Teaching Shooting: A Coach's Guide
Indeed, the game has changed. There is a premium placed on being able to shoot the basketball (particularly from the 3-pt line) regardless of size or position. It’s a fun time to play as it’s most players favourite skill to practice but yet still an area that most coaches would describe as lacking in their players. So, why the disconnect? Shouldn’t players be improving their ability to shoot if it’s a fun skill to practice and also a major focus for coaches in today’s game? Let's dive in...
Here are 5 things that will help you develop the shooters you've always wanted.
Ask - don’t just tell
In an earnest effort to help you may be tempted to blurt out all of the shooting advice you’ve ever heard to the player in front of you. There are a few problems with this approach - we simply can’t effectively process and apply more than 1-2 pieces of feedback at once. The player is also just a passive recipient of information and not actively part of the learning. Ask the player a question instead - what is your most common miss? When you land do you feel balanced? How could you get more arc on that shot? It takes more time but the learning will be more deep. And ultimately the best coaching means you (as the coach) eventually render yourself useless (or close to it). A player that can self-correct and figure things out on their own will improve at a faster rate than one who always needs the coach present.
“You need to make 500 threes per day to be a great shooter”.
A common phrase uttered, tweeted and repeated in basketball circles. Obviously repetition is an important element to improving in pretty much any area of life, particularly for a skill as technical as shooting a basketball. But like most “rules” there is room for interpretation. I’ll come right out and say it - players do NOT need to make 500 threes per day to become an elite shooter. But here’s the kicker - they need a simple and repeatable shooting stroke. To put it plainly - a player with more moving parts in their shot will need to practice more than someone with an uncomplicated shooting stroke. For this reason, our goal should be to help players simplify their shooting mechanics.
One size does NOT fit all
There is no one perfect shooting form. The goal is not to create a team of players that all shoot like Steph Curry or Duncan Robinson. Players have different biomechanics and limitations so it’s our job to work within those when we’re communicating advice and designing drills to improve habits. There are universal principles of shooting that are helpful to follow but oftentimes they won’t look identical when being performed by different players. Teaching shooting is more art than science.
The difference between good shooters and great ones is their mindset. Confidence comes from 2 things: 1. Preparation (putting in the time to practice) and, 2. What you think about - assist to PGC Basketball on these. Assuming players are putting in the time and effort to practice then the major hurdle to confidence is what goes on between the players ears. One of our jobs should be to give practical tips on how players can re-shape or refine their self-talk. An example may be directing that player to remember what it felt like when they were shooting without thinking about it - perhaps a game when they made most of their shots. This process is often one of trial and error but must be undertaken and focused on if we’re to develop truly great shooters.
Schedule the time
It seems obvious but many coaches simply don’t allot enough shooting time into their practices. The realities of a season and the technical/tactical (offensive sets, defensive pressure, inbound plays etc.) can choke out the amount of time we dedicate to shooting at practice. Great shooters will always put in the time outside of team practices but if we’re agreeing that there is a premium placed on being able to shoot why aren’t we dedicating more time to it? A great offensive set only works as well as the players who can put the ball in the hoop. As a baseline, players should be getting 200 shots off every practice. The next layer is to track results and ensure players are competing when they shoot. If you want more shooters, then focus on it...every practice.
We hope these 5 points will help you better teach shooting to your players. Please comment or use the contact tab to discuss any of this further.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post was written by Right Way Founder and Shooting Coach, Mike Kenny, a former USPORTS National Champion, current educator, coach and clinician.
The Importance of Female Leaders in Sport
Sport does much more for youth than simply building endurance and muscle; it facilitates the opportunity for individuals to develop confidence, build character, and improve communication. Learning from past mistakes, overcoming adversity, and performing under pressure are regular tests that athletes face daily; athletes are encouraged to take these experiences and apply them in other areas of life, especially their future careers.
Unfortunately, these experiences begin to dwindle for female athletes around the time they enter high school. At the young age of 14, female students are dropping out of sport at 2 times the rate of their male counterparts. Given the overwhelming positive attributes of sport, the number of females continuing to play sports in high school is underwhelming. So what gives?
Girls stop playing sports for a number of reasons. Here are the most popular themes:
The importance of female leaders in sport has never been more important than today, when the rate of girls dropping out of sport is at an all time high. From a young age, children form their identities by what they see around them. Quite often, we need to ‘see it to believe it’ and when ‘less than 5% of sports media content is dedicated to women’s sports and less than 15% of sports news is presented by women’, it can be difficult for young girls to picture themselves in careers that have historically been dominated by men.
Representation of women in sport helps show girls what is already possible, allowing dreams and aspirations to take flight. Limited coverage of women’s sport may minimize what girls are exposed to, so having female coaches and trainers (especially at the grassroots level) can be pivotal. Creating a positive environment and fostering a sense of community from an early age, above and beyond instructing the X’s and O’x of the game, can help shift how girls view sport as a whole.
Aside from those involved directly in game play, the off-court successes of female athletes need to be shared. In a 2013 survey of high-level executives conducted by Ernst & Young, 90% of female respondents indicated that they had played a sport. This stat rose to 96% when looking at females in the c-suite roles. The benefits of sport, such as tenacity and grit, lend themselves to giving women the courage to succeed in both their professional and personal lives.
Girls drop out of sport because parameters change and their lives begin to move in different directions. Women in leadership positions can help girls understand that leaving sport is not the only option, and continuing to play may in fact lead to more options down the line. The key is to collectively empower girls to understand their potential. We need female role models to not only show girls what they are capable of, but to help them develop the tools to not simply reach glass ceilings, but to shatter them.
This post was written by Right Way coach, Jen O’Connor, a former USPORTS Basketball Alumna, who is currently a secondary school teacher and coach in Ottawa.
"Undirected diligence isn't very efficient; therefore, an element of planning must go into hard work." - John Wooden
Who do you want to be? Why? Where do you want to go? Why? What is stopping you? Why? What steps can you take to change that? What are my interests? What if I don’t have clear passions or direction right now?
These are JUST A FEW of the questions my mentors have helped me answer. You and I may not have the exact same goals, but think about how many situations these questions apply to. Struggling to find direction and motivation? Identifying areas of interest? Choosing what to do after high school? Transitioning to the next level in your sport? Everyone can use some help finding these answers.
We are bombarded with advertisements that seemingly offer quick fixes. Get stronger, faster, skinnier, smarter, happier - you name it! Despite this, most people know that there are no real shortcuts to success and fulfillment; it takes time, intentional work and focus to achieve your goals. However, in my experience, mentorship is an effective way to fast track growth. As famed investor Warren Buffett says, “It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” Having access to someone with more life experience that can advise and counsel is more effective than doing the journey alone. A mentor in your corner that truly cares about your development will ensure that your time, work and focus are moving in the right direction...towards the person you were meant to be!
Having a mentor is NOT a quick fix; it is still you who has to walk the path. Think of a mentor as someone who helps groom the path for you. They become someone you can talk to, someone you can be real with, someone you can ask questions and someone who is invested in your success.
I have benefited from the power of mentorship and I see it as my responsibility to pay that forward. We are not meant to go through life alone, we are not meant to withhold the “secrets” to success from each other. We are stronger individually AND as a community when we build each other up. I am grateful for the guidance my mentors have given me and I am grateful that Right Way has given me the opportunity to share that power with the next generation!
This post was written by Right Way director and coach, Clare Murphy, a former USPORTS Basketball Alumna, who is currently a certified teacher while also serving as an assistant coach with the University of Ottawa Women's Basketball Team.