This is the 8th 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 7) we discussed 31 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 8) we cover the next 5 tips for improving your skills and relate them to you learning/working on your single plane swing and golf game.
32. Make Positive Reaches
There’s a moment during every practice or rep (action) when you face a choice: You can either focus your attention on what you want to do, or you can focus on the possible mistake (what you want to avoid). This tip is simple – ALWAYS focus on the positive move, the one you want to do, not the negative.
A perfect example is stroking a putt. Tell yourself what to do, rather than what not to do. Say the putt breaks about 1/2 a cup right to left. Say to yourself, “smooth stroke at the right lip”, rather than “don’t pull the putt”.
The point is, it always works to reach for what you want to accomplish, not away from what you want to avoid.
33. To Learn From a Book, Close The Book
What is the better way to learn from a book?
To read the book many times in a row, trying to memorize it?
To read the book once, close the book and write a summary of what you read?
There is no question, the best way to learn is writing the summary of what you learned. In fact, research shows people following the summary strategy learn 50% more material than those who try to memorize.
This is because one of deep practice’s most fundamental rules: Learning is Reaching. Closing the book and writing a summary forces you to figure out the key points (one set of reaches), process and organize those ideas so they make sense to you. The equation is always the same: More reaching equals more learning.
We strongly recommend the same whether you are learning from a video, from online coaching or attending one of our schools. In fact, during our schools we STRONGLY encourage and give time for all our students to take notes during and just after they learn new fundamentals so they can “write” those fundamentals in their own words. They can summarize what they just learned in their “own words”, they can process what they’ve just learned and can organize for themselves so they have a better understanding.
Again, whether you are learning from a video, webinar, online coaching or at a school, your best and most effective learning will be when you “close the book” and summarize for yourself, in your own words so you can review and process in the future.
34. Understand The Sandwich Technique
What’s the best way to make sure you don’t repeat mistakes? (The million $ question right????)
One of the best ways is to employ the sandwich technique. It goes like this:
1. Make the correct move.
2. Make the incorrect move.
3. Make the correct move again.
The goal is to reinforce the correct move and to put spotlight on the mistake, preventing it from slipping past undetected and becoming “wired” into your circuitry (brain).
During this technique, it doesn’t hurt to say to yourself – this is the good move or what I want to do. And when you are during the incorrect move, saying, this is the incorrect move or what I don’t want to do…
This technique is good to perform every so often, especially when you are confirming/checking to make sure you are doing a move correct. If you can perform the correct move and then the incorrect move, you can see/feel/know a difference, a great way to make sure doing move correct.
I employ this technique often when working with students and it always surprises me when the student will tell me they “don’t want to make the bad move again”. They act as if they are “afraid” to make the incorrect move again, because it might “stick” or something like that.
It will only “stick” or “creep back” if you aren’t aware of it. Doing it intentionally every so often will keep you aware of “what to look” for….
35. Use The 3 x 5 Technique
It has been shown by those who research memory and learning – that our brains make stronger connections when they are stimulated three times with a rest period of ten minutes between each stimulation.
Translation: To learn something most effectively, practice it three times, with ten-minute breaks between each rep.
Perfect example would be the Single Plane Position Trainer drill (drill to learn backswing, top of swing to impact position). Practice the Single Plane Position Trainer drill for a few minutes (slowly) until you feel you have “hit” a position or two correct. Then take a ten-minute break. Do it again, practice the drill for a few minutes until you “hit” a position or two correct, then take another break.
I have also heard of this as the “commercial” technique for learning. When you are watching a T.V. show (or sporting event…), practice/drill during the commercials – then take a break while watching the shows. Work on the commercials, break during the show/action. Typically sets you up for drilling/practicing for a few minutes, then taking about a 10 minute break between.
36. Invent Daily Tests
Daily routine (or when you practice) should include “little tests”. These tests should not be scientific, and should not be treated as verdicts, but rather as “fun games” to keep one involved, entertained and focused during the learning process.
Examples (ones I use often).
Chip 10 balls around the green and see how many you can get within 3 feet (the length of your putter (short putter)).
Putt 5 balls from 5 feet from 4 points around the hole (Twelve o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 0’clock). Of the 20 balls, how many do you make?
Pick two points out on the range about 20 to 25 yards apart and about where your driver distance (ball flight) would land. How many balls out of 25 can you hit between those targets with the driver?
Hit 10 balls with an 8 iron to a target and see how many you can hit within 20 feet?
Again – these are just examples of “little tests” you can do for yourself to see if you are improving and a fun way to help you keep entertained and focused on your learning process.
Creating “tests” for yourself is a great way to enhance your learning process and to keep you focused.
Please watch upcoming newsletter practice tips for continuation of the tips for improving your skills/creating new habits and improving your golf game.