IDENTIFYING YOUR SHOOTERS‏

Not every one of your players will become an accurate shooter.If you believe each one of your players will one day become a prolific shooter, then I have some swampland to sell you in the Everglades. In other words, it’s just not going to happen.

I do believe each player can improve his/her shooting skills, but you will be mistaken to believe that each player on your team will become the next Stephen Curry.

During each Pro Shot Camp I explain to players and coaches, “You do not have to learn how to shoot accurately. But then again, you do not have to play either.”

I do believe shooters play. When I was coaching at the high school and AAU levels, I would watch the opposing team warm-up. Why? Because I was trying to identify their shooters. I was looking to see what players were “tickling the twines.” And here’s what I discovered: In my 20 years of coaching I never saw a player who could accurately shoot that sat on the bench. In other words, if a player can shoot, he/she will play.

THE GAMBLERS OF THE HARDWOOD
I truly believe coaches are inherent gamblers. Where is the largest basketball coaching clinic in the nation? It’s not in Barstow, California. It’s in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And isn’t a shooter the greatest form of gambling on the basketball court? A shooter is like a slot machine. You hope it pays off. And when the machine (or shooter) is “hot”, life is beautiful.

Most coaches love shooters and will give them the “green light” if they truly believe in them.

NUMBER OF SHOOTERS
Ideally you want 3-4 shooters per team. That should take you to a league title or at worst, contend for a league title. The most number of “shooters” I had on one team was six.

There is nothing better when the opposing coach yells to his players as the ball is moved around, “Shooter! Shooter! Shooter! Shooter!” At that point you have basically won the game.

IDENTIFYING YOUR SHOOTERS
So why can’t everyone become a shooter? It really comes down to time management, overall discipline and personality traits.

I believe it is important to identify these characteristics in a player. If a player has these traits, I do believe he or she will be able to become the shooter you want them to become. If he or she lacks these traits, I do believe it becomes much more difficult to become an accurate shooter.

TIME MANAGEMENT
It is very difficult for a three or four sport athlete to develop into a top notch shooter. Before I get emails from coaches that encourage their players to play as many sports as they can, please understand that the more sports a player plays basically takes away important practice time a player needs to hone his or her shooting skills.

If a player does play three to four sports, then he or she better understand the need to get on the practice court as much as possible (weekends, before school, lunch, evenings). I like to tell my players, “A writer writes. A painter paints and a shooter shoots. ALWAYS.”

You can’t be a shooter if you practice shooting only during the season. A player just can’t be effective this way.

As a player, you need to understand what is important. Also players need to understand: If your thumbs are the strongest part of your body (texting), then you will not be a shooter. If you spend more time on X Box than you do practicing your shooting skills, then you will not be a shooter.

I have been told by a few coaches that I should soften up (take a chill pill). That I’m just to blunt, but I believe you have to tell players the truth. They really don’t know better.

DISCIPLINE
It’s impossible to become an accurate shooter if you lack discipline.

This starts with how players warm up before practice. Players that lack discipline are known to warm-up from three point line or half court. Disciplined players start near the basket and go through a ritual of warming up.

I also look at each player’s academics to determine if a player will be a shooter. If a player lacks discipline in the class room, then there is very good chance he/she will lack discipline in shooting.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to be an A student to become a prolific shooter, but I do believe the better students transfer the discipline into shooting. Lastly, players that lack discipline in their everyday life usually lack discipline in their shooting mechanics. Do you really believe the player who struggles to get to practice on time will have the discipline to shoot the ball correctly EVERY TIME. Of course not.

PERSONALITY
I have a belief that introverted players make better shooters than extroverted players. The reason behind this is simple. Introverted players get on the practice court and usually are in their “own little world.” They have great focus. They talk to few people.

I saw firsthand Ray Allen as a rookie with the Milwaukee Bucks walk to one end of the gym and shoot shot after shot without saying a word to anyone. Larry Bird, Jerry West, Pete Maravich, Chris Mullin, Bill Bradley were introverted shooters. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki are current sharp shooters that are also introverted.

Extroverts have a more difficult time to perfect their shooting skills. The main reason for this lies in their discipline once they step on the court.

Extroverted players have a tendency of focusing less on shooting mechanics and more on talking to the players next to them. They are more about playing 1 on1 or 5 on 5 and less on shooting techniques.

An extrovert can become a quality shooter over time, but often it takes a coach or parent to constantly remind them about the discipline and techniques that one must possess to become a quality shooter.

WRAP UP
Please note that I try to never give up on a player. I do believe, however, there are some key ingredients that players should possess to become quality shooters.

One year I had a defensive player who lacked a jump shot. That summer I told him, “You’re going to become one of my shooters.”

He looked at me confused. “But why? I can’t shoot.” What he didn’t realize was that he was an introvert that had tremendous discipline (a quality student), who only played basketball.

Later that winter he become my second leading scorer (14 ppg) and made 39 three pointers in our last five games. Without his clutch shooting we would not have won a league championship.

Those traits are important in building a shooter.