The skill that changed the game
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.