Article on selecting Team Defense by Glenn Wilkes

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WHY DO YOU COACH?

   by Mike Batell

                  **A warning to all of the offensive and defensive geniuses out there - this article does not   have any

                  diagrams. There will be no Xs, and there will be no Os. Instead, I hope to take my fellow coaches
                  beyond basketball strategy to what is truly important about coaching this game we all love. 

                  I'd like to pose the following question to the reader: Why do you coach? If your answer is somewhere
                  along the lines of money, prestige, fame, power, or control, I ask that you re-analyze your answer after
                  reading this article. 

                  When I am asked this question, I instinctively respond "Because I love coaching." However, the whole
                  answer is much deeper than that. While I certainly enjoy the excitement of competition and the thrill of
                  winning a nail-biter against a conference rival, basketball is about much more than winning and losing
                  games. I coach because I feel that -- through basketball -- I can teach my players life lessons. 

                  First of all, I teach my players about the often overlooked importance of finding a lifelong dream. They are
                  encouraged to discover a pursuit which they can pour their hearts into. In a sense, I suggest that they
                  become "dreamers." By choosing a vision of their own futures at a young age, they acquire confidence and
                  endurance -- virtues necessary to ride out the turbulence of life. 

                  Secondly, my players are taught that, in order to achieve their dreams, they will have to persevere through
                  the toughest of adversities, the lowest of lows. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." These are the
                  inspirational words of a true hero, Jim Valvano, who died after a courageous battle with cancer in 1993 --
                  just ten years after leading the NC State Wolfpack to an "impossible" NCAA Championship. 

                  Next, I underline the value of an education. Far too often, kids are pressured into sacrificing academics for
                  athletics. Priorities must not only be set, but also faithfully adhered. Through the combination of education
                  and dreams/goals, a coach has the ability to open up opportunities for kids, which they themselves would
                  have never imagined to be available. 

                  The importance of family can also be emphasized. Obviously, when people hear the word "family," the first
                  thoughts that come to mind are "Mom, Dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa." But a basketball team can
                  also constitute a sort of "second family." In fact, many of our athletes come from a background that lacks a
                  strong family atmosphere or father-figure. A cohesive basketball team shares many traits of a family: strong
                  bonds, respect, sacrifice, the ability to work through arguments, and the compassion to provide guidance
                  when confronting problems. 

                  A coach must continuously demonstrate concern for his players. As Mike Krzyzewski writes, "If we do all
                  we can in showing concern for our players, we will be rewarded by seeing our players develop as people
                  while they are developing as players." My players are reminded throughout the season that I am always
                  available to talk with them, whether it relates to issues regarding basketball or not. Even if it's 3 o'clock in
                  the morning, my phone is always on the hook. Dean Smith takes great pride in the fact that past players
                  frequently seek his advice when confronted with life's crucial decisions. A coach should strive to establish
                  relationships with his players that transcend the basketball court. 

                  Through enthusiasm, my players are encouraged to add electricity, excitement, and flavor to every aspect
                  of their lives. As Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed, "Nothing great has ever been accomplished without
                  enthusiasm." Enthusiasm can be seen through laughter, through a spirited voice, or through passion in one's
                  eyes. 

                  Finally, I teach my players that there is much more to life than basketball. This fact was tragically brought
                  to our attention when the younger brother of one of my players was killed in a car accident while traveling
                  to a tournament championship game. But it was through this tragic event that I saw how truly special my
                  players are. The amount of care and concern that they showed for their grieving teammate was
                  remarkable. Possibly the single most important thing I have ever done in my life was to help that young
                  man through that critical period in his life.....…Why do I coach? That is why I coach. 
 
 

                  Mike Batell is the head coach of the men's basketball program at Drew College Preparatory School
                  in San Francisco, California. The Drew College Preparatory School is a member of the Bay Area
                  Conference. 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

REBOUNDING

BY

Glenn Wilkes
Former Head Basketball Coach
Stetson University

The team that controls the boards wins the majority of their games! Control of the boards reduces the number of shots taken by the opponents and increases the number of shot attempts by the good rebounding team. It also increases the number of fast break opportunities. 
Though a great deal of rebounding is dependent on the size of a team, size alone does not result in backboard control. Through diligent work in practice, techniques must be developed that lead to successful rebounding on both the offensive and defensive boards.

DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING

The defensive rebounder must maintain a position between the opponent and the basket. This position is commonly called "blocking out" or "screening off" the boards.
As a shot is taken, the defensive player steps forward and pivots so that his rear and back make immediate contact with the assigned opponent. Since the rebounder has only one or two seconds before having to find the ball, it is important to quickly establish a position to enable "feel" of the opponent with the body and to be able to use a slide step to keep the body between the opponent and the basket. The elbows in this position are wide and almost parallel with the shoulders. They are held firm so that the offensive player cannot get by to get at the ball. The feet are slightly wider than shoulder width. The combination of wide feet and wide, strong elbows presents as big an obstacle as possible to the offensive player. The defensive player's body should be crouched with the knees bent, ready to spring upward for the ball. The head is erect and the eyes are focused on the ball.
As the rebound comes off the board, the defender leaps into the air with elbows wide and body in a slight jack-knife position. The jack-knife movement of the body throws the rear of the body backward and keeps the opponent off the defender's back. The defensive rebounder grabs the ball firmly with both hands and keeps it moving to prevent the opponent from gaining possession or a jump ball. Care must be taken not to move the elbows back and forth, since this is a violation and results in loss of the ball.

OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING

The offensive rebounder faces the defensive player's efforts to screen him off the boards. Realizing that the defender will turn into his path, the offensive player must attempt to get through to the basket by using quick fakes and changes of direction. The offensive player fakes left, goes right; fakes right, goes left; fakes right, left, goes right, and so on, in an effort to avoid defensive blockout. However, fakes must be done quickly, for only seconds exist between the shot attempt and the rebound. The offensive rebounder who hustles toward the boards using clever fakes is difficult to block out.
The offensive player must not allow the defensive player to "feel" him with the back or elbows, or the defender will be able to slide with any change of direction that is made. If the offensive player senses the slight contact with the opponent's back that allows the opponent to "feel" him, he should step backward, then fake and cut around the blockout.
If the offensive player succeeds in getting by the blockout, he crouches with knees bent, enabling a quick spring into the air for the rebound. If the rebound is close to the goal, he may use a one-hand tip to attempt a quick score. The tip is executed with widely spread fingers and a forward movement of the wrists. The ball is controlled and guided toward the basket, not batted. If the rebound is not close enough to the basket for a tip, the ball should be caught with two hands. The rebounder returns to the floor, uses a ball fake to get the opponent into the air, then goes back up for a strong shot attempt. Such an attempt often results in a foul on the opponent and can turn the rebound into the devastating three-point play.
Hustle, effort, strength, quick jumping, and aggressiveness all go into making a good offensive rebounder. But the most important quality possessed by great offensive rebounders is anticipation. Great rebounders pass the ball, or watch a teammate pass the ball to an open shooter, then anticipate that the shot will go up. They immediately move into offensive rebounding position before the shot goes up! If the shot does go up, they often have inside position. If it does not go up, they move back out into the offensive flow.

DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING SUGGESTIONS

1. Each defensive player must block his opponent off the board.
2. Use a front pivot to step into the opponent to make contact.
3. The body should be crouched with arms held wide to present an obstacle to the offensive player and to be ready to go for the rebound.
4. Grab the ball firmly with both hands to prevent an opponent from slapping it out.
5. Use a wide-spread body position to protect the ball as it is rebounded.
6. Keep the ball moving to prevent a jump ball.
7. Pass the ball away from the congested area of the basket as soon as possible. More fast break attempts occur with quick outlet passes.
8. Do not get pushed too far under the basket.

OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING SUGGESTIONS

1. Use fakes and quick changes of direction to get around a defensive 
blockout.
2. Be aggressive. The hustling offensive player is difficult to screen off the 
boards.
3, Anticipate a shot by a teammate.
4. Attempt a tip-in if the rebound is near the basket.
5. Catch the ball with two hands if it rebounds away from the basket. 
6. Know offensive and defensive responsibilities. Don't crash the board if no one is back for defensive balance.
7. Don't foul the defensive rebounder as he comes down with the ball. His basket is 90 feet away-such a foul is foolish.
If you are the nearest player, press the rebounder to prevent him from making an easy pass-out to a teamm
 
 




























   

PREPARING FOR THE END OF GAMES
By
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS BASKETBALL
Rick Barnes, Head Coach

 As tournament time approaches close games become a way of life for coaches                         and teams on all levels. Successful teams are prepared for end of the game situations. It is often this five or ten minutes a day which coaches spend on end of the game situations that makes the difference between a district title, a berth in the state tournament or a disappointing trip home.

 It is very important to not assume that your players know what to do! Try to work on special situations every day.

 Here are some questions all coaches should ask themselves. The answers will vary according to your personal philosophy and your team’s strengths.

· In a tie game, would you ever foul to get the last possession?

· Do you push the ball and play or call a timeout to set up the last shot?

· Is your team prepared to deny the ball to one great foul shooter?

· How do you intentionally miss a free throw?

· With a three-point lead, do you foul before a three-point shot is taken?

· Do your players know when to foul?

· Do you have a sign or call so your players know to foul without alerting
the other team?

· Do you have visual signs for all of your players to ensure communication
In loud environments where verbal calls may not be heard?

· When do you start taking 3’s in order to catch up? Do you have a hurry-
up offense designed to get you quality shots in less time?

· Do you save your timeouts or do you use them early to keep your kids in
The game?
   
· Do you have your list of special situation plays on the bench with you so
You can refer to them in pressure situations?
 

.........Thanks to the University of Texas for sending this article to Basketballs Best.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

SELECTING AND TEACHING
TEAM DEFENSE

By

GLENN WILKES, PRESIDENT
BASKETBALL’S BEST
FORMER HEAD COACH, STETSON UNIVERSITY

 The importance of sound team defensive play to championship basketball cannot be over emphasized. Good team defense can bring a victory when the offense is having the inevitable “off” night. In fact, the major difference between the averagebasketball team and those who enter the winner’s circle at the end of a tournament lies in the ability to play defense.
 Few coaches would argue against the tremendous importance of team defense, but failure to emphasize team defense and to teach it properly is prevalent in basketball coaching.  If I could emphasize only one point to the inexperienced coach, it would be the value of team defense and the role of the coach in its achievement.
 Players need little coaching to play offense, the fun part of the game. Few players, however, like to play defense, and most will not do so unless properly guided by an enthusiastic coach who teaches them the value of defense, using sound teaching techniques to help them master the defensive part of the game.
 The building of a whole team defense begins with selecting the defensive maneuvers to be used for the season, and it includes a schedule of adequate practice time to develop these defenses. A coach may select a sagging type of man-for-man defense for the basic team defense, yet there will be times when a pressing defense is needed. A zone defense may be chosen as the basic defense, but again provision must be made for the pressing situation. The team that uses the man-for-man as its basic defense may want to learn a zone for use in special situations, such as when opposing a high-scoring center or when facing a weak outside shooting team. Thus, more than one team defense is needed for a season of play. Select these defenses in advance and make practice plans accordingly.

SELECTION OF THE DEFENSE

 Several factors are involved in selecting defenses to be used during the 
season:

1. The defensive philosophy and knowledge of the coach.                          2. The defensive ability of the players.                                                       3. The type of competition to be faced.  . 

The coach’s defensive philosophy is tremendously important  in
selecting team defenses. If, for example, the coach’s philosophy centers around a belief in aggressive man-for-man play, the coach may find it difficult to generate sufficient enthusiasm for teaching a zone defense even though the type of 
players he has available may dictate it.

 The defensive ability of players on hand is certainly an important factor to be considered. A team of tall, slow players may find zone defense more effective than a man-for-man. A zone may also be more suitable for the smaller team that needs rebounding strength. The team with fast, medium-sized players may be able to gain more advantage from a man-for-man defense.

 Not to be forgotten in the selection of a defense is the type of competition to be faced. As a general rule, the better the competition, the less likely a zone defense will be successful. Fewer college teams play zone defenses than do high school teams because college shooters are usually more proficient, and a man-for-man defense can be more successful. Fewer zones are played by the larger high schools than by the smaller ones, mainly because larger high schools face similar schools with a higher probability of better shooters. Smaller high schools have fewer players to choose from, and teams use zones more often to make use of their personnel as best they can. Thus, the success of zone defenses is closely related to the type of competition to be faced.

TEAM DEFENSIVE ESSENTIALS

 Many types of team defenses are used in modern basketbll. Various types of man-for-man and zone defenses exist, and combinations of both are seen often. Regardless of the type of defense a team may use, certain essentials are necessary for success.

1. Team members must have a desire to play defense.
2. All team members must use correct defensive stance and footwork.
3. All team members must maintain correct positioning.
4. Team members must talk to one another to be able to combat the variety of possible offensive situations.
5. Establish definite responsibilities and techniques for meeting the various types of possible offensive maneuvers.
6. Make definite rebounding assignments.

DESIRE

 Team members must have a desire to play defense. Because of the nature of the game and the tremendous amount of publicity and public favor given to high scorers, most players prefer to play offense. The coach’s job is to sell  the importance of playing defense to the team and to instill in them the desire to play defense. 

 Defense can be the great equalizer. When the offense is having a bad night—and this will invariably happen—good, sound defense can produce a victory. But good defense cannot be played unless team members want to do it. The idea of letting the other team shoot so that you can get the ball for a scoring attempt results in a long, dreary winter. The worst method of getting the ball is by taking it out of the opponent’s basket! 

 If a coach stresses defense at least on an equal basis with offense in practice sessions, if a coach cites outstanding defensive performances to the press, if awards at the end of the season include awards for best defensive players as well as offensive players, and if a coach distributes praise regularly to the good defensive players, then the desire to play defense can be instilled, and the seeds that are a prerequisite to a solid team defense can be sown.

CORRECT DEFENSIVE STANCE AND FOOTWORK

 All team members must use correct defensive stance and footwork. The player who stands erect in guarding an opponent or who uses incorrect footwork seldom does a good defensive job. Since a good team defense is dependent on not one or two players but on five working as a coordinated unit, improper stance or footwork by any one of the five can greatly reduce the effectiveness of the team defense.

CORRECT POSITIONING

 In addition to good stance and footwork, team members must maintain 
correct positioning. A player cannot expect to defend an opponent unless he or she maintains proper floor position. In man-for-man defenses, this means that the player is usually between the respective opponent and the basket. If the opponent breaks into the area near the basket, the defensive player must play between the opponent and the ball to prevent the opponent from receiving the ball in such a dangerous scoring position. If the team defense is a zone, each player must be in the proper floor position in the zone and must make the proper shifts with the movement of the ball. An incorrect shift results in improper position and a weakness in the team defense. One player out of position can nullify the work of four other players and weaken an otherwise sound team defense.

TALK

 It is extremely important that team members talk to one another to be able to combat the variety of possible offensive situations. Talk is a valuable asset to a good team defense. The player who does not yell out to teammates to warn them of special situations impairs the effectiveness of the team defense, even though he or she may be a good individual defensive player. Calls such as “watch the screen”, “screen left”, “switch”, “stay”, “rebound”, and “slide through” are a few of many calls needed to insure correct defensive action for the variety of offensive screens and maneuvers that a team will face.

 This defensive talk is not something that happens automatically; in fact, it is one of the more difficult facets of team defense to achieve. Coaches must require this defensive talk and should include practice drills in which players must yell out the proper defensive terms. Players who do not talk on defense must be penalized.

TECHNIQUES FOR MEETING VARIOUS MANEUVERS

 Establish definite responsibilities and techniques for meeting the various types of offensive maneuvers. A good team defense is prepared to meet all types of offensive formations, whether it be a single post, a double post, or another offense. Player must be shown how the coach wants to defend the offensive maneuvers that go toward making up the opponent’s offense. Work on the practice floor allows team members to get to know any adjustments in the team defense that may be needed for each formation. 

 Definite defensive techniques must be practiced for meeting the various types of screens and other offensive plays. These techniques must be developed on the practice floor and cannot be left to chance during the game. Players who switch on a screen one time and then “slide through” on the identical screen the next have not mastered these defensive techniques, which are absolutely essential to a sound team defense.

REBOUNDING ASSIGNMENTS

 The coach must make definite rebounding assignments. These assignments begin as an opponent begins to take a shot. If the defense is a man-for-man, each defender must screen, or box out, the opponent to get between the opponent and the basket. Failure to do this by any one member of the defense can result in an easy basket for the opponent. Correct blockout techniques usually bring three rebounders into the vicinity of the basket for the short rebound and two rebounders outside in a position to grab the long rebound. If the defense is a zone, players must be certain of rebounding areas and must attempt blockouts of opponents in their respective areas.
 
 






SCOUTING
by

RICK WALROND
ASSISTANT BASKETBALL COACH
BETHUNE COOKMAN COLLEGE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU SCOUT

Scouting has become a vital part of winning basketball today. Coaches are investing time and energy watching video tape and scouting their opponents. This article will help your scouting process by making scouting more organized and less complicated. All coaches scout in some form or another, but very few scout effectively. If you are prepared and know what to look for, you can help your team win games.

Some coaches ask the question, "Why scout?" There are several important reasons for scouting. 

1. To prepare your team for every situation that may occur in a game.
2. Scouting may give you the "edge" you need to win.
3. Scouting breeds confidence. Players gain confidence in their coaches, and also gain confidence that their team is prepared to win.
4. Scouting gives you a peace of mind going into a game. It gives you the feeling that your staff has done all it could possibly have done to get ready for the game.

I. GUIDELINES FOR SCOUTING

    A. PREPARATION

    1. Scouting preparation can't be overemphasized. It is probably the most overlooked aspect of scouting.
    2. As a coach, you must know your opponent, inside and out. Know what they do and how they make adjustments. 
    3. Analyze tapes of the team you are going to scout. Have a feel for their personnel, offenses, and defenses before scouting them in person.
    4. Acquire records, scouting reports, statistics, schedules, articles, and video tapes on each of your opponents.
    5. Check old scouting reports for additional information.
    6. Prepare yourself for instant recognition of situations that will occur on the floor.
    7. Use current statistics to analyze the team you are scouting. Watch players in action and compare their performance to their statistics.
    8. Prior to the game you are scouting, jot down important notes on your scouting worksheets.
    9. If you are an assistant coach, know what your head coaches scouting priorities are.
   10.Make sure you have all needed working materials. (Pencils, worksheets, clipboard, extra paper and diagram pads).
   11.Fellow coaches are also a valuable source of information. Don't be afraid to call them up for information and be willing to share information yourself.

B. WHAT TO LOOK FOR

     1. OFFENSE

          Jot down the various sets and patterns. Also look for out of bounds plays, last second plays, set plays and special situation plays.

          Offensive Questions

          A. What side of the floor do they initiate the offense?
          B.  Describe their offensive tempo. Are they pushing it up, or walking it up? Do they want to run?
          C. Do they fast break? Is it a middle, sideline, or numbered break? Does the point guard handle the ball every time? Where does he catch the outlet pass to start the break?
          D. Shot selection. Do they take good shots, and where do they get their shots from?
          E. Do they get the ball inside? Do they score inside, or do they get it inside just to set up their perimeter game?
          F. Do they hit the offensive boards? How many do they send to the boards?
          G. Do they penetrate to score or penetrate to pass? Do they penetrate at all?
          H. Do they have a "money player" that they will go to when they need a basket or at the end of the game or half?
          I. As yourself, "What are they trying to accomplish on offense?"
          J. Are they patient on offense? Will they wait until they get a high percentage shot before they shoot?
          K. Do they set up or do they ran a continuity offense?
          L. How do they attack the zone?
          M. Who are their shooters, passers, penetrators, and rebounders?
          N. Does one of the guards run the offense? What can we do to force them out of their game?
          O. How do they attack zone pressure? Who handles the ball for them? Are they hiding players on offense? Diagram their initial set and how they attack.
          P. Do they run an early offense at the end of their break? If so, is it successful or not? Diagram the early offense if they have one.

      2. DEFENSE

          Defensive Questions

          A. What kind of defense they do play? How do they set up?
          B. How do they play man-to-man defense? (Pressure and denial, sagging, or switching.
          C. How do they defend the post? Do they let the ball come inside?
          D. How is their weakside defense? Are they in help position?
          E. Do they check cutters through the lane?
          F. Are their any "ball watchers" on defense?
          G. How do they play screens. Do they switch or fight through them?
          H. Do they communicate on defense?
           I.  Do they switch defenses after made field goals or free throws, or after time outs?
           J. Where does their defense start? (Full court, 3/4 court, half court or top of the key?
           K. How do they defend the wing entry pass? Do they pressure the wing pass or let you have it?
           L. How do they react to post feeds? Do they collapse, play half way off their man, or do nothing?
          M. Can we lob to the post against them, or do they have help?
          N. Who is their weakest/strongest defensive guard? Defensive forward? Post player?
          O. Can we fastbreak against them? Do they get back and cover up quickly?
          P. How do they rebound defensively? Do they block out well?
          Q. How is their offside defensive rebounding?
          R. Who can we penetrate against? Is there a weak link?
          S. Do they go for shot and pass fakes?
          T. Do they use full court pressure? Man-to-man or zone? What are they trying to do with full court pressure? (Trap, slow down the offense, change the tempo, or force turnovers.)
          U. How do they defend out of bounds plays? Do they play man-to-man or zone?

C.  INDIVIDUAL PLAYER CHARACTERISTICS

          A. Check each player for strengths and weaknesses.
          B. Check for quickness, speed, aggressiveness, shooting, ball-handling, and passing ability.
          C. Is he a team player or is he looking to do it for himself? Does he communicate, help and recover, or pass to open teammates?
          D. Is he an intense player? Or does he look to rest on defense? Can  we beat him when he's tired? Can we run and beat him down the floor?
          E. Is he a body checker? Is he physical? Can we wear him down and muscle him?
          F. Check for shooting range of each player. Will he take the big shot or just stay within his own limits.
          G. How does he react to pressure? Can we force individuals or their whole team out of their game with pressure?
          H. Is he foul prone?
           I. Does he go to the boards hard or not? Doe he go to the offensive, defensive, or both?
          J. What kind of player is he away from the ball? On offense or defense does he play away from the ball?

D. GENERAL REMINDERS

          1. Remember, be prepared before you scout a game. It will make scouting easier, and will yield a more accurate report.
          2. Divide your time and be analytical. Don't spend time writing down useless information.
          3. Don't jump to conclusions. Keep watching for patterns and be patient.
          4. Devise your own terminology. This will save you time writing and allow more time for watching.
          5. Notice little things like the initial jump ball alignment, special plays at the end of a quarter or half, and substitution patterns. Who throws the ball inbounds on each out of bounds play? Why? Do they face guard the ball in full court pressure or do they double team a guard? How many players crash the boards?
          6. When scouting, call ahead to confirm day, time, and location of the game.
          7. Try to take someone with you to keep a shot chart or individual tendencies.
          8. Use a mini tape recorder to record information before, during, and after the game.
          9. Write down important thoughts after the game while they are still fresh in your mind.
         10. Always pay close attention to substitution patterns. When do they substitute and why? Are they trying to hide certain players?
         11. Train scouts who are willing to help you out. Get a regular scout who can scout for you on the nights you play.
         12. Maintain a good scouting file. It will be beneficial to you down the road.
         13. Develop a scouting worksheet form that is concise and workable for you.
         14. Establish your points of emphasis. What is important to know about your opponent.
         15. Determine what information your players need to know. Not nearly as much as the coaches. Keep it simple for the players.
         16. Use psychology and motivate players through scouting reports.
         17. When presenting information to players, keep it positive. "We will win if we.......". Build up respect, not fear.
         18. Follow up is extremely important. Make notes following every game. Alter your scouting report while it is fresh in your mind.
         19. It can be helpful to have someone scout your team for you. What are your weaknesses/strengths? What are you trying to accomplish on offense and defense?
         20. Be careful and spend time on your finished product. It should be a work of art. Keep it simple and to the point. Use it properly and you will win the close games.

                                                   END


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ORGANIZING YOUR PRACTICE TIME

                                  PREPARE FOR SUCCESS

                                                        by

                                         RICK WALROND
                       ASSISTANT BASKETBALL COACH
                        BETHUNE COOKMAN COLLEGE
                                  DAYTONA BEACH, FL

 Time on the floor with your players is very valuable. Much time and thought should be put into each practice session. The quality of your practices will eventually determine how many games you win or lose during the season. Talent level of players, number of players, time, facilities, and equipment are all things to consider when putting your practice schedule together.

 The following is a collection of ideas that will contribute to more organized and productive practice sessions.

PRACTICE CONSIDERATIONS

1.  Each day ask this question: What do I want to accomplish this practice session?

2. Certain aspects of the game should be performed every day: (i.e. - ball handling, shooting, defense, rebounding, 
    passing, setting picks, etc.)

3. Be a teacher on the floor and assume nothing when teaching. These four points are important when teaching:                                                 explain, demonstrate, perform, critique. Use positive comments.

4. Teach new concepts early in practice sessions when players are most alert.

5. Once new ideas have been taught, repetition is the key.

6. When showing a new concept to the team, walk through it first so players can see what is expected. (Whole-part-whole concept).

7. Follow demanding drills with free throws or less demanding drills. Shoot free throws when tired.

8. Simulate game conditions in practice so players are accustomed to these conditions. Use the game and shot clock to simulate various game situations.

9. Practice what you stress and believe in. Work on those things you will use in games.

10.Build conditioning into your drills to avoid excessive running after practice. Don't make players dread the end of practice.

11.Limit drills to 5-6 minutes. Half and full court team situations will take longer.

12.Explain the purpose of drills. Let them in on the "why" of what you're doing.

13.Organize drills so that players aren't standing around. Keep them constantly involved.

14.Stretching and warm-up drills should get players ready to practice and help avoid injury.

15. Meet with certain players before practice for needed individual or small group work.

16.Meet with your coaches before practice so that all teaching points and practice goals are understood.

17. Meet as a staff following practice to discuss how the practice went and things that need to be worked on the next day.

18.Construct a master plan of everything that needs to be covered throughout the course of the season. Break the master plan down into weekly and daily practice plans.

19.Consider number of players, balls, and baskets in order to utilize your facility to its fullest.

20.Use managers or student assistants as "helpers" in practice. Managers make great passers in practice.

21.Incorporate jump ropes, toss-backs and blocking dummies into your practice.

22.Managers should sweep the floor before practice and have towels and water at courtside.

23.Use videotape equipment to tape practice so coaches and players can evaluate the previous day's practice or scrimmage.

24.Include a saying or emphasis of the day on each daily practice plan.

25.Try to end each practice on a positive "up" note. Team oriented drills give them a feeling of togetherness as they leave the floor.

Organize your practice to the minute and try to stay with your original time allotments. Use the back of your practice plan to jot down ideas, changes, or observations about that particular practice that day. You can then refer to those notes as you prepare the following day's practice plan.

(PLEASE WRITE OR CALL IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THIS MATERIAL.
 RICK WALROND, ASSISTANT BASKETBALL COACH, BETHUNE COOKMAN COLLEGE, DAYTONA BEACH, FL. 32114-3099.  Phone:  386-255-1401, Ext. 687.)

*********************************************************

TAKING THE LID OFF THE BASKET?
CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL SHOOTING WISDOM

(Coaching Ideas for Great Basketball Shooting)

(Article #4 in a Series:  “The Trouble with
Shooting!”
by Tom Nordland, Shooting Coach)
 

COACHES:  I would like to suggest you re-evaluate some shooting
instruction “rules” that are in common use today.  I feel a different
approach to this coaching could result in dramatic improvement in your
players’ shooting skills.  The purpose isn’t necessarily to throw out
ideas, but to encourage you to communicate more clearly the specific
techniques and understandings that lead to better shooting.

In my experience researching and coaching shooting for the past 10 
years
at all levels, from beginner to the NBA, I’ve been coming up against
the
coaching my students have been given over their basketball lives.  Some
of it has been beneficial, for example, “Use more legs,” “Be in
balance,” or “Hold the follow through.”  However, more often than not,
the student has perceived (or misperceived) coaching in ways I think
sabotage good shooting.

The three instructions I wish to focus on are:  (1) Squaring Up, (2)
Shooting at the Top of the Jump, and (3) Wrist Flipping.

Dale Davis of the Indiana Pacers was able to make a major improvement 
                 in his shooting last season by adopting a different approach to these
instructions.  He was formerly standing almost square, shot at the top
of his jump (or his down-up free throw motion), and threw the ball
horizontally with upper body muscles.  With my coaching, he’s opened
more his stance, shoots on the way up (for both free throws and jump
shots), and now releases the ball with a simple, upward pushing action.
The result was a 15% increase in free throw performance (from 46.5% to
             61.8%) which resulted in more aggressive play and being left in the game 
at the end of close games.  His confidence is beginning to soar, and we
expect him to improve another 15% or more from the Line this season.

Let me make an argument for a different interpretation of these
instructions.  The arguments and results may persuade you to change the
way you coach this critical skill.  And I also believe this different
approach to the coaching of shooting CAN be implemented during the
season.  See at the end for my explanation of why that’s possible.

1) SQUARING UP

The first instruction I’d like to question is this one.  This summer
when I asked over 250 kids in Clinics I gave in Minnesota if they had
been told to “Square Up” when they shoot, at least 80% said they had.
When I asked them what was meant by that instruction, they told me they
were told to have their lower and upper bodies oriented exactly facing
the basket.

To “Square Up” literally means to have a line across your shoulders be
                perpendicular to a line from your chest to the basket.  For free throws 
it means lining up both feet at the line and keeping feet, knees, hips
and shoulders in this “square to the target” position.  You can see in
John Stockton, All Star guard for the Utah Jazz, a squared-up stance.
With free throws and jump shots, he orients directly at the basket.
However, I’ll guess he was also told to have a vertical forearm, so,
rather than force his elbow in and have the ball over his head, he
shoots with the ball off his right shoulder, thus satisfying both
needs.  However, the problem in shooting this way is that he has to
calculate an angle from where his eyes are and where the center of the
ball is (8-10” to his right).  He can’t shoot directly at the basket
from his visual perspective.  He’s become very good at this calculation
and shoots amazingly well, but he is not as accurate or consistent as
Jeff Hornacek, also of the Jazz, who turns his body approx. 45° and has
his eyes directly under the ball.

If by Square Up you mean simply to generally “Face the Basket” as you 
go to shoot and stop any lateral and rotational movement as you begin the
shot, then it can be an effective instruction.  I think this is what
most coaches conceive the instruction to mean.  However, from what I’ve
             seen and heard, I think most students misperceive it and get the literal
meaning and wind up physically Squaring Up.  Perhaps this instruction
needs to be changed to “Face Up,” or something like that.

From my experience, 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.

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.

Squaring Up is probably an instruction from the old Two Handed Days.
For two handed set shots and free throws, being square to the target is
vital.  But in today’s One-Handed Shot game, most players want to turn.
In video clips I’ve seen of Larry Bird, he, like Hornacek, turned about
45°.  I believe any athlete who hasn’t been forced to Square Up will
turn naturally when told to shoot the ball with one hand/arm.

THE COMMON (MIS-) UNDERSTANDING:  That Squaring Up somehow gets you in
better connection and alignment with the basket or helps with the shot
motion.  With this position, the elbow wants to be out to the side, 
like
in a salute, and if you want your forearm to be sort-of-vertical and
your palm facing the basket for an easy,
straight-in-line-with-the-basket motion, you have to force the elbow
in.  This creates tension in the setup, and, if you try to keep your
body in that relationship, that tension will be maintained in the
Release.

MY APPROACH:  Let the body turn naturally and see what works best.
Compare Squaring Up with turning 10°, 20°, 30°, 40° or more.  I like 
the
idea of being “aligned” when I shoot, with target, ball, hand, forearm,
eyes, body and legs generally in alignment, and if you Open 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 him or her.  To me, everything 
seems
to be naturally aligned if you’re more Open.  And if you’re aligned,
Accuracy is much more assured.
 

2) SHOOTING AT THE TOP OF THE JUMP

The second common instruction I’d like to question is the old “Shoot at
the top (or apex) of your jump.”

This idea has been around a long time.  I found a book in the San Jose
library by one of the legends of the game, written in 1966, that stated
very clearly you should NOT use any of the jumping motion in the shot.
Rather, you should wait until the top of the jump and then shoot.  When
I asked the kids if they had been told this instruction, about the same
number said “Yes.”

I think most coaches know that leg power is effective in powering and
controlling a shot.  This instruction is probably conceived to help
players elevate them to shoot over an opponent.  It may also be to try
to make the leg drive consistent.  However, if it is literally 
perceived
by the students, they wait until there is no lower body power left and
then shoot, thus sabotaging the shot.

This instruction is interesting in another way, because many of these
same players tell me they’ve also been told to shoot higher.  I’m sure
their coaches explained that the basket is larger and more forgiving 
for
a shot coming in at a high angle.  (60% above horizontal is considered
by many to be the most effective angle.)  We know that upward action of
the leg drive or leg lift ? what I call UpForce™ ? creates a high
arching shot.  So, if you’re told to wait and shoot at the top of the
jump, then this upward power source is missed and all you’ve got left 
is
arm, wrist, hand and finger power.  And these latter power sources are
mostly horizontal!

When I was at the Big Man Camp in Hawaii this summer, almost every one
of the 24 NBA and ~30 College participants was shooting at the top of
his jump.  And the shooting percentages I observed of open, uncontested
mid-range jumpers were very low for most of these great players (in the
25-30% range).  I feel the instruction and the results are directly
related.

The trajectory of a shot is important.  In shooting a basketball, lower
body muscles tend to create a vertical action and upper body muscles
tend to create a horizontal action.  If we agree that we want a high
arching shot, then the former muscles are to be favored.  Note that an
arm straightening motion by itself can be horizontal or vertical as you
choose, but without leg power, its force is limited.  And if you bring
the ball too far overhead, then the arm motion has to become a throw or
sling, and the direction of the motion becomes mostly horizontal. 
Check
it out.  Bring a ball to a Set Point way overhead and notice what is
required to launch a ball without leg power and what kind of arch is
created.

Conversely, if you shoot on the way up, there is powerful, upward 
energy
available to shoot from, and this creates the arch everyone wants ...
naturally.  Don’t worry about making this power consistent.  It’s going
to vary all over the place, depending on fatigue, adrenalin, the
distance to the basket, the quickness of the shot, etc.  Varying arch 
is
how you manage that.  And when shooting on the way up, the Release
happens more quickly.

If you have to jump over people, as centers and power forwards
sometimes
have to do, then waiting until near the top of the jump can be
effective.  However, I suggest that even with these shots you shoot
before you reach the top of the jump so you can still use some of the
upward energy to stabilize the shot.  If you shoot at the very top or,
god forbid, on the way down, you greatly minimize your chances of
success.

Adam Keefe of the Utah Jazz discovered the importance of shooting on 
the
way up, shooting from what he’s come to know as “The Wave.”   Though 
his
stance was already open when he came to me, he discovered he was
releasing the ball at the top of his jump and wrist flipping.  From a
shaky 69% in free throws the prior 3 years, he shot in the mid-80’s
through most of the ‘97-98 season until a foot injury destabilized his
lower body action and he wound up making 81% for the year (still an
impressive 12% increase in one season).  This summer he has more deeply
learned the distinction of shooting from the wave of energy the lower
body provides, and free throws and jump shots are becoming easier and
easier for him.  He’s poised for a terrific shooting year.

I don’t think you have to jump high for most Jump Shots.  The idea of
jumping over people is left for a very few great athletes and for
Centers and Power Forwards working in close.  Most players get open for
a moment and need to get the shot off quickly before the defender 
reacts
or recovers.  The height of the jump doesn’t really matter that much. 
A
quick Release and a high, soft ball flight are created by shooting on
the way up.

Watch great shooters like Detlef Schrempf, now of the Portland
Trailblazers, Hornacek of the Jazz, and Steve Kerr of the San Antonio
Spurs.  They shoot early in their jumping motions.  Rik Smits of
Indiana, 7’4” and one of the better big men shooters, shoots very early
in the jump, too.  One of Stanford’s best shooters ever is Ryan Mendez,
from Texas (He averaged 38 pts/game in high school a few years ago).
He’s 6’7” and he shoots as early in the jumping motion as possible.
That, to me, is why he’s such a great shooter.  Every one I’ve seen who
has learned to shoot earlier in the jumping motion improved shooting
performance.

THE COMMON (MIS-) UNDERSTANDING:  I guess the idea here is that being
higher in the air helps somehow in the shot, and also, if you isolate
the shot to just the upper body, you employ fewer muscles.  I don’t
think height above the ground makes any difference, but I think the
higher you are the less you will think to aim “upward” to shoot.  Tall
players tend to shoot flat and short players shoot high because of this
difference in perspective.  And shorter players are usually better
shooters.  The better big men shooters shoot high, despite their 
height.

The problem is if you shoot literally at the top of your jumping (or
free throw/set shot) motion, you will have expended all the upward
energy of the legs.  All you have left to shoot with are upper body
muscles.  Fewer muscles, yes, but these muscles (arm, wrist, hand and
fingers) are very intricate and complex, designed for fine motor 
control
and are more sensitive to slight adjustments.   In terms of shooting,
they also create mostly horizontal energy.  When you’re wanting the
fewest possible variables -- a repeatable motion -- these finer muscles
are less reliable.  Making them into a “constant” motion, just a simple
pushing action with relaxed wrist and hand, gives you that ... and the
corresponding control you want. Also, you miss the powerful, 
stabilizing
force created by lower body power (legs, hips, pelvis, back), your
strongest muscles.  shooting at the top of the jump is like missing a
Wave in surfing.

MY APPROACH:  Shoot on the way up.  See what shooting earlier in the
jumping motion does for you.  Try earlier and earlier and see what
happens.  For most outside jump shots, I feel that you don’t have to
wait at all to shoot.  Go for the maximum leg drive percentage
available
and see what happens.  (And I don’t mean jumping stronger; I just mean
shooting earlier and quicker in whatever body/leg force you generate.)

You’ll find your shots go higher, without trying for height, and you’ll
have a quicker Release and plenty of power.  You’ll start to experience
the shot as “effortless.”  As mentioned above, the UpForce™ also
stabilizes the shot with its powerful force field.  If you’re in very
close and need to jump strongly to shoot over a defender, you can wait 
a
bit (call it “hangtime”) before releasing the ball.  But shoot always
from at least some of the lower body energy for the advantages it
offers.  You can also raise your Set Point, if in close, so you can
shoot more quickly and more “full out.”
 

3) WRIST FLIPPING THE BALL

And finally a large majority of the kids in my Clinics said they were
told to “flip their wrists” to power the shot.  Now, if you’re shooting
at the top of your jump and have missed the UpForce™ wave, all you have
left is arm, wrist and hand/finger power.  In that case, flipping the
wrist makes sense.  You could also “throw” or “sling” the ball with the
arm and even power the shot with the fingers.  A fairly well known
shooting coach taught powering the ball with the first two fingers. 
But
these forces are less reliable and horizontal and results will be
streaky at best.  Wrist flipping or Throwing may give you more power 
and
distance, but the negatives of the flatness of the shot, the
variability, and the susceptibility to pressure negate any advantage.

A common image of the Follow Through in shooting is what’s called
“Reaching the hand in the cookie jar.”  Another is the “Goose neck.”
These images, especially the first one, imply doing something with the
wrist and hand, like reaching into something.   The wrist flipping
instruction may come from this.  The problem I see in fulfilling this
image is that you’re introducing unnecessary tension.

I coached a young assistant coach at a major basketball power on the
West Coast a few years ago.  I asked him to warm up first and observed
him shoot about 15 consecutive airballs.  When I asked him what he was
doing, he said, “I’m trying to reach my hand in the cookie jar.”
Obviously he didn’t know what he was doing; he misperceived the
instruction and it interfered badly with his performance.

An alternative way to shoot is to keep the wrist, hand and finger
muscles quiet, and power the shot instead with just an upward pushing
action of the arm supported by a strong leg drive.  From my 
perspective,
if you make the arm action a constant -- just a straightening of the 
arm
at the same speed and force every time (at about 75% of maximum, so you
don’t hurt yourself) -- it minimizes variables and gives you what I 
call
“Repeatability.”  I like to call this a “Full Out” Release.  If your
wrist and hand are relaxed, the hand will actually “bounce” when you
Release the ball.  The more it bounces, the more relaxed those muscles
are.  A relaxed wrist and hand look somewhat like reaching a hand into
something, but there is no “reach” and no tension ? it’s just the  way
the hand looks when the wrist is relaxed.  I have a photo of me in 1957
on my Website, home page.  Notice how my hand is relaxed, just hanging
there.

Dale Davis has come to understand the concept of Repeatability in
shooting, as shown in his description of my coaching this fall:  “His
[Tom’s] technique is different from most shooting coaches.  He does a
combination of form and the art/science of  repeatability.  It really
works!”

The last variable, a pressure valve of sorts, becomes the arch or 
height
of your shot.  As you shoot, be ready to adjust the height every time,
based on what you feel, how strong the jump is, how quickly you’re
shooting, etc.  That way, you can always go “Full Out” with your
Release, keeping it constant, but simply varying the angle of the push.
Varying arch is one of the characteristics of most great shooting.

Great shooters have minimized the variables in their shot motions and
developed a way to shoot over and over with basically the same motion.
The fewer muscles involved, the more this becomes possible.  This is 
the
idea of “Repeatability” (or automated or programmed skills).  Superior
performers in all sports develop motions that can go on automatic. 
That
permits them to move all their attention from mechanics to the target.
And that makes a huge difference.

THE COMMON (MIS-) UNDERSTANDING:  The misconception or misperception is
that using the wrist is an effective power source.  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 me 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.

MY APPROACH:  Make your upper body action a “Pushing” action of the arm
(aimed upward) rather than any kind of Flipping or Throwing motion. 
And
relax the wrist, hand and finger muscles.  They don’t have to do any
powering, steering or guiding.  They can just complete your connection
with the ball and, by doing nothing more than that, ensure greater
accuracy and consistency that comes from strong, stable lower body 
power
and an arm motion aimed exactly where you want.  The finger pads and 
the
forward part of the palm are how you connect to the ball itself.  A
little pressure from the fingers ensures control of the ball, allowing
it to roll off your fingers in a consistent way.  Shooting this way
you’ll get the feeling of doing “nothing” with these smaller muscles,
and the feeling of shooting becomes effortlessness when there’s strong
power from the lower body.  And, surprise!!! ... you’ll find you get
perfect backspin!

One last thing about the Set Point:  To do an upward pushing action 
with
the arm to take advantage of the powerful leg drive, you cannot have
taken the ball way over your head.  Rather, it works best to have the
back of the ball at approximately the front of the head or only very
slightly behind the front of the head so you can push upward.  This “up
front” Set Point is also achieved more quickly and, with shooting from
UpForce™, gives you a very quick Release.  The bigger and stronger you
are, the higher above your head you can establish the Set Point, thus
making it more difficult to block.

As I said, don’t just believe this or disbelieve it.  Examine these
three coaching instructions in this different light and let the results
show you the most effective way to shoot and coach the skill of
shooting.

A FINAL NOTE:  CAN THIS BE INTRODUCED ONCE THE SEASON STARTS?

I say “Yes, definitely,” and I’ll tell you why.  I know many of you
don’t want to “mess” with your players’ shots during the season.  You
feel that summer is the time for them to work on changes in their
individual skills.

However, I feel when a change is not complicated and done in a spirit 
of
“awareness,” rather than “Do this,” or “Don’t do that,” change or
learning can happen any time during a season!  Humans are Learning
Machines, we’re born to learn, and we can learn new things quickly and
easily, especially if they’re simple and natural.   Of course, you 
don’t
want to suggest a change the day before a crucial game, or in the
timeout before a critical free throw.  But in the many hours of a week
and over a period of a few weeks, players can learn new things and
learn
to trust them.

I feel what I’m suggesting here can be just that:  Simple and Natural.
If your players become aware of how they stand and are given the option
of “Opening” their stances, it becomes a “Choice,” not a rule. 
Choosing
between different alternatives is how we learn.  It’s called making
“Distinctions,” in this case, the Distinction of Stance.  And once you
have a Distinction, like balance on a bicycle, you never forget it. 
But
if there’s a lot of worry and doubt, “trying” hard to do something
“right,” then learning becomes difficult.

If, for example, you just ask your players to note if they’re shooting
at the top of the jump or on the way up, you’ll see instant learning.
The rule “Shoot at the top!” can be replaced by “See when you shoot and
experiment with shooting earlier and later!”  What will happen is
experimentation and discovery!  They’ll start to see that shooting
earlier is more effective than later, and it creates a higher, more
effortless shot.  They’ll start to see that shots become more stable 
and
consistent.  When they add the third notion ? of shooting with the 
whole
arm, and not flipping with the wrist ? they’ll discover a whole new way
of shooting.

As the coach, it will be important to keep this atmosphere of learning
and discovery going.  Have team talks about shooting, what works and
what doesn’t work.  When a player has a breakthrough, ask her or him to
share it with the team with a demonstration and words.  What was
discovered and how?  What does it feel like?  Maybe that player’s words
will help others make similar discoveries.  Ask the group to describe
what they see.  When players can see these simple principles in others,
it will help seeing and feeling them in themselves.

In the end, remember that shooting is really very simple!  If we
complicate it, it becomes difficult for all but the few.  And that’s
what we have in the game today, only a small percent of players can
really control ball flight ... all the time!  Sure, we have streaky
shooters, and that’s the best you can do when the shot motion is full 
of
variables, flat and hot, a guess rather than a sure thing.  Great
shooters have a plan, a plan of controlled repeatability.  The target
has become their dominant focus, not mechanics or execution.  They’ve
learned to Let Go and Trust themselves in that “golden moment of
shooting,” and in so doing they put the ball in or near dead center
every time.  And I believe the instructional ideas I’ve presented above
can put your players on the path of becoming great shooters!

I invite your questions and would love to hear of your experiences with
learning and coaching the great skill/art of shooting a basketball.

    Tom Nordland
    Boulder Creek, California
    1-888/SWISH-22
    Email:  Tom@swish22.com
    Web site:  www.swish22.com
 
 
 

The ABC’s of Great Shooting!

(Article #3 in a Series for BasketballsBest:  “The Trouble with
Shooting!”
by Tom Nordland, Shooting Coach)

One of the biggest problems with shooting in this country is that
players’ shots approach the basket with a trajectory that is too flat.
They come in at angles just 20-30° above horizontal and rarely get more
than 2-3’ above the rim.  A high percentage may only get 1-2 feet above
the iron.  Though greater arch is often stressed by coaches, players
seem not to know how, or possibly they just can’t shoot higher with the
way they’re shooting.

Many players today shoot with what I would call a throwing or slinging
motion with the arm and hand, and others use a wrist snap or finger
drive to shoot with.  Note in which direction the ball travels if you
shoot with any of those actions.  Is it up, down or horizontal?  I 
think
you’ll find it’s the latter ? horizontal.  Shooting this way doesn’t
give the ball much of a chance to get up in the air.

Better shooters employ their legs and entire bodies to shoot with. 
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!  I
call this upward force of legs and body the UpForce™ (U/F) to give it a
name.  (You could call it leg lift, leg power, body/leg power ...
whatever you want.)  The more you shoot from this power the higher,
quicker and more stabilized the shot!  Also, note that the more your
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.

The A-B-C’s of Shooting
In observing myself and others shoot, I realized you can identify how
much U/F is “IN” a shot by giving it a Percentage figure.  If you shoot
very early in the jumping motion (or in the upward action for a free
throw or set shot), then you approach 100% of U/F.  If you wait before
you shoot, the percentage drops accordingly.  In watching my own
shooting, I saw that I use 90-100% U/F for almost all outside shots. 
If
I’m in very close and jumping hard and quick, then I might wait a bit
(call it “hangtime”) before releasing the ball, but with most shots I’m
shooting as early as I can.

Once I distinguished this “percentage” thing, I started to notice that
shots coming from a high percentage of U/F tend to go in more often 
than
those with lower percentages.  I saw I could group them this way:

  Percentage of UpForce™ Class of Shot
  80-100%  “A”
    60-80%  “B”
    40-60%  “C”
    20-40%   “D”
    00-20%   “F”

A’s go in more than B’s, B’s more than C’s
From my observation, “A” shots tend to go in more than “B” shots, “B”
shots go in more often than “C” shots, “C’s” go in more than “D’s”,
etc.  There’s a direct correlation.  But don’t just believe or
disbelieve me.  Check it out for yourselves.

There is a reason for this phenomenon
The reason this is true is that the more UpForce™ you use, the more
STABLE the shot is.  Using more leg and lower body power gives the shot
the stability like that of a rocket taking off.  In the beginning there
is tremendous force and surrounding energy.  With time this force
diminishes.  Earlier shooting gives you a higher percentage, and with a
higher percentage you become more accurate because you’re less likely 
to
push or pull the shot off line with upper body muscles (arm, wrist or
hand).

Again, test this theory out and see if it’s true.  Watch good shooters
and you’ll probably see a high percentage of U/F with most of them.
Watch the poorer shooters and you’ll probably see a low percentage. 
And
with each shooter, as she or he uses different percentages, note the
ball flight and the ensuing result.

Most great shooters shoot this way

Watch the better shooters on any team and you’ll find most of them 
shoot
early in the jump.  Some examples from the NBA are Steve Kerr, Jeff
Hornacek (‘98 NBA 3-pt Champion), Mark Price, Detlef Schrempf and even
Rick Smits, the best outside shooting big man.  If you think this
“shooting early” thing applies only to the shorter people, watch Rick.
He’s 7’ 4” and he shoots a high percentage of 15-20 foot shots.  His
jump shots are “A” shots.  He’s releasing the ball very quickly on the
way up and that’s why he’s so consistent.  Detlef has been a great
shooter all his career, and he’s 6’10”.  I believe I even saw him
shooting earlier and higher than ever this last season.

The better shooters in the ABL and WNBA shoot this way, too.  Watch
Jennifer Azzi of the San Jose Lasers and Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl
Swoopes from the Houston Comets, for example.  Any woman who shoots
consistently well has learned to shoot quicker and higher.  From what I
see, the major difference between many of the great shooters and the
lesser shooters is that the better shooters shoot earlier.  That action
gives them more power, range, height and stability ... with less
effort.  And that makes all the difference!

It used to be taught to release the ball at the “top of the jump.”  A
book I read by Bob Cousy printed in 1966 said very distinctly NOT to 
use
any body/leg power in the jump shot.  I think we’ve come “full circle”
on this and now realize that body/leg energy stabilizes the shot rather
than interferes with it.  A parallel evolution can be seen in golf
putting.  Many years ago the better putters were wrist putters.  The
great player Bobby Locke comes to mind.  But today, the best putters
putt with NO wrist action ? the force comes entirely from the arms and
body.  Ben Crenshaw and Loren Roberts are examples of this kind of
putter.  Try both methods and see what gives you more consistency and
stability.

UP the Percentage for greater success

My suggestion, then, is to strive for an earlier, quicker release to
take advantage of more and more UpForce™.  You’ll find such shots are
also higher and come down softer, wonderful added benefits.  And a
quick, high release is harder to block.  This way of shooting applies
more to shots from the outside.  Big men who are in close trying to 
jump
over people have to give their shots some hangtime (to reduce their
power) because they have too much strength for short shots.  My advice
to them is to wait to shoot but still shoot on the way up from “some”
U/F for the stability.   Once a player understand this approach, then 
he
or she will know when to release the ball for different shots.  For 
most
shots, shooting very early in the jumping motion will give you big
rewards.  And to control distance, vary the arch rather than your
Release.  Shooting this way becomes easier and more predictable.

c