This Really Bothered Me – Shooting Form Debate Continues

Basketball Shooting Form Debate

Basketball Shooting Form Evolution

As a basketball trainer  I try to keep an open mind about basketball training and coaching methods.  As a matter of fact, for the nine years that Elite Basketball Training has been around, we have evolved year in and year out by learning, teaching, making mistakes, adjusting, and learning some more.  It is for this reason that we are the most complete basketball skill development and basketball sports performance training company in New Jersey. However, I fear that other coaches, trainers, and players may not be as open to learn.  Two Days ago I posted the above picture on Facebook and it was highly criticized by someone saying that this player’s, “shoulders should be in front of his feet. Shoulders should follow the ball it keeps you from being short.”

My response was that this could not be more incorrect.  In fact, if your shoulders follow your jump shot that will produce a flat shot and you will miss short or long off the back rim because your body simply cannot produce any arch that way.  The body is a machine and it works efficiently in certain ways.  Having your shoulders forward when you shoot and keeping them ahead of your feet at extension and follow through forces all of your weight to go forward thereby making the shooter unbalanced.  I explained to this person that great players know this and that is why the best jump shooters in the NBA like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry have form exactly like the boy in the picture above.  It is also why I teach that method because if it’s good enough for the reigning league MVP then it is good enough for guys like us.  The guy wasn’t too keen on my response and shot back at me with a sarcastic comment about basketball being the only sport where you “take mass, as in the ball, in one direction and your body weight in the opposite direction.”

I’m trying not to chuckle as I type this even two days later.

Open Your Mind to Change of Shooting Habits

The close mindedness of this guy is not uncommon but it really angered me that someone could be so stuck in his ways to totally blow off what I was saying.  All you have to do is watch an NBA game and you can see that good shooters do NOT in any way shoot with their shoulders in front of their feet.  Their shoulders come up and back as they shoot and their feet sweep forward. This is a natural body movement and ultimately puts arch on the shot.

I responded to this guy in one final statement saying that he should check out this video and then tell me I’m wrong =>  Sweep and Sway

Our Shooting Form Influence

Much of what I now know about jump shooting I have learned from Paul Hoover, the founder of the Pro Shot System.  So much so that he trusts me to teach players his system and refers them to me regularly.  If you are interested in learning the Pro Shot System then I have the program for you.  My Nothin’ But Net  summer basketball program is for basketball players of all skill levels in grade school, middle school and high school, both boys and girls, and is designed to develop their jump shot, using the famous Pro Shot System.  Learn how to shoot the basketball using the secrets of professional basketball players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Michael Jordan.

This system will replace your misses with swishes so don’t miss out on this opportunity this summer.

New Jersey Basketball Training Programs

For more information and to register, visit today.

Turning Weaknesses into Strengths

Turn Basketball Weaknesses Into Strengths

Do You Know Your Basketball Weaknesses and Strengths?

With the summer right around the corner, the basketball off-season is upon us here in New Jersey.  That being said, The Time is Now to begin your basketball training for next basketball season.  If you are like every other basketball player, you most likely have weaknesses in your game that need to be addressed this off season and whether they are basketball skill related or sports performance related, now is the time to assess your game, find your weaknesses, and come up with a plan to work on them.  The following will address how to determine what those weaknesses are and provide a step by step outline on how you can develop your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Basketball Comfort Zones – Explore Yours

It has been stated many times on this site that there is no place on a basketball court that a player should be uncomfortable.  That being said, a simple way to determine your weaknesses is to determine where on the basketball court you are uncomfortable.  Now, I do not mean a specific location like in the corner of the baseline, but rather a specific skill that if asked to perform will make you go running for the hills.  For example, many taller players  at the youth, middle school and high school level are uncomfortable handling the basketball.  Most of the time taller players at the youth level are stuck under the basket and never allowed to step away from there or even consider dribbling the ball.  Consequently, ball handling becomes a major weakness for these players that often times gets overlooked.

Basketball strengths and weaknesses

Ask Your Coach And Basketball Trainer

Aside from figuring out what skill makes you uncomfortable, a really simple and effective way to identify your weaknesses is to ask your coach or trainer.  Aside from just X’s and O’s, your basketball coach has a good pulse on his team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as each player’s strength’s and weaknesses.  They will know your capabilities and how you currently fit into their schemes and how they envision you fitting into those schemes in the future.  Therefore they can tell you exactly what to work on this off-season.  Beyond your actual coach, your basketball trainer is another great resource for determining your weaknesses.  There is not one basketball skill development or sports performance workout that goes by that I do not address the players that train with me and provide them with feedback on what they are doing well and what they need to continue to work on.  From there, they can use this information to develop their weaknesses while training on their own until the next time they see me.

Commit To Basketball Development and Change

Now that you know how to identify your weaknesses it is time to begin the process of turning them into strengths. The first step is breaking down the identified skill into its specific parts and work on each individual component separately.  Let’s take the jump shot as an example.  The jump shot has multiple different components that include: the release, the hip hinge, footwork, the off hand, etc.  Each one of these components can and should be worked on separately in order to perfect that specific component.  This is done through understanding the proper mechanics and then completing a multitude of repetitions with the proper mechanics.  For example, at Elite Basketball Training, we teach that basketball players should release the basketball off their index finger and that on the follow through, the index finger should reach up and through the center of the rim.  In order to obtain the muscle memory needed to make this a habit, the player must repeat that perfect release every time.  They cannot reach the index finger up and through the center of the rim one time then point it to the right of the rim the second time, then to the left of the rim on the third attempt, then back to the middle on the fourth and so on.  This inconsistency will only create bad habits and delay the or hinder the development of proper muscle memory for that specific component and it will delay advancing to the next step in the process of turning your weaknesses into strengths.

Once you have identified the issue, broken down its components and worked to develop good habits the next step is to start to perfect the skill in a low stress, non-competitive  environment.  During this phase, drills should be done at 50-70% of your threshold speed with no clock involved.  Doing so will eliminate any sort of competition from the drills and allow you to work on maintaining positive habits while continuing to perfect them at a slightly higher speed.

The speed at which you can go through these drills without breaking form will continue to increase with each workout and eventually you will be ready to move on to the final step of the process.  I refer to this as the transfer phase and it is where the drills become competitive again.  The previous two steps have been about developing muscle memory and now you should not have to think about it but just do it.  Now is the time to add the clock to the drill and compete against time or add a closeout defender and compete against a live body.  This will allow you to transfer your new or refurbished skills into a game-like situation which is essential to you eventually being able to perform that skill on the court.

The basketball off-season is here and now is the time to begin preparing for next winter’s basketball season.  The preparation must include turning your weaknesses into strengths.  This is done through a multi-step process that includes identifying your weaknesses, breaking them down to their smallest components and working on them at a slower less competitive speed in order to build muscle memory and finally transferring the skill to game situations after your have built up the muscle memory necessary to do this correctly. These steps are crucial to your success on the basketball court and if you work on them consistently this spring, summer, and fall you will have turned your weaknesses into strengths that you can use to dominate you opponents next winter.

Interested in finding out your current weaknesses?  Contact me today for a free assessment of your game.

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Off Season Basketball Training – Now is the Time

Best Basketball Offseason

CrossFit Open WOD 14.3 is in the books and I was a little under where I thought I would be.  Last week’s WOD was a killer with and ascending ladder of deadlifts and an increased weight at each new rep range.

CrossFit Open WOD: 14.3:
8 minute AMRAP:
10 deadlifts, 135 / 95 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
15 deadlifts, 185 / 135 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
20 deadlifts, 225 / 155 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
25 deadlifts, 275 / 185 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
30 deadlifts, 315 / 205 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch
35 deadlifts, 365 / 225 lb.
15 box jumps, 24 / 20 inch

As a half decent dead lifter, with a 1 rep max of just over 400, I thought that I could get to the round of 315 and ultimately fell 10 reps short of that.  I was cruising through the first three rounds but when I got to the round of 25 reps at 275, that weight might as well have been around a thousand pounds and I had to break it up into singles after going unbroken in the first three rounds.  This substantially slowed my pace down and my back was so cramped up that I felt like it might snap in half.   Nonetheless, I was moderately pleased with this result and I am looking forward to the release of 14.4 having gotten my confidence back after the 14.2 debacle.

Last week I wrote an interesting post on the lack of an off season for high school and youth basketball players these days. It created a ton of buzz and intrigue and if you have not read it yet, I highly recommend that you do. Where has our Basketball Off Season Gone will definitely get you thinking about how you should be spending your time developing your game now that your basketball season has ended.  With basketball season over for many, now is the time to let your body heal (actively), evaluate your successes and failures from the season, and begin training to attack those weaknesses and elevate your game for next season.

Do NOT fall off the basketball wagon and take too much time off thinking that you will just pick the basketball back up in the summer and be exactly where you were when you ended the season.  Your development as a basketball player takes time and effort and that time is now.  While other players are out trying to develop their basketball skills by playing a butt load of games, you need to be attending as many basketball skill development clinics and workouts as you can with reputable trainers who genuinely care about making you a better basketball player.  Then use the information that you learned at these workouts and continue to train on your own throughout the week until the next workout that you attend.  Beyond that, having already let your body rest for a few weeks now, you should already be back in the weight room rehabbing nagging injuries and targeting weaknesses in order to eliminate them.

Yes, now is the time for you to elevate your game.  Do not sit back and wait. Do not think that you will automatically be good when you pick that basketball back up again.  Do it now.  Set yourself on a course today to make yourself into the best basketball player your can for the 2014-2015 season…its only eight months away.

Interested in elevating your game this spring with NJ’s most complete solution to basketball training?  Contact me, Rich Stoner, today and find out which one of Elite Basketball Training’s programs fits your basketball skill development and sports performance needs.

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Where has our Basketball Off Season Gone?

With the high school, middle school, and travel/recreational basketball seasons coming to an end, I inevitably have been receiving my usual barrage of emails and questions about my knowledge of an AAU basketball team that their son or daughter can play on this spring or summer.  These inquiries beg the question, where has our basketball off season gone?  In the high priced world of college scholarships and basketball, two words come to mind: competition and exposure, which according to the masses can only be achieved through game play.  The notion of more game play leading to better competition and more exposure to colleges seems to makes sense, but in reality game play is not the answer.  In fact, a case can be made that this model is diminishing an already short off season, and ultimately destroying the development of youth basketball players in America.

Game play at the expense of an off season is not the answer to your development as a basketball player.  There are reasons that college and professional basketball players have off seasons.  During that time, they can let their bodies heal from the rigors of their season and then evaluate their performance that season, determine their weaknesses, and develop an off-season training program that combines basketball skill development and basketball specific sports performance training in order to fix their weaknesses and become a better basketball player.  Nowadays, in the United States, our high school and in most cases youth basketball players do not have an off season thanks to the growth in popularity of AAU basketball.  AAU has made game play the focus of our players “off season” and they no longer have the time to rest and recover from a long high school season and develop their game according to a self evaluation of their weaknesses.  I make the point at all of my basketball skill development workouts of telling my players that pros get paid millions of dollars for a reason and that if they are doing something on the court that works well, then we, as amateurs, should probably be doing the same thing. For example, no one wants to have a jump shot like “little Johnny down the block” but I can bet that everyone wants to shoot like Kevin Durant.  If that is the case, then why the hell do most of our youth basketball players’ jump shots look like little Johnny’s and not Kevin Durant’s?  The answer is quite simple, not enough players are watching and mimicking the jump shots of great NBA players like Durant.  The same logic can be applied to the “off season” scenario.  If pros are deserving of an off season and college players are deserving of an off season, then our high school and youth players are also deserving of an off season.  This, however, is not the case and the off season for our youth basketball players no longer exists thanks to AAU basketball, posing a major problem for these players on two fronts: overuse injuries and lack of time to develop their game.

First and foremost young basketball players are still developing physically and need the time to do so.  I laugh every time a parent asks me if it is safe for their son or daughter to strength train, but will have no qualms with having them play three games of basketball on a Saturday and five to six over the course of two days.  This amount of game play over two days is excessive and does more harm than good to a young, developing athlete’s body than a well designed and well supervised sports performance training program.  Nonetheless, this overuse of the body in the wrong way is ignored each and every weekend in the spring and summer as players are carted off to basketball tournaments around the country to play an inordinate amount of games.  The pattern of excessive game play ultimately leads to injuries from overuse at way too young of an age.  Fact is, the body needs time to rest and through rest comes proper development.  The “one tournament per weekend” model ignores this fact and does more harm than good to a young basketball player creating injuries that could ruin that player’s career.

Beyond overuse injuries caused from excessive game play, basketball players fail to develop their weaknesses in the off season because they don’t have time to properly train, but rather focus on team practices and…you guessed it, more game play. Off season development is the basis for the success of college and professional basketball players.  Look no further than Lebron James.  Lebron has been criticized repeatedly throughout his career for his jump shot being a weakness in his game.  Guess what he has been working on the past few off seasons, his jump shot.  As a result, it is much improved and no longer his glaring weakness.  As a matter of fact, Lebron currently has his highest field goal percentage of his career this season at 58% from the floor.  This type of improvement does not come by accident.  It comes through hard work, hard work that takes place in the off season, something high school and youth basketball players no longer have.  The off season needs to be devoted to developing as a player.  The primary focus of this development should be on basketball skills then developing your athleticism, and then finally game play, not the other way around.  No one should be evaluating their game after their high school season, finding their weaknesses, and then going out and playing their way through them.  That is not a remedy for success but rather a system for failure.

Why don’t today’s basketball players have an off season?  Because most parents and coaches are convinced that AAU and game play is the be all, end all to competition and exposure and it is not.  In fact, too many games makes players numb to competition and winning and losing is no big deal since there will be another game in an hour or so.  Further more, as my friend Dewey Ferguson likes to say, AAU does not get you exposure, it gets you exposed.  Why?  Players fail to develop their game any more because they do not have the time to do so.  Consequently, their skills are stagnant and when they get on the court against better competition these weaknesses become exposed and you can kiss your exposure good bye.  Finally, the most important detriment excessive game play brings to the table is that it causes overuse injuries.  Youth athletes no longer have the time to rest their bodies and develop physically through sports performance training.  They simply have no off season anymore and as a result this current model is hurting the game of basketball as a whole.  If an off season is an essential part to the games of players who get paid millions to play basketball, shouldn’t it be an essential part for those who want to follow in their foot steps?


How do you feel about game play being the be all end all to a player’s off season?  Let me know in the comments section below.



Don’t Set Your DVR’s Just Yet.

I know that I usually devote my posts to basketball training and the lesson learned from this post is an important one and can be applied to basketball skill development and sports performance training.  So I am hoping that through my experience, I will be able to help the entire Elite Basketball Training community.  As many of you know, I have been bitten by the CrossFit bug and have made it a mandatory part of my daily schedule.  I absolutely love the intensity of the training, the camaraderie of the group classes, and the sense of accomplishment I feel after every workout. Beyond that, at the age of 36 I have gotten myself into the best shape of my life, feeling like I am in my low 20’s again.  What many of you might not know, is that the CrossFit Open began last week and I decided to throw my hat in the ring to see where I stand among the world’s fittest athletes.   The Open is the first stage of the CrossFit games, a worldwide competition to decide the fittest man and woman on Earth,  the culmination of which is showcased in the summer on ESPN.  If you have not seen this on tv yet I encourage you to check it out and I promise, you will not be able to pull your eyes away from it.  However, don’t tune in or set your dvr expecting to see me there…at least not yet.

Last week’s opening round WOD (workout of the day) 14.1 was a repeat of a WOD done three years ago and let’s just say it was quite a challenge.  In 10 minutes you had to complete as many reps/rounds as possible of 30 double unders and 15 power snatches at 75 pounds.   This particular WOD can get pretty technical with the double unders and the snatch being two of the more skill laden exercises in CrossFit but beyond that it is also a major challenge to the cardiovascular system. I have decided that I would do each WOD twice throughout the competition giving myself the opportunity to feel my way through the WOD the first time and then better my score the second time.  Such was not the case in 14.1.  I did complete the workout twice but the highest amount of total repetitions I could muster up was the 265 I achieved on my first attempt,  currently putting me right smack in 29,439th place.  Like I said, don’t tune in or set the DVR expecting to see me at the CrossFit games in 2014.  That being said, despite this humbling first round experience, I am excited to find out what is in store for  14.2, due to come out the Thursday at 8 pm, and excited to get back out there and compete again this week.

It is my excitement to get back out there that can serve as a learning experience for all of my Elite Basketball Training family.  I will be fully honest, I expected to score over 300 on this WOD and with a measly 265, I failed to accomplish my goal.  However, it is in that failure that I can learn and improve and therein lies the lesson for us to learn from.  Failure is inevitable as we all cannot be at our best all of the time.  However, it is a matter of what we do with those failures that will make the difference in our lives.   Having been disappointed with my score, I could have bagged it and stopped Crossfitting, but that’s not me and that would not serve to make me any better.  So I decided to look back at my two attempts and learn from my mistakes.

So, where did I go wrong?  In the first attempt at this WOD, it was my double unders.  Admittedly, I am a total spaz sometimes when it comes to this exercise and other times I am spot on.  For my first attempt, I was somewhere in between and that mediocrity did me in (oh yeah, and having to tie my shoe in the middle of a round because my jump rope clipped it and pulled it undone) because my snatch felt great that day.  On my second attempt at this, it was pacing and stamina that sacked me.  I felt great on the double unders and my snatch was good for about three rounds. However, my efficiency on the doubles enabled me move much quicker from round to round (completing two full rounds in under two minutes and 30 seconds) and my stamina was called into question.  I was not surprised by this though as I have been suffering from an injury for about a month and it has limited my training to the point where I even took two weeks off right before the Open, something that is unheard of for me.  Based on this information, my two big takeaways from my very first Open workout is that I need to become more consistent with my double unders and that I need to get my stamina back up to were it was in mid-December.  That being said, when my annoying bicep tendon heals, I will adjust my workouts accordingly to compensate for these changes.

Mistakes and faults apparent.  No one has epic performances all day every day, but it is through these mistakes and failures that improvement takes place.  I now must learn and adjust accordingly for next week and next year.   The same can be said for basketball skill development.  If you are struggling with your jump shot, find the problem, learn from it and fix it.  Do not keep making the same mistake over and over.  For it is one thing to fail, but it is another not to learn from those failures and adjust.