“Cynicism is the intellectual cripple’s substitute for intelligence. It is the dishonest businessman’s sub writer, for self-respect.”

Russell Lynes

I wonder by what age he'd clocked his 10,000th hour of practice --
I wonder by what age he'd clocked his 10,000th hour of practice --

Malcolm Gladwell, in his very interesting book, Outliers (if you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend you do), posits the notion that the combination of inherent talent, timing (luck of circumstance), and persistent skills training are the three crucial components to “superstardom” in any endeavor, beit intellectual, physical, or a combination thereof.  Copious in its absence — for athletic prowess, at least (power/Oly lifting not withstanding) — was strength and conditioning training.  And for good reason.

I’ve discussed the mental mindfield of causation/correlation a few times prior (here and here, for instance), but it was brought to the forefront again recently for me in the form of a Facebook message I recieved from a good friend of mine.   My buddy has been wading into the Paleo waters over the last 4 months or so, shedding some significant weight and 4 inches (an inch per month!) off his waistline in the process; and this while being a slapshot — at best — paleo practitioner.  In any event, my friend has shed enough weight to not only get back into pusuing his passion — golf — but to try his hand at some form of strength and conditioning as well.  The strength and conditioning, he says, will go along way toward improving his golf game.  And to some extent, he’s correct; but not to the degree, or even the form, for that matter, that’s held in his mind’s eye.

Weight training for a golfer, even more so than for a baseball player, is tricky business.  Performed correctly, and within the correct dose/response window, and if performed as an adjunct to maintaining skills, I believe, of course, that it can be a boon to one’s game.

Lest you think I’ve slipped off the deep end here, let me assure you that I still believe in the athletic enhancement benefits of a properly designed and executed strength and conditioning program.  I believe in the heath benefits, and the whole host of other positives derived from “physical culture”, writ large.  All that I am saying is — well, let me show you what I wrote to my buddy, in response to the purported, “Tiger’s workout plan” that he sent me:

“One thing I would say about what you sent is to make sure that you don’t fall into the “false correlation” trap. That is to say, correlation does not imply causation. Tiger is not Tiger because of his workout, but because of inherent talent, natural athleticism and focused practice. He may be a slightly better golfer b/c of his workout regimen; there is always the chance however (though I doubt it in this case), that he’s actually being hindered b/c of his workout regimen. That said, if I were you, and an improved golf game were my goal, I’d focus first and foremost on gaining strength in the basic moves (deadlift, overhead press, squat), then moving on to improving explosive power. I’d also work up to doing short sprint intervals. Note that whatever workout you choose to follow, you MUST continue to practice your golf game, as the fine motor skills must keep pace w/ your added strength and power.”

And don’t get me wrong — to emulate the actions, techniques and attitudes of the best and the brightest of any given endeavor is a wothwhile and, I believe, even a healthy and highly intelligent thing to do.  To gain the most from this practice, though, we must take into consideration both our inherant weaknesses and the “emulatee’s” inherant gifts, and adjust, in both our mirroring of these actions and our expectations, accordingly.

Gone to Texas

I’ll be out of pocket for a few day while Meesus TTP and I travel down to Hunt, Texas for a family reunion.  Though, due to Brittani’s absence, it will be bittersweet get-together, we are looking forward to seeing friends and family, lazing about in the Gaudalupe, and raisin’ a little hell out at Crider’s (the site of much of my misspent youth).  If you happen to be out that way — maybe checking out the Stonehenge replica, or the dinosaur tracks, or the indian pictographs, stop by and say hey — or beter yet, meet us out at Crider’s for a great Friday and Saturday night.

Following that trip, we’ll head out to Georgia to tie up some remaining loose ends from B’s passing.  I don’t know how much posting I’ll get in between now and until after the 4th — posting or not, though, my mind is always reeling with thought, and I’m sure I’ll return chock-full of  posting ideas.  One thing I know I want to address is the old axom of , “lift on your heels, play on your toes”.  I’ve got some ideas about that, and I’ll address them when I get back.

By the way, Congratulations to the University of Texas baseball team for such a fine run this year.  Close, so very close guys.  And, though it pains me to say it 🙂 a special congratulations to the boys out at LSU. Fine job, guys.

In health,



  1. I read somewhere that Tiger Woods packed on like 30lb of muscle over the 10 years since he had left college and has a reported body fat percentage of 5%. (personally I don’t believe the bf% number). I think that his weight training is only a second order effect for his success. His ridiculous (compulsive) practice regime is one of the primary keys to success.

    My buddy who’s a scratch golfer outlined it to me. Basically he spends about 10 hours a day hitting golf balls and putting. About 2 hours is spent pushing weights in the gym. But if you look HOW he wins, it is all in the short game. He’s not the biggest or even most accurate hitter off the tee, but he is near if not at the top of the ratings for greens hit in regulation and putting accuracy.

    Like they say “Drive for show, putt for dough.” From 150 yard in, the guy is a machine regarding accuracy, and getting the pill in the cup. That touch required at the shorter distances won’t be found in the gym. Although one could argue that a bigger drive will get one closer.

    Anyway, it his unending practice and successful execution on Sunday that has made him the top golfer I’ve seen in my lifetime.

    • I don’t golf, nor do I really follow the sport, and yet I can’t help but to (in the few times that I’ve seen him), admire Tiger’s competitiveness and “killer instinct”. It seems to me that he brings a football mentality to the golf course.

  2. About 6 weeks ago, I was headed to the beach with my girlfriend, when she wanted to stop by Starbucks. Waiting in line, a fairly big black dude got in line behind us. Being a trainer, I thought he might also be one, judging from the athletic apparel he was wearing. I really didn’t think anything of it, until I glanced at him again and realized…whoa…that’s Tiger Woods under those sunglasses (and all Nike apparel, of course).

    I have to admit, I was quite surprised by his condition. I estimated him to be about 6’3″ 190lb. I’m not a huge golf fan, so he was quite a bit bigger than what I would have guessed. When I got home, I googled him and found his official stats from a couple of years ago to be 6’2″ 185lbs. Who knows, he may be bigger now…

    As far as his training is concerned, I think it’s also worth mentioning that Tiger tore his ACL while running (allegedly).

    I wish I would have known that at the time–I would have given him my card, along with a guarantee his ACL(s) would remain intact under my tutelage.

    • Curious. It’s been my experience (and, unfortunately, my personal experience) that ACL injuries are side-blow and/or twisting events. I wonder what the real story was with Tiger’s injury.

  3. 1) To go with your quote on cynicism — “Cynicism is a form of naivete.”

    2) Gladwell is a pseudo-intellectual…at best. He is the anti-Taleb. Gladwell is a politically-correct moron. Sailer has intellectually spanked him many a time:

    a) Sailer on Tiger – http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/05/david-brooks-on-what-mozart-and-tiger.html

    b) Sailer crushes Gladwell’s Outliers – http://www.vdare.com/sailer/081221_malcolm.htm

    c) Sailer on Gladwell and QBs – http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/01/can-you-predict-who-will-be-good-nfl.html

    • Agreed. I’ve read Sailer before (possibly recommended by you?). He is a good “push” to Gladwell’s “pull”. I still like Gladwell’s stuff, though — even if it is written for the general audience, and with the “twist and hype” required to move books off the shelf.

  4. @Keith

    Gladwell is sand in your eyes. He fashions himself a deep thinker, when he is anything but.

    Avoid at all costs.

    He, for the record, is no epistemocrat. He holds his own knowledge in very high regard and his principal talent is creating narratives to fit the “facts”, regardless of their relationship to any Platonic truth.

    • “…Gladwell is sand in your eyes.” Hehe 🙂
      This reminds me of the Benjamin Alsup piece that appeared in the July ’09 Esquire, “Our National Literature”. Check it out if you can — it’s just a little snippet, but funny as hell. The premise is that he’s forced himself to read mainstream authors such as Sparks and Patterson so that he can quit feeling so isolated and converse with mainstream, “normal” people. The experiment becomes for him a purgatory of agony. 🙂

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  6. Keith,
    Great post. It’s words of wisdom like this that helps me concentrate on my own potential. Learning from others, yes, but putting that into my own context. Like an old football coach told me, just do your job and the score will take care of itself, no need to look at the scoreboard.
    Best Regards,


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