Recently I’ve been skimming through the NBA Coaches’ handbook for new tips and ideas about practice planning. Inside, I found a great article on the 6 keys to a great shooting workout, written by former Celtics and Clippers assistant coach Kevin Eastman. This week, I’ll be presenting you with the first 3 tips- if you like them stay tuned next week for the next 3. After each tip I’ll be giving you examples of drills that can help you turn a good shooting workout into a great one:
1. Incorporate Catch and Shoot Shots (Spot Ups)
Catch and shoot shots are the bread and butter of any good NBA offense, with spacing being key to an efficient offense in today’s game. If your team can’t shoot then the defense can just clog the lane, and make it very difficult to score. On the other hand, catch and shoot opportunities are often the highest percentage jump shots that a player takes, so it’s important to get reps from game spots in practice.
Too many catch and shoot drills have the shooter catching the ball from under the basket- often a completely unrealistic position to be getting the ball from. The drift and kick shooting drill solves this problem. Players stand in 2 lines at the wings, with one line holding a ball. The player with the ball drives to the hoop, whilst the first player in the other line cuts to the corner. Another shooter fills the spot at the wing and gets the pass from the corner, catching and shooting it. The corner gets a pass from the coach standing at the top, and also catches and shoots it. The dribbler fills in at the opposite wing and the wing. Shooter rebounds.
2. Incorporate Cut, Catch and Shoot Shots (Shots Off the Cut)
What makes catch and shoot specialists like Kyle Korver so great is that they’re adept at reading their defender and cutting to get open looks. Remind your players that the key to shooting accurately off the cut is good footwork, and of course, lots of practice in game-like scenarios.
This drill is unique in that it practices shooting off the Iverson cut, a horizontal cut from wing to elbow that Allen Iverson was deadly at shooting from. The coach places chairs at the elbows and stands in the middle with a ball. Players stand at the wings. As the coach places a ball at the opposite chair, players cut to it, bend down, pick it up, and shoot. Coaches can also pass the ball to the players from the top.
3. Incorporate shots off the dribble
The ability to shoot off the dribble is a requirement for any guard or wing
that wants to become a great pick and roll player. Good form is again the key here as players can often take these shots off balance, which leads to bad form and missed shots.
What makes this drill great is that it forces players to completely change direction and hence develop an explosive first step. Players start near the hoop and take 3 dribbles backwards, crossing over between the legs each time. On the last dribble, players should immediately explode forward into a long push dribble and then rise up to shoot.
These are the first 3 keys and drills to a great shooting workout. Stay tuned for next week’s blogpost to find out the remaining three. In the meantime, did you know that every single one of these drills is available for free on our app, the Practice Planner? Download it now to view a clipboard animation complete with tips AND a video from one of our coaching partners showing you how the drill is done.
4. Focus on Perfect Form during Shooting Drills
To quote Michael Jordan: “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” Common shooting mistakes such as having a low release point, not following through and putting side spin on the ball need to be corrected BEFORE you start shooting en masse. Otherwise, you will not be able to make shots in a game situation.
This shooting drill helps players align their feet correctly off the hop, making it a useful warmup drill. Players stand 10 feet away from the hoop with a ball and their back to the basket. Players toss the ball out and catch it. They then hop and spin 180 degrees to face the hoop and shoot. Make sure that players are completely squared up to the rim when they spin back around to the hoop.
5. Practice Contested Shots (get a hand in the face of the shooter)
Even most “open” shots by a shooter will be taken against a defender running at them with a hand up. Shooting versus a defensive closeout separates a player that’s good in practice with a player that can make shots in games. Getting some reps in with a defender closing out aggressively in practice will pay off in the long run.
Although aggressive closeout drills are common, what makes this drill unique is that the shooter waits for the pass by standing on one leg. The reasoning behind this is that lowering the leg after catching the ball mimics a catch and shoot opportunity and forces the shooter to “find their feet” under pressure. Shooters receive a pass from a player standing under the hoop, and they must make the jumpshot as the defender runs by them. Make sure to alternate legs.
6. Take game shots from game spots at game speed
If your players aren’t being challenged, they’re not getting better. Even simple shooting drills, such as catching and shooting off a cut, need to be executed at full speed. This will mimic a scenario your players will face in a game. Any shot that isn’t practised is a bad shot, no matter how open it is.
Learning to catch and shoot from “the slot”, a position in between the top and the 45 degree angle at the wing is a more realistic shot for a guard than the traditional “top” straight line shot. After all, guards should never be passing to the wing from directly up top- that’s a flat pass that’s easily read and stolen by the defence. In this drill, players start at the slot, catch and shoot, then run to the opposite slot until they make 4. Repeat at the corners and wings. Make sure your players don’t “cheat” by running from the slot to the closest wing after completing 4 shots, after all, conditioning is also one of the objectives of this drill.
One last tip: did you know that all the drills I’ve described to you today are found in the Practice Planner? Get it now to get an easy to understand clipboard animation that’ll breakdown each drill for you within seconds AND videos made by our coaching partners that have further tips. It’s free so definitely go and check it out.
Until next time, see you on the courts!
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