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Old 05-24-2013, 01:46 PM   #5
NBA sixth man of the year
Thorpesaurous's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,751
Default Re: How did you learn to shoot a basketball efficiently?

This is a good question.

I was not a good shooter growing up. I had the classic chicken wing elbow. But it worked for me to a degree. I was very good shooting off balance. Floating and drifting type shots around the hoop I was great at, and I'm talking like 8-12 years old. None of us were strong enough to really be shooting from much distance anyway.

I've talked about my father coaching me on here before, he was not a basketball guy at all, but he's a mechanical oriented kind of guy, and he did all types of reading and started working on getting my elbow in pretty early. I fought it, in part because I was a petulant little shit, but also because I had a legit issue. In order to get my elbow in, it blocked my view of the the hoop.
But by 5th grade or so, I was starting to do it. And then I started seeing the logic behind it. The straighter your elbow is in, the more true your shot will be, with less variance left to right based on release. It's just one variable that you can get under control with technique. I know there are guys who did fine without it, like Reggie Miller, but that doesn't mean that getting right doesn't make sense, and won't help the overwhelming majority of players (the I've been doing it this way forever and it's comfortable arguement can drive me crazy. I'll buy it if you're getting results, and by results I mean a trueness left to right, not "getting buckets", one could always get better).

Anyway, I wasn't that strong at that age. I didn't really hit a growth spurt until going into my sophmore year. So to compensate for a lack of strength, I wound up putting the ball out front to much, so I could really push it. I was streaky. My shot was a bit flat. I went through HS shooting mid to high 70s %wise from the FT line. My senior year I was over 80%. My three point shooting wasn't great, a little better than 25%. But again, I was streaky and was a threat.

When I got to college, that's when I put on a little more weight. As a walk on I wasn't playing as much, and college has other things that may cause you to put on weight. I was always a dense kinda guy. Even in HS my senior year I was playing PG at 195. In college I got up to about 210. But more than that, I had time to screw around more in a gym. It wasn't always playing pickup. I could just go shoot. I got my release point higher. I had a friend in HS that shot from way behind his head like Larry Bird, and I liked it, so I started copying him. But he was one of those gifted shooters. But by copying an extreme, I was able to settle into a comfortable position. My left arm is probably still a little tighter than most people would consider ideal. I got my shot up thinking of something my father thought to tell me, "shoot it like you're in a phone booth", and later he build a blockade out of a batting practice pitching net, that forced me to get it up some. But my shot got downright good. I had range out to probably 3 feet beyond the NBA three point line that, while maybe not at a great percentage, I could still "shoot my shot", and not adjust it.
The thing that I still, at 36 years old, work on, and I was just doing this in an empty gym before a Saturday morning pick up game a month ago, is that I've always been a ball watcher. I track the flight of the ball, and don't focus on the rim. I was always taught to watch the rim, but it's just not my instinct. It may be way I've always been good off balance, not because I don't watch the rim, but guys that do it "properly" and watch the rim, probably are bothered more when their body's drift during a shot. For me it never mattered. And I was always an excellent passer, and I think part of that is that I could still scan the floor where a more pure shooter might catch and immediately lock on the rim. I don't know. Those are just theory's. But I still will warm up trying to focus on the rim. It's something I truely believed in after going to play pool, and having someone tell me to focus on the ball I'm hitting at, not the cue ball I'm hitting, and getting a lot better at that.
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