Are you working hard or doing the hard work?
There’s a difference and big one. Performing one over the other can determine how much you improve your game and how quickly.
Working hard looks like this:
– pounding 1,000 balls at the range
– spending a couple hours around the practice green
– hanging out at the gym for an hour
Studies have shown that working longer on a particular task won’t necessarily make you better at it. Many people spend countless hours at the range with no discernible improvement in their games. Why is this?
The reason; their practice is not deliberate. It’s not focused.
Pounding a 1,000 golf balls doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you’re not hitting each and every single shot with a purpose. Spending a couple hours on the putting green means jack squat if you’re not focused on a specific skill or weakness.
Deliberate practice is the only way to practice if you want to improve with any kind of measurable results.
Deliberate practice is the hard work. It’s the work that favors improvement over enjoyment. Not that deliberate practice can’t be formatted to be fun, it can be. But its sole purpose is focused on improvement.
There is a great story on Reddit of how a trainer of the US Olympic basketball team was woken just after 3:30am by none other than Kobe Bryant, who wanted assistance with his game. Immediately. After two hours of conditioning work and weight training Kobe stuck around the practice facility by himself.
Now here’s the purpose of deliberate practice- Kobe stuck around until he made 800 jump shots. There’s a big difference between making 800 jump shots and throwing 800 jump shots. It’s deliberate practice with a specific goal.
Oh, and Kobe started practicing before 5am and finished making his 800 jump shots by 11am, just in time for practice with the team. There’s some dedication.
There are stories of Phil Mickelson not leaving the practice green until he makes 100 consecutive 4 footers. 100 consecutive! Is putting your weakness? When’s the last time you stuck around to sink 100 consecutive putts?
Hitting a bunch of putts around the practice green for a couple hours seems like you’re working hard but sinking 100 consecutive putts is hard work.
How you practice and the quality of your practice is a determining factor in your improvement.
Your practice must be designed to improve upon a specific weakness, aimed at achieving a specific goal, and focused upon deliberately performing it.
Do the hard work and stop pretending to be working hard.
Doing the hard work takes patience and discipline because there will be times when really all you want to do is try and pound a bunch of balls into the back net at the range.
How to apply deliberate practice to your game:
1) Pin point what’s failing in your game right now?
2) Pick a goal that you would like to achieve by improving that weakness.
3) Pick a drill that will assist in its improvement.
4) Set aside a specific amount time you will offer your undivided focus to practice the specific drill and only that specific drill.
I challenge you to take your game to the next level this year. Start it off right by practicing with a purpose and owning what ya got.