The Ten Thousand Hours Rule for Practice

What I find amazing is that when people who have been playing golf for a period of time get frustrated with their golf as they feel that they are not improving. I ask them if they are practicing their skills, but majority of the golfers say that they don’t. They feel if they get out on the course and play competition, or play on the course socially that that is enough practice for them.

How do you think that professional athletes have become as good as they are? Not by talent alone. Talent will only take you so far. It is by applying themselves, learning the skills and practicing their skills.

This is where the “Ten Thousand Hours” becomes important. Dr Daniel Levitin is the researcher behind the amount of practice it takes you to become proficient at your skills.  In Dr Levitin’s own words:

ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert – in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what you have, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours per day, or twenty hours per week, of practice over ten years…. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

So when someone comes to me and says I can’t play golf, or I can’t do this particular skill, the first question is how much time have you spent on this skill? I do know golfers who do spend a lot of time practicing but are not necessarily practicing the right skill. So the first step is to learn the skill correctly, so that you can work on improving that skill.

I am sure that you have heard the term “21 Days to Form a Habit“. Research has shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “anything you do with repetition and emotion will become your reality. If you’re not satisfied with your current experience, examine your habits”.

What do you read from that? If you are struggling with a particular skill, you need to fix that skill so that you can progress. It’s not oh, ‘I can’t play golf’ or ‘I can’t hit a bunker shot’ or anything like that, your results from your shots are saying to you this method is not working. Then it is up to you to change it by seeking professional advice. Golf is a very technical sport but it can be easier to play than what you think. You are probably just making it hard.


Did you know that there are four stages of learning?

I will share with you here what they are and it might then make more sense to you with where you are at with your golf.

The first stage is Unconscious Incompetence (you don’t know that you don’t know). This stage is that you don’t have any golf skills yet. You are truly a beginner and don’t know what to do or how to do it.

The second stage is Conscious Incompetence (you know that you don’t know). At this stage you find that there are golf skills you need to learn. You go through an uncomfortable period as you are learning these new skills. You will be making regular mistakes, you will feel frustrated and confused. You do recognize that this is an important part of the learning curve. Please take note of this stage, as some golfers won’t get further along in this stage because they feel that they have an inability to learn. If you just keep working on the golf skills and learn from your mistakes you will break through to the next stage. It may take time but just keep working on it.

The third stage is Conscious Competence (you know that you know). At this level you acquire the new skills and knowledge. You put your learning into practice and you are gaining confidence in these golfing skills. You are aware of your new skills and work on refining them. However you can do this only if you are completely focused on those skills. You may still need to follow a series of steps to perform the skills efficiently but you are demonstrating to yourself that you can perform the skills.

This leads to the forth stage Unconscious Competence (you don’t know that you know – it just seems easy). This is where all the conscious practice has lead to you being able to perform the skill without conscious effort and with automatic ease. This is the point where you have so much practice under your belt that it has become “second nature to you“.

After reading these four stages of learning, how to form a habit and the ten thousand hours of practice, where are you at with your golf?

To your golfing success,

If you enjoyed this please do me a favour, share with your friends on facebook and please leave your comments below.

Tiffany Mika

P.S. Are you so frustrated because you just can’t chip the ball to the hole with consistency? There will be a reason for that…find out here how you can solve that inconsistency in your chipping game. Click here to find out how!

About Tiffany Mika

Tiffany Mika is incredibly passionate about golf and shares with you her knowledge about the game. She shows how you can have an exciting a life when you learn to play golf as you can travel the world playing exotic destinations and meeting lots of fantastic people who all share the same passion for golf.

, , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to The Ten Thousand Hours Rule for Practice

  1. Louise Seale June 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Cripes Tiffany!
    I don’t think I have ten thousand hours left in my life! How depressing!

    • Tiffany Mika June 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Hi Louise, the point I was making that new golfers give up quickly and think that they can’t get it. It’s just about giving yourself the time to learn the skills. Besides that Louise you are a spring chicken so you have plenty of years left. So don’t feel depressed, look at it as a challenge.

      • Judith Mika June 12, 2012 at 9:39 am #

        Tiffany I love this (I know I say that all the time…but I do). I cancelled my golf this morning due to wet weather and wind and I am very sorry. It could have been another practice round. Especially as I rang to cancel and today it is going to be a compulsory tee-up. Silly me……… Evelyn would say. However all is not lost, I will go to the course this afternoon and play as many holes as I can (due to bad weather and short days).
        Thank you so much for your inspiration.

        • Tiffany Mika June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

          Hi Judith thank you for the positive feedback. I am happy that you are feeling inspired and motivated by my blogs 🙂

  2. Judith Mika June 12, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Tiffany, Haven’t read it yet…will get back to you when I have. I had a practice session at Camden Haven on Saturday but it was just a bog. I thought to make the most of it and moved my ball to drier ground but the course beat me. I played 10 holes and found it just too heavy. However, I didn’t lose any balls……..

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge