts, you can go to our blog on our homepage at or direct at:

In those practice tips we discussed how we work with our students to create new habits rather than breaking old habits. It is essentially impossible to break bad habits (our mind/body is not set up that way) … but we are set up to be able to create new habits and ultimately make changes/create new movements, etc. we want.

We talked about a book we strongly recommend – The Little Book of Talent/52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle.

It is described as a manual for building a faster brain and a better you. It is an easy-to-use hand book of scientifically proven, field tested methods to improve your skills – your skills, your kids’ skills, your organization’s skills – in sports, music, art, math and business. The product of five years of reporting from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds and interviews with successful master coaches, it distills the daunting complexity of skill development into 52 clear, concise directives.

Whether you are 10 or 100, this is an essential guide for anyone who ever asked, “How do I get better?


This book is available at

The last instructional newsletters (Tips for Improvement Part 1 through 11) we discussed 45 tips for improvement from staring a who you want to become, to being willing to be stupid, to finding the sweet spot, to practicing by yourself, to taking a nap…. Again, if you have not reviewed these past practice tips, would recommend.

This instructional newsletter (Part 12) we cover the next 3 tips for improving your skills and relate them to you learning/working on your single plane swing and golf game.

Sustaining Progress

Developing your skills (and talent) is like taking a cross-country hike. You will encounter challenges, you will hit snags, plateaus and steep paths; motivation will ebb and flow. To sustain progress, it’s necessary to be FLEXIBLE one moment and STUBBORN the next, to deal with immediate obstacles while staying focused on the horizon (or your ultimate goals).

46.  Don’t Waste Time Trying to Break Bad Habits – Instead Build New Ones

I bet I talk about this so many times in our schools, many of our students probably get “sick” of hearing it.

When it comes to dealing with bad habits, many of us attack the problem head-on, by trying to break the habit.  This tactic, of course, doesn’t work.  And we are left with the old truth – habits are tough (if not impossible) to break.  The blame lies with our brains.  While we are really good at building circuits (creating habits), we are awful at unbuilding them. Trying as you might to break a bad habit, it is still there, waiting patiently for a chance to be used.

So, what do we do?

The solution is to ignore the bad habit and put your energy toward building a new habit that will override the old/bad habit.

To build new habits, start slowly. Expect to feel stupid, clumsy, uncomfortable, and even frustrated at first…. after all, the new “wires” in your brain haven’t been built yet. Your brain still wants to follow the old “comfortable” pattern. Build the new habit by gradually increasing the difficulty, little by little. It takes time, but it’s the ONLY way new habits are created and grow.

47.  To Learn it More Deeply, Teach It

I absolutely love this one.

Here is the issue. Every good golfer, every golfer who learns something new/reaches a goal, etc… must be their own best teacher. If you cannot teach yourself, your ability to make changes, create new habits, reach goals, etc. will occur in a much slower rate.

This is not saying you must create everything yourself, but it is saying you must take what you learn and translate into self-teaching.

Think about it – how much time to you spend practicing, and how much of that practice time is with someone teaching you?

If you are like most, 90% + of your practice time is on your own, trying to create new habits, etc. on your own. Meaning, you must be able to make sure you are doing things correct, must be able to make sure you are “going down the correct path”.

A great way to determine if you can teach yourself it ask yourself “Could I teach this (new habit I am trying to learn) to someone else?”

This works because when you communicate a skill to someone, you come to understand it more deeply yourself. Also, when you see someone struggle, and help them through it, you improve your ability to deal with your own struggles.

The saying “Those who can’t do, teach” should be rewritten as “Doers who teach do better!”

48.  Give a New Skill a Minimum of Eight Weeks

When it comes to growing/creating/developing new skills, eight weeks seems to be an important threshold. It’s the length of many top-level training programs around the world, from the Navy Seals’ physical – conditioning program to the mission training for the Mercury astronauts. A recent study at Massachusetts General Hospital showed the practicing meditation for twenty-seven minutes a day created lasting brain changes in (you guessed it) eight weeks.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can be proficient in any skill in eight weeks. Rather, it underlines two more basic points:

1)  Constructing and honing new habits takes time, no matter who you are, and

2) Resilience and grit are vital tools, particularly in the early stages of learning. Don’t make judgements too early.

Keep at it, even if you don’t feel immediate improvement. Give your talent (your brain) the time it needs to grow and create new habits.

In the next e-tip (May issue) we will discuss in depth about when you get stuck, making shifts, plus additional tools to help you in your “journey” to great golf.

Please watch upcoming newsletter practice tips for the last of the 52 tips for improving your skills/creating new habits and improving your golf game.