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Monday, November 1, 2010

What's In Your Head - Becoming A One-For-One Shooter

Have you ever witnessed the phenomenon of the player who walks in the gym jacks up a three pointer cold and hits it? This is usually followed by a small crowd jeering or taunting, and the player misses everything or nearly everything after. Or conversely a player with extra time to shoot because of good ball movement misses that shot, even at the pro level.

In both these scenarios the misses are probably a result of thinking too much. Too much going on in the players head other than automatically shooting the ball letting the practiced mechanics of hours spent in the gym take over.

Like all skills, being able to clear your mind and be in the moment and just shoot the ball can be a learned skill that can be improved through practice. Like all skills there should be a progression to getting to this state. You want your shot to be as automatic as dribbling the ball or breathing. You don’t think about either of those processes. It should be autonomic.

We want to move towards being a one-for-one shooter. There needs to be a progression in your development to become a one-for-one shooter. In a game you rarely get to come down and take the same shot, from the same spot, with the defense set up the same. Nearly every shot in a game is unique.

So how do we get there? How do we make ourselves a good one-for-one shooter? We need to come up with a practical guide for players that makes sense. A guide that is a progression of steps that incorporates both repetitions of shooting mechanics, repetitions for the mental aspect of the game and repetitions of game like shooting situations.

I think these steps will help.
Achieving proper mechanics
• There is probably no better place to work on your shooting mechanics then the FT Line.
• Zero Points – self coaching very powerful
• Practice is where you should correct your shot. This requires concentration and focus under the instruction of a coach with knowledge of shooting mechanics. In a game you do not want to hesitate.
• No matter how much you practice or how good of a shooter you usually are, there will be times when for a variety of reasons you find that you are having trouble making shots. Left untreated or reacting in a negative manner, these slumps can turn into major confidence busters and can distract you so that you are not effective in other aspects of the game either.

Achieving focus
• There are many programs available to helping players achieve better focus. Most of these programs use forms of meditation to achieve these states. I have used many of these programs to do directed meditations or hypnosis with teams I have coached. I believe it helps. Like any skill the players need to take ownership and practice this skill on their own.
Achieving confidence
• Like achieving focus, achieving confidence is a skill. More detail in my blog Is Confidence A Skill Achieving
Autonomic Shot

• Constructing shooting drills that are fast paced, game spots and game speed and one for one.
• There should be a progression.
• You will need to have your mechanics automatic. Putting in a lot of work does not make you better. Putting in deliberate work makes you better
• You will need to get many receptions in. It is not uncommon for good shooters to put up 500 – 1500 shots a day. Depending on the habit we are trying to create it could be deliberate practice over 21 days, or if you are familiar with books like Malcolm Gladwell Outliers it could be up to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
• Once you have become efficient at hitting shots from spots, you need to now challenge yourself by hitting game shots from game spots at game speed. You can achieve this on your own or with partners. You can time your drills to make this competitive. You can make sure you are hitting 70% of your shots when they are uncontested in drills. You can combine these tow factors time and percent to make your drills deliberate.
• You add into your drills shooting from a different spot with each shot. You might be working on 5 spots, but make sure you move to the next spot each shot. This helps with becoming one for one.
• Add in defense. You must master one-on-none before you got one-on-one, but when you are ready, this will add another element that will help you become a one-for-one shooter.

Achieving Zone• The hallmark of flow or being in the zone is a feeling of being emotionally “neutral”. Having interviewed many players and reflecting back at my own experiences. I have come to this conclusion. Players all describe the experience the same, in that they are able to see plays ahead of the game, the game seems to be at a slow speed, that every shot feels like a winner, the hoop seems the size of a child’s swimming pool, but the emotional scale of joy are anger is always neutrals while this is taking place. To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. This is partly why I oppose coaches who say if you want to get better you must play up age groups. I say when it’s appropriate. Sure way to kill confidence in a player is to give them a challenge they are just not up to the task of achieving. Can you call on this state of mind? I think you can do it more frequently then how most players describe it, including Bill Russell “it’s great when it happens, but it’s random when it does happen”.
• There are more and more books on the market about achieving Zone. I think the key to achieving it is tying some type of mental imagery to the sensation. I think through meditation and this association you are more likely to be able to call upon this state of mind.

If you are interested in One-For-One Shooting programs. You can purchase a 744 shot program that can be completed in 1.5 - 2.0 hours depending on the level of your players by contacting me.
Coach Paul

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