Last week’s Wall Street Journal ran this article on the realities of really practicing golf (or any discipline – the article mentions music, chess, sports, science, and business management). “Deliberate practice” refers to a repetitive training regimen involving both mental and physical demands (even if the movements are largely physical), and specific feedback, usually from an expert mentor, to guide the training.
From the article:
The bad news is that deliberate practice is very hard, and usually unpleasant. “It has to be. Otherwise everyone would be an expert,” said Mr. Colvin, a Fortune magazine columnist [and author of the book Talent Is Overrated]….
For golfers, this can be a buzz killer. Take what for most of us comprises the bulk of our practice: hitting balls at the range. Mr. Colvin, a lifelong golfer, narrates a typical range session as a way of conveying exactly what deliberate practice is not. We drag over one ball after another and hit, with no plan and no particular goal. We may vaguely aim at targets but we don’t closely monitor the results or otherwise seek meaningful feedback. Our minds wander. Most fatally, we often find the experience pleasurable and relaxing.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” said Mr. Colvin. “But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that when we hit balls this way we’re accomplishing anything at all.”
Effective deliberate practice is about committing yourself mentally during the time when you are practicing. How often do we “go through the motions”, just hoping that by showing up and “getting through” the practice session, we will automatically improve?
Yes, showing up is the FIRST step. It is a very important step. But it is not enough for development of mastery.
This might be OK with you. You might be happy with the way your golf game is (or with whatever you are trying to practice). But the question we should ask ourselves is, “In what area of my life will I choose deliberate practice in order to improve my experience and mastery of it?”
What will you choose?