Wishing Does Not Create a Solid Golf Game; It is All About Deliberate Practice!

When I first had the idea for this article, I thought about the 10000 hour rule. For those not familiar, it was made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers”. However, I found out that it is a theory first started with an article in American Scientist by Herbert Simon and William Chase. I was going to talk about putting in time and now my article has morphed in to writings about “deliberate practice”. Read on and be amazed 😉

The premise of the 10000 hour theory is that:

The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field.


This theory has be debunked for many reasons because, according to Gladwell, it was miss understood from his book. I am not going to debate whether this theory is true or not because I believe that a variation of this theory has great merit. And the area I want to focus upon for improving my golf game is “deliberate practice”.

One definition I like for deliberate practice, coined by Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor, as “[A]ctivities designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.”

Now, for our purposes, the teacher can be your local professional, a YouTube video, or a book. The point is that we are given help identifying areas of where and how to improve our golf game. What I like most is the six traits describing, citation below, deliberate practice. They are as follows:

It’s designed to improve performance. “The essence of deliberate practice is continually stretching an individual just beyond his or her current abilities. That may sound obvious, but most of us don’t do it in the activities we think of as practice.”

It’s repeated a lot. “High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts.”

Feedback on results is continuously available. “You may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts.”

It’s highly demanding mentally. “Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it ‘deliberate,’ as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.”

It’s hard. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands.”

It requires (good) goals. “The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.”


Now, for readers of The Grateful Golfer, you will see many similarities between what I have espoused for years and focused article. Everyone of the six traits is something I mentioned repeatedly in articles over the past 7 years. Specifically, a variation of the 10000 hour rule in an article title “Breaking 100 Without Quick Fixes”. It is uncanny that I never saw this article (or one like it) before and yet still followed the principles of deliberate practice.

I believe that the above process of focusing, even for short periods of time, on a specific skill will improve your golf game. If you do this for 10000 hours, I am not convinced you will be world class as the original theory suggests, but you will be a very good player, if not an elite one.

Putting in the time is only part of the process; it has to be married with deliberate practice. I believe that if I can continue to tie these two things together, then my goal of being a scratch golfer will continue to be within reach.

What are your thoughts on deliberate practice? Obvious or profound?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

4 thoughts on “Wishing Does Not Create a Solid Golf Game; It is All About Deliberate Practice!

  1. Jim, I think the “repeated” and “mentally difficult” requirements are a bit at odds with each other. One says you must repeat, the other that you must avoid the repetitive because it’s mindless. I think you need a combination. I can tell you that practicing scales over and over WILL make you a much better guitar player and that type of practice is essential, whether it be in music or sports. I also suspect the tennis greats of the world pounded thousands of repetitive ground strokes in their practice. The key is to couple the repetitive work with situations that simulate game conditions, so you get the variety.

    Good thought provoking post.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      You are probably right. I just think that trying something once or twice and claiming the new technique does not work is a trap many amateurs fall into. Nothing about golf is accomplished instantly; it just takes time.

      Cheers Jim


    • Thanks for the article. He went from just starting to a 2.6 handicap. This a amazing considering he started a 30 years old. I think, on a more fundamental level, that the 6003 hours worked for him, but not to the final goal he envisioned.

      Cheers Jim


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