The object of teaching shooting mechanics is to create good, repeatable mechanics. See the 4 part Blog There Is a Reason There Is a Nail At The FT Line . Some coaches go to all sorts of trouble to try to eliminate pressure of not making shots, by taking away the rim. They want to work on mechanics away from the rim, so there is not the disappointment of having correct mechanics and the ball not dropping through the rim. It’s a coach’s job to let players understand that the ball does not always fall through the rim. Sports are an exercise in failure and how you deal with that failure. If you miss 60% of the time from the three-land, you are considered an excellent 3 point shooter. It’s a coach’s job to help players deal mentally with the failures. It’s also a coach’s job to help the player understand that they will eventually be more successful when using proper shooting mechanics. It will take less work to maintain a “good” shooting mechanics then a “bad” shooting mechanics. I read that Kevin Garnet puts up 1500 shots a day. I admire that work ethic to get better, but wouldn’t he do better to stop catapulting his shot and do fewer repetitions to maintain that. Guess what; there is probably no better feedback then the ball dropping through the rim. It’s a coach’s job to teach players proper shooting mechanics at a range where they can be successful. See Good Shooting Drills below.
Bad Shooting Drills
1.Jerry West Drill
I’m not sure if this drill was really in the staple of Jerry West’s shooting drills, but he is usually accredited for it. If it was, Jerry was a great shooter despite the drill. The drill has players lying on their back shooting the ball into the air and then catching it. The object is to make sure the wrist and finger mechanics are correct on both hands. This drill is bound to give you poor mechanics with your arms. It’s well known that if you want the ball to fly high, your elbow should be above your eye. This drill promotes having your elbow well below your eye. We do not need another drill that is going to promote youth players chucking up threes before they have the strength and mechanics to do so.
2.Shooting at lines
Players line up so their shooting elbow will be over a line on the floor. They release the ball on their shot and see how straight their shot is by determining if it landed on the line on the floor. This one is plagued with issues for me. Kids will look at the flight of the ball, or stare at the line on the floor. Unless they are working with a partner how can they check out their shooting mechanics? Do you want them to look to see if the ball hits the line, and then look back at their hands to make a correction? Come on this is nuts. Don’t you want your players to train their eyes on the rim, and make their corrections there? It’s hard enough trying to get players include looking at the rim for their shot fakes or getting early eye contact with the rim. I don’t want a drill that is contrary to those habits.
3.Shooting at edge of backboard
Player stands facing the side of the backboard and works on shooting the ball and hitting the side of the backboard. I guess this so suppose to parallel the old golf analogy of the golfer asking his caddie where he should aim. When the caddie tells him aim towards the woods, the golfer replies which tree. Here is my issue with this drill. There is a perfectly good thing to shoot at on the front of the backboard, it’s called a rim. If you want a small target to shoot at then use the eye at the back of the rim that holds the net in place. It doesn’t mater which angle you are facing the rim, you will always find a front of the rim and a back of the rim, and at the back of the rim you will find an eye. Aiming at a spot on the side of the backboard, will not allow a player to hold their finish and look at their arms and hands and determine if they need to correct something. They will be too busy retrieving the ball off a weird bounce. This drill is limited to two players at a backboard.
4.Shooting at Walls
Shooting at walls, picking a brick out and seeing if you can hit that is not unlike shooting at the side of a backboard. Although you will probably have far more wall real-estate then the sides of backboards, it too means the player must catch the ball and take their hands and arms away from checking their mechanics. Yes you could let the ball hit the floor and catch it on the bounce while checking your mechanics, but it also has another flaw. Players will be aiming their shot directly at a brick. Maybe that’s why they call flat shots bricks. You are promoting shooting directly at the rim. Unless you are telling your players that you are shooting the ball in an arc so that it comes down and kisses off the intended brick, why wouldn’t you just use the rim.
If you want to use the wall, use if for passing overloads drills. It’s a great way to get repetitions for passing in. You can have players try to hit a brick or spot on the wall while using all different types of passes. You can have them use 2 or 3 balls while firing the balls off the wall trying to hit a certain spot. You can have them use 2 basketballs and a tennis ball or any computation of that. You can combine the passing with dribbling, or creating space to make the pass. You can number spots on the wall and have the player hit those numbers as you shout out the numbers. You can have the player face the wall and you can their partner standing behind them bouncing the ball off the wall as a reaction drill to have them jump to the ball to catch it in their core. Walls can be very useful in practice, but in my opinion not great for shooting drills. For more information on these passing drills email me
Good Shooting drills
This is an excellent way to start your practices. Include this as part of your pre-practice if you can. Players face the basket from at least 5 different spots and need to make 5 – 10 shots from each spot. The 5 spots should include:
a.Directly in front of the rim (1 spot)
b.45 degree angles (2 spots one on either side of rim)
c.baseline (2 spots one on either side of rim)
Players are working from a distance away from the basket where they do not need to include their lower body in their shot. They are working on their upper body shot mechanics. Have your players hold their finish on each shot, so that they can check them out to see of they are correct. I like to have my players make 70 shots. 10 in from each of the 5 spots, and the bonus 20 shots are banks from 45 degree angle. When working on the banks, I like them to get a real feel for the glass by working the shots in from different heights on the glass.
As with all shooting drills where your players are working in close like a Mikan drill you need to challenge them so they will not just move through the motions of doing the drill. Keep them focused by making sure they are always holding their shot mechanics and checking them ( hold your finish till it goes in or hits the rim) and by challenging them to make the shots clean (rimless, nothing but net).
Not only will this drill help your players warm up their shot properly, work on their shot mechanics, but I think you will find as I do, your player’s confidence goes up with their shooting. They get to the point that if they miss a shot, it’s odd. They can get 50 – 70 shots in, in a very short period of time without missing.
If you don’t have a pre-practice, start making up tasks for your players. Players left on their own will come into the gym, start talking and chatting with no focus and start chucking up shots from between half court and the three point line, or dunking before warmed up. If you have access to the gym before practice actually begins they can include Zero Points in what they need to get done. If you don’t have accesses to the gym have them do some of the pre-practice drills in the hallway. This is a little off topic, but include, all aspects of the game, passing, dribbling, shooting, rebounding. For more information see up-coming blog in pre-practice routines.
2.Shooting to the top of your partner's head
If you are still looking for a shooting drill that helps with mechanics but takes away the rim, I think this one has some true benefits. Players stand facing their partner approximately 15 feet away from each other. They have one ball between them. Player 1 shoots the ball to player 2, and holds their mechanics so that after the catch by player 2, they can help correct anything in their partner’s shot. Have your players aim for the top of the head of their partner, but in a way that the ball is going up in an arc and dropping down on their partner’s head. This at least gives the idea or concept at shooting the ball at a target but not directly at a target like the side of a backboard or a brick on a wall. You can vary this drill by having your players jump 50%, 50%, 75% or 100% while shooting the ball and observing the effects on the flight of the ball. Make sure it’s the catcher that is watching the flight of the ball and not the shooter. You can also have the shooter close their eyes, so that they can visualize, or get into the kinetics of the shot. You can also have them mimic bad habits, like bringing the ball back too far to the crown of your head, or elbow out and they can compare the two feelings an the effect on the flight of the ball.