7 June 2010

Could Tiger Woods Make You A Better Guitar Player?

Many times I have been overwhelmed by the seemingly huge number of things I needed to master to achieve the level of guitar playing I wanted.

Faced with so many options it is not easy to find a path to better and more satisfying playing.

But here's an example from golf champion Tiger Woods that shows us that small, seemingly insignificant improvements to our guitar skills can give big results.

I came across this brilliantly inspirational quote in EZine Articles interview with Andy Britnell.

"Tiger Woods' average round is only about 3.5% better then the golfer ranked at number 100. He earns millions more by being only a few percent better. Which means you only need to improve by a few percent in order to get much better results."

The significance of this statement immediately hit me, but was it really true? I checked the figures. According to PGA statistics Tiger Woods average score in 2009 was 68.05. The 100th ranked player, Brett Quigley averaged 70.87, which works out to 3.97%, close enough to three and a half. The same result shows up for earlier years too.

If only a small percentage can make such a difference to these golfers, then surely it can do the same for playing guitar.

Small Improvements

There are still just as many hurdles and obstacles on the route to becoming a really good guitar player. But these obstacles become much less intimidating if I work on only one small improvement at a time.

All I need to do is find the little 3.5% improvements I need to make. I began to think about my own guitar playing, and immediately thought of a whole bunch of these...

What I Could Improve (Without Too Much Effort)

  1. Learn just a few new chords or chord fingerings
  2. Fix a couple of problem chord shapes I always have difficulty passing at speed
  3. Increase the tempo I can maintain before my playing breaks down by a few bpm - if you go from 84 to 87 bpm that's 3.5%
  4. Learn and master just a couple of new guitar licks - you'll improve 5% if you know 20 licks and learn just one more

None of these things seem very hard to do, with a little diligent practice I'm sure I can achieve them.

What Could You Improve?

If you feel that your guitar playing is not as good as you'd like it to be and that the gap to becoming better is simply too huge you can take heart from this lesson brought to us from the golfing world.

What little "3.5%" improvement do you need to make to your playing? Choose one small improvement and make a plan to DO it so you reach the next level. Share your 3.5% improvement goal as a comment to make it more real for you and have us encourage you on.

If you enjoyed this post sign-up for more free guitar tips from Not Playing Guitar delivered by email or to your RSS reader.

Photo by Brian O'Donovan.


Stratoblogster said...

Excellent & though provoking post! This is what guitar blogging is about!

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Stratoblogster, coming from such a great guitar blogger, that is a real compliment. Thanks a lot.

Joao Francisco said...

That is very interesting, but the 3,5% theory doesn't apply to everyone. You see... tiger woods is a professional player, and so are the other guys that compete against him. It's fair to assume that they are all in a very high level of performance. We can and should apply the 3,5% theory to professional guitar players that somehow "compete" against each other. We can't compare performance of a guitar-shredder-speed-freak against Sheryl Crow just because both play guitar, it's just not applicable. But we can compare two guitar players who are playing the same piece of music at the same speed and count the number of mistakes, or other variations.

Ok, 3,5% works for improving and already great player, but does it serve the needs of a young apprentice? The guitar learning curve is much like the golf, its logarithmic. You learn a lot of things at the beginning and a few years later you're not learning so much because it gets really hard to improve when you already play well. Hence, the 3,5% improvement is a lot for a good player, not so amazing for a mediocre player.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Joao - Thanks for commenting, you have an interesting point there. Of course, like other theories or learning tricks this one won't work for all players in all situations, but it certainly helped me.

Subscribe in a reader

Not Playing Guitar

All content copyright (c) 2007-2018, Gary Fletcher. All rights reserved.