T is for Trying Easy rather than Trying Hard

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Sports psychologists talk about the idea of helping athletes to try easy, rather than try hard.

The athlete must prepare by putting in all the hard work. On the day of the competition, however, they need to relax and embrace the pleasure – rather than worry about pressure – in order to perform.

Try easy, rather than try hard, is a concept that is also used in some forms of yoga. So let’s explore how you might want to follow this principle in your own way.

Trying Easy In The Past

Trying easy refers to the intensity of effort that you put into doing an activity.

Great workers prepare properly, but they also apply the right intensity to achieve peak performance. They aim to be calm, clear and completely present. They are then more able to flow, focus and finish.

Gregg Steinberg has written about how this applies to golf. Below are extracts from a piece he wrote for the PGA Tour website. You can discover more via the links below the piece.

In an interesting experiment with Olympic runners, they were asked to run the first race at 100 percent intensity level (or in other words, they were asked to try as hard as they can).

In the second race, the runners were asked to give 90 percent (or in other words, they were asked to try easier).

Amazingly, they ran faster at the 90 percent intensity level.

Gregg suggests that golfers take the following steps to perform at their best.

Develop a personalized scale of intensity level ranging between zero-100 (based upon a 10-point scale).

Make zero being completely flat with very low intensity and 100 being totally amped up and a very high level of intensity.

Recall two or three events you played really well on the golf course and rank your intensity level.

Some golfers may play their best at 60 while others may play their best at 80. Everyone is unique and you must find your best intensity level.

Discover ways to get into your best intensity level.

If you play your best golf at lower levels of intensity, then use techniques such as imagery and breathing to get calmer.

If you play your best when amped up, then use techniques to get more pumped up.

Perhaps an easy slap on the thigh during your pre-shot routine can create a pump in your intensity level.



Gregg underlines that each person is different. You will have your own best level of intensity for performing well when playing music, giving a keynote speech, encouraging another person, having a tough conversation or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to clarify when you put in the necessary preparation and then performed at your best level of intensity in a particular activity. It invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific time when you were able to try easy and perform well in a particular activity.

Describe the specific things you did right then – the principles you followed – to try easy and perform well in the activity.

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Trying Easy In The Future

Looking to the future, can you think of any situations where you might want to use the try easy approach? You may want to apply it when enjoying each day, building a relationship, being creative or whatever.

“I have adopted this approach when helping people to solve conflicts,” explained one mediator.

“During my early work I allowed my ego to become involved. I wanted to solve the impossible, which led to me straining hard to achieve the prize. This approach did not help anybody.

“Later I became more relaxed. In particular, I learned how to help people to focus on what is called The Third Side.”

The mediator then gave some background to this approach. Here is a summary of the main themes.

People can get into difficulties if they sit opposite each other and fight for their own agendas. Each party may say the equivalent of “I am right,” or “Our side is right.” “You are wrong.” These are the First and Second Sides.

People are more likely to solve things if they can sit side by side and look together towards a Third Side. This Third Side can be the greater goal, the mission, the agreed picture of success or whatever. This is the higher purpose – the greater ‘What’ and ‘Why’.

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“Using this approach called for understanding everybody’s agenda,” explained the mediator.

“I could then help people to build on common ground – which there often was, even in the hardest disputes – and focus on an agreed Third Side.

“It sounds obvious now, but it meant doing what I should have done from the beginning. I needed to put myself in the background and not take things personally.

“This proved more helpful. I was able to relax and encourage people to find ways to achieve the Third Side.”

You can discover more about The Third Side via the following link.


Sometimes it is important to, as the old saying goes, hold the bird gently, rather than squeeze it. Trying easy can help people to perform superb work, rather than to strain. The same approach can be used in other areas of life.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future where you want to try easy and perform well in a particular activity.

Describe the specific things you can do to aim to try easy and perform well in the particular activity.

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