Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Ok - school has started - the fanfare is over, and while much of the country spends time focusing on the  window dressing of their program, here is your chance to ensure your program of a couple extra wins this upcoming season by focusing on some small but critically important details with your on the court teachings.  These details are often overlooked or decided against in developing players for this simple reasoning.......
  • This is beginner level teaching and won't hold the players interest and attention.  
  • It is much more fun to dive right into the offense or defense and play games than instruct players on how to do specific little things. 
Learning to do specific little things correctly, leads to becoming a better individual player.  If you have 5 individuals on the court who have each become better individual players, your team dramatically becomes better.  This is one of my favorite quotes relating to this idea:
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844-1900)  

Thanks to Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming to America I learned about the wisdom of Nietzche! (Thanks to Eddie Murphy I learned a lot of other things in the '80's but that is a topic for another time!)  Keeping this philosophy in mind let's take Nietzsche's advice and teach our players to first learn to stand.  We will do that by taking a closer look at shooting the basketball - and exactly what makes a good shooter.

First of all - understand something - no shooters have the exact same form and shot technique.  There are countless ways to put the ball in the basket and no one particular way is better than another.  The KEY, especially when working with college and professional athletes is developing a simple and consistent shot that can easily be maintained and "tweaked" when necessary.  Rarely is there a situation when you completely need to rebuild a student-athletes shot.  Far too often that is the mistake coaches and players make.  Telling a player they need to "completely fix" something usually leads to frustration and confusion on their part.  Remember these players have been highly recruited and to tell them something needs to be "completely redone" would be hard for anyone to hear.  Instead, it is important for the coach to really spend time watching the player, studying their form and rhythm and really trying to identify ways to bring consistency to the shot.  Some things that are really important to focus on include:
  • Feet - The ball goes where the toes are pointed.  Watch the players feet and see which direction they face, and do they face the same way every time.
  • Feet - Where do they take off and where do they land?  
  • Hand Position - What part of their shooting hand is touching the ball? Is it on the fingertips? Is the Thumb nice and soft?
  • Off Hand Involved - Is the off hand manipulating the shot?
  • Balance - When the ball is released, what is the position of the body? Did they shoot "up and out of the phone booth?"
  • Finish - Are they "Enjoying their shot?" Is their "Hand in the Cookie Jar?"
The ability to instantly use video to help in  your teaching really can help drive home the point you are trying to make with your players.  To provide solid visual evidence to support your teaching can really help add credibility to your teaching.  Film the players shooting the basketball, then spend time analyzing it with them.  Perfect their shot on video - then compare it with game film of them shooting.  The closer they match, the more successful and consistent shooter the player will become.

I still use these simple guidelines every time I am on the court doing skill work whether I am working with an incoming freshman, or WNBA players.  Incorporate these simple ideals into your teaching early in the season to ensure by March your team will be dancing in postseason play and you will all be - "ENJOYING YOUR SHOT"

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