At the culmination of my all of my basketball skill development workouts, I always give each basketball player a recap of what we went over and something specific to work on over the next week until I see them again. Recently, I was explaining to one of my younger basketball players why his jump shooting form was so awkward. In his efforts to try to reach the rim from the three point line, he would throw his whole body into his jump shot and torque himself out of the proper shooting position. This bad habit has become semi-permanent in his game and the unorthodox nature of his shooting method causes him to consistently miss jumpshots in multiple directions from behind the three point line and from closer to the rim as well. This is a habit that has clearly been developed because of his determination to make three point shots despite not being a three point shooter just yet (to his credit, he did make tremendous strides during that workout and was knocking down more mid-range jumpers by the end). Nonetheless, the determination to make the three ball is shared by young players of all ages and is directly related to the poor jump shooting that seems to plague basketball at all levels.
Jump shooting in general seems to be suffering lately and in order to fix the issue, there needs to be a grass roots movement at the youth levels to do so. Let’s face it, young players just do not possess the strength to reach the rim from that distance so do not even let them try. Doing so causes them to develop bad habits that manifest themselves in their individual abilities and consequently affect the overall game itself. So how do you fix this issue? Eliminate the three.
Eliminating the three itself is obviously, not that simple (nor will it ever happen), however, eliminating the concept of the three pointer can be. As you run your drills, specifically your shooting drills only let the players take shots in their range, which for many youth players is no further than a mid-range jumper. Use, what I call, the Find Your Range Drill to help you as the coach/trainer and the player firm this distance up. To run the Find Your Range Drill, start three feet from the basket and have the player shoot with proper form. Once they make that shot, they can take a step back and repeat. Have the player continue to step back until they miss three shots from a specific spot, then the distance of that spot is their range for the duration of the practice or workout. Be strict with this by also not allowing the player to break from their proper shooting form. If they do, count it as a miss. Once a player’s range has been determined, then run your shooting drills while only allowing the player to shoot from their specific range. This should help the remedy the situation of a player jacking up threes that they cannot make during shooting drills.
Shooting drills are not the only part of a practice though and players should be encouraged to take more shots from within their range during game play as well. A simple solution to this problem is to make your live play a competitive game and give the players/team more points for two point jump shots and layups. For example, make a three point shot worth only one point, make a mid-range jumper worth three, and make a layup worth four points. Doing so will help the players take shots that are within their range but also help them understand the higher value that you as a coach place on getting easier shots.
Good jump shooting has diminished in recent history and it has a direct correlation to the the introduction of the three point line. Too many young players fall in love with trying to knock down three pointers even though they are not a three point shooter. Their continued attempts to make three pointers cause them to develop bad shooting habits that further hinder their ability to make shots from any position on the court. To fix this problem, we as coaches and trainers need to start at the youth level and eliminate the three pointer. Have players find their range and place more value on shots made from within the arc. The bottom line is, the team that scores the most always wins and if your players are all around poor jump shooters than you can guarantee that your team will not be the one on top in the end.