Larry Lindsay

If you run a motion offense, shot selection is probably one of your biggest problem areas. In an offense where you leave much of the decision making to your players, you must ensure that your players take good shots. This problem can be made more difficult by the fact that players often have an unrealistic belief in their ability to make shots. In this article we hope to provide some help in defining good shot selection, offering methods of determining individual shot selection, and providing some ways to teach your players what shots are good shots.

The first task is to define shot selection and Clemson women's coach Jim Davis has an excellent definition. He defines a good shot as a sixty-percent shot you can make and no one has a better one. Bob Knight defines it as the right person with the right shot at the right time. Roy Williams wants layups or an open shot by a good shooter with board coverage.

Since shot selection varies with the individual, we must get our players to understand what a good shot is for them. The tool of choice here is the shot chart. There are a variety of charts you can use. You can develop a team chart or individual charts. We use an individual chart with notations as to the type of shot they take. We will put a "j" for a jump shot, "d" for a drive, etc. I had a coach in high school who put shots into one of three categories: layups, inside 15 feet, outside 15 feet (this was in the dark days before the three-point line). It is particularly effective to have this information on hand when you are talking about limiting a player's shooting range to show him his weak shooting areas.

When he coached in college, Kevin O'Neill would let his player shoot whatever shot he wanted in the first three weeks of the season and his managers charted his shots. At the end of that period he would bring the player in for a one-on-one meeting and, using the shooting chart, explain what shots the player would be taking.

John Beilein at West Virginia uses a test to determine who can shoot threes. If a player wants to shoot threes in a game he must make six three's in thirty seconds with his first shot coming from one corner and his last from the opposite corner.

Some coaches use a Red Light/Green Light system. Players with green lights can take any open shot. Players with red lights cannot shoot anything but a lay-up until the green lights touch the ball. With a little imagination you can use this system to communicate to your players what types of shots you want because of the game situation. If you have a hot player or a great player, you may want to say that everyone is a red until John touches the ball twice. You may call "Red Post," meaning the ball must go into the post before a shot can be taken.

Working on shot selection needs to be incorporated into your practices. North Carolina coach Roy Williams will stop practice or a game tape and ask the team, "How many of you think that was a good shot?" Several coaches play a "shot selection game." Each shot is given one to four poionts based on the type of shot whether it is made or not. Some coaches will add points for a made shot.

During games, there are a variety of theories of what to do about shot selection. Roy Williams will not say much about shot selection during a game, but will review shot selection after the game with his team. Bob Knight will remove players who take a shot outside of their defined shooting range. What you do is not as important as your consistency and your effectiveness in getting your players to understand what you mean when you say you want them to take good shots.

Whatever the definition or system of developing shot selection, there are a couple of points that all successful coaches have in common. First, the players have a clear understanding of a good shot. Second, the coach is consistent in enforcing his rules on shot selection.


THANKS to BASKETBALL SENSE, The magazine for Winning Coaches, for permission to use this article. For information on Basketball Sense, go to