A COMMON PROBLEM WITH SHOOTING
Shooting remains one of the most difficult
fundamentals for coaches at all levels to teach, with so many small components
potentially affecting a player's accuracy and consistency.
Every coach has their "pet" areas to concentrate on with jump
shooting and different coaches will focus on different aspects of the
preparation, footwork, hand position, arm action and follow through.
One of the biggest problems I have seen in recent times is the practice
of placing the ball before the shooters eyes prior to commencing the shooting
action. Just as with many technical "hitches", this practice
has a "domino effect" on the rest of the shooting movement and
will have an immediate and negative affect on the shot.
"Start the shot looking over the ball, finish the shot looking
under the ball." This little mantra is one of the most poignant
pieces of teaching jargon in a sport full of sayings and jargon. What
it does is sum up the importance of identifying the basket prior to the
shot and ensuring a nice high point of release.
A common problem with junior players is they tend to bring the ball to
a position in front of their eyes prior to commencing the shooting movement.
This may come in one of two forms:
- As a "starter mechanism" in the shot, with players bringing
the ball from the triple threat position, to their eyes and then into
the shot. The shooting motion should be fluid, not 3 "parts".
- At the start of the shot, with players bringing the ball immediately
to a position in front of their eyes on the catch. Both these habits have
an adverse affect on the shot and make it very difficult to gain any consistency
and also create problems for other aspects of individual offense.
What affect does placing the ball in front of the face/eyes have? Often
the best way for a coach to identify the effects a shooting "hitch" has on the shot is to try it out - grab a ball and shoot the ball in this
way. What does it do? Does it push the elbow out, does it make the shot
flat, and does it pull the head back? If you can physically identify the
problems, you will be in a better position to teach and correct the fault
The great thing about the way we teach shooting now, as opposed to the
old two-hand set shot, is that there is always "cause and affect"
with jump shooting the ball. The ball is short, there is a reason, the
ball is flat, there is a reason - in essence, the one handed jump shot
has an in-built "check-list".
By placing the ball in front of the face/eyes prior to the shooting, the
following problems can occur -
- The player can't see the basket "through the ball", so the
natural body movement will be to adjust the head to see the basket. This
is often the cause of players throwing their head back on the point of
release. By pulling the head back, the shot will more than likely be short
- The player can't see the basket "through the ball", so the
player may shift the ball across their body slightly, thus affecting the
desired straight line from the shooting foot, elbow and the basketball.
- The player can't see the basket "through the ball", so they
shift the ball slightly to a position "on their shoulder" to
shoot the ball. This again throws out the desired alignment.
- The elbow on the shooting arm will often creep out if the ball is front
of the eyes
- If a player has this habit, the shot fake will be rendered almost useless
and the concept of "triple threat" will be eliminated. If a
player has the ball in front of their eyes, there are not a lot of options.
Junior players often shoot the ball "flat",
not giving the ball enough arc to increase the opportunity for the ball
to go through the basket. In teaching shooting, we should talk about shooting
the ball "IN" the basket, not "AT" the basket. If
you have players who shoot the ball consistently flat, have a look where
the ball is positioned prior to the shooting movement. More often than
not, it will be in front of the eyes, resulting in the body adjusting
accordingly and causing inconsistency.
How To Start Correcting This Common Problem -
Breakdown through form shooting is always the best practice in correcting
faults in a player's shooting technique. One technique is to position
the player 1 metre from the basket, with the coach standing adjacent with
the basketball. The coach drops the ball, so the shooter has to go down
into shooting stance to get it. On receiving the ball, the shooter identifies
the basket looking "over the ball", then rises up and shoots
the ball, finishing the shot looking "under the ball". The coach
can immediately identify in this controlled setting if a player is bringing
the ball in front of the face/eyes prior to shooting and correct.
Another technique is to have the player positioned facing the basket around
1.5 metres away with the ball in the triple threat or "ready"
position, looking at the rim "over the ball".
On the coach's command ("shoot" or "pull"), the shooter
immediately shoots the ball in one fluid action. Again, the coach will
be able to see immediately if the shooter brings the ball in front of
the eyes prior to the shooting action.
Another terrific technique is a somewhat different take on the 3 player,
2 ball shooting drill we all use. Have the shooter stand about 1 metre
from the rim, with a passer standing next to the shooter and a rebounder
under the rim. The shooter maintains his eyes at the rim the whole time,
while the passer places the ball in their hands prior to the shot. The
shooter does not even have to take his eyes off the rim to receive the
pass, as the ball is given directly to him. This "overloads"
the concept of starting the shot looking at the rim "over the ball" and works consistency of follow through at the same time. Once the fault
has been corrected in the controlled setting, allow the player to shoot
the ball after receiving a pass on the move or in some other form of drill.
This will see if any changes have been made to the mechanics of the shot
in a less controlled setting.
Placing the ball in front of the eyes is often a habit of players who
shoot the ball from a very "square" stance. That is, with their
feet basically in alignment, rather than having the shooting foot slightly
forward. The adjustment may be as easy as pointing out the need to have
the shooting foot forward. By positioning the shooting foot forward, players
will often find it easier to establish that straight line from the toe,
through the knee, to the elbow and then the basketball.
As with any change or correction, it will take time to make the change
a permanent one and there will no doubt be some short-term pain for the
long-term gain. But as coach, that is our charter and there is little
more satisfying than to see a player improve their shooting form, consistency
and success through these minor adjustments.
Article reprinted with permission from the February 2005 Bushranger Bulletin
Thanks to Peter Lonergan and Marty Handson.