Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching Shooting: Everything You Know is Wrong


As a coach, I feel that shooting may be the most important skill in the game. If you are coaching a team with shooters you are going to be pretty darn good. With that said, I am always looking for new and better ways to teach this skill. I used to be a stickler for form. I thought that players had to have "great form" to be a great shooter - square feet, straight back, perfect. I would even go as far as to work on a player's form even though they were shooting a high percentage - which I now know is a waste of time.

After reading The Talent Code and Talent is Overrated I started to realize that perfect form isn't what's important - practice is what is important. I also started to look at great shooter's shots and they were all different. No one had a "text book" jump shot. The only similarity I saw was the balance, elbow under the ball, and follow through. So last year we spent more time on just shooting with proper balance, elbow, and follow through and we saw results.

After going through that revelation, I attended a shooting camp called Pro Shot by Paul Hoover, I was blown away by what he taught. It went against everything "traditional" shooting technique says. The Pro Shot shooting system is contrary to everything we've been taught about shooting. Techniques such as square feet, square shoulders, hand in the cookie jar, and the importance of bending your knees all go out the window. At first I was skeptical, obviously, but after watching the results, and trying it myself, I was sold. The system works and it makes sense when you take an honest look at what he is saying. Below is a rundown of the Pro Shot System.

The Pro Shot System

Each of the following are teaching points that Coach Hoover uses to build the jump shot. These are things I have used with our players and we have seen great success already with. 

The Basics
This video covers many of the basics of the Pro Shot System which will be discussed in more detail below. 

The Finger
For me, this was the biggest secret of the entire clinic. On the follow through, as you snap your wrist, you pinch your pointer finger and thumb together as you keep your other three fingers straight (3 up 1 down). This FORCES the ball to go straight because, as Coach Hoover points out, your pointer finger is the only finger that truly points straight ahead on your hand when your hand is extended straight out. Using this method has really aided players who miss a lot left and right. 

As you can see in the video, Bryant is clearly pinching his thumb and pointer finger together in the clip as he follows through. 

The Feet
This was a huge contradiction to EVERYTHING I had ever been taught. I have never heard a coach tell a player to unsquare his feet, but here was this guy doing just that! At first I was very hesitant because it just seemed wrong. But what sold me on it was the demonstration he did with the alignment of the shoulder in this video.

As you can see it's about squaring the shoulder and the hip, NOT the feet. As he says in his clinic, look at every sport where you aim - darts, baseball, shooting guns, no one square their feet to aim in those sports so why are we squaring our feet to aim in basketball? After that I was sold and will not tell another players to square their feet again. We will work on squaring our hip and shoulder to the basket instead of our feet.

The Sway
When great shooters shoot, they jump forward a little bit and keep their shoulders slightly back in a swaying motion. Below is a video that illustrates this movement. 

Reasons for Missing
Another amazing piece of the puzzle is why players miss - and it's not why you think. Most coaches would say that players who miss short don't use enough leg, but that's not true either. Both the video below, and this article by Brian McCormick explain that it's not the legs, it's balance, shoulder tension, and how high you release the ball.

In Closing

In closing I would like to say that while it may be easy to write this off, I would encourage you to take a hard, critical look at the ideas:
  • Is the pointer finger the only finger that points straight when you extend your arm straight out with palm down? 
    • Yes, it is. So that means it's the finger you want pushing the ball the most if the ball is going to go straight ahead. 
  • Does your arm, when held straight out, line up with the front of the rim when your feet are squared up?
    • No. So you need to turn your feet and hips to line your hip and shoulder up with the basket.
  • Do your legs really give you a lot more power?
    • No. Try it sometime, they don't really help in the shooting process as much as we think they do. It's more about balance and relaxation.

Last year a player I have worked with took 1800 shots in the offseason as was still a poor in season shooter. Does this sound familiar? Does it seem like some players are just "born" good shooters? Well the truth is it's a coaching issue. If a player is a good shooter we usually leave him alone right? We don't correct the feet or whatever we see as the flaw, correct? So a good shooter is shooting this way and we are letting him because shots go in. We take a poor shooter and try to "correct" him by squaring his feet, etc and he still doesn't make shots. We assume it's because he hasn't shot it enough, or he is a poor shooter, but the truth is it's because he's not shooting the ball in a natural way.

This player that I mentioned above was missing a lot of shots to the right (right handed). He had great feet that were squared to the rim every time, as were his shoulders. I would venture he missed right because his shooting arm was not lined up with the rim. Since he has started turning his hips and pinching on his shot, his shooing has improved greatly. 

I would like to extend a sincere thanks to coach Doug Linton of New Life Academy for inviting me to the clinic! He is having one at his place this week and I am trying to get as many of our guys as I can to show up!

****Note: Just to clarify, I am getting nothing from Pro Shot for this blog post. I just believe that the system works and want to share it with everyone. I would recommend that you bring in Coach Hoover and have him work with your players. It would be well worth the investment!


אוראל said...

do u know players \ coached players that are great shooters and using the finger technique? u know players that have consistency with it? u think its a good release?
thanks for your answers!

Bubba O said...

When you shoot the pistol you do square your feet (see isosceles stance). Same with shooting shotguns and rifles while wearing body armor- you square up to the target to quickly acquire the target at close ranges. You cannot compare them to shooting the basketball.