10,000 Hours of Practice

Posted on Monday, November 5th, 2012


One of my favorite sayings about baseball is that the game doesn’t care how big or strong you are. Another favorite is that baseball rewards hard work more than almost all other sports.


At 6′ 1”, I could try to dunk a basketball 1000 times and not get above the rim – forget about playing Center in the NBA. At 180 pounds, becoming an offensive lineman in the NFL could be my only goal in life – not going to happen. Baseball doesn’t put the same physical requirements on its players. Of course, it helps to be as big and powerful as Albert Pujols (6′ 3”, 230lbs) is at the plate, or create as much downward tilt as Chris Young (6′ 10”, 260lbs) does on the mound. But baseball also allows Billy Wagner (5′ 11”, 195 lbs) to be one of the dominant closers in the history of the game and David Eckstein (5′ 6”, 170 lbs) to win the 2006 World Series MVP Award.


With a ton of commitment and hard work, anything is possible in baseball.
So what does this have to do with 10,000 hours of practice?


Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book Outliers (I also recommend Blink and The Tipping Point), theorizes that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at anything – this number has since been widely accepted by experts as an accurate estimate.
31 year old Dan McLaughlin is attempting to test the 10,000 hour theory in another sport that doesn’t care much about size: golf. He recently quit is job as a photographer to dedicate the next 6 years of his life (10,000 hours of practice) full-time to golf with the goal being making it to the PGA Tour. Dan is 5′ 9”, weighs 155 pounds, and had never picked up a golf club in his life before setting out on this journey just over one year ago.


His ultimate goal, besides making the Tour, is to attempt to show exactly what, if any, limitations humans have in accomplishing their goals: it will be an awesome experiment.


As a big fan of golf (and of hard-work, dreaming big, not letting anyone tell me what’s impossible, and people named Dan), I’m really rooting for him and think we can learn a lot from his desire and determination as we approach our own work on the baseball field.


You can follow his progress at www.thedanplan.com and click the following link to hear about his quest.  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-10/sports/ct-spt-1011-haugh-chicago–20121011_1_mclaughlin-local-golf-pga-tour

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