900 Times: Same Shot: Then You Become Talented

First you be disciplined. Then you be talented.

When I started playing badminton about three months ago, all the old ladies (who play crappy badminton) were giving me advice. Yes, I was playing so badly. And I paid attention, but only barely so.

You see, you have to know whom to listen to, and whom you have to nod your head to. So instead of taking too much advice from the old ladies (and believe me, no one but that batch was giving me advice) I started working with a coach.

So first we worked on:
1) The grip: 900 times x same shot.
2) The overhead shot: 900 times x same shot
3) The shuffle to the net: 900 times x same shot.

Then something happened.
I only knew three shots. But those three shots improved my game dramatically.
Within these three months, I’ve gone from being beaten in every game, to literally dominating the game no matter whom I’m playing with.
What’s interesting is that we have grades: I’m in the C grade.
There’s the A grade and the B grade.
And I’ve had a chance to play with the B grade.

And play decently well.
And the old ladies get beaten a lot, so they don’t come up to give me advice any more.
But something interesting has happened. The B graders give me advice.

The other day this Chinese guy, Ken Lui, came up to me and said: You’ll be good. But you must be disciplined.
Go down there. Take this shuttle and hit against wall for half hour.
I watch from here.
Then you become better.

So I took the shuttle and like wax-on and wax-off I hit it against the wall and practiced my reflexes.
I’ve been doing the same freakin’ thing every chance I get.
And guess what?
My reflexes are improving.
Now the B players are coming up to me, and saying: Hmmm, you’re getting better.

But the problem with efficiency is always the same.

You need to know what you’re doing wrong, to fix it.
Just looking at things unfolding means nothing. You can watch a game or hundred games, but you need to play.
And you need to make mistakes over and over, and over and over and over. And to make mistakes you have to do the same freakin’ thing or something similar, every darned day. You can’t do it now, and then sit on your you-know-what. You need to do it and do it and do it.
And make the mistakes.
Make them.
Over and over (Am I clearer?)

And you need a coach that points out the mistakes.

And helps you fix them, one by one.

Three important points:

1) You need to implement: Learning is crap by itself.
2) Mistakes must happen. And someone must point the mistakes.
3) Fixing the mistakes is to be done ONE by ONE. (Not altogether).

Most people simply learn.
That’s stupid efficiency.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
They’ll go from one course to another. One coach to another. And get all sorts of advice.
They spend so much time flitting that there’s no time to learn.
They feel good about flitting.
Ah, I’ve learned so much.

You’ve learned.
Learning is fine.
Implementation is important.
Mistakes are important.
If you’re not making mistakes you’re wasting time.
If someone is not around to point out the fixes, you’re wasting time.
You’re an idiot.

So how do I know this?

It takes an idiot to know one.
It’s what I did.
Then I found one person: Jay Abraham.
I studied everything I could for three years.
I bought all his courses. I got better.
I even paid for consulting with Jay’s right hand man ( I couldn’t afford Jay at $5000 an hour).
I paid $500 for the consulting (per hour).
Did it hurt me?
You bet it did.
Try paying $500 for advice per hour and see.
Especially when you’re earning $3000-5000 per month.

But I wanted efficiency.
And most people don’t.
They flit from coach to coach.
They flit from trend to trend.
They’re idiots.
And they wonder why they don’t have time.

It takes time for you to work out whom you want as a coach.
It takes time for the coach to work out who you are.
This is a lot of time that’s spent in getting to know each other.
Once you find someone you trust, spend 2-3 years with them.
If they are always ahead of you (Jay wasn’t — he lost the plot when it came to the Internet) then keep following.
Keep learning. But the real efficiency is in implementation. In making mistakes. Double your rate of mistakes and you double your rates of success.

Efficiency is important.

And it doesn’t come overnight.
It took me three months so far.
I’m in in for the long haul.

I want to beat them all.
The old ladies.
The C graders.
The B graders.
The A graders.
Mark my words. In a year, I’ll win the trophy.

Mark those words. I’m serious about getting efficient. And I’ll make it.
Are you ready for efficiency yet?
Depends on if you’ve found a coach, eh? And if you’re willing to hit the same shot 900 times.

Most people aren’t talented because they think it’s some magic trick.
Yes it is. Go do the same thing 900 times and get a coach to watch you do it, and help you fix it.
That’s the trick.

Note: Since I wrote this post, I qualified to be a B player. I had to play three other B players and get enough points to be within five points of the average (it’s too complex to explain). Let’s just say that in the qualification round, I not only came within the average, but beat the average by 5 points. And was second ranked in a group of four (yes, it is confusing). But there you go. I’m on my way, despite the aching back and knees. 🙂 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Howie Jacobson

Man needs more to be reminded than instructed.
– Samuel Johnson

The trick is to find something so compelling that the 900 shots feels like fun, not work.

Even the biggest goal isn’t big enough when the process is a perpetual drag.

But become a lover of feedback, and just about any process can become fun. I mean, look at video games. Who would have predicted that staring at a screen and pushing buttons and levers would become the #1 pastime in the “civilized” world, instead of a description of a dead-end, mind-numbing, proletariat-oppressing job? The reason: engaging, meaningful, non-judgmental, real-time feedback.

Figure out how to learn from any situation, and all of a sudden the whole universe becomes a great big fun game.

Even internet marketing 🙂




I had the same experience in college playing handball. Sort of.

I played so poorly one of the better players in the class told me he didn’t want to play with me unless I got better. He told me three things I needed to practice and how to do it.

I spent a ton of time in the court alone practicing serving and returning, especially my left arm.

Got much better. Started getting compliments from the guy that chastised me.

Then I continued to improve. It took someone else pointing out what I was doing wrong.

Now to quit learning and start implementing.


@howie: Yes, but not everything starts out being fun. Most of my coaching with the ‘wax on-wax off’ attitude was quite boring actually. I was struggling too much to have fun.

It’s only when I got some mastery, and winning because of the mastery, that it started becoming fun.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: