I just looked at the calendar and realized today is December 12; over ten days since I last practiced. I wrote a post three days ago, humorously (at least I hope so) coming up with excuses for my slackness, but I still haven’t managed to make time to get to the table. What the heck is my problem?
It actually is true that I’ve had some distractions lately, but none of them constitute a valid excuse. What I need is some discipline. If Nelson Mandela could sit in solitude in an eight foot by eight foot concrete prison cell for 30 years, then come out and accomplish what he did, what possible excuse do I have for not being able to master the pool table? (Yes, I saw Invictus last night.) I need something or someone to kick me in the rear and hold me accountable. Hey, wait a minute, when I first started this blog, wasn’t that my original stated purpose? To publish my daily progress so the world at large could hold me accountable for sticking to my plan? Yes, I guess that’s correct. (I just had a troubling thought: what type of person sits at his kitchen table at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon writing this sort of stuff, then publishes it for everyone to read? Am I suffering from some form of psychosis with delusions of grandeur? Hummm.)
Upon rereading the previous paragraph, looking for spelling and grammatical errors, and Googling psychotic disorders, I just realized what’s missing. THE PLAN! I never actually established any sort of plan. Sure, I have lots of technical knowledge, and I was motivated by Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, but where’s the Plan? I never came up with a Plan?!!!!
(Pregnant pause…) Ok, I just skimmed The Talent Code again, and here’s a breakdown for those of you who are too lazy to read the book, and would rather rely upon the Reader’s Digest version of the Reader’s Digest version of the Reader’s Digest version of the Talent Code:
The secret to talent development:
- Deep Practice (Building Myelin)
- Master Coaching
That’s it. For now, I’m going to focus on deep practice sessions.
The secret to Deep Practice:
- Chunk it up. See the whole picture; break it up into chunks; slow down the action. Focus on fundamentals. Play on tight tables. Remember, precision is everything!
- Repeat it. At least 5 days a week, 2 hrs/day max. Deep practice is exhausting. Most people, regardless of the sport, can’t maintain deep practice for more than 1-2 hours. Most practice beyond this is relatively non-value added and may actually detract from skill building because you fatigue and start developing bad habits.
- Feel it. Work at the edge of your abilities. This is uncomfortable. What I’ve learned from pool is that my brain almost always (99.5%) knows when I’m going to miss a shot before I pull the trigger…I just get impatient and refuse to listen. Listen to your brain you Dummy! Pool is not a race!!!
Here’s my initial Plan:
The Month of December 2009
Sunday – Day off / Planning Day. Activities include: (1) Review progress made over previous week. (2) Plan next week’s schedule. Options include: Make current drills harder, add new drills, etc.
Monday – Deep Practice: Rail shots and other trouble shots
Tuesday – Deep Practice: Position drills
Wednesday – Deep Practice: Bank shots and Combinations
Thursday – Deep Practice: Position drills again
Friday – Deep Practice: Burt Kinister’s 9 pointed star practice routine. If you miss a shot or lose perfect position on the next shot, stop shooting! Reset the previous shot and shoot it again. Repeat it until you get it right.
Saturday – Day off / Coke Bottle practice at home
So there. Now I have a plan. No more excuses!