Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26
times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed
over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. Michael Jordan
7 Basic Reasons for Poor Shooting
Here are seven reasons why today's shooters can't drain a jump shot like their counterparts of a couple of decades ago.
Swooping dunks are what guys want to achieve. They want to look like Dr. J or Michael Jordan. The highlight films on TV are mostly about slamming the ball down over an opponent, not about deft passing and a smooth outside jumper.
It used to be that only the better shooters shot the long outside shots, the perimeter shots. Now, because of the 3 point shot, everyone wants to put them up and be a hero.
The game has become a lot more physical. Athleticism at all levels is revered at the expense of skills. Speed, quickness and jumping ability are favored more than good fundamentals or a great shooting touch.
ALL learn basketball on the playgrounds, playing for hours, including lots of time to practice shooting.Alot more emphasis is on playing games rather than practice.

MALAYSIA learn to shoot the right way, perhaps from some FRIENDS. They're encouraged to practice shooting and learn good form. MALAYSIAN often learn it by watching TV and picking up bad habits. Going for the 3 point shot too early and too often can wreck a shooting style.

Another old line is that kids from inner cities don't shoot particularly well because they grow up on playgrounds, places where there are bent rims without nets, places not conducive to breeding shooters. To learn a reliable shot takes repetition and hours of practice. These days there are too many kids and too few courts.

This is certainly one of the major reasons. The in-your-face physical pressure initiated by Georgetown in the early 80's probably started this. Defense is a statement, and it's tougher than ever to get an open jump shot.
Most people will look at those seven basic shooting problems and think that none of them can be solved overnight. While overnight may be a stretch, shooting well is not that difficult and can be learned in a fraction of the time many players and coaches might believe.
The truth about most physical actions, in my opinion, is that we greatly over complicate them. The basketball shot has evolved for most players into a throwing motion coming mostly from the upper body. Arms, wrists, hands and fingers are employed to power and guide the shot, thus creating a flat arch (30 degrees above horizontal at best) and a ball flight controlled by small muscles.
Watch your players shoot. Most shots get only 1-2 feet above the basket at the highest point. The shots are coming in "hot" and flat, around 20-30 degrees above horizontal. How often do you see one that rises higher than the top of the backboard? If you do, it's probably coming from the best shooter on the court. Shooting high does two major things:
(1) Creates a larger landing area for the ball
(2) Softens the shot, as gravity has more time to slow it down as it rises.
From my research, a shot coming into the basket at a medium high angle of about 45 degrees above horizontal has an effective landing area about 60% larger than for a shot coming in at 30 degrees. A 60-degree angle shot (the angle considered most effective by coaches) has a landing area more than twice as large as a 30-degree angle shot.
Most players can't shoot very high with the muscle action they use. Arm, wrist, hand and finger actions are horizontal motions. They create a flat arch. To get higher arch, the players must use more body and leg action.
Better shooters use their legs and entire bodies to shoot. They don't just jump to get elevated or to initiate the shot -- they are shooting FROM this energy. This gives them more arch automatically.
The more your players shoot from this power (I call it "UpForce") the higher, quicker and more stabilized the shot will be. Also, note that the more the shot comes from the lower body, the more the upper body can relax, quiet down and become constant and predictable. Shooting starts to become effortless.
While a good deal of blame can be placed on the player for what is wrong with shooting these days, coaches, too, must bear part of the burden. Four areas in particular are where coaches often struggle to guide their players. Instructing players to square up, have their elbow under the ball, shoot at the top of their jump, and flip their wrist need to be re-evaluated and better explained to shooters at all levels.
1) Squaring Up.
Squaring up should only be referred to if you're telling your player to face the basket while stopping any lateral and rotational movement as he or she begins the shot. The problem is that most students misunderstand the idea of squaring up and take the command literally, forcing themselves to have their feet, hips and shoulders exactly perpendicular to a line from the middle of the chest to the basket. Players don't need to be perfectly square to the basket to shoot a one-handed shot. Instead of using the term "squaring up," coaches should tell their players to "face up."
For a one-handed shot, it's more natural to open the body and rotate to the left for right handers, right for left-handers. This also makes the forearm of the shooting arm more vertical without tension, and allows the shooting arm to extend more easily toward the basket. The guide hand just moves aside and hangs back.
Have your players try shooting both squared up and open and see which feels more natural. Offer your players both options and observe which they adopt naturally. If you watch good shooters, most of them rotate at least a little naturally and many of the great shooters rotate up to 45 degrees.

Common Misunderstandings With Squaring Up:
Players mistakenly believe that squaring up somehow gets them in better connection and alignment with the basket or helps with the shot motion. With this position, the elbow is out to the side, like in a salute, and the forearm is about 45 degrees below vertical with the palm facing the basket. To get the shooting hand in line with the eye, your player has to force the arm and hand into alignment. This creates tension in the setup, and, if the player tries to keep her or his body in that relationship, the tension is maintained in the Release.
QUICK TIPS: Let the body turn naturally and see what works best. Compare squaring up with turning 10, 20, 30, 40 degrees or more. Your players should have the target, ball, hand, eyes, body and legs generally in alignment, and if he or she opens the stance, this seems to happen more easily. Test it out. See which stance gives your players the feeling of being more under and behind the ball. Which one creates less tension? There's no one right answer here. Each person needs to find what works for her or him.
2) Elbow Under The Ball:
Somewhere in the lexicon of shooting coaching has come the idea that the elbow must be directly under the ball at the set point before shooting. However, if you examine it carefully, you will see that we're not built that way. The hand, wrist and arm are not built to be in a straight line when you bring the hand in line with your shooting eye. If you shoot over the shoulder, then this lining up idea is true. But shooting off the shoulder is out of alignment with the shooting eye and presents problems with accuracy.
Common Misunderstandings With Having The Elbow Under The Ball:
The misunderstanding is that having the ball, hand and elbow in line will produce accuracy. For a one-handed shot, as we saw above, an open stance is more natural and requires less tension. With an open stance, bring your shooting hand in line with your shooting eye and have the center of the hand solidly in line with a target. Can you see that the elbow is out to the side a bit, maybe 4-6 inches, depending on how long your arm is? Now bring the elbow directly under the ball and see what that does to the hand. Doesn't it tilt the hand off the target?

QUICK TIPS: What really matters is the hand position, since that is where the ball is. We do not hit the ball with the elbow. If we did, then where the elbow sets and where it points and how it moves would be critical. Rather, it's the hand (and ball) we're moving toward the target in the Release, and it's important to have the hand solidly in line with where you're going. The forearm is close to vertical, but not exactly.

3) Shooting At The Top Of The Jump.
While coaches stress this tactic to elevate and shoot over an opponent, the shot is likely to be a failure because the player has used up all the energy on the jump and nothing left in the legs for the shot. The leg power is there to stabilize the shot, but there's none of it left if you shoot at the top. Some elite athletes are able to shoot quite well this way, but it's a very difficult shot. (Note: There is an exception. For close-in, turnaround-type jumpers of the taller players, elevating before shooting can be effective since the target is close and the margin for error is large. However, even then they should not wait until the exact top of the jump, as the shot becomes unstable.)
Common Misunderstandings With Shooting At The Top Of The Jump:
The idea here is that being higher in the air somehow helps with the shot and if the player isolates the shot to just the upper body, he or she employs fewer muscles. The height above the ground helps if there is someone in your face, but shooting at the top is difficult, unstable. In addition, the higher the player is, the less likely he or she will think to aim upward to shoot. Also, at the top of the jump, all the upward energy of the legs has been expended and the only thing left to shoot with is the upper body.
In terms of shooting, the upper body muscles create mostly horizontal energy. When wanting the fewest possible variables -- a repeatable motion -- these finer muscles are less reliable.

QUICK TIPS: Shoot on the way up for most shots. Your players will find their shots going higher with a quicker release and plenty of power. Use the release mainly to direct the ball exactly in line with the target. Shots will begin to seem almost effortless. For inside turnaround jumpers for the 4's and 5's, remind them to shoot near the top but not at the top, and they can raise their set points which allows for a quicker, more full-out release.

4) Wrist Flipping The Ball.
Once coaches convince their players that they have to release their shot at the top of the jump, they expand the mistake by teaching their players to flip their wrist to generate power.
This, once again, introduces unnecessary tension with the shot and engages small muscles. In addition, too many coaches are stressing the "reaching into the cookie jar" motion after the shot, which is creates tension and causes players to try too hard to have the perfect follow-through.
Common Misunderstandings About Wrist Power and Follow-Through: Using the wrist and hand as a power source is an ill-advised concept that coaches are teaching their players. It will give you extra power, that's true, but it's horizontal power and it's hard to control.

The wrist, hand and fingers are the smallest muscles in the chain from your feet through your body up to and through your arms. It doesn't make sense to leave control of the flight of the ball, distance and direction, with the smallest muscles. The fine motor control they provide is subject to variation, especially under pressure.
QUICK TIPS: Invite your players to use upper body energy in just a (constant) pushing action of the arm, aimed upward, rather than any kind of flipping or throwing motion. Players can relax the wrist, hand and finger muscles. They don't have to do any powering, steering or guiding. They can just complete the connection with the ball and deliver it toward the basket as driven by the arm and body. By doing nothing more than that, they ensure greater accuracy and repeatability.
A little pressure from the finger pads ensures control of the ball, allowing it to roll off the fingers in a consistent way. When shooting this way, players get the feeling of doing nothing with these smaller muscles, and the feeling of shooting becomes effortless when there's strong power from the lower body.


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