The Mental Side of Shooting
We get a lot of questions about our shooting system and how to do and teach different techniques. However, one of the most important questions I think we get is “Where do I start with my team or program?”. We believe you need to start with the mental approach to shooting. Prepare the player or team for what is about to happen.
In order for anyone to improve in shooting something has to change. Sometimes it’s a big change and sometimes its a small change but regardless, something HAS to change.
Anytime you change something whether it’s a light bulb, a process, a routine, a bad habit, or even a skill you MUST first go to the “control center”. For a light bulb that would mean turning off the power. For a process you first need to shut down the assembly line to reorder something. For a routine or bad habit it is “reprogramming” your brain to work differently. No matter the situation, you start with the “control center”.
We believe there are three mental “traits” that need to be present in a player to improve their shooting. The three “traits” are crucial in preparing the player for change and success. Otherwise, the balance is thrown off and everything comes crashing down.
Creating awareness is the first and most crucial step to a player improving their shooting. What we mean by awareness is basically being able to correctly answer the question, “How do you miss?”. By this we are asking you to identify the direction that you miss your shots.
There are FOUR total directions that a player can miss. Once they can identify the direction they start to create awareness. Awareness is not just identifying the direction that they miss. It’s also being able to feel something wrong in their shooting form when mistakes are made. The scientific term for this is proprioception, or the sense of your body’s position in space.
One of the things that helps develop proprioception is players shooting WITH & WITHOUT a basketball. When shooting without a basketball it allows the player to feel and focus on where their body is rather than where the ball is.
Another thing we like to do to develop this is to have a player shoot and place them in a fixed position with their flaw corrected and have them hold that “pose” or position for a minute or so. This creates a sense of perception in that position and then when they repeat the shooting motion they can feel whether or not their body went into that position during the shot. Putting a player in a fixed position also helps with something we have talked about previously in our articles and online videos called myelin. When a nerve path fires it is insulated with myelin and the more times it fires the more myelin that insulates that neural pathway which makes it easier for the player to repeat that same motion or position.
Patience is the second crucial factor in developing a good or great shooter. If a player doesn’t have patience they aren’t going to be able to mentally prepare themselves for success.
Players and coaches must understand that patience is crucial…
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Stephen Curry’s jump shot!”
Create patience in your players by showing patience with them. Don’t be result focused. Focus on the process and if they don’t get it that’s fine. Keep trying until they do get it. We promise that if you are patient it will pay off in the end.
Patience is greatly related to the third factor in a shooter’s mindset to improving…
Discipline is crucial in that we all know that reps are a large part of improving as a shooter but we must be careful as to not get caught up in the quantity. Instead we must be focused on the QUALITY OF THE QUANTITY. A player who has discipline will continue to develop and increase their skill and will work diligently on whatever skill they are weak at to make it their strength.
The picture above says it best. Discipline is often the difference between good and great. Much more than that is can also be the difference between making the team and getting cut. It can be the difference between making the game winning shot and missing it. It can be the difference between failure and success.
While Awareness and Patience will set you on the right path, discipline will get you to you goal.