As a golfer and 30+ year LPGA teaching professional, I love teaching and playing golf. At the same time, most my golf students know that my favorite sport to play is basketball.
I normally play twice a week – in a 40+ and 50+ league. For the past 10 years, I’ve also coached several women’s basketball teams, with 3 of my teams taking home medals at the National Senior Games (held every 2 years in different states).
My favorite thing to coach is shooting. Kirsten Cummings – 14-year professional basketball player – and I have taught numerous shooting clinics together. I also coach several players individually.
NOTE: The tall lefty with the beautiful shot in the picture at the top of this post is professional basketball player, Kirsten Cummings.
Whether we’re talking about improving your golf swing or your basketball shot, the key to both is the same. It’s recognizing the #1 thing that determines RESULTS and make that your top priority.
The Key to Consistently Better GOLF Shots
In golf, there’s ONLY ONE THING that ultimately determines the results of a golf shot, and that’s how the club and ball meet through IMPACT.
A person could have the most beautiful looking golf swing in the world, but if the golf club connects with the TOP of the golf ball, the result is going to be a topped shot. (For non-golfers, that’s a shot that rolls along the ground.)
Conversely, a person could have a very unique, non-traditional looking golf swing, but if they get their golf club to connect the golf ball properly through impact, they’ll hit a good shot every time.
The point is, it doesn’t matter how a golf swing looks, the only thing that determines the results of a golf shot is how the club and ball connect through impact.
Check out the awesome slow motion impact of PGA Pro, Rory McIlroy below.
The Key to Consistently Better BASKETBALL Shots
Similar to golf, there’s one thing that happens in a basketball shot that ultimately determines the results of the shot. Since there’s no club hitting the ball, that one thing is how the ball leaves your shooting hand, or “hands” in the case of a two-handed shot.
In basketball, that is called the “release.”
If you look at the best basketball shooters in the world, you may notice their overall shooting form varies from person to person, but they all have exceptional releases.
For example, check out the slow-motion videos I’ve included below of LeBron James, and two of my favorite NBA sharpshooters, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.
Why Reversing Your Approach is Best
Here’s why this is so important. If you want better RESULTS – and that’s what we all want, right – then it makes sense to focus on the main thing that gives you those results.
In golf, that means focusing on the golf club and what it’s doing through impact and working back from there.
In basketball, that means focusing on your release and working back from there.
Approaching the golf swing and basketball shot in reverse is the way I guarantee results for all the golfers and basketball players I coach.
Dump Your “To-Do” Lists and Start Paying Attention Instead
To give you a specific example, many golfers have a long list of things they think about – things they’ve been told they need to do to swing the “right way.”
For example, their list might include their grip, stance, takeaway, shoulder turn, weight shift, hip movement, etc.
However, most these lists are focused on BODY thoughts, none of which guarantees that the golf CLUB will end up where it needs to be through impact. Spending time practicing something that doesn’t guarantee results is the HARD way to try to improve!
Instead, I recommend getting rid of your golf swing “to-do lists,” so you can start paying attention to how your golf club and ball are meeting through impact.
If you can’t tell at first, no problem. Just take shorter swings and slow down what you’re doing until you can tell what’s actually happening when you swing. That’s how we learn best – through awareness.
The HARD Way or the EASY Way?
Whenever you want to improve your golf swing, your basketball shot, or any other sports motion, there’s a hard way and an easy way to do it.
The HARD way is to focus on things that don’t determine the results of the shot.
The EASY way is to discover the one thing that ultimately determines the results of your shots and make that your top priority.
By focusing on the most important aspect of your golf swing or basketball shot, you are guaranteed to get results.
The Only Way that Guarantees RESULTS
There is a lot more I can write about this – and I will in other posts. For now, though, I simply want to invite you to get rid of any body “to-do lists” you may have, and instead, start paying attention to what’s actually happening during the most critical moment of the motions of your sport.
Increasing your awareness of what’s actually happening is where you’ll find the GOLD to be mined from every practice session.
So, shift your attention to how your golf club and ball are meeting through impact in golf, and how your hand or hands are releasing the ball in basketball. Do that and get ready to see your results start skyrocketing.
It’s the reverse of what most people do, but it’s the fastest, easiest way to guarantee the results you want.
Klay Thompson and LeBron James Slow Motion Shots (1:26)
Steph Curry Slow Motion Step Back Trey – i.e. 3-point shot (1:38)
NOTE: Not only does this video give you an awesome close up of a golf club and ball connecting through impact, it also answers the question many people ask about divots. A good divot is always taken AHEAD of the golf ball. Meaning, AFTER the golf club head has contacted the golf ball.
If you’re taking divots BEHIND the golf ball, it’s the sign of a swing problem often referred to as, “early release,” “scooping,” or “flipping.” Taking a divot behind the ball – aka, hitting behind the ball – not only causes bad shots, it can also be quite painful.
But, don’t blame divots for the pain. Divots taken in front of the golf ball are pain-free and lead to great shots – even a super size divot like the one Rory makes in the video below.