Basketball Coaching and Denial


Denial. It’s not just a river in Egypt. It can be a deadly affliction that can get players cut from a team and can ultimately get a coach fired.

Recently Pro Shot did their research on the 25 worst shooting Mens D-1 college teams from the past season. Not only did they struggle to shoot, they also struggled to score. These 25 teams had another thing in common–they struggled to win games. All 25 teams had under a .500 record. A few of these programs only won a handful of games.

Two weeks ago Pro Shot contacted these coaches via email that we would be willing to be their shooting consultant this year at no cost. We would train their coaches on how to teach the Pro Shot System. We truly believe any program that would be willing to implement this System would see their shooting percentages improve dramatically (we believe any D-1 team that uses the System will shoot 40% plus from three). The higher percentages, the more wins. It makes sense.

How many colleges contacted us back? One. Yes, that’s 1 in 25!!! So why do so many teams not believe they need help in shooting? We believe it starts with denial.

One of my favorite television shows is Kitchen Nightmares with Chef Gordon Ramsey. The premise of the story is really quite simple. Failing restaurants bring in Chef Ramsey to give ideas and understanding why their businesses are failing. Throughout many of the episodes, the denial is so thick that you can cut it with a kitchen knife.

The restaurant owners tell Chef Ramsey that their food is fine and that their business model is solid. When he gives suggestions, often times they ignore him and say that he’s wrong. These owners are living in a state of denial and will probably be closing their doors unless they listen to him.

Coaches get fired because their teams can’t score. We have spoken with thousands of coaches the past decade that swear their shooting will improve and their scoring will improve. But here’s the catch–they have no viable plan for improvement

We have asked coaches, “How will you improve your shooting this year?” The response is always, “More reps. We plan to shoot more.” Our belief is reps help, but reps don’t solve the problem. Taking more shots with poor form usually leads to solidifying bad habits.

Think about how crazy the whole notion of, “To be a good shooter you just shoot.” Could you imagine a swimming coach telling his or her athletes, “Just swim more. Doesn’t matter how you swim.” Sorry coach, your team just drowned. Or a golf coach saying, “Form doesn’t matter. Just putt more.”

Basketball shooting is the only activity in sports that a high percentage of coaches truly believe it’s not about form, but about reps. It just doesn’t make any sense

We have also noticed that the denial may be so large that the coach may not even know why they are losing. Two years ago I called a coach in early March and asked him, “How was your season?” He told me that he was actually just watching video on the past season and trying to figure out why his team went 3-21. “I asked him, what were your numbers like in regards to shooting?”

He responded, “We shot 31% from the field, 22% from three and 58% from the free throw line.” I smiled and added, “Coach, I think I just figured out why you couldn’t shoot.” It was amazing that he had no clue why he only won three games and yet, those numbers were staring at him in the face.

We have all met the young naive athlete that lives in denial. He believes he is headed to NBA stardom despite having limited skills and a limited work ethic. As coaches we shake our head at the amount of denial in this player.

We also know coaches that live in denial. They don’t win much, but they have a million excuses and usually it starts with, “It’s the player’s fault” or “It’s the administration’s fault.” But it is never the coach’s fault.

Don’t be that individual. If your players can’t shoot, there’s a logical reason for this. Do something about it. Start teaching mechanics on a daily basis. Make shooting a high priority. Believe that your players can and will improve.

If you shoot a higher percentage, you score more points. When you score more points, you win more games. When you think about it, it’s really simple math.