In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he postulates that to achieve mastery in any field requires 10,000 hours of practice. If I were to take up golf at the age of 15, and practice for two hours, three times a week for nine months of the year, I would be an expert at the age of 61. For sure, I have not practiced 10,000 hours of golf in my life but right now I play to a five handicap and would guess that my skill level is higher than 95% of the world’s playing public. But do I feel like an expert? Certainly not, and more like a bumbling malcontent on my bad days. Golf is truly humbling and regardless of how I define “expert”, I’d still like to improve my game and am wondering if my approach to practice is correct. Conventional thinking is that given limited time, dedicate 75% to your short game. I’ve taken that approach and it paid dividends, but I’m in a routine where I spend most of my practice on short game and feel the strategy is second nature. Last year, on a suggestion from Vet4golfing51, I spent more time playing than practicing which also helped. But I’d like to think more about efficient practice which requires answering a key question:
Given limited practice time, do you work to further develop your strengths, or improve your weaknesses?
We all like to practice our strengths because it’s easier. Oddly enough, I can say with certainty that to become a better individual in the work place, I’ve tried both approaches and learned that focusing on developing your strengths is the superior strategy. If you continually build on what you’re good at, job satisfaction, attitude, and drive are peaked. You focus on weaknesses and you’ll generally max out at mediocre.
Conversely, on the PGA Tour, players have thousands of hours of time to practice and you hear countless stories of their dedicating time to fix weaknesses. The best players address their deficiencies head on and solve because if they don’t, they pay a dear price. It seems the two strategies are at loggerheads.
For us guys with a desk job, what do you think the right strategy is for practice; focusing on developing strengths or fixing weaknesses?