How to teach confidence in the ability to hit the basket with great consistency to the basketball shooter
Shooting is the most important skill in basketball. It is all about making baskets.
Coaches will always keep a player who can play defense and hustle; however, the easiest way to make a team is to be the best shooter. No coach will cut the best shooter. Every coach knows his team must score.
Iím sorry to say there are nearly as many shooting theories around as coaches; however, while theories differ, the goal is always the same. They want players with the ability to score consistently.
I am of the opinion the most important aspect is not the elbow or the legs, but the mind. For example, Reggie Miller's shot is not fundamentally sound, but he is among the most prolific shooters the NBA has ever seen. Miller's success is due to two things:
- Absolute confidence.
- Ability to get open to take and make big shots.
Confidence is not hard to teach. It comes from demonstrated ability and nothing else. No, confidence is not something you dream about and impossible to fake. You cannot wish it upon a player, but you can help him accomplish the feeling every shot will swish the net.
Oh yes, great shooters have bad days and suffer through slumps; however, their confidence never wavers. Iíve yet to see a great shooter without a short memory. Most believe their next shot is a swisher. It is vitally important that a shooter believes in himself and his shot.
Great shooters never think about missing; however, they must be able to catch the ball in a position to score. If they canít do that _ all the confidence in the world will not help make a shot. Therefore, the ability to move without the ball is imperative to a player's success. Players must be hard to guard without the ball. Constantly working on skills with the ball is not enough. Players must work to read screens and move with a purpose when the ball is not in their hands.
Great shooters think shot every time they catch the ball. A shooter has to shoot, and shooters possess this mentality. In order to shoot the ball when they receive it, players must:
- Should attempt to catch on a one count for a quicker shot.
- Turn their body to face the basket while in the air. (This will not always be possible; however, it should remain the goal, to land with body facing the basket, knees bent and ball in the shooting position, ready to immediately shoot the ball.)
Better shooters will know when they receive the pass whether they are open for the shot. They anticipate and think a play ahead.
As the player moves to an open spot and waits to receive the pass, he gauges the proximity of the nearest defender and the speed of the closeout. He will know upon reception whether he is open for the shot, whether he should drive to the basket, or pump fake and move to an opening with one dribble.
Great shooters anticipate, rather than react and therefore find the opening and take the shot, while others catch the ball and are easily defended. Against a zone, a shooter will find the gap, or a soft spot, positioning himself an equal distance between the nearest two defenders. He will catch the ball ready to shoot without wasted motion.
Ever great shooter I have seen will stay in motion, becoming hard to guard without the ball. He will know how to read screens and the defense in order to create openings. Larry Bird, who is married to my cousinís granddaughter, and one of the best shooters ever, was said to be the "master of the half inch."
That "Hick from French Lick" needed only the slightest amount of room to shoot or the narrowest advantage to get a step and drive on his defender. He created this advantage with movement and his ability to read screens.
Reggie Miller plays the game in a similar manner; he is like the Energizer Bunny on offense. However, he doesn't just run around; he cuts with a purpose. He reads the defense so he can flare, pocket or curl. Reggie sees a switch or cheat and punishes them. Miller wears out defenders through his motion and he scores with his ability to find an opening and shoot the ball.
Here are a few drills Iíve used in the past to teach absolute confidence in shooters and the ability to get open to take and make big shots. Iíll give you simple illustrations in that order.
Absolute Confidence in Shooters
Grooving Your Shot (1 player & 1 ball)
When you begin shooting at the start of any session, you should begin close to the basket, and work your way out. Start one step from the basket and shoot with one hand. With fingers comfortably spread and the ball in your shooting hand, but not resting on the palm, extend it palm up directly in front. If right handed, slowly bring the ball about one inch above the top of your head. You can check the position of the ball in your hands, the position of your elbow need not be directly under the ball, whether you are keeping your eyes on your target, and your follow-through. At this time shoot all shots without the helper hand. Once you reach the free throw line without a miss, shoot 10 free throws and record your score in a notebook. The advantage to this technique is that players get a chance to hit quite a few shots, building confidence, but also developing proper shooting technique.
15 Hole Golf Game (2 players & one ball)
One player shoots while the other rebounds, feeds him the ball and acts as a coach. This could be a continuation of Groving Your Shot and is an excellent confidence builder. Player starts at 1 and rotates on to 15. He must use good techique for all shots. His eyes must stay focused on the target which in most cases will be the front of the rim, except those at a 45 degree angle, his target should be the upper corner of the box above the goal. Always keep reminding him of his target. He stays at each hole until he makes the shot, then moves on to the next hole. After completion of all shots, he records his score in, then shoots 10 free throws and recording the score. At that point players reverse their roles. The Coach can establish par for the course in advance of the season. I've had players go rounds with no more than one miss. They all told me they felt every shot would go in once they formed the proper shooting technique such as keeping the helper hand out of the shot, getting legs into the shot, high arch, backspin on the ball and holding the follow through.
TIght, Flare & Pocket (4 players & 2 balls)
Zone Shots Machine Gun (3 players & 2 balls)
L Machine Gun Shots (3 players & 2 balls)
L Shot Fake Dribble left (3 players & 2 balls)
L Shot Fake Dribble right (3 players & 2 balls)
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