Hi again! Thank you so much for being here today, listening to Better Golf Academy, I am your host Hanju Lee and I am here to just share some thoughts on how we can all improve our game. How are you doing today? Me? I am doing awesome! This is my 5th episode of the podcast, so I am in the groove of figuring out the process and trying to make it more efficient week by week. Also, I am getting more and more inspired as I am seeing all the podcast downloads knowing that you guys are listening and really enjoying the content. AND, I want to give a shoutout to Jonathan who just left me a 5-star review…honestly, it’s these types of feedback that really gets me pumped up, so please…keep it coming!!
I’ve been lucky enough to share more than a few rounds of golf with Hanju. It’s undeniable that he loves the game! You’ll quickly realize that his passion for golf transcends the course and overflows to his daily life, as evident by the myriad examples/analogies he provides on the podcast. Best of all, the information is delivered in a FUN and ORGANIZED way – a testament to Hanju’s personality!
Now – I’ve never thrown a golf club or yelled on the course, (he might be referring to my episode #1 about me throwing my club) but the lessons are still applicable more than ever and are a great reminder for everyday life. Really, this is a life podcast guise as a golf podcast. Hanju talks about being intentional with your practice, offers insight into how to be present (HERE and NOW!), (my episode 2) and gives practical strategies to succeed in any pressure situation (putting, arguments with significant others, boardroom presentations).
I’m so glad Hanju created this podcast and I can’t wait for more. In the meantime, I’m going to work on my ego and acceptance, because the only way is to attack the par 5s is in 2 shots. Long and straight baby!
Hahaha! Thanks, Jonathan…I really appreciate the well thought out and heartfelt review…and well, for the par 5’s, not everyone can hit a 300+ yard drive like you bro. And it’s awesome to know that someone of your caliber can listen to this podcast and still get stuff out of it. AND also, I love what you said about this being a life podcast guise as a golf podcast. As you may have figured out, I do reference life a lot…and I truly believe there are great parallels with Golf and Life!! Don’t believe me? Just keep listening…
I want to do something a bit different for this episode. I usually like to include very tangible exercises or actionable items for you to work on…but for this one, I just want to introduce an idea and some science that backs it up hoping that it will make sense of how our mind and body work together and how it can inspire us to think differently about improving our game.
So, today, I want to talk about Practicing. I know I started this podcast on episode 1 talking about the reason why we just don’t improve in our game right?…it’s from lack of practice. And I talked about how to analyze our game to figure out what specific skills to work on. But today, I want to go a step deeper and talk about what practice really is, and how to do it well so that…you can get the most out of it, and so that you can know that you are positioning your practice for best improvement and so that you are dreaming big and so that, you are being motivated to keep doing it.
So what is practice? It’s a repetition of an action with a goal of improvement. And with the repetition, it will help us perform with more ease, speed, accuracy, and confidence. Do you guys all agree with this? The practice is something we do over and over and over again until we feel like we have a pretty good feel for it and the outcome of this very practice is producing similar or even exact results each time. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get…even to the point of mastery…well…for most sports. I don’t know if anyone will ever admit that they will reach the “mastery” level in golf.
Speaking of mastery, here’s Bruce Lee’s quote about practice: “I fear not the man who has practice 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Come on, we can’t have a golf podcast without a Bruce Lee quote, right?
The practice is a repetition of an action with a goal of improvement…
When I was in Highschool. I was on a golf team. And, just an FYI, golf wasn’t all that popular back then…this was before Tiger Woods dominated the game and amongst the young people made it somewhat…cool. Anyways, I would work on my game everyday. Fortunately and unfortunately, I had a pretty decent sized back yard that was all grass. Unfortunately, because I had to mow it once a week and fortunately because it was a great private area for me to practice my chipping. So, I would come home from school and made a round circle with the garden hose that was laying on the grass on one side of the yard. I would then go to the other side of the yard, pace off 30 yards and hit exactly 50 balls towards the imaginary green boundary that I just made with the garden hose. The goal? I wanted to make 90% of my chips inside the circle.
This was a repetitive drill that I didn’t even know the true effects of how this will help me get better. All I knew was that someone told me that if I kept doing it over and over again, I will get better. And now it all makes sense to me and this is why.
So, here’s a question. What does practice do to our brains that make us get better? If you haven’t read the book called The Talent Code by Dan Coyle, I highly recommend it to help you understand how your brain works in mastering a skill.
- Our brains have 2 kinds of neural tissue
- Grey Matter and White Matter
- Grey Matter processes the information in the brain while White Matter is made up of fatty tissue and nerve fibers.
- In order for our bodies to move, the information needs to travel from the brain’s Grey matter – where all the information is being processed, down the spinal cords through the nerve fibers to finally to our muscles. (Let’s call this Neural pathway)
- Well, scientists found these fatty substances wrapped around these neural pathways insulating it. This substance is called MYELIN
- And they didn’t think that this was significant until discovered that this Myelin covering actually changed throughout the activity of repeated motion. What?
- So, check this out. When they were testing rats, a rat that exercised the same motion over and over again developed thick layers upon layers of myelin around their neural pathways. Ok so, what’s that got to do with anything?
- Well, this Myelin (this insulation covering the neural pathways) prevents energy loss while traveling through the nerve fibers to your muscles. In fact, with repeated activity, the layer of the MYELIN increases making the information travel so much faster!!
- The more layers, the greater the insulation, creating a superhighway from your brain to your muscles.
So, what does all this mean? It means that right now, repetitive and effective practice is the best way we have of pushing our individual limits to achieve new heights and maximize our fullest potential. So, what does that mean for us as golfers? It means that if we want to get better at golf, we need to increase the layer of Myelin, by repeating the process over and over again creating a superhighway of information traveling to our muscles.
That’s pretty cool. Isn’t it? But, it’s not just about repetitive actions, it requires a little more than that. Because, we all know that practice is a key to success, but what we don’t know is what specific kinds of practice that can increase skill up to ten times faster than conventional practice. There are three main elements that work together that add crazy amounts of speed and accuracy to your movements and thoughts, honesty, the scientists have discovered that this Myelin is the secret holy grail of talent. This is just crazy talk. Let’s unpack these 3 elements together.
We keep talking about repetition, but…it’s not only repeating a task over and over again, but it’s also exercising what you call the “Deep Practice”. What is deep practice? It’s deliberate or purposeful practice. It’s an idea that you are always practicing something that’s a bit difficult to achieve. So, imagine there are 3 different zones in the difficulty of what you are trying to achieve. The comfort zone, the stretch zone, and the snap zone. Comfort zone is somewhere that you are doing what you are already pretty good at, it comes easy and you can achieve it most of the time. The snap zone is not reachable and is too difficult to even think about doing…you don’t want to go there. Like me tight roping while juggling…lol. But the correct zone to practice is the stretch zone. That’s where you are achieving around 40% of your goal. The idea here is that the struggle isn’t an option when you practice, it’s a biological requirement for improvement. You have to struggle to improve.
Do you know about Brazilian soccer players? Well, me neither until I read this. Brazil produces an unusually high percentage of the world’s best soccer players. In fact, if you google which country has won the most World Cups, the answer is Brazil with 5. Interesting, so the next question is why? Why Brazil? Well, after much study, they found that in Brazil, an unusual game is played that resembled soccer for the first 12 years of these players lives. It’s called fútbol de salao. It’s played with a smaller ball – which creates lots of room for error, the room is small which creates a narrow pathway for control, also, the defence is tight which continues to force you to make a mistake over and over again. Each player touches the ball 600% more often than regular soccer. You can look all this stuff up. It’s truly fascinating.
So, why does this game produce such a high level of skilled soccer players? Because it keeps you in the stretch zone…struggling with only 40% of success. And with those errors, they are making small, intense corrections over and over again. The golden second happens right after the error…and it’s when you are leaning into the error, experiencing the mistake and fixing it. And the finding and fixing of the error is the core of the process.
Have you ever been on a course and something just doesn’t feel right? You are pushing all your drives to the right, or you keep topping your mid irons, or you are yanking all your short putts, or you are duffing all your chips. You are so frustrated and you are thinking to yourself, what the heck is going on? Well, this, this is your opportunity for the magic to happen.
Now, imagine yourself taking several large buckets of balls out to the range to fix that very error you experienced out there. Imagine yourself putting on your wireless headphones in playing your favorite music playlist… Now, for the next few hours, you are leaning into the error, you are experiencing the mistake and you are fixing it making small adjustments, through trial and error, you are finding the fix, you are repeating it…over and over again…until your errors are progressing beyond 40%. And you keep repeating it…over and over again. This is the core of the process. This is when the magic happens.
We all need a little motivation to go out and practice, right? But what separates truly low handicapper or the high achievers from the rest? Okay, answer this question…honestly, how bad do you want to get better? Some…maybe most of us weekend golfers are okay with where we are at right now..golf is just another hobby that we can enjoy once a month, 3-4 times a year and we have totally low expectations with it. Let’s just go out, drink a few beers, smoke cigars, trash talk with your friends and have a good time. If that’s you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, maybe I have it all wrong…hahaha!
But, if you are tired of sucking, and you really want to get better and you just love this game…I suspect you already have this second secret sauce called “passion” We all know what passion is…it’s a higher level of commitment, born out of our deep unconscious desires. But what ignites this passion within us to want to go out and get better? That ignites us to be willing to spend the next 10,000 hours becoming who we want to become?
This is really really interesting. Dan Coyle, the author talks about this passion being triggered by certain primal cues. He says, “when you ask incredible people the source of their passion, the question struck most of them as faintly ridiculous. The universal response is to shrug and say something like “I dunno, I’ve just always felt that way!” But he says this “ignition” comes from a distinct signal…something from your family, your home, people you’ve encountered, experience you’ve went through… That signal sparkled an intense, unconscious response that created this idea within you that said “I want to be like them” or “I want to do that”. This ignition leads to motivation and this motivation is strong enough to overcome any failure or mistake…and push through 10,000 hours!!
I’ve also heard that this ignition can come from pain. I’ve heard recently that tracing the history of these high endurance athletes like Iron Man winners and Ultra Marathoners…they come from a history of pain. There’s also did a study to uncover the question “Do orphans rule the world?” This study was done by Martin Eisenstadt, a clinical psychologist from Long Island who tracked the parental histories of every person who was famous or respected enough to earn a half-page or longer entry in the encyclopedia. Do you guys remember encyclopedia? The results were just crazy!! Julius Caesar and Napoleon (lost father when 15), Lincoln (lost mother when 9), Gandhi (lost father when 15), Michelangelo (lost mother when 6)…Mark Twain, 50 Cent, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Bono…the list goes on and on…that this deep pain was rooted within them at an early age that ignited something!!
Wait, so the only way to get ignited with this passion to become great is through pain? What if I don’t have that? But he talks about another set of cues which is when someone realizes that they too could achieve something….and the moment they believe it. When you unconsciously make this statement in your head…“if they can do it, why couldn’t I? That’s the golden moment. That’s where your passion can ignite!
Isn’t this stuff great!! I just love this.
Okay…let’s not get crazy and think that we can do this all on our own. This is never done. It always takes a village. For golf and for anything else. It requires mentors, teachers, friends. But I want to focus on the coaches and what makes a great coach in golf. I took a lesson a while back that really messed me up. It took me a long time to recover from it and it took me to spiral down to a deep soul search…I’ve had this sense that I’ve been doing it wrong all my life and I just don’t have what it takes to get it right. Because what this coach started teaching was an entirely new method of swing. He was trying to re-teach me the golf swing from scratch from what he thought was the “right” way. This is absolutely the worst-case scenario.
We all need a coach. But we need the right coach. The right coach is who makes your talent blossom. It’s called Master Coaching…their skills is to bring forth the talent within by teaching the players to problem solve without them. Boom!! Mind blown. I love unconventional swings that result in champions…let’s look the professional golfers: Jim Furyk, Matthew Wolff, Ho Sung Choi (Read about his story…the fisherman swing…during his work on a fisherman boat, he lost his right thumb and learned how to play by putting his whole body off balance and developing a unique swing). Have a coach who takes your current skills and bring forth the talent within by helping you solve the problems on your own. This is a huge huge key in your improvement success. Aren’t you glad Jim Furyk’s coach didn’t say, dude what are you going? Let me show you how to do it the “Right” way. But he saw his talent and taught him the skills to bring forth the talent and taught him to problem solve on his own.
Remember putting on your headphones to your favorite playlist and spending hours fixing your problem? Remember I said that’s where the magic happens? Well, that’s the secret sauce y’all.
I don’t know about you, but when I see an incredible talent out there on the golf course…especially when I am at a Professional Golf Tournament watching outside the ropes. I am immediately intimidated and think to myself, wow, how lucky that some are born with such talent. I can never reach that level. But now I am realizing the opposite. It’s learning to believe that that greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. That talent isn’t something you were given, it’s something you make.
Let’s keep grinding! Let’s keep believing! Let’s keep learning!! And Let’s keep getting Better Together. Yeah? Are you pumped like I am?
Let’s do this!!
Thank you for listening to Better Golf Academy. Have a great week!