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Shooting Drills for Guards

by Brian Schofield

Cut, Catch & Lay-up

Great scoring guards know how to create space and get open. Practice and work hard at establishing position by either performing a solid v cut or using the lane to get open. Once you've come up the lane and popped out the ball should be on its way to you. You should have taken a mini hop-step already to get in position to shoot the ball. Now instead of going right into a jump stop, take an immediate dribble and go in for the lay-up. The footwork on this is tricky. Some players travel because the hop-step throws off their timing a little bit. It takes practice. If you've hopped in the air and landed with both feet you should be in an excellent position to drive for the lay-up.

Cut, Catch, Dribble & Shoot

Come up the lane and pop out to the wing. Take the hop-step before the ball arrives and immediately take one hard dribble in either direction. After one or two hard dribbles, immediately go into your jump shot. The hop-step will set up everything if you've done it correctly. It prepares you to shoot quickly and tells the defender that you can shoot quickly. If he gets close to you simply drive past him and if he's worried about you driving past him then the shot off the dribble will work every time because he will be on his heels.

When I work on these drills, which I still do today, I do them in order starting from the jump shot. The jump shot sets up everything else. It is like a great fastball from a pitcher. Once a great pitcher shows his fastball and that he can throw it for a strike, the pitcher has the edge. Good scorers use the jump shot as a way to set up everything else.

Cut, Catch & Shoot

This drill should be done exactly as the drill above with one exception - there is no dribble. As you get the ball you immediately go up for the shot. This will probably feel a little uncomfortable for most players in the beginning but it's crucial for you to eventually be able to hit this shot. If you can't hit this shot your defender will constantly sag off you when you receive the ball and prevent you from making a break to the basket or getting a shot off the dribble.

Wing or Corner Jumpers

As young players get older a couple things happen. First, everyone gets bigger, stronger and faster. Secondly, as a result it gets tougher to get open and create a shot. Something I've learned over the years has made it very easy for me to be able to get off a shot quickly and effectively. Start with the ball at the top of the key. If you are a coach, I suggest starting this drill with two lines on both sides of the top of the key. A line of shooters should also be formed on the wing or the corner. When the pass is made from the top of the key to the wing player I want the wing players to take a mini hop right before the ball gets there. Immediately shoot the ball when it arrives. If you have to gather yourself before the shot goes up then you have a problem that needs fixing. Players ask me how they can practice this by themselves and I tell them to get a toss back. What a great invention. Some people talk about their car in high school when I talk about my toss back. If you aren't comfortable shooting off the hop yet, then practice by throwing the ball off a wall or the toss back and just getting your feet correct. Have each player shoot within their range from the two spots then switch out to different areas. After all, nobody only shoots from the wing or the baseline. Don't just stand there and shoot jump shots either as that doesn't help nearly as much as shooting off the hop.

Pass, Cut & Shoot

A little bit of a modification of the drill I just talked about is the pass, cut and shoot. A player that stands still is extremely easy to guard so I coach my guards to cut once they pass the ball. To practice this drill, have a player line up at the high post and start the ball on the wing. The line should be at the wing position. Once the ball is passed to the high post the player should cut to either the baseline or the top of the key. Once the cut is made, the passer throws the ball with the wing player taking the hop-step before the ball comes so he can get off a quick shot. The drill should be practiced with the ball coming from the high post and also from the low post as those are the most common areas of double teaming. When the high post receives the ball many times you'll see 2-3 defenders collapse on the ball and if you, as a shooter, can get to an open spot where the defense can't recover quickly, you'll get an uncontested shot. This drill isn't one to practice at a slow pace. The cuts need to have a point and has to be quick. Players that play hard are not easy to guard. That's worth repeating, players that play hard are not easy to guard.

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