From a young age, I had an obsession with sports. It didn’t matter the one; if there was some competitive aspect of the activity, I was all in. I played everything that I got my hands on. I played flag football with the boys all through elementary school, pitched for the boy’s baseball team through eighth grade, and played my final season of basketball for the varsity team my freshman year of high school. 

Once I realized that a baseball swing didn’t quite translate to the best golf swing and that the five ACL tears in my family weren’t very promising that I could run freely on the basketball court, I hung up the cleats and the Kobe basketball shoes to dedicate myself to the game of golf. Specializing in one sport seemed to be an excellent opportunity to allow me to pour more time, effort and expense to only one game. 

It wasn’t until a few years after I walked away from the two other sports that I realized the positive impact they had on my golf game. It is the reason I strive to play one other sport a week. In a game that can become so mechanical, making sure that my hands are at the right spot, my shoulders are in position, my arm drops into the slot, etc. It is easy for me to lose sight of the innate athleticism in the game. 

I never thought that taking some time to shoot some hoops or wack a tennis ball around with a friend would help better my swing, my putts and overall enjoyment of the game. But, there is something about the freedom of shooting a pop-up jumper only to see the ball swish into the net that parlays directly to the feeling of draining a putt. Or, how the lightness in my grip as I hit a topspin tennis ball gives me the same sensation of hitting a perfect draw with the driver. After some reflection, I’ve figured out the three primary reasons that playing other sports is essential in my golf development. 

First, training the athlete in me. As I mentioned before, golf can become a very mechanical sport. While going through a swing change, you could sit there for hours and try to improve the tiniest movement without really playing the game. I can get bogged down in chasing perfection. What I’ve learned (will discuss later) is that perfection is the nemesis of greatness. When I focus so much on telling my body what to do, I can forget that there is a lot that of good my body naturally does. That is where other sports come in. When I pick up a baseball, tennis ball, or basketball, there isn’t a single mechanical thought that runs through my brain. It is all-natural, and it allows me to reconnect with the sensation of letting your body freely act. This brings me to my second point. 

The second effect that playing other sports has on my golf game is that it serves as a reminder that it is a GAME and is meant to be PLAYED. I get so much joy from playing other sports and trying to create different shots or pitches. I play it for the pure joy of the sport. When I remind myself that golf is the same, it brings a refreshing and renewing perspective to my preparation and attitude towards playing. 

Third and perhaps the most satisfying for me is that it brings back the child in me. It reminds me of the pick-up basketball games I would play during recess in elementary school. The way the boys accepted me as one of their own in touch football and the happiness that ran through my body when I knew it was time to play. It was all for the love of sport and healthy competition. To this day, when I play other sports, it brings me that feeling back and allows me to approach every day, I get to play golf with the same mentality. 

Whether you have a deep passion for sports or if there is something else that transcends into helping with your sport, make time for it. If you have an experience at all like mine, you will be blown away by the benefits. I know in today’s society, there is a push to early specialization in sport. I’m not saying this is a right or wrong mentality, but I think there is a tremendous amount of value in engaging your body in different activities for the overall enjoyment and pursuit of a goal. Often a feel in one sport can be directly applied to the other. Whether or not this is in your practice, I encourage you to give it a try. You may be surprised by the effects. 


***Disclaimer: I make sure to not participate in any sports that would risk injury. For example, shooting hoops instead of a pick-up game just throwing baseball versus playing a game.