This is a common "answer" we hear to the above question on the internet/social media/at practices/etc. We're even guilty of simplifying it to that level at times.
And while we ultimately produce and sell basketball shooting machines, we also know that it's extremely important to work on PURPOSEFUL training to reach maximum potential.
We still hear players say it all the time:
"I can make shots when I shoot around, but I can't make shots in a game."
It's likely because they're neglecting one or more of these shots/fundamentals below.
1. Form Shooting
This is potentially the most overlooked fundamental in basketball. When first stepping on the court, one of the most harmful things a player can do is immediately start shooting/jacking three pointers.
Focused form shooting is incredibly important to develop a rhythm and foundation. Make sure to start right under the hoop and then work your way back.
2. Free Throws
It still boggles my mind that free throws (a wide open 15 foot shot), are still missed at a high rate at ALL levels.
Free throws are often worked on BUT not necessarily under game fatigued situations. It's surprisingly common to have a player shoot ~90% in practice but just ~60% in games. This is often due to (1) fatigue, (2) focus, (3) reps, and (4) confidence.
Yes, shooting more free throws will help but players need to make sure they are simulating game-like conditions as much as possible - especially when shooting free throws.
3. Moving off the Ball
I'm going to start sounding like a broken record as I use the term "game-like" over and over again.
One of our biggest pet peeves is seeing a player shoot 500+ reps from a standstill position and calling that a "workout." Come game time, they're required to make cuts to get open and can't hit any shots.
Players need to think about how they get their shots in a game and then replicate those actions off the ball in order to become successful in games.
4. Shot Fakes
One of the best ways to create space for an open shot is to utilize shot fakes. Yet, it's not something players work on very often. This is likely due to the fact that practicing shot fakes against "air" with no defender might be a little awkward.
However, it's essential to work on proper shot fake form in order to maximize those opportunities in a game.
5. Different Types of Footwork
Ultimately it's easier to work on drills that are more comfortable to players. If a player is used to catching a pass from under the hoop with a 1-2 step while training, they likely will repeat that action over and over again and call it a workout.
In game situations, it's difficult to get up a lot of quality shots in a comfortable state. Much like moving off the ball, it's important to practice shots off of a 1-2 step with both feet (right-left AND left-right) as well as a hop. Also, working on jab steps, reverse pivots, and any other type of game-like footwork.
6. Shooting off Tough Catches
When rebounding for a shooter in practice, I always remembered my coaches saying how important it is to give a great pass right to the shooter's shot pocket. While I agree that it's extremely important to practice proper fundamentals, I also believe players need to work on shooting off of tough catches.
However, big asterisk here, it still needs to be a quality shot in a game! I don't want want to encourage players to shoot bad shots in a game off of tough catches. But, ask yourself, how many passes are "perfect" in a game situation? Not many. Players need to be able to catch the ball around their knees or above their head and still be able to set their feet and get a shot off IF they are still open.
7. Fatigued Shots
These last two types of shots might be the most important. Too many times growing up, I would shoot for 30-60 minutes and get up a TON of shots...but I wouldn't be fatigued at all. I took my time rebounding, I took frequent breaks, and I didn't shoot while tired. I know that I wasn't and still am not alone.
Then come game time, I would be huffing and puffing and the shots I would take would often be short. Of course players have to mimic game actions but they also have to mimic game fatigue. After running in transition a few times, your body is going to feel a little different than standing still and comfortably shooting perimeter shots.
Here's a great drill from Coach TJ Otzelberger of UNLV that works on shooting off the move and shooting when fatigued!
8. Game Speed Shots
Last but certainly not least, players NEED to go game speed in each workout. This doesn't mean that EVERY shot needs to be game speed. I still recommend starting with form shooting and working up to game speed, but it's essential if you want what you work on to translate to the game.
For example, when working on down screen shooting, players need to cut HARD while training just as they would in a game. Game speed also doesn't mean constantly going 100mph. Focus on changing speeds and pace to be hard to guard. Going at the same speed all the time makes it easier for the defense to lock in.
We hope you start incorporating each one of these 8 types of shots and fundamentals into your shooting workouts. We're confident that the hard work will pay off and the skills will ultimately translate into game situations. Ultimately, that's what we're all about here at Dr. Dish Basketball. Whether you're training with our machines or not, we want to make sure each athlete is maximizing their time in the gym in order to maximize their potential.
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