Talking hoops and hooks with Coach Knight

Knight_200 One of the best things about a career in golf is all the
interesting people you meet. One of the people I've been lucky enough to
develop a friendship with through golf is Bobby Knight. It’s funny: when we're
together I like to talk about basketball, but Coach Knight likes to talk about golf. Sometimes, the two are related.
A couple winters ago I flew out to Lubbock, Texas, to spend
a few days with Coach Knight when he was coaching Texas Tech. During lunch he
brought up an observation about Jack Nicklaus’s pre-shot routine.

Jack is famous for his deliberate pre-shot routine. Coach
Knight said that if you looked at Jack’s pre-shot routine from 1954 versus
1986, they’d be virtually identical. He’d approach the ball the same way, step
in the same way and take the same number of waggles. The same is true, Coach
Knight said, of great free-throw shooters in basketball. John Stockton’s
pre-shot routine before his free throws probably looked the same from when he was a
senior at Gonzaga until his last game with the Utah Jazz in 2003: the same
number of dribbles, the same number of exhales, the same number of looks at the

It got me thinking about the time I saw Nick Faldo and David
Leadbetter preparing for the Buick Classic at Westchester Country Club. Faldo and
Leadbetter were on the practice range for an hour and Faldo never hit a ball. Instead they worked on his pre-shot routine
and how he stepped into the ball over and over again.

Tour pros know how important the pre-shot routine is, but I
never see amateurs work on this. Instead, I see guys go to the range and hit a
bucket of balls, but never in the same way they’ll hit them on the course. So
the next time you're at the practice range, don't just practice hitting shots, practice
how you prepare to hit them, and ingrain a dependable pre-shot routine. You’ll
be surprised at how much more confident you'll feel on the course.

(Photo: G. Newman Lowrance/

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