We train a number of players in our program at various levels, from Division I signees to younger high school players with great potential. Although these players have different individual needs, we also feel there are a number of important foundational building blocks that are essential for all players at all levels. As the player moves to higher levels of competition, these basics become even more important for successful execution against better athletes.
For example, when performing a "catch and shoot" shot sequence, obviously good extension and follow through at the end of the shot are important. However, we feel that there are essential elements to "shot preparation" that take place even before the ball arrives and before the shooting motion even begins. These key elements can have an even greater impact on the outcome of the shot. A mistake in preparation leads to a mistake in execution, which will lead to misses that should have been makes.
Much in the same manner that a baseball player prepares for each swing, a basketball player must prepare for each shot. The key aspects of shot preparation and consistency are as follows:
- Low, Balanced Stance -- players should "sit down," have their knees bent, with a lead foot forward to prepare for the catch. Players should be "under the ball" as they prepare to receive the pass.
- Hands In Ready Position -- hands should be in the position they will be on the shot, with the shooting hand under and behind the ball and the guide hand on the side. "Catch it the way you are going to shoot it."
- Hand and Elbow Below The Ball -- players should catch the ball with their shooting hand and elbow below the ball. This helps keep the player low on the catch and helps to prevent "dipping" the ball. The ball swinging "down-up" creates unnecessary action and causes the shooting motion to work against itself. With the shooting hand and elbow tucked under the ball on the catch, the player has already done everything necessary to then begin the shooting sequence.
- Low to High -- players should catch in a low position and go from that position into their shooting sequence. When catching the ball in an upright position, players have a "High to Low" motion with their body. This adds time to the shooting sequence--meaning it now takes longer for a player to get off their shot. Against better defenders, this causes an open shot to become a contested shot and a contested shot to become a block. This "High to Low" body motion also leads to inconsistency in distance and trajectory, as well as to shot fatigue in late stages of games. Catching the ball in a good stance with the shooting hand and elbow under that ball takes the player from "Low to High" for a nice consistent shooting rhythm.
- Straight Up, Straight Down -- players should not fall forward or backward on their shot. This leads to inconsistency and missed shots that should have been makes. Balanced vertical elevation will lead to more made shots. This can be achieved by keeping the shoulders directly in-line with the knees as players leave the floor.
Young players learning to play must develop these skills to build consistency, confidence and shooting range. Experienced players need to perfect these concepts in order to execute more quickly and efficiently against bigger, better, more athletic opponents. Regardless of experience or degree of competition, these five are essential to becoming a consistent shot maker at any level of basketball.