The more I practice, the luckier I get

One of the better golfers and competitors of any era was a diminutive man from South Africa named Gary Player. He held his own against the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer winning nine major championships.

During one of his major wins, a reporter asked Player about a lucky shot Player had hit during the round that day. Player responded, “I have found the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

This straightforward answer applies to many things in life. Whether it is golf, basketball, baseball or another sport the more you practice the luckier you will get. But, it applies to music, art, school and work. The more time you practice, the luckier the outcome.

Golf is as good a metaphor of life as there is. In essence, playing golf is managing your mistakes. By practicing, the mistakes are narrowed. In other words, you can more easily find your golf ball in the realm of play after a shot the more you practice.

Very few golfers practice like Vijay Singh. Singh was a very good player, but made himself a great player through outlasting anyone on the practice tee. Herschel Walker, the Heisman Trophy winning football player made himself bigger and faster by doing over a thousand sit-ups, push-ups and wind sprints each day. That is not a misprint. Larry Bird made himself a better shooter by shooting countless shots  after team practice.

Per Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers,” The Beatles became better musicians by playing seven sets, six nights a week in Hamburg, Germany. To keep their sanity, The Beatles had to learn and play new songs.  Joe Walsh, who had many hits as an excellent guitarist and member of The Eagles said, the more you play the less awful you become.

So, practice and practice some more. You may get luckier or, at least, become less awful.

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6 thoughts on “The more I practice, the luckier I get

  1. Note to Readers: I want to add a corollary to this post. It is important that you learn how to practice and what to practice. So, seek the advice of a coach or teacher or observe others who are highly proficient at what you want to do. Phil Mickelson, the great golfer, would only leave the practice putting green after he holed 100 consecutive three footers. Since he is an accomplished putter, he knows of what to practice.

  2. Gladwell strikes a chord of honesty in “Outliers.” He replaced the tired mantra of “you can be anything you want to be” with the facts of how hard one must practice their trade, how focussed they must be on the end game to succeed. I believe he quantified the steps to success in a manner never before done with such clarity. His book should be mandatory reading for higher level schools and Silicon valley CEO’s.

    • Barney, I agree. One can get better through practice and enjoy music or golf by being more proficient, but unless the talent is there, you will likely fall short of world class. I could take lessons and practice golf, but will never be a pro. Yet, being better makes it more fun. Thanks, Keith

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