I have to thank Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors for making jump shooting relevant again. There was a period of time prior to their resurgence that many players and coaches seemed to have forgotten about the importance of jump shooting and where it fit into the game of basketball. Clouded by the glitz and the glam of the dunk the jump shot became overlooked. Young players favored NBA guys who could posterize their opponents with air defying slams rather than those who could light it up from deep. The times they are a changing though and that is all thanks to players like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant who can shoot the basketball.
In their efforts to shoot like these guys, youth basketball players are working more on their jump shot than ever. This can and should be a good thing, but it does have its detriments. Practicing your jump shot is obviously a positive. However, practicing your jump shot with incorrect form from ranges that you cannot shoot from is a negative. Doing so will only build bad habits and make you a worse jump shooter. I have always maintained that jump shooting is about learning to shoot the ball correctly and then shooting the ball correctly a lot. So with that in mind, I decided to give a list of my top five jump shooting tips.
- Shoot the ball straight. There is no replacement for shooting the basketball straight and our Elite Shooting System addresses this with three components: release the ball off your middle and index finger, keep your guide hand in tight on the finish and align your shooting shoulder and shooting hip with your target.
- Use your body efficiently. The body is like a machine. Machines work significantly better when the parts are all working together in a certain way. For your jump shot, your hips and shoulders need to work together to produce an effortless jump shot.
- Dip the ball. In order to add rhythm and power to your jump shot, dip the ball slightly on the catch doing so will get you into your shooting motion and NO it will not slow down your jumper. Just look at the previously mentioned players, they all do it.
- Incorporate forward momentum. Do not wait for the ball to come to you. Step or hop towards the ball. Doing so will put you in rhythm to shoot the ball and also add and element of quickness to your jump shot.
- Warm up progressively. Too many players walk on to the court and begin by shooting from 20 feet away. Instead start your warm up close to the rim, maybe three or four feet away. Make a prescribed number of shots from that distance and then slowly progress backwards. At every Elite Basketball Training session my players must make a total of 80 shots from no further than the foul line before beginning their live game shooting drills. This gives them the opportunity to groove their form and get into a flow.
If you are interested in learning more about these five jump shooting tips and our Elite Shooting System, contact me today or visit the Elite Basketball Training page for details.
This week while riding into work I was once again listening to Mike and Mike as I always do. With the college football playoffs recently released, that was a hot button topic on the show, particularly, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide who appear to be a lock to win their second consecutive championship. Nick Saban, the iconic head coach of the Tide is on quite a run with them and did not do to shabby when he was the coach of their now rival, LSU, winning a BCS national championship there. Former pro football player turned analyst was a guest on the show and, having been an all SEC player for Saban while at LSU was asked what one thing makes Nick Saban such an incredible coach. Without hesitation, Clark responded, “He’s allergic to mediocrity.” Clark further explained that Saban demanded that you play with fire on every play and if you didn’t he’d just get rid of you. There was no in between.
Are you a player or coach who is allergic to mediocrity? One that will accept nothing less than the best on every play of every practice or game? The great players and coaches in any sport are like this. That is what makes them who they are. When they are alone in a dark, lonely gym working on their game, the perform just as hard as they would when the lights are on and the house is packed. As I alluded to last week, great players are great all the time. They do not have a switch that they turn on and off. There is no middle ground with these players. They are not allergic to mediocrity.
Let me know your thoughts on mediocrity and how hard you practice to develop your basketball skills.
Day in an day out for about the past 10 years, for better or for worse, I have listened to Mike and Mike on my morning drive into work. They annoy me, or at least Greenie does, but yet I still listen. This week was no different…Greenberg continued to anger me with his dopy analogies and over-analytical thought process. For the past four days, I have listened to him ask anyone who would listen why the Denver Broncos would have kicked a 62 yard field goal at the end of the game on Sunday night when a miss would seal the deal for them to lose. In case you were wondering, they missed and they lost. Greenberg’s feelings were that they should have punted the ball and played for the tie. The tie! I believe it was the great Paul “Bear” Bryant who once said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” Who the heck goes out and practices day in and day out to play for a tie? No one, because true competitors play to win the game.
This brings up the notion of a player’s ability to compete. Great players compete all the time…every day, every drill, every play. Good players will only compete some of the time. And, bad players, well, there is a reason they are bad, they almost never compete. I once coached a player who scored 1500 career points in high school, was looked at by many Division 1 schools for basketball but chose to play football at Oklahoma where he started as a wide receiver for a brief period of time. He was, arguably, the most competitive player that I ever coached, to the point where I truly believed that he believed he should make every shot that he took. Seriously, there were times that I could remember sitting him down to explain that making every shot was just not possible and that he needed to relax and continue to play. None of those conversations ever took away his competitive drive though, and that is what made him great. He would never be satisfied with playing for the tie because that is not competing, that is not what great players do.
Great players compete all day every day and even in their sleep. Their ability to compete all the time is what makes them great and they know that this is a skill that you cannot just turn on and off. So if you have a desire to achieve greatness on the court, now is the time to start competing. Get after it and train hard.
Turning Your Feet or Square Up
Last week I was having a conversation with a parent about jump shooting and we got on the subject of what you should do with your feet. In other words, should you square them to the basket or turn them on a 45 degree angle to the side. The parent was saying that as a young athlete he turned his feet and that he sees great jump shooters nowadays turn their feet but that many jump shooting coaches that he taken his son to in NJ teach the players to point all ten toes to the rim. Asking, “why do these coaches continue to teach jump shooting this way? As a jump shooting coach in New Jersey, I am of the mindset that players should turn their feet on their jump shot slightly on the set up but even more so on the finish. With that in mind, the only answers that I can come up with is that they just have not as coaches evolved with the game of basketball or they are unclear about what they mean when they use the phrase square up.
Why Basketball Players Should Turn Their Feet
It is hard to watch a basketball game that feature great jump shooters like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant and walk away from that game saying that those players square up to the rim on their jump shot. In fact, not only do they turn their feet when setting up to shooting, they finish with their feet even more turned at the end. Turning you feet has a number of advantages for a jump shooter. In a game where players are more physically developed and actually have lat muscles, squaring to the basket can put your shooting shoulder and elbow roughly three or more inches outside your target. This being the case, players are also taught to tuck their elbow in as a way to compensate for the offset. If you have ever shot this way, it is highly uncomfortable. Anyone who has ever shot a basketball knows that discomfort in your jumper can and will produce misses. To avoid this discomfort and line your shooting shoulder and hip with the basket, all you need to do is turn on an angle. This position is far more comfortable, accurately in line with the rim and, by the way, your elbow is now in by virtue of the turn. From this point, all you have to do is shoot the basketball straight.
Why Coaches Use the Phrase “Square Up”
So why do coaches still teach their players to square themselves to the rim? Answers vary, but my only guess is that they were taught this way and as a result continue to teach these antiquated methods. The other thought is that maybe the coaches are unclear on what they mean by squaring up. I have come across many basketball players who believe they are squaring themselves to the basket and are actually turned slightly to start and even more so to finish. That being said, maybe the phrase itself needs a little bit of explaining, especially when it comes to teaching the jump shot properly.
Are you interested in learning more about our Elite Jump Shooting System? If so, visit our training page today for more details on how we can help you turn misses into swishes.
Individual and team defense in basketball has taken a hit over the last couple of decades due to decreased practice time and no focused effort from coaches to teach it. Players do not seem to understand how to guard their man and guarding a man off the ball two or three passes away is almost nonexistent. Defensively, basketball players guarding the ball are content to let their man go by them off the dribble and get to the rim and players off the ball would be better served being a matador in the bull ring with their ¨reach and get out of the way” methods of defending than an actual basketball player. Nonetheless, this lack of defensive ability is not entirely their fault and nor is it the coaches. In fact, it is more a product of gym time or lack there of than anything else.
With the increased number of basketball teams around the country, travel and rec, it has created an issue with gym time. There are just not enough gyms and not enough available time slots to accommodate all of these teams. Furthermore, if there is enough gym time made available, it limits teams to a little over an hour one time a week. Consequently, when coaches do get in the gym with their players the majority of their focus is on their teamś offense and maybe some team defense that is usually in the form of a zone. Why zone? It is believed to be much easier and less time consuming to teach than man to man defense and coaches can get away with giving it some sort of cursory effort. This could not be further from the truth. To play a zone defense correctly and effectively, players must first learn to play man to man defense. In fact, the best zone defenses are actually really great man to man defenses whose players understand how to guard the man in their area as well as be a help defender when off the ball. On the flip side, really great man to man defenses function as a zone with players helping off the ball into an area and then recovering with the movement of the basketball.
To develop this type of successful zone defense, takes a ton of time and practice. When I coached at the high school level, we spent a segment of every practice every day doing defensive breakdown drills for the variety of defenses that we played. That being said, we also had the gym space and the time to. With only one day in the gym each week for some of these travel and recreational basketball teams, that time just does not exist. Therefore, teaching team defense becomes an afterthought. The prevailing thought of, ¨Letś just play zone because all they player has to do is guard an area.” This notion does not take much time or effort and is so far from the truth but the unfortunate reality of the lack of gym time in America today.