This is the 11th part of a series of practice tips titled “Tips for Improving”.
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 Amazon.com
The last instructional newsletters (Tips for Improvement Part 1 through 10) we discussed 41 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 11) we cover the next tip for improving your skills and relate them to you learning/working on your single plane swing and golf game.
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).
43. Embrace Repetition
Repetition has a bad reputation. We tend to think of it as dull and uninspiring. But this perception cannot be more wrong. Repetition is the single most power lever we have to improve our skills and create new habits.
The Little Book of Talent talks about Moe in this chapter:
Moe Norman was a shy Canadian who played briefly on the professional golf tour in the 1960’s and 70s. He was also, in most estimations, the most accurate golfer in history. Norman had seventeen holes in one, three scores of 59 and, in Tiger Wood’s estimation, ranked as one of two golfers in history who “owned their swing” (the other was Ben Hogan). Norman was also a likely autistic who, at a young age, became enraptured by the power of repetition. From the age of sixteen onward, Norman hit eight hundred to a thousand balls a day, five days a week, calluses grew so thick on his hands he had to pare them with a knife. Because of emotional struggles, Norman had difficulty competing in tournaments. But at a demonstration in 1995, he hit fifteen hundred drives in a row, all of them landing within fifteen yards of each other. As Woods put it, Norman “Woke up every day and knew he was going to hit it well. Every day. It’s frightening how straight he hits it.”
Embracing repetition means changing your mindset; instead of viewing it as a chore, view it as your most powerful tool. As martial artist and actor Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once, I fear the man who has practiced on kick ten thousand times.”
44. Have a Blue-Collar Mind Set
From a distance, top performers, or those who are the best at their skill, seem to have charmed, “cushy” lives. But when you look closer, you will find they spend vast portions of their life intensively practicing their craft. Their mind-set is not entitled, but rather “blue collar”. They get up in the morning and go to work every day, whether they feel like it or not, working on their craft, working to get better, working to find a way to improve.
As you are working on creating new habits, improving your game, think about taking a “blue collar” approach.
45. For Every Hour of Competition, Spend Five Hours Practicing (at least)
Games are fun. Tournaments are exciting. Contests are thrilling. They also slow development, for four reasons:
1. The presence of other people diminishes an appetite for risks, nudging you away from the sweet spot.
2. Games reduce the number of quality reps.
3. The presence of games distorts priorities, encouraging shortcuts in technique.
4. Games encourage players, coaches and parents (and one self) to judge success by the scoreboard (scorecard in golf) rather than by how much was learned.
Competition is a great thing. It helps built emotional control, is exciting, is challenging, and it’s fun. But it’s also, in many cases, an ineffective way to improve skill.
One solution to this problem is to make performance a “special occasion” not a routine. A five-to-one or even a ten-to-one ratio of practice time to performance time is a good starting point.
This might even be considered when just playing a round or two if you are going to use the results to judge progress.
In the next e-tip we will discuss in depth about building new habits instead of breaking bad ones plus additional tools to help you in your “journey” to great golf.
Please watch upcoming newsletter practice tips for continuation of the tips for improving your skills/creating new habits and improving your golf game.