Shooting excellence is a journey. It is not a sprint. Don’t be fooled in believing your players will become great shooters overnight.


It takes great desire and a great number of hours, days, weeks, months and years to be a prolific shooter. Coaches, please remind your players shooting greatness is not achieved with average attitude.


To be a great shooter a player must possess four traits:
1. Technique
2. Tremendous Work-ethic and Discipline
3. Understand Failure
4. Accept Change


Every coach reading this realizes the importance of practicing. What is rarely discussed, however, is the importance for each player to understand failure and embrace change.


I have a gym in my backyard and one of the signs on the wall reads: “At first there will be more misses than swishes.” Anytime you learn new techniques, you will fail at first. And of course no one wants to fail especially young players.


The problem is that a player cannot succeed unless he/she fails at first when learning a new shooting technique. It is quite common for young players to not change their shooting form simply because that it may feel “weird” at first.


I believe many of our young players were soooo much smarter when they were two years old than they are now. The biggest accomplishment for a two year old is learning how to walk. But with these steps came the ultimate failure-FALLING DOWN. A two year old falls, cries a second and picks himself/herself back up and tries it again. For many of our players today, they would fall and stay on the ground. After a while they would think, “Heck with it. I’ll just crawl around. I don’t need to learn to walk.”


For many young players, they refuse to change their ways and learn techniques. Because of this, many never get any better in regards to their basketball skills.


I have been around this great game for so long that I can normally determine what players will be great, mediocre and who will be out of the game within the next year or two. Am I a swami? Am I Karnack the Great? Do I have tremendous mind powers to predict the future? Of course not.


What I closely look at is how each player reacts to coaching and change. One of my favorite quotes is by Charles Darwin. He wrote, “It is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”


Players (and coaches) that reject change never seem to improve. They tend to always remain stagnate. “I CAN’T EVER FAIL!”


Fifteen years ago I coached at Santa Ana Valley High School in Santa Ana, California. On our varsity team was a 6-8 senior with great agility and coordination. Unfortunately, he lacked a jump shot. He was always more concerned about his shot blocking skills and dunking the ball and paid little (if any) attention to developing a quality shot.


One day he came to me and asked if I would help him to better his shooting skills. I told him to “meet me in the gym tomorrow morning at 7 am.” To my surprise he was on time the next morning. It was then that I told him, “Now you will fail at first. You will miss a few shots. Understand this.” He looked at me and responded, “I can’t ever fail even for a few minutes.” At that point the lesson was over.


He never developed a jump shot. A good low post player in college (low d-1 level), he played one season overseas making minimal money. If he would have developed a consistent jump shot, I truly believe we would have had a 10 year career in the NBA. His inability to change cost him millions upon millions of dollars.


I would suggest talking to your players about being open minded, that they need to understand that you will always struggle at first when learning a new technique and you should never resist change.


I am a big movie buff (my DVD collection is at 2,500) and three movies come to my mind that would be great to show your team regarding change.


“Miracle” is a terrific movie that details how Coach Herb Brooks guided a bunch of young no names to the 1980 gold medal in hockey.


“Money Ball” depicts how General Manager, Billy Beane turned the Oakland A’s into a contender by using players that no one wanted.


“Pistol” is one of my favorite movies that very few coaches and players have seen. It chronicles the seventh grade season of “Pistol” Pete Maravich.


All three of these movies focus on how Brooks, Beane and Maravich accept and embrace change, while others around them struggle with their new views.