Basketball Myths – Part I

If you haven’t seen our YouTube video series Shooting’s 10 Deadliest Lies we HIGHLY recommend it! We want to step away from shooting for a second though and look at a more broad picture of the game of basketball. We believe that shooting isn’t the only skill in basketball where MYTHS are involved. We want to look at a couple other things that we believe are myths in the game of basketball.


The Defensive Slide:

The game of basketball has changed. Because of those changes we believe that there are a few skills that are still being taught that are no longer relevant to the game today. The defensive slide is a skill that many coaches practice and put an emphasis on in practice that we believe is no longer relevant to the game (or at least not to the degree it used to be).

Today’s game is much faster and quicker at times than it used to be. One thing we have seen taught with the defensive slide is that you step with the front foot and slide (or drag) with the back foot.

If you teach this I want you to think long and hard about what you are teaching. My question to you is, “In what world is a defensive player sliding and dragging his foot going to be able to keep up with an offensive player running and dribbling.” This concept just doesn’t make any sense logically.

A similar situation would be going 2-3 zone against Syracuse. Syracuse is known well for their patented 2-3 zone defense but when their opposition goes 2-3 zone against them it causes them to have problems.

So where did it come from. Well, back in the earlier days of basketball dribbling was not as utilized as it is today. In fact, when a player would dribble it was much slower and they didn’t run when they dribbled, it was more of a hop or slide when dribbling. So the skill was sufficient for that style of play. However, today’s level of play and speed of the game just doesn’t allow a player to slide and be a great defender.

Today we must emphasize that the defensive slide is a starting point but does not continue to happen throughout the whole movement. What we should put more of an emphasis on is 1 or 2 slides progressing into a run to gain or maintain position. The only situation where a player can slide and maintain what officials call “Legal Guarding Position” is if that defensive player is drastically faster, quicker and stronger than his opposition. Speed is a definite advantage in today’s game of basketball and anyway we can increase our speed is an advantage.



The Lost Art of The Mid-Range Jump Shot:

I’ve heard basketball coaches and basketball purists mention how the mid-range jump shot is a lost art in today’s game. I however, don’t believe this to be true. Has the game changed? Absolutely. That is the precise reason they believe its a lost art. Because it’s much more rare than it used to be.

This however, isn’t because players can’t shoot the mid range jump shot. It’s that way for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons for this that is overlooked is the fact that players have become bigger, faster, stronger, quicker and more “vertically enabled” as I would put it. While it was easy in the past to get open jumpers from 12-17 ft., it is much more difficult to get an open shot from this distance in todays game because of the size of defenders and more importantly their athleticism. As the defense becomes bigger, faster and can jump higher it causes the offense to push out further from the basket. You just don’t see these wide open jumpers from mid-range anymore because the speed, quickness and jumping ability of players neutralizes that option.

When the 3 point line came into the game it gave a great tactical advantage to players who could shoot accurately from distance. 3 is obviously worth more than 2 so taking a few steps back from the mid-range jumper and gaining an extra point creates a great advantage. This is probably the biggest reason why the mid-range shot is believed to be a lost art however, while it’s the most obvious we believe it is probably the second biggest reason.

The situation where the open mid-range jump shot is seen the most is against a zone defense. The mid-range shot still exists in todays game but it is not a catch and shoot situation as it was in the past. The mid-range jump shot is more utilized by skilled players who can put the ball on the floor with 1 to 3 dribbles and create space from the defense to pull up and shoot. This is a more complex skill that what the mid-range shooters used to have to possess which is why the shot is seen on a more rare basis in today’s game.