Got an email last week from a recent student. Thought I’d share with you and some tips that I have written before – but think will be a GREAT reminder for all again.
From Ken S. (GGA Alumnus / Jan. ’16 School):
I spent my 2 hr drive back to JACKSONVILLE on Sunday processing my experience this past weekend. As you stated at the onset of the school, the quantity of information was overwhelming, but amazing. The explanation, demonstration, and instruction of the basic mechanics of Moe’s swing really make it feel achievable. Your staff were great and I always felt that there was someone watching to help. I have a new appreciation for what a previous instructor told me but I was never sure how to achieve it, that being “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”.
I realize that I have begun my journey and look forward to achieving the process, with your help.
Many thanks, Ken
With this email, I thought it would be a good idea to cover 5 tips for improving your skills and relate them to you learning / working on your single plane swing and golf game. We have discussed in the past (described in The Little Book of Talent by Daniel Coyle).
1. Each Day, Try to Build One Perfect Chunk
A “chunk” is viewed a a new habit or part of a new habit you are trying to create.
Many regard practicing as a success. But, the goal is not merely practicing, but rather progressing. As John Wooden put it, “Never mistake mere activity for accomplishment”.
The Talent Code recommends setting a daily S.A.P: smallest achievable perfection. In this technique, you pick a single “chunk” that you can perfect – not just improve, not just “work on”, but get 100 percent consistently correct. Break down what you are working on into small enough chunks that you are able to improve little by little, piece by piece, rep by rep.
As Wooden also said, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”
2. Embrace Struggle
When we discuss “deep practice”, the emotion / feeling most think of is struggle.
Most of us instinctively avoid struggle, because it is uncomfortable. It feels like failure.
However, when it comes to developing your talent, new habits, struggle isn’t an option – it’s a biological necessity.
The struggle and frustration you feel is at the edges of your ability…. the edges of your ability when pushed – feel uncomfortable.
The struggling / uncomfortable sensation you are feeling is your brain / body constructing new “neural connections”, in other words, the precursors to the new habits.
Dr. Robert Bjork (UCLA psychologist) calls this phenomenon “desirable difficulty”. Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain.
Embrace the uncomfortable feeling as this is a sign of change – change in your habits which in turn will eventually create a positive / desired outcome.
3. Choose Five Minutes a Day Over an Hour a Week
With deep / intense type practice, small daily practice is much more effective than once-a-week type practice binges. This is the way our brains grow – a little each day.
Daily practice, even if for just five minutes a day, nourishes this process, whereas long, intense practices spaced far apart makes the brain play catch up.
The key is total focus during the practice session which most can do for short periods of time.
The other advantage of practicing daily is that this type of practice becomes habit forming in itself.
Practice can be indoors, outdoors, with / without training equipment, working on positions, PVC drill, leverage bag, mirror work, Perfect Impact Trainer, etc.. etc… The key is short practice sessions with “intense” type focus building “chunks” at a time.
According to research, establishing a new habit takes about 30 days (as short as 21 and typically around 30 days) working on the new habit every day. “Working on” meaning short, deep, intense type sessions.
4. Don’t Always Do “Drills.” Instead – Sometimes, Play Small, Addictive Games
This is about the way you think about your practice. The term “drill” evokes a drudgery and meaninglessness. Mechanical, repetitive and boring – as the saying goes, “drill and kill”.
Games on the other hand, are the opposite. Fun, “connectedness” and passion. Skills improve faster when looked at this way.
As you are doing your “drills” – turn them into games.
For example – if you are doing the PVC drill – count how many times in a row you perform it perfect. Count out loud the different positions and see if you can “hit” those positions in and out of sequence…
Chipping drills – count how many you can get inside 3 feet out of 10. See how many you can get up in down in a row (chip up and one putt in), etc..
Perfect Impact Trainer Club – when hitting balls, see how many in a row you can hit “clean”, crisp and get good flight. This will show you how many times in a row your hands lead properly at impact with good club head angle at impact.
In our camps (Build Your Game Camps) quite a bit of time is spent teaching “games” to our students so they can better enjoy working on their drills and this enjoyment will and does greatly enhance their learning process.
5. Practice Alone
Practicing alone works because it’s the best way to:
1. See out the sweet spot at the edge of your ability, and
2. Develop discipline, because it doesn’t depend on others. If you aren’t worried about what others think, what others are looking at (you), what others are doing, etc.. you won’t be worried about making mistakes, feeling uncomfortable, trying to find your sweet spot…
Changes are MUCH easier to make when you are only concerned about yourself. Golfers get too worried about what others are thinking about them, what others are looking at…. It doesn’t matter. If you are trying to create new habits, the only thing that matters is you are making positive progress.
Small “bites” at a time – but going forward with positive progress is the key. Have enough to worry about with the changes you are trying to make, then be concerned with others around you.
Thanks for the email Ken – love the saying you heard from your past teacher…
My saying I end every practice tip or practice session:
“Remember – Always Practice with a Purpose” & “A Little Improvement Every Day, Leads to a Lot of Improvement Over Time”