The Secret to Playing Your Best Basketball

Basketball

The answer to this question will not be to do more drills, practice more, play more games, or to play against better competition.  Surprise! These are all important, but none of them are the most important thing to know. Now that I have your attention, read on.

We have had the opportunity to work with many promising young players who possess loads of skill and potential. During the years we have also seen a few of those same players struggle in game situations, seemingly unable to match their skill potential to game production. Sometimes, the on-court struggle becomes so bad that the player finds themselves riding the pine, only to play more awful every time they see the court.

This scenario is also one of the most widely asked questions we get from coaches: that possessing skill does not necessarily guarantee success on the court or in a game.  This question is usually followed up with the quote “I have this one player who is a gym rat and can do all the drills, but….”  You can guess the rest.  The scenario they point out can be very true.

It doesn’t make logical sense to extrapolate that to all basketball players – more skill generally means better production. But, there is a common cause for this particular situation, and today’s post provides a secret to any player to escape this scenario should they encounter it.  And guess what – most of you have a high probability of encountering it as you continue to play against better and better competition.

The Cause

The primary cause of mental lock up – which prevents a player from playing “free” of distractions during a game, with perfect focus, and amazing production – is a disconnect between a player’s expectations of themselves and the team’s needs to win.

Let me be more precise.   Every time I see a player struggle over a long period of time, when their skill says they should not be struggling,  EVERY TIME, it is due to the player entering a season or a game with a pre-set expectation of what should happen.

For example, a player thinks that they are a 25 point per game scorer before the season begins, but during the first three games, they score only 5, 10 and 8 points.  Soon, the player starts to panic.  He or she hears the voices from a parent, from friends, from imaginary scouts in the gym.   “What’s wrong ?”  “Why aren’t you scoring more – you should be scoring more”   “Your not going to earn your scholarship, all-conference, etc.”

Then, the spiral starts to happen.  The player starts to compete with other players on the team who might be scoring more, fearful that another player is going to get that scholarship, or get noticed.  Now, instead of playing to beat the other team, the player starts to try to beat their own teammates in games.  They begin to press their game, almost as if in a panic.

Now in an attempt to do even more,  they take chances on defense, and get burned.  They make more turnovers, their shot gets a little stiff and stops going in, and the basket shrinks so that it looks like it’s only 2 inches in diameter.   Now, the coach starts to look at the stat sheet and notices that the player who was supposed to be a top contributor is shooting only 20% from the field and turning it over 6 times a game.  Worse – they are making mistakes on defense and bringing the team down.

When this happens, the coach has no choice but to find other players who might be less skilled but more focused, and bench time ensues. Because of this, the player starts to blame the coach for the struggles, and the coach senses this and gives up on the player, relegating the player to mop up minutes.

Sound familiar?  Have you seen this happen?   I have and it happened to me once.  It’s a very frustrating cycle that can spiral into a complete collapse of confidence and a miserable basketball experience.  I don’t wish it on anyone, but I see it happen all too often. Thankfully, there is a simple, powerful cure to stop this cycle.

The Cure

When I see players enter this cycle and I hear the blame moving towards teammates or coaches, I dedicate an entire session to talking about the only thing that matters. If players can grasp the only thing that matters, and understand the importance of it, then the player magically starts to play free again within a matter of a few games, finally matching their potential.  The secret has nothing to do with physical skill.

What is the only thing that matters? Focusing on the rim more?  Nope. Playing better defense? Not really. More practice time?  Not even close.

The only thing that matters, and the only thing a player should focus on during a game, is the scoreboard. More importantly, focus on the score. At every point in the game the player should only ask themselves questions surrounding the score. Are we winning?  Are we winning by enough?  What can I do to help us win.  Period. That is it. Think of nothing else.

When you put all of your energy into a simple goal that says I am going to do whatever it takes to win, then what happens is that you free your mind to focus on only one thing.  And the more focus your mind has will have a direct effect on how well you make decisions (fewer turnovers, better defense) how confidently you make them (better shooting, penetration) and how well your energy transfers to your teammates (better chemistry).  Magically, your coach starts to notice your production and his or her confidence builds in you.  You get more playing time and start to produce even more. And soon, your team is on a winning streak.

In the end, the best players ever in the game knew this secret. They were winners and focused everything on winning.  Period.   Don’t believe me?   Ask Bill Russell who was awarded the Medal of Freedom this week for being one of the greatest winners of all time.  Funny thing – he wasn’t much of a scorer.  He seemed to do everything in his power and to his skill to win.  And he won at every level.  I guarantee you that Bill Russell focused his mind on winning games.   There are countless other examples just like him.

The answer, the secret, may seem too simple, but clearing the voices from your head is very tough.  The best way to do it is to focus.  By far the most effective, productive, focus point for you mind that will lead to wild success for you is to focus it on the scoreboard, and to always ask yourself what do I need to be doing right now to win this game.

Release Arc and Follow Through in Shooting

Shot Arc

In the post on release mechanics and the focus on energy during shooting, we shared the basketball drill Up and Outs. It’s a simple drill you can do to get the timing of the lift using your core muscles in sync with the upward lift of the ball and its rotation into a shooting position. If you do the drill correctly, your hands are always placed correctly on the ball, the shooting elbow is always in, and you are low, knees bent, before you receive the ball for the next shot.

But what about the part when you shoot?  How do you release the energy into the ball so that it does what you want it to do, which is go in the basket?   Great question.

A player can do everything we have discussed to this point correctly, and so much to a shot’s mechanics can go right just about to when the ball is released, then the wheels can fly off the truck if this last part is missing.    Here is what you MUST know.

  1. The ball must be in the power point of your shooting hand when you shoot.
  2. Your shooting elbow should NOT flare out, but don’t tuck it in too far to the body.
  3. We strongly recommend shooting from the eyebrow, going up and out at about 50 degrees.
  4. You Must generate power from your ONE wrist to provide touch and backspin to the ball.
  5. You MUST follow through to the rim – pointing to your target after the ball is released.

If you can execute these last five steps, then the Up (ball rotating up to the eyebrow with the hands cocked back, ready to release) and Out (the release angle and follow through) will be complete and correct.  Let’s discuss.

Remember, the final release ultimately should be a ONE handed shot. The off-hand, or balance hand, should be used for just that – to balance the ball in the shooting hand.  DO NOT use the off-hand thumb to add power to the ball.

“Thumbers” as we call them, generate power from the off-hand and this can many times (not all the time) cause misses to the left or right, low backspin, or sidespin.  But as Reggie Miller (a famous “Thumber”) would quickly point out, thumbing the ball does not always mean that you will miss. He had an ridiculous use of both hands on his shot, but the results spoke for themselves.) Still, so that you learn to effectively bring all that leg power to the right spot and to maximize accuracy, we recommend you learn to release the shot without thumbing.

When you can maintain the ball in the “power point” of your shooting hand than the power you generate from your legs and transfer through the core will be waiting for you to release it through the wrist.  So, it’s very important when you practice to get used to how the proper technique feels. If you are not used to it, the motion may feel very weird at first.

Now that you have the ball at your eyebrow with your elbow in line with the basket, and the off-hand balancing the ball but not thumbing it, the release towards the rim can begin. With the ball in the “power point”, you have maximum control and power ready and waiting at your disposal.  Now all that work to get the ball to the rim is worth it because you have harnessed it to this one point in time.

As your wrist starts to move out towards your target, the goal is to snap the wrist towards the target at an approximately 50 degree angle.  We say approximate because that release arc can change depending on your height or distance to the rim. Generally a 50 degree release will give the ball a chance to enter the basket at 45 degrees, its optimal entry arc.

When you snap the wrist, the off-hand should have left the ball at this point, and the very last finger to touch the ball is the index finger which should be pointing straight at the target (the front of the rim). If the ball is pointing anywhere else, this indicates a shooter has weak wrists.

We know that excellent shooters can generate about 135 spins per minute onto the ball, so if your wrists are too weak to do this, spend time doing some Flicker work against the backboard.  I credit my college scholarship to this drill, so it is a very good one to do every day.

Flicker Drill: Stand straight up, isolate your wrists high, and just flick the ball up with your wrists, emphasizing the release point to the target.   After awhile you will feel your wrist muscles start to hurt and this should tell you that you are doing the drill correctly.

That’s it.  Pretty simple, right?  Just take a ball, chuck it up there, and in it goes.  What the kinetic shooting series should highlight is that shooting is an EXTREMELY complex series of movements that require as much timing, coordination, and repetition to become proficient. Anyone can be a great shooter, but to do so you must be prepared to commit to many repetitions of the correct way to shoot.

We have shared many basketball skills and drills on our YouTube channel, and plan to share even more on the blog in the future. In the meantime, do your best to stay disciplined and focused during your shooting workouts.  Remember, the three point line is not your friend if you don’t have your mechanics right. The risk that you will learn to shoot incorrectly is very high.   Stay close, stay focused, create little games that keep your attention on the right mechanics, use your 94Fifty basketball and app, and improve that shot.

Read the other posts in this series:

  1. Kinectic Energy and Basketball – What?
  2. Kinetic Shooting Energy: The Source of Power
  3. Shooting Energy: The Patience Of Energy Transfer
  4. Release Mechanics and the Focus of Energy

Release Mechanics and the Focus of Energy

Basketball Hand Shooting

To this point in the kinetic energy shooting series, we have covered the “what” of kinetic energy and basketball, the source of power, and how patience plays a role in energy transfer for shooting.  All of these mechanics are important with shooting and accuracy.

In the source of power, we talked about the importance of mental patience with the ball as energy transfers through the core muscles up towards the shoulders, at which point the shooter needs to begin hand rotation on the ball into a release position.  There are four parts to a release to consider including:

  1. Hand placement and rotation to begin the shot.
  2. Hand rotation and ball control in the hand during the shot.
  3. Shot release angle.
  4. Follow through to maximize how to put the perfect amount of energy (touch) into the ball.

Hand rotation is extremely important for energy transfer.  When the shot is in the holster (which is the starting position off the pass or dribble) hand placement is really important to make sure that the final release energy is maximized AND controlled.  Where should the hand be placed? Good question – we see many shooters who do a nice job of generating leg power start to fail right here.

The optimal hand position for shooting the basket is is to place the index (pointer finger) pointing 180 degrees from the body.  Take a ball and spread your fingers on it as if you are going to shoot, and put your index finger just under the needle hole.  The index finger should point straight out from the shooter and into that hole.  If your index finger starts at any other angle, your hands are already at a disadvantage when it will come time to release the ball.  But why?

Look at what happens to the elbow when the hand is too far to the outside of the ball and your index finger points “in” – the shooting elbow starts to flare.   When the elbow flies out, it is almost certain to lead to a push shot or a shot with funky backspin.  Too many times a shooter will start with their hands too far to the outside of the ball, immediately increasing the likelihood that power will be found in the wrong places when it comes time to release the ball.

The next point is to make sure that the ball is not held or rotated from the middle of the body.  While it might feel comfortable to put the ball at the belly button and raise it to the middle of the forehead, this shot line will make it difficult to release the ball accurately and efficiently.

We always teach shooters to release the ball at a line the runs up from their shooting knee to their eyebrow (right eyebrow for right hand shooters, left for left hand shooters).   It’s a straight, efficient line.  If you put the ball at the belly button or tuck it under the chin, your elbow flares and your eyes get obstructed (yes, you will need to use your eyes). Players run the risk of hitching the shot somewhere.

The other critical piece to hand placement is to consider where the ball rests on the hand.  There is a particular point on the hand that will generate the most power for a shooter by far, we call it the “power point.”   This point is the pad of the index finger that exists between the thumb and the middle finger.

We always teach the ball to rest across the upper pads of all the fingers, but the “power point” pad is particularly critical.   The thumb should be spread wide on the ball to create a small gap that you can see through.  Putting the ball too far into the fingertips, effectively cupping the ball in fingers will cause a huge loss of power at release, while putting the ball all the way into the palm of the hand will cause a loss of control.   The “power point” is the place to be so practice getting it to that spot quickly.

Our favorite drill for enforcing the discipline of receiving the ball and rotating it to the shooting position is called Up and Outs.  We start every shooter at 5 feet from the basket in a shooting stance with hands ready to receive the ball and “feed” the ball directly into their hands.  We make sure that the hand placement is correct during this process and that the player raises and rotates the ball in the line from the knee to the eyebrow and then the shot.  The player tries to swish every shot, and we repeat for 10 shots then again at 8 feet and 12 feet.  The next “feed’ is not done unless the player is ready to receive it.

Next week we will discuss the release arc and follow through. The 94Fifty basketball drills in the app help improve your skills, but understanding the purpose behind the mechanics is a good start to understanding why it’s so important.

Read the other posts in this series:

  1. Kinectic Energy and Basketball – What?
  2. Kinetic Shooting Energy: The Source of Power
  3. Shooting Energy: The Patience Of Energy Transfer

Shooting Energy: The Patience Of Energy Transfer

94F-ShootingMetrics

We will take a quick detour as we discuss the topic of energy transfer and talk about the movie Bravehart. Yes, you heard that right. Stay with me and it will all make sense.

Mel Gibson (playing William Wallace) has assembled his rag-tag army to fight the mighty British army.  It looks on paper like they have no chance to win. Charging at them full speed are about 300 thundering heavy horses saddled with heavily armored and armed men, and behind them another 5,000 soldiers on foot.  Mel’s men see this massive charge surging at them and aren’t doing anything – they look terrified as the ground shakes and the horses speed towards them.

In fact, Mel keeps yelling to his men in his fake Scottish accent to “Hoooold….Hoooold…..Hooooooold.”   Finally at the last minute, right before the horses run through his line, he yells “NOW!”  The Scottish army then picks up these huge long spears, plants one end of them in the ground and points the spear right at the oncoming charge.   The horses can’t stop in time, the British realize they are in deep trouble as the horses run into their spears, and cutting right to the end, the Scots pick up a much needed upset victory.

Fast forward 700 years to this blog post.  What is the point?  I’ll come back to the movie in a bit.

With shooting, there is a very similar mental discipline with great shooters – they know how to be patient with the ball as they transfer the energy from their legs (using both legs with power distributed equally) into their core muscles (buttocks, stomach, back) and up to their wrists.   This patience allows the leg power to easily create momentum into the ball as the player raises the ball to the release point at the wrists.

The problem with many shooters is that they are not patient with this energy transfer, which requires precise timing that MUST be sequential.  This specific sequence is as follows:

1) Legs power up and with equally distributed power.

2) Core muscles tighten, and the core and shoulders start to move up off the ground.

3) The ball, which starts in the holster (not the shoulder, chin, or anywhere above the stomach), now starts to move up in sequence with the core.

4) The shoulders raise the ball and allow the wrist to “rotate” into a release position just above the shoulders as the player starts to leave the floor.

5) Player releases the ball.

The difficult part of this sequence is that all of those steps must occur in as little as .6 to .8 seconds for an accurate, fast shooter.  That is fast. And it’s easy to see why it presents a problem for young shooters.

A common flaw we see is that shooters will raise the ball too early, reversing steps 2 and 3 above, before the energy is transferred into their core.  Many times players will start the ball at the shoulders instead of the holster, which we immediately will correct. There is very little chance for energy transfer to occur if the ball starts above the mid-section.

Even when players start in the holster, they raise the ball up above the core muscles too early in the shot.  We call this problem “leading with the ball,” when instead we want the player to “power the ball up with the legs.” This flaw is a sinister one.  It’s very difficult for players to spot, and even more difficult to correct once it has become habit.  But the obvious signs of “leading with the ball” are that you get a seemingly physically strong player struggling to find any range, arc or backspin on the shot.

So what happens to a player when they shoot out of sequence?

First, the ball finds itself up too high and waiting for energy.  When the ball waits for energy, it has lost momentum, and now the player has to find a second burst of energy into the ball to restart momentum.  The problem is that all of that power from the legs is now gone – and the only remaining source of power is the shoulder or what you may see has a “hitch” in a players shot.

A hitch looks like there are two shots in one.  The player starts up, the ball hesitates somewhere, and then you see some sort of pike at the waist or ugly looking release with little arc and backspin.  The player has literally tried to find power from sources not capable of getting the ball to the rim.  Ugliness ensues, no one is happy, and both the player and coach get frustrated.

Fixing the problem is tough – but here is the lesson to be learned by a famous Scottsman waiting to be trampled by 300 armored heavy horse:    Fight the temptation to act too soon.  Timing is everything.  Remember the movie and those words “Hooold…Hooold!” (said in a Scottish accent if you can)

The player hasto learn how to keep the ball in sync with the core muscles as the shooting energy flows up to the shoulders and wrist.  Mental patience is the key to this success.  And by far the best way we have found to teach this patience is with a heavy medicine ball.

As with all shooting mechanics training, limit the player to remain within 5 to 10 feet (1.75 -3.25 meters) of the basket using at least a 5lb (10kg) ball. Be sure to enforce that the player starts each shot with the ball in the “holster”, and allow the weight of the ball to require the player to power it up to the basket with their legs and core.  The goal is to train the player to propel the ball to the basket with the leg/core muscle combination while still enforcing a proper release/follow through.

What the player will immediately recognize is that they cannot “lead with the ball” because it feels like shooting a ball made of lead.  The player can no longer raise the ball too early, and as we have seen, the mind will start to recognize what you want it to do and will start to learn the new method.   Have the player repeat this exercise in sets of 20 at this distance, then repeat it again at 8 feet, and then 10 feet.

Diligently continue this process for a couple of weeks, and both you and the player will be amazed at the results: a transformation of an inefficient, range-limited shooter into a smooth, effortless shooter with confidence.   Unless of course the release mechanics need work, which we will cover in the next post in this series.

Teaching energy transfer requires discipline and patience. Every time you want to give up, or you see the player wanting to revert back to their old habits, just picture 300 heavy horse charging at you, (or a 6’5 long-armed defender) and stick to the program.   Shooting confidently and accurately at long-range is one of the most satisfying parts of this game.  It’s well worth the wait, and your shooting career depends on it.

Next up, the final addition to the shooting series:   Release Mechanisms

Read the other posts in this series:

Kinetic Shooting Energy: The Source of Power

Basketball Player Shooting

In the post on kinetic energy and its impact on shooting, we shared a conceptual, 50,000 foot summary of what kinetic energy is, and why it is applicable to shooting a basketball. This post will cover where energy originates for great shooters, and what all great shooters do to maximize energy into their shot.

When we encounter shooters who struggle with generating efficient or sufficient power for their shot, we immediately look at a player’s legs. Why? Legs are the jet engines for a shooter.

We always ask players if they think they could make a basketball move at 450 miles an hour.  The answer is always NO. Although most look at us knowing that there is another answer – and there is.  The fact is that anyone can make a ball travel that fast, just take one up on the plane during your next vacation and give someone a pass up the aisle.  If the plane is traveling at 445 miles an hour, and you pass the ball at 5 miles an hour towards the front of the plane, the ball now travels at 450 miles an hour.  The energy from the plane has already been transferred into the ball – you just gave it an extra shot of energy.

Why is this relevant?  Because that same principle applies with the power generated from a shooter’s legs and into the ball. Legs are by far the largest source of power for any shooter.  Efficient shooters understand that they can make a shot release seem effortless by generating power from the legs first and transferring that power through the core and into the wrists.   But we commonly see shooters who have never learned to use their legs.

Many poor shooters don’t enter their shot with enough bend in the knees to create this power.  In fact, too many shooters start their shot standing straight up and down and then try to bend their knees after they have caught the ball.   All of this creates inefficient power that is very difficult to harness into accuracy and range without using a less efficient or accurate source.

So what are the keys to efficient power generation? I just realized this is sounding a bit like an infomercial for air conditioning units. Here are three points that we teach and measure to generate power when shooting:

Practice a deeper knee bend into the shot with the player’s weight on the balls of the feet.

It’s amazing how many shooters just don’t bend their knees or bend them way too late into the shot.  This habit almost guarantees that the shooter will look to other less efficient power sources like the shoulders or off hand to get the ball to the rim. It’s also important that as younger players become more advanced they learn to step into the shot before they catch the ball to increase momentum even more efficiently.

Too many players wait until they catch the ball before they begin this motion, which again causes a loss of power.  As a secondary habit, many players put their weight into their heels rather than the balls of the feet, taking away their ability to get efficiently off the ground.

Jump slightly towards the rim without turning.

This one is important.  Many shooters rely too heavily on their strong leg when they jump, creating an uneven power distribution into the shot.  The symptom?  You can see these shooters by the way they turn their hips on the jump.

Coaches need to focus these players on getting their feet set towards the rim as they approach their shot, and to come in low. Mark a clear landing area during practice so that players can visualize how much they turn their hips from their original shooting position.

Learning to set up a shot with a deeper knee bend will help players that step into the shot too vertical.  These players lose energy by having to “bounce” their legs down then up again to create force.  Doing so also adds time to the shot, which is a secondary effect to the loss of range that will also occur with this habit.

Avoid drift on the jump.

Look more closely and you will see what we call “drift,”  which means they drift slightly left or right because one leg is generating more power than the other.   We correct these symptoms by teaching players how to jump evenly with both legs, off the ground, and slightly towards the rim.  Many great shooters will land slightly ahead of their starting point, which indicates they have learned to use their legs as “jet engines” for the ball.

Now that you have a grasp of the how to harness and practice using the most abundant source of power, the next post in this series will zero in on the transfer of energy through the core muscles.   We will finish up the series discussing shot release, including how to generate spin and arc for deadly accuracy. Until then, focus on the source of power and you will begin to see immediate results in both accuracy and range.

Kinetic Energy and Basketball – What?

Before you tune this one out due to the dangerous dive I am taking into physics, math, and basketball, give me a moment to explain the topic.  It might be one that can make the difference between a 30% FG percentage shooter and a 50% shooter.

Have you ever wondered why some very physically strong players shoot the ball and have no range to the shot – and if you add any distance, it almost seems as if they have to use all of their energy just to get the ball to the rim?  While at the same time a very small, skinny kid can accurately get the ball to the rim with ease from great distance?  Ever wonder what is happening?

We do – we wonder about it all the time.   In fact, we measure it and try to understand what is happening and then develop ways for others to teach how to shoot more efficiently.   The answer, as it turns out, is found in kinetic energy.   In simple physics, kinetic energy is very briefly described as the transfer of energy between moving objects.

In basketball terms, it becomes the transfer of energy from the legs, through the core, and into the shooter’s wrist. This is no easy task and it requires a lot of coordination and very precise timing, but it clearly explains why a very skinny player can have great range with effortless motion while strong players have no range, accuracy, and a very effort-full shot.   The effortless shooter has learned how to time the transfer of energy from one large power source (legs), to a very specific point (wrists and hands) to make a shot go further, with more accuracy, and less energy.

We have learned and studied the various power sources used by great shooters vs. those used by just average or poor shooters, and we understand how to train shooters to transfer energy efficiently.   In the series of posts to come, we will be examining these power sources specifically and describing how we measure them so that all of our readers can get in tune with their inner “shooting energy.”

Spend some time during the warm-ups of the next game you go to and watch every player shoot.  But instead of watching to see if the the ball goes in, see if you can start to spot the good energy transfer shooters from the not so good.  Our next post will explain what is happening.

Sources of Power while Playing Basketball

Basketball Players Shooting

Ever wonder about the source of poor shooting mechanics? Where do they come from and why? When you think about what a player is trying to accomplish, it’s pretty simple to identify.

Poor mechanics come from the need for power.  Not power in the “I am going to run the world variety” but power in the ball needs some form of energy to get  to the rim power.  So what do players do who still need to develop mechanics and strength in the right places?  They search for sources of power that while inefficient in motion at least get the ball to the rim.

We have talked about these before.  Players using their shoulders instead of their wrists.  They jump with their dominant leg while forgetting they have another one to use, turning their hips into the shot, pushing the ball or thumbing it with their off hand.  All in attempt to get distance too soon in their playing days because for some reason we have become fixated with making 3 pointers. Yes players can develop a decent shooting percentage with an imperfect mechanical release, but they rarely if ever become automatic shooters.

The discipline to develop the proper sources of power is rare, which I suppose it is so noticeable when someone has a perfect shooting stroke its rare. But the correct sources of power for the perfect stroke are not secrets. They just take patience to develop.  What are they?  Here is the list:

Your wrists.  Believe it or not the wrists are the most important source of power to develop.  Strong wrists bring proper backspin, arch, touch, and distance.  Once strong wrists are developed, players quickly develop confidence in eliminating extraneous movement in the shot because they don’t need them anymore. To develop this power, we have a number of simple drills that players should live by that we will discuss in another post.

Your legs.  With an emphasis on the plural. Too many times we see players that rely on only their strong legs to shoot, forgetting that they in fact, have another leg that also wants to join the party but is too often left at home. Why?  Its easier to jump off the strong leg and heave the ball at an early age.  Once the single leg jump is in the brain, the off-leg never really learns to jump with the same force and power as the strong leg unless you spend the time teaching it too.  It’s well worth the effort though, as not only does a two-leg jump give you power, it also gives you a very straight shot because the shoulders and release will stay square with the waist (in most cases)

Your core muscles. What?  Ok you mean legs again? No. Your core, as in abdominals, obliques, lower back, and hip muscles. You will be amazed at how much lift those muscles play into getting off the ground, and that lift is energy and power transferred into the ball. Strengthen these muscles, and you gain distance quickly along with a great deal of balance.  Both critical for maintaining a square jump off the dribble or pass.

Notice that I did not mention shoulders or biceps. While these two muscle groups are popular because they make you look strong, they should not play into your ability to have a consistent, deep, mechanically sound shot. I’ve seen way too many super skinny shooters with perfect mechanics that can shoot the lights out of it from just about anywhere. They simply know how to generate power from the right places and maintain a very efficient motion.

So remember take the time to strengthen the wrists.  It is one of the most overlooked muscle groups in this game that can have a huge impact on your shooting and ballhandling.

The Difference Between Good and Great Shooting

Stopwatch

Every coach or trainer wants their player to have an accurate AND fast shot. Shooting fast minimizes release time while sustaining accuracy.  While the accuracy part of the equation is never difficult for players to understand, the hard part is getting players to understand how important it is to shoot quickly.

94Fifty has perfected our shooting measurement technology by testing thousands of shots from players at all levels so that we can provide you a guideline for the speed that great shooters can release the ball.   We have found that fast shooters typically have a release time that is less than .7 seconds, average shot release times fall between .7 and .9 seconds, while slow shooter require a second or more to get the shot off.  The difference between these times may seem minimal, but as you start to face taller and quicker players just a tenth of a second on your shot release can make a huge difference in the result of the shot.

Now that we understand the key measurement points, we can look more closely at what causes slow shot release. Symptoms of a slow release and possible corrective actions vary depending on the speed of the shooter.
 For fast shooters already under .7 seconds, you want to continue to improve on accuracy, or to push the effective your effective range while maintaining the same release speed.

Average shooters will need to assess whether you are staying low into the shot or if your footwork needs attention, both of which can cost valuable time in a fast release.   Other common factor that costs time to good but not fast shooters includes dipping the ball after the catch to create lift.

Slow release times often indicate a lack of strength, common to young shooters, or more serious mechanical flaws that will need attention.   Because of this, that we don’t recommend that young shooters extend their shooting range beyond 15 feet until proper mechanics take hold.  Simply increasing shot speed but losing mechanical efficiency will lead to more serious accuracy issues that can be very difficult to re-train as the player matures and gets older.

Learn How to Become a Great Shooter

Watch the video below to learn how to become a lethal shooter. Get to work!