Anxiety and Shooting

Recently we discussed that shooting accuracy is really built around three separate aspects: shooting mechanics, shot selection and being void of anxiety issues.  Of course we have talked about shooting mechanics in hundreds of videos and articles.  Last week we focused on shot selection and the importance of being open for a jump shot and how it helps a shooter’s shooting percentage.

Today we want to focus on a mental state that gets seldom mentioned, but we believe it is crucial to overcome to become an outstanding shooter.  When shooting in a game, do you have anxiety issues?  Do your players have anxiety issues?

To become a great shooter you need to be relaxed, confident and focused.  In other words, the last thing you want to be is anxious.  Yet, we see players every day that shoot decent in practice, but you get them into a game and it becomes “brick city.”  We have all coached these players and it’s frustrating for the coach to see a player who can shoot well in practice, but simply can’t find the basket in a game.

Why does this happen?  Why do players become nervous and apprehensive when shooting in a game?  We all know each person is wound differently.  Some players you can constantly scream at and it doesn’t effect them one bit.  For other players, if a coach says one negative word to them, they fall apart.  Game shooting is really no different.

Anxiety in game shooting basically comes down to three different areas:

1) Afraid of getting shot blocked

Coaches need to explain that few perimeter shots actually get blocked.  Some players may only have 1-2 perimeter shots that get blocked per year.  But for younger athletes, getting blocked is a traumatic experience.  They remember it and dwell on it.  To not get their shot blocked, many players rush their shot.  Of course, this leads to taking poor shots.

2)  Afraid of missing and getting taken out

I actually was on staff with a high school coach in California who told me once, “A good shot is one you make and a bad shot is any that you miss.”  At first I thought he was joking, but he was actually serious.  He also believed that if you miss a shot, then you should come out.  Obviously, this makes no sense.  “Yanking” a player simply can destroy a player’s confidence and in the long run, his/her shot.

Becoming a solid shooter starts with confidence and playing relaxed.  If a player starts looking over at the bench after taking a shot, chances are pretty good that he/she will have a high amount of anxiety.  We believe taking a player out after shooting a shot can do great damage to a player over time.

3) Afraid of missing and letting the team down

There are many players that have anxiety issues because they don’t want to fail.  When you don’t shoot a ball it is hard to fail in shooting.  There is an old saying, “You will always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  Of course Pro Shot believes in this and always encourages players to take the open shot.

In the back of many player’s minds is the idea that if they miss, they are hurting the team’s chances of winning.  Every day, we hear a parent or coach say this about a player, “If he (or she) misses the first two shots in a game, he stops shooting for the rest of the game.”


We believe the key to stopping anxiety issues needs to start with player.  He/she needs to realize that it is ok to miss.  That even Stephen Curry misses 50% of his shots.

The player also needs to understand that few perimeter shots get blocked in a game and that you should not need to hurry your shot.

A coach also needs to help a player with anxiety issues which includes explaining to the player to “keep shooting the ball when you are open.”  We hope any coach reading this does not take a player out for missing a shot.  It really can do great harm to the shooting psyche of the player.