Previously on Project 17 to 12 handicap...
Uh oh. The plan has already suffered a setback. I decided to enter the bank holiday 9 hole competition today and had a stinker of a round, which means that my handicap is now 16.5… so the 16 to 14 challenge is now the 17 to 14 challenge. Not the best of starts. Wrong way to go, handicap!
Since I decided I wanted to make a proper, concerted effort to get my handicap down, I’ve done a bit of digging around and found a podcast on Freakonomics radio on how to become really really good at something. It interviews Anders Ericsson, who is at the origin of the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill, and focuses on the concept of deliberate practice. It is based on effective training techniques that have been established over time and allow effective practice.
The main takeaway is that you have to give yourself well-defined, specific goals. Not a vague overall improvement, but targets precise aspects of a particular skill. For this, feedback from an expert is essential to be able to tell what adjustments you need to be making, then clear criteria are set to be able to improve.
Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone. The learner must try to achieve things that are outside their current abilities and near maximal effort. Many errors are made in that zone, but with deliberate practice, you’re going to find ways to eliminate those errors and you must always look to improve under the guidance of a teacher.
So let’s see. I have an expert (Anthony, our pro at Brighton and Hove Golf Club) and together, we can set regular goals to reach, with exercises, a timetable, the whole shebang. I will also endeavour to actually get out of my comfort zone, as this seems to be important. For me, it will probably mean focusing on the same exercise for longer than five minutes and NOT running away from the practice area to go out and play on the course.
Can I do this? Of course I can!
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