To the Basketball World:
Please, let’s examine the generally believed instructions for shooting a basketball. There are at least six common instructions used by most coaches, and I’ll address them in two articles.
Three of the rules are that (1) you must “SQUARE UP” to shoot, (2) you should have the “ELBOW DIRECTLY UNDER THE BALL,” and (3) “WRIST FLIPPING” is the way to release the ball.
MAY I SUGGEST NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE?
I’ve been researching and studying shooting for over 18 years and I keep running into these old “myths” of shooting. They’ve been taught to kids for decades and still shooting is in the dumpster at all levels of the game. Have you ever thought that maybe they are part of the reason for the decline in shooting?
THE GREATEST SHOOTERS DO NOT SHOOT THAT WAY!
I’m here to suggest that an open stance is more effective and powerful than squaring up. That the elbow does not belong “directly” under the ball, and that a Release powered by the arm fully extending with wrist and hand fully relaxed will lead to superior shooting (NOT by wrist flipping). And, SURPRISE, this way of shooting is the “secret” of how almost all of the greatest shooters have always done it!
(1) SQUARED UP WORKS GREAT … FOR TWO-HANDED SHOOTING!
I don’t know where this all started but, to me, the squared up stance is very effective … for two-handed shooting, which nobody does any more! I could shoot set shots that way when I was playing, and I even used two-handed, underhanded free throw technique for a while in high school. I was good at the former but found the latter uncomfortable, if not ineffective. Some people just can’t get that way of shooting free throws, and nobody likes it, except the amazing Rick Barry. Two-handed shooting is obsolete!
AN OPEN STANCE IS MORE NATURAL, MORE POWERFUL…
An open stance and “stepping in” to shoot is a more natural way to shoot. There is no reason to square the shoulders and keep them that way while you shoot one-handed. Any yalla shoot kid, if asked to shoot a ball with one hand, would rotate the body while shooting so the strong arm is extended toward the target. And an open stance is more stable. As a coach said one time when I mentioned the value of an open stance, “It’s like a boxer would stand to throw jabs!” Yes, a left-handed boxer would adopt an open stance, with right foot, right shoulder and right arm extended toward the opponent. To stand square would give you a weak stance. There is power and stability with an open stance. Push against a wall from a squared-up stance, and then open your stance and push again. Feel how much more power there is in the latter? To learn to shoot quickly, the simple 1-2 step in can be done in a flash. What’s more important, getting your shot off quickly (and missing a lot of shots) or shooting in a way that helps ensure success?
(2) ELBOW UNDER THE BALL? WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT?
If you align the hand with your shooting eye and basket, and have the hand facing the basket directly on the line of the shot, the elbow will be out a bit (5-10,” depending on the length of your arm), not directly under the ball. You can’t have both, an elbow directly under the ball and the hand exactly lined up with the target. Try it! See if you can do both. If you can’t, which do you think is more important? I think you’ll agree with me that “It’s the hand that matters, forget the elbow!”
(3) FLIPPING THE WRIST ENGAGES SMALL, FAST-TWITCH MUSCLES
Flipping the wrist is one way to add power to a basketball shot, but I think you will see it’s putting power and control into small muscles which are less reliable under pressure. A wrist-flipping motion is also a horizontal action, thus flattening the shot and making it “hotter” (less effect from gravity to slow it down).
A PUSHING ACTION IS SIMPLER, MORE PREDICTABLE
Alternatively, a pushing action to full arm extension, aimed upward with relaxed wrist and hand, can be molded into a “Constant Motion,” eliminating all kinds of variables. Thus the shooter has a greater sense of what’s coming off the fingertips. The motion can then rely on the larger, more reliable muscles of the legs and lower/middle bodies for the variable power.
So here are 3 myths about Stance, the Elbow and the Release. In the next article we’ll examine three more and I’ll present the simple “Swish Method” approach to shooting.