Why Basketball Players Tend To Be Great Golfers

In the last few seconds of the 2015 NBA Finals, Stephen Wardell Curry looked over at teammate and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. No, he didn’t come over to congratulate him and his teammates on their first title. Instead, Curry screamed at Iguodala,

“WE’RE GOING TO AUGUSTA!”

Fast forward to Summer 2017, and Curry is seen teeing off in a professional golf tournament. This is no surprise. The emergence of Topgolf, a bar/golf range tandem, and the calm collective atmosphere of the game itself has led plenty of professional athletes to its tracks in recent years. While Curry may be one of the best non-golfer athletes to play the game, science has proven to say that basketball players tend to be great golfers, and here is why:

1. Height

Basketball players are notoriously known for their above-average height. Stephen Curry, who is listed at 6’3, is still considered short for NBA standards. This plays a huge factor when swinging a golf club because tall golfers have the potential to get their hands higher which 1) allows them more distance to accelerate the club and 2) decreases their moment of inertia, allowing them to turn faster.

2. Vertical Jump Ability

Another well-known trait of basketball players is their vertical jumping ability, as seen by the daily posters some NBA players give and receive. Vertical jump is directly related to hip thrust movement, which in turn, generates clubhead speed.

3. Explosive Power

Basketball players are among the most explosive athletes in all of sports. Whether jumping, cutting or sprinting, basketball players tend to do it at full speed.

4. Proprioception And Coordination

The motion of a shot in basketball doesn’t look like a golf swing, but the development of body awareness and coordination transfers between both activities. After all, the core skill in both sports requires an athlete to direct energy into an object aimed at a goal. For example, the skill of making a free throw in basketball, requires an athlete to judge speed, control trajectory, impart the correct spin on the ball and produce the right energy required to move the object the correct distance with each attempt. Does that sound familiar? That is the same thing a golfer needs to sink a putt, make a chip or gauge a distance wedge.

The case for the multi-sport athlete can sometimes be perceived as a chicken and egg conundrum. Did the athlete play multiple sports because they were the best? Or did the athlete become the best because they played multiple sports? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Some athletes were born with better physical tools, but all athletes have the chance to develop more robust tools through sampling as many sports and movements as possible.

While Steph will likely not make the cut at the Ellie Mae, his background in basketball has been excellent preparation for success in golf. So, parents, if your kid is a standout golfer who wants to play hoops in the winter, encourage it, don’t discourage it. After all, they’d have something in common with some of the most powerful players in the world.

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