Three Keys to Becoming a Great Shooter, by Kyle Julius
75% of the new players I train and coach start off with poor shooting mechanics. I am in the gym with players at every level (HS to PRO) on a regular basis and it has become incredibly all too common to see players with poor form and technique as well as low self confidence when it comes to shooting the ball.
However, its no surprise. The process to becoming a great shooter requires an immense amount of hard work combined with parents and coaches who push the athlete in the right direction.
Its incredibly difficult to be a great shooter.
Shooting is a nature vs nurture debate. Is it on the athlete, or the parents and coaches who never truly cultivate the right environment necessary to build a proper skill set?
I recently watched a high level scrimmage, composed of NBA & NCAA prospects, and the athleticism and size was absolutely mind blowing.
The guys were flying, getting to the rim and finishing with dunks and highly impressive athletic plays every other trip down the floor. BUT, only six of the 24 players in the game shot the ball with proper form and technique the same way twice in a row.
Great shooters seem to be a rarity in basketball today.
The good news is, that can change with some experienced coaching and some good ol’ fashioned hard work. The bad news is most players aren’t willing to work and most players can’t get the right coaching.
Here are my three keys to becoming a great shooter and the three reasons why great shooters seem to becoming extinct.
3 Keys to Becoming a Great Shooter
1. Mental toughness, emotional resiliency and desire.
2. Expert coaching and mentorship.
3. The ability to consistently say NO.
Being a good shooter requires number one.
Becoming a consistent shooter requires number one and two.
Becoming a great shooter requires all three of the above from a young age.
1. It’s very Challenging to become a Great shooter.
We know for a fact that good shooters are developed and created in their early years. Between the ages of 11 and 15 is when young players can truly master the art of shooting and put themselves on the correct path prior to developing any irreparable bad mechanical habits. The older the player is, the harder it is to break bad habits.
Within the age of early skill development we know that young players have a tough time pushing themselves in the gym on their own for a variety of reasons. As a result, it’s vital they are taught and mentored in the ways of hard work, dedication and the challenges of mastering new skills.
Most kids don’t have the drive and toughness to get in the gym on their own and push themselves through the frustration of missing a lot of shots while working on perfecting their form and their craft. Most kids don’t have the self-confidence to come early on their own to every single practice and stay late to get up more shots; it takes a tonne of confidence and grit to go to the gym when your friends and teammates are doing other things.
Becoming a better shooter requires an incredible amount of practice and development of self confidence. In order to practice at a high level, the athlete will have to spend a significant amount of time on his or her own in the gym getting shots up and perfecting their craft. That means time alone, time planning, being highly organized and most importantly time fighting through pain and frustration. This is a process that requires guidance and some tough love.
Young players must be taught how difficult it really is to become a great shooter. They must be taught it’s a process and a journey far greater than shooting a lot of shots:
- Lifting weights on a regular basis
- Eating right everyday to ensure focus and alertness
- Running and building your conditioning to ensure you never get tired and make big shots in the fourth quarter
- Work, pure work
- Falling in love with being bored
- Thoroughly enjoying being alone and learning to listen to the voice in your heart
- Learning to see the inner working of your muscles, tendons, veins and nervous system-learning to memorize the correct actions
- Understanding and knowing that with every rep on the track, the court and the weight room, your confidence is growing and your toughness is developing
There are very few great shooters because so few are willing to do the above, very few have the confidence required. Very few are taught the process, very few are giving the proper map for the long journey.
Teach a young player to get “past hard” and their confidence will grow. Once they learn to get past hard, their shot will develop.
Show them how to get past hard and great things will happen on and off the court as the hard work will become fun and they will start to love the process.
2. Expert Coaching and Mentorship
Take the best five shooters you have ever met and I guarantee they have been blessed with a father who coached and played or an expert coach who worked with them at a young age. Great shooters who coach young players will teach them that developing your shot is just as much mental as it is physical. They teach young players how to channel the developmental frustrations of missing shots and learning new techniques is part of the process and a natural growing pain. Great shooting coaches don’t just coach, they teach. They teach with passion and love, they hold the athlete accountable for every poor rep because they know the true value of each and every rep.
Most kids never become great shooters because they are never taught how to fight through the frustration, they are never motivated by someone who has done what they are trying to do.
This one is on the parents.
I will never understand how parents will allow their kids to learn the game from people who have never truly experienced it, or have a resume that indicates they are well equipped to provide the proper instruction.
There is nothing wrong with playing for volunteer coaches at a young age, but like anything in the world if you want your son or daughter to truly improve you must seek expert teaching and supplementary tutoring. Equate shooting to math, if you want a great grade in math class you must get some extra help from a math expert. You don’t want math help from someone who wasn’t that great in math themselves do you?
We also know there is a tremendous difference between coaching and teaching. Anyone can “coach”. Anyone can volunteer or attend a conference and obtain some level of coaching certification.
Coaching a player on his jump shot is easy and telling them what to do can be found in any video or basketball text book. Teaching players is special, not everyone can teach. Teaching the process requires tremendous experience and passion. Not all coaches to young players have one or both.
For example, think about your high school career. Of all the teachers you had, how many of them made you feel confident in what you were learning? How many of them made you want to come to class everyday? How many of your teachers truly pushed you to be better? I would bet the answer is not many.
When a young player is blessed with the opportunity to learn from an expert coach or mentor, the results are special. When an older player gets a chance to work with a great teacher the results are just as impressive.
Last summer I had the opportunity to be in the gym with Blake Griffin and his legendary shooting coach Bob Thate. Blake was in the process of improving his jumper and coach Thate was standing beside him for every rep. The teaching was phenomenal, a slight correction here and a slight correction there. You could see coach Thate’s passion and Griffin’s respect and appreciation was just as evident.
The results were awesome, Blake Griffin added a consistent jumper to his game this year and his confidence shooting the ball was clearly at an all time high. Even some of the best athletes in the world can improve with the right teaching.
Telling players what to do is one thing, showing them how to do it and get through it is another.
3. The Ability to Consistently say NO
The ability to say “No” is a valuable skill that can make or break a players career at any point. It starts in the athletes mind with his or her inner dialogue. Great players can say to No to their inner frustrations and most importantly fatigue. When a player has invested in his or her game they will protect their work and saying No becomes more natural.
If the athlete cant say No consistently he or she will never truly improve. It becomes most important within the everyday practice and workout. Once the athlete is taught and has developed proper form and technique, he or she must learn how to say No to a bad rep. Saying No becomes a focused discipline that generates toughness and emotional resiliency. Saying No is an integral component of consistently making shots.
Take a missed shot or a turnover for example. Good developing players learn to immediately say No to the negative thoughts and frustration that come along with mistakes and adversity.
Great shooters develop a daily plan with a set of goals they want to accomplish. Within the process they learn to say No to everything that could potentially stand in the way of that plan and their goals.
Great shooters say NO to:
- Negative Thoughts
- Misses. Missed shots do not bother them
- More Games when their percentages are low
- Other people outside their inner circle making decisions for them
- Late nights
- Leaving the gym before they have truly improved
- Junk food
- Anything that will hurt their goals
It’s been my experience that you can look at a guys jumper and tell immediately how dedicated he is to the game. You can tell by his jumper if he is willing to work, if he knows how to push himself when he is alone and bored. You can tell if a player has real confidence by his body language when he is getting ready to shoot the basketball.
When you see a great shooter you know he or she has been taught the process, you know he or she has invested the time and dedication. You know they can say NO to the distractions and adversity.
Young players must be taught that you will go through stretches of missing– days, weeks and maybe even a month. They must be taught how to stay with it, how to trust their training and most importantly how to work through it. If we can do that for young players, we are not only developing shooters, we will develop some pretty good people.
Its time the parents and coaches make the necessary adjustments, and young players learn to work hard and smart or they will never reach their true potential.
Shooting the basketball at a high level is a rare attribute; supreme athleticism will only take you so far.
Becoming a serious threat from the perimeter will take your game to new heights…but you will have to be prepared for the journey.