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Practice Under Pressure for Better Scoring on the Course!

"3...Callaway gets the ball...

2... he turns to shoot...

1... he takes the jumper...

he makes the jumper to win the game!''.

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That's what I'd say out loud and practice as a kid shooting hoops in my back yard, over, and over, and over again... mentally pretending and physically preparing for that one chance to take the last-second shot to win the basketball game. It was just a fun thing to do at the time but little did I know how I was most effectively practicing to prepare for a moment, years later, when that exact opportunity would actually present itself, for real, in a game... the college championship game when our team was down by one point with 'three' seconds remaining on the clock.

Our coach had called our final time out with 3 seconds remaining in the game to diagram the final play. We needed a baseball pass from one of my teammates to be perfectly thrown from under the opposing team's basket so I could come up off a baseline pick to catch the 3/4 court pass at the top right of key where I would then pivot, shoot and take the 'jumper' to win the game... and the championship... at the buzzer.

I remember feeling both excited and nervous at that the same time. I was excited to have the opportunity to take the last shot of the game... something I'd never done before but had dreamed of doing many, many times as that little kid shooting buckets in the back yard. And, at the same time walking back onto the court after the time out, I felt tremendous pressure from the responsibility placed squarely on my shoulders to take that last shot with the hopes of winning the game... with the vivid realization that 'if' I didn't make the shot, then the game would be over, and the memories of all my teammates, all the fans supporting us, and the story of the game written in the papers the next day would be that we had lost the game on a last second shot... taken... and 'missed' by Paul Callaway.

Well, as the story goes...

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