BY BRIAN MCCORMICK
One of the most untaught skills, and one skill going by the wayside because kids rarely playpick-up ball, is making shots. Creativity is coached and drilled right out of players. Steve Nash is a revelation because of his imagination; where other players utilize athleticism to jump and create in the air, Nash creates and makes seemingly impossible shots from all angles with either hand. He possesses a fundamental base-- the ability to use either hand-but its effectiveness is heightened by his creativity, an untaught skill left undeveloped by many players.
In most practices and pregame routines, players practice the perfect shot; they go at a comfortable pace at an optimal angle and make shots unchallenged. However, rarely, if ever, does a player shoot one of these shots in a game. Shooting game shots at game spots at game speeds is a great mantra to preach, but its transfer is never one-hundred percent as games add unpredictability unequaled in even the most game-like drills and practices. Nash did not develop his shots in a gym by himself; he developed his unique shots in one-on-one games against Dirk Nowitski during their early years in Dallas. Mastering such moves and shots requires a live defender, a game-like, competitive atmosphere, and anything short fails to excite the player's imagination and creativity to game-like levels, leaving players unprepared when the perfect, straight-ahead lay-up is eliminated by a help defender.
While learning one's own moves and shots is optimal, here are some moves/shots I use to teach ball handling and finishing with players, and which can be transferred to games if players choose. While Americans occasionally marvel at the shot-making ability of International players, one reason is European players do not do drills without ending with a shot; ball handling, passing, and on-court conditioning drills lead to a shot, not a run from baseline to baseline.
In my "Pro Moves Series," which I use when training high school players, I combine double and triple moves with these finishes to incorporate ball-handling practice with the finishing work. My Pro Moves Series utilizes shots popularized by Tony Parker and Steve Nash, smallish players who are able to finish in the key. Other players use these shots, but using a player's name helps players identify the shot, motivates players to try something that otherwise may seem unorthodox, and gives players an opportunity to watch for the shots when watching games on television.
STEVE NASH RUNNER
The "Runner" is easier than most believe. Essentially it is a jump shot off one foot rather than two. When an offensive player has a defender on his back hip, he does not always have time to pull-up and shoot. Therefore, he may utilize the runner to shoot successfully. As with any shot, the shooter must get balanced before he shoots and must square to the basket; run into the shot by jumping off one foot, in stride, and floating into the shot. Shoot the ball high, as most player miss short because they fail to shoot up, pushing the ball at the basket instead.
STEVE NASH NO JUMP EXTENSION LAY-UP
TONY PARKER FLOATER
TONY PARKER INSIDE-HAND LAY-UP
While growing up, my coaches drilled the phrase "left
hand on the left side" repeatedly into our heads, demanding we shoot
the ball with our outside hand every time, seeing anything else as a weakness,
a deficiency to be corrected. While the ability to use both hands is essential
to finishing around the basket, circumstances dictate which hand to use.
The Inside-Hand Lay-up is used by Parker to get a bigger defender on his
back and then extend to the basket, protecting the ball with his back.
Imagine Parker using a high on-ball screen on the left wing, driving to
the middle of the floor, from left-to-right with his right hand. He turns
the corner into the lane and as he approaches the basket, sees Shaq in
his way. Parker glides by Shaq to the left side of the basket, turning
his back to Shaq and finishes with his right hand, extending the ball
away from Shaq, providing enough space and protection for him to get the
ball on the glass and draw the foul.
Another shot frequently used by Parker is the up-and-under, which is the same shot used by post players and typically referred to as the Kevin McHale Move. As Parker drives from right to left, he stops with a quick stride stop (right-left) and shows the ball. Once the defense elevates, he steps through with his left foot, putting the defender on his back, and shoots.
STEVE NASH HOOK
Another way to finish close to the basket is a hook shot. Against a bigger player, the up and under move may not work, as a smart defender will not jump when he has a significant height advantage. Therefore, the offensive player must create space for his shot and a hook is one way. As Nash drives from right to left, he stops with a stride stop (right-left). As he does, he shows the ball high to freeze the defense; he makes a quarter-turn reverse pivot on his right foot, steps to his left foot and shoots the hook, using the width of his body to protect the ball. By stepping away from the defense and shooting the hook, the offensive player actually creates the space of two and a half times the width of his body for the shot, enabling a player like Steve Nash to shoot over a seven-footer like Dirk Nowitski.
These are just a few shots small NBA players use to finish in amongst the seven-footers. These moves give young players a starting point and a reference as they build their own repertoire of indefensible shots through the use of their own imagination.
Reprinted by permission of BASKETBALL SENSE (The Magazine for Winning Coaches - www.basketballsense.com) McCormick is a basketball trainer in California: email@example.com.