5 Thoughts for Parents Now Educating Their Kids at Home

This is no more than a copy and paste of a Facebook post I wrote in 2 minutes on Friday night as we finished our 2nd week of distance learning. It was inspired by concerns I know parents are having, the push for no instruction I see from some, and the push for only instruction that I see from others. We can focus on the social/emotional support of families AND mix in some learning. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. What supersedes all of that is meeting our families where they are at and being accepting of that.IMG_3319.jpg

5 of my thoughts to parents all over who are now supporting their kids doing distance learning at home. My perspective comes from being both and educator and a parent. I am working from home as a principal, my wife is still working, and we are trying to support the education of the 2 kids in our home. There are good days and bad days, proud moments and not-so-proud moments. And it’s all REAL.

1. Any learning you are able to complete at home is greatly appreciated. Many of us are doing the same thing as parents and understand how hard it can be. 

2. Do what you can. Day by day. Some days it might be exactly what is being offered by the school and other days it might not be. Both are OK. 

IMG_3197.jpg3. Supporting yourself and your family emotionally should always supersede learning. If the teeter-totter to complete learning begins to tip too far in any given moment, error on the side of whatever gives your family stability. 

4. Wherever your child is academically/emotionally when they show up in the fall, we’ll be ready to support them. That’s our job. That will be the case if they spend 1,000 hours learning in the next 8 weeks or 0 hours.

5. We realize that any plan a district creates will be too much for some, not enough for others, and just right for a few. We will keep doing our best to support all of those needs the best we can.

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What is #MakeShots All About? Don’t Ask Me. Ask Players, Parents, and Coaches

I’m not a businessman. I’m an educator. I’ve lived my entire life with a central focus on impacting kids, not making money. What I have learned a couple years into the business world is that the business owner is not the person to go to for an unbiased opinion of the business. A coach isn’t the person to talk to for a reasonable opinion about that same coach.

#MakeShots is whatever parents, players, and coaches think of it. Here’s some of what they’ve shared. I didn’t include names because it’s their words, not their status, that I think is important.


Parents

* “Coach Secor builds relationships. He truly cared about our son. First as a kid, second as a player. Our son looked forward to each workout and Coach Sector’s attention to detail made a positive impact on Andrew and his game.”

* “Coach saved my son’s season- kept him positive during a difficult win-loss year, I honestly don’t know if he would have developed this season without Coach Secor. Instead, he thrived.”IMG_1549

* “#MakeShots is a unique program that incorporates individualized shooting instruction with close attention to detail. It’s not a one method fits all approach. Not only is ***** a better shooter, but his confidence has also grown tremendously. You want someone who understands how to work with adolescents. Andy’s experience as a basketball coach, teacher and leader is invaluable.”

* “He made the team!  Not sure which one yet but he said he didn’t think we would’ve made it if it weren’t for your training so thanks again!!”

* “Last summer, I sent you shooting footage of my daughter.  Without having the slightest idea of who my family is, you took the time to watch the video and provide a fair amount of feedback.  That was awesome, man.  Thank you.  It’s pretty clear you have a passion for helping folks.”FullSizeR.jpg

* “There are many great trainers out there but none that will personally invest so much time in making your player better like Coach Secor.  The #MakeShots program works with each shooter’s unique mechanics and Coach Secor collects and analyzes data to measure improvement over time.   My daughter looks forward to each #MakeShots session and can’t wait for the camp!


Players

* “This shooting program really built my shot and my mental mindset. I would love to experience this program when I am in my high school years. I enjoyed the weekly sessions they were different and challenging every time. I learned a lot about myself and my shot.”
* “I improved a lot as a shooter and I learned great shooting tips I can take with me forever.”IMG_9487.jpg
* “Training with #MakeShots has fine-tuned my shot and expanded my game as a 3 level scorer.”
* “This program is probably one of the best shooting programs ever it’s not just that he teaches you the game but how to handle certain game situations.”
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* “I was very skeptical about starting to train with Coach Secor at first. It’s just who I am as a person, I don’t like to try new things. However, this was my best experience I’ve had in basketball training. I’ve grown so much and have become a better student of my shot and a better basketball player. I will never forget my experience with Coach Secor, he truly is the greatest.”
* “I’ve known Coach Secor since I was 14 years old. He has been instrumental in my development not only as a player but also as a person. His knowledge, dedication, understanding and teaching of the game helped me tremendously on my basketball journey. I have been very fortunate over the course of my career to be around high level/high IQ basketball people, and Coach Secor is one of the best. I believe time spent with him will help anyone who is willing to work on their craft to improve immensely.”

* “The #MakeShots training program is a great way to work on getting a ton of repetition at game speed for game situations while working on the right mechanics of your shot.  If you want to become a better shooter and see improvement then this is the training you need to go to.”

* “For the past year, I have had the opportunity to train with Coach Secor at #MakeShots. Coach is one of the best at teaching the fundamentals of shooting in the area. He knows how to teach and motivate me personally to become a better shooter every day. The way Coach Secor teaches and trains me to shoot prepares me to step on the court with confidence that I can succeed each and every game. If you are looking at improving your shot, you should plan on training with Coach Secor”


Coaches

High School

* “The players I’ve had go to #MakeShots training have seen measurable, significant improvement with their shots. Andy is incredibly detailed with his approach, not just with a player’s shot but by having consistent dialogue with me as a coach to find out how players will be used, what type of shots they actually get in games, and the types of actions we use to try getting kids open. Andy goes the extra mile by studying game film and analyzing every shot each player takes, then tailors workouts to address what he sees. I think #MakeShots uses a really comprehensive approach that I’ve not seen from other trainers before.” IMG_2528.jpg

* “Through tryouts and early season play, ***** shot about 35% from the free-throw line. In the last three to four weeks he has been shooting about 65%, including two makes after an intentional foul at the end of a one-point game. He has been working very hard and refers openly to the lessons he learned from you.”

* “In a society with individual education plans, #MakeShots gives players an individualized shooting plan that helps them analyze and learn more about their shot and how to improve it than any other training option I’ve seen.”

* “The #MakeShots program has helped our program develop more skilled and fundamentally sound shooters. In the time we have utilized the specialized and made-to-design shooting program, we were able to customize the approach that worked not only for our team, but for individuals as well. Coach Secor presented a 10-week program that we were able to implement during the season and it came with great results. I am so confident with what he offers, that we are going to bring him back during the summer as well as next season!!” 

College

* Coach Secor’s extensive experience in coaching and his knowledge of shootings skills and mechanics make this program a must for any serious player looking to improve their game” 

* “My son played high school for Coach Secor and went on to be a college All- American.   I could not be more pleased to recommend him to help your son or daughter.”

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“Are You Going to Change My Shot?”

That is the question that I’m most often asked when I begin 1-on-1 #MakeShots training with players. My answer is usually more complicated than parents and players expect. Most of that answer centers around my shooting philosophy that every shot is unique, different, and it’s not about creating THE perfect shot, but THEIR perfect shot. 

I don’t change anything. I don’t tell players they HAVE to change anything. That’s not my style nor does it fit my beliefs on leadership and working with people. Any decision made to make mechanical shot adjustments are done collaboratively. This is the process used to approach that conversation and work.

1. How often does the shot go in? The #1 factor that impacts shot changes is how often in workouts and games the ball goes in the hoop. As simple as it gets. If it’s going in up to our expectations, it means our primary focus won’t be mechanics. Player Example: Maddie Petroelje, Hudsonville. Maddie has a big lower-body move and then right-hand driving motion that is unique. She gets to a great finishing spot in a different way than most. It’s truly her perfect shot and when you shoot 45/40/82 as a freshman, the proof is in the numbers.IMG_8752.jpg

2. What are your common misses? Sometimes players know what their common miss is and sometimes they don’t. I look at their game film on HUDL and then track miss types in workouts. Once I have a large enough data set to identify the 1-3 most common misses, I analyze that back through the shooting process to what is causing that miss. I make sure players see that on film, can feel it during a session, and then share the drills we’d work on to correct that. We decide collaboratively whether or not to pursue making that mechanical adjustment. Player Example: Tommy Gregwer, Grandville. Tommy led the OK Red in scoring as a junior. Almost 50% of his misses are online off the front of the rim. Finishing the last 10% on top and landing to balance are the reasons for that and therefore the focus of our workouts. IMG_9471.jpg

3. We work through the process of mechanical changes. We work together in workouts on those drills and they often work on their own. It’s a process. For some kids, they can make the change very quickly and other times it takes months. The ultimate result of whether or not our work is successful is rooted in numbers. Either the percentages are improving or they aren’t. It’s not rocket science. Player Example: Brooke Toigo, Forest Hills Eastern. We focused a lot on arc angle, shoulder tilt, and the catch/shoot process during the 2020-2021 season. A majority of our time was focused on shooting the 3. Brooke was invested, focused, and awesome to work with during the process. The result was a 15% increase in 3-point percentage from her freshman to sophomore season. It was great to see all of her hard work on that aspect pay off.IMG_9923

4. Becoming a student of your shot. This is the ultimate goal. It’s simply for a player to know their shot well enough to know the primary reasons it goes in and the primary reasons it doesn’t. I’m not next to them in a practice or game, so they need to be able to know their shot well enough to make those subtle adjustments on the fly. Player Example: Kobe Haglund, West Ottawa. I’ve had a few individual and a couple small-group workouts with Kobe. He’s very analytical and has an amazing work ethic. We are working to make sure the center of his hand shoots the center of the ball and slightly moving the guide-hand lower to combat left and short misses. It’s work that can only be done by the most determined players, like Kobe. He becomes a better student of his shot every time I interact with him.IMG_1430.jpg

There are players I work with players where we make NO mechanical adjustments or we’ve already made them and are now in the refining stage. For those players, our work is more focused on:  film study, specific shooting skills they want to improve in, knowing what a quality shooting workout should look like, increased reps, competition – increase scores in challenging/timed drills, and the mental aspect of shooting.

Creating the Perfect Jump Shot From #MakeShots Players

Those of you who have read my thoughts on shooting know that in #MakeShots training I don’t try to get all players to shoot the same way. My goal isn’t to turn their shot into the same perfect jump shot, but instead, to create the best version of their shot that we can.

But….if I could create a perfect jump shot, based only on players that I’ve been able to train in a 1-on-1 setting, here are the shot elements I’d use and the players I’d use them from. Although I could list dozens, I stuck with 11 of the most important shot characteristics. We know how much of shooting is mental, so I couldn’t leave that aspect out.

IMG_1879.jpg1. BalanceAlly VanTimmeren/Jenison – Taking shots from balance and landing to balance takes a lot of mental discipline and focus. Ally faces many double-teams and the attention of defense in games. Yet, she stays true to one of the most important factors in making shots, which is to take shots from balance and land to balance.

2. Leg driveMaddie Petroelje/Hudsonville“Jump through your IMG_2798.jpghips” is something kids hear me say in training. Engage your lower body and sync that drive with your upper body. Maddie has a trademark 1-2 step walk-in for shots that really is an important timing mechanism that helped her to shoot an amazing 40% from “3” as a freshman.

3. Shooting Pocket to ReleaseJillian Brown/EGR Putting the ball into a consistent shooting pocket and moving it in a straight path through the shooting tunnel to release is vital to making shots. Jillian pockets it in the same spot time after time. That’s because of the number of practice reps she’s taken. It’s a high shooting pocket which allows her to get it off when tightly contested and in-rhythm off the bounce. Her shooting move is simple and repeatable, which is why she makes it so often. IMG_1092.jpg

4. Elbow Under/Elbow Height at FinishMeagan Tucker/Howell – Creating at least 45 IMG_5678.jpgdegrees of arc is vital so the ball “sees” as much of the hoop as possible. To do that, the elbow needs to get vertical under the ball, not behind the ball, at the “2” spot of shooting. Meagan only gets her elbow there at that spot of her shot, but also consistently gets her elbow above her eye line. If gives her a true “up not out” shooting motion.

IMG_8742.jpg5. Guide Hand ImpactEthan McConnon/NorthPointe – NBA Shooting Coach Dave Love is my go-to guy for guide-hand impact on shooting. He talks a lot about when the guide-hand should come off the ball and how minimizing that impact allows for shots to be more accurate. Ethan has a classic guide-hand finish. It’s truly a flat left-hand, with 5 fingers to the ceiling, and no pushing from his thumb to impact spin.IMG_1544.jpg

6. Arc AngleTommy Gregwer/GrandvilleCreating a consistent arc angle is really hard for players due to defensive pressure, taking shots from various positions/angles, and the power/accuracy needed. Tommy’s great mechanics allow him to shoot the ball right in that 45-degree range over and over. It’s a big reason why he is such a great shooter.

7. Shooting-Hand AlignmentAvery Zeinstra/Byron Center IMG_2986.jpgThe first shooting workout I had with Avery I told her she had a “hall-of-fame right hand” at her finish. Where the shooting hand finishes just after release is a true indication of all the other components of the shooting process. When you see Avery’s right-hand placement at the finish, with a true rim-grab, it’s obvious why she led the state of Michigan in 3-point shooting as a freshman.

8. #WeHoldFinishesAlli Carlson/EGR“FINISH YOUR SHOT” or “SHOOT THE LAST 10%” are things kids hear me say in training all the time. Holding your shooting hand online at finish is a great way to make sure you’ve completed the shooting process and self-assess your shot. Alli IMG_3028.pngCarlson has made this a consistent part of her shot. It helped Alli doubled the amount of 3’s she made from her freshman year to her sophomore year and increased her percentage to 35%. In #MakeShots, #WeHoldFinishes.

9. Ball RotationStone Smeenge/HudsonvilleThe way the ball spins through the air tells a shooting coach a lot about the player’s shot. Stone worked really hard on his jumper between his sophomore IMG_6181.jpgand junior year. A result of that work is really good rotation both in the number of spins and the top over bottom rotation. It comes from how strong the snap is in his right-hand finish.

10. Shooter’s IQ/Understanding Their ShotJillian Brown/EGRI think all players need to become a “student of their shot.” They need to know what their common make is and why it goes in. They should know what their common miss is, what likely makes that happen, and how to counter that miss. To do that, you need to be a bit obsessive about the game and your shot. That’s exactly what Jillian Brown is. She studies her shot like she studies all aspects of the game. Jillian is constantly asking about parts of her shot, what she feels, and making necessary adjustments. 

 11. Shooter’s Mentality/Swag/ConfidenceMax Perez/Hudsonville – Shooters are mental. Plain and simple. They can be superstitious and a roller-coaster of emotions. The best shooters need to have unwavering confidence in their shot. Whether they make 10 in a row or miss 10 in a row, they need to KNOW the next one is going in. It’s not going in by chance, but because they’ve EARNED the right for it to go in based on the hundreds of thousands of shots they’ve taken when no one is watching. That’s exactly the way Max Perez thinks and why I want him to take shots at the end of games due to his mentality.

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I believe every shooter has strengths in their shot. They have trademarks or memorable pieces that stand out. When I think of the players listed and why their shots go in, these are the shot elements I think of for each of them. 

If you put all of these pieces together, you’d have a hall-of-fame level jumper.

 

 

 

 

10 Things I Learned in 6 Months as a High School Shooting Coach

  1. Kids have a great work ethic

A lot of kids WANT to work. They are determined to get better. The drive and motivation in kids to work hasn’t changed, the way adults expect or interact with them has. Maddie, Jillian, Trevor, Emma, Alli, Andrew, Brooke, and Tommy have a burning desire to improve and are willing to put in the work to do it. One of the reasons I got out of high school coaching was that I sometimes felt like I wanted success more than the players did. I NEVER questioned that with these 8. Their desire matched my desire and that was a big reason I greatly enjoyed our workouts.

  1. This role was very rewarding

I know that being in the gym impacting kids is part of my calling. I loved training hundreds of kids last year from September-February. But to focus 99% of my time on these 8, truly allowed us to take part of their basketball journey together. Seeing their highs and lows, being there to support, inspire, and cheer, while getting to know each of them personally, was so rewarding. I loved the film work, as I analyzed every single shot every single one of my high school kids took in every game. I charted it, scored the quality of the shot, assigned it feedback, and divided it by the type of make/miss from the type of position on the floor. That part of in-depth analysis and then giving advice on how to improve was very rewarding and intriguing to me. What I hope this role when I developed the program was truly what it became.

  1. Pressure on today’s high profile high school athletes is high

College scholarship offers at an early age. Scouting services ranking your every game. Some kids are trying to get into the starting lineup. Others working to make a certain AAU team. Every move you make, shot you take, and interaction you have can be captured on social media. It’s a lot of pressure, both self-imposed, from those in basketball circles and beyond. You can see and feel that pressure when working with these kids. I wrote a letter to each of them sharing 5 things I learned about them during this process. Much of the content of those letters were not even about basketball, but how they can take all of those pressures, work, demands, and expectations and turn it into life success. 

  1. Parents approach athletics in all different ways

Some parents are very hands-on. They watch game films with kids, attend workouts, keep stats, and are engaged in the entire process. Others are simply fans and supporters. There is a lot in-between those two approaches. There is no right, no wrong, but a lot of different.

  1. I felt like I won/lost 5 games every Tuesday and Friday night

Almost every Tuesday/Friday night I would attend a game that one of my 6 high school kids were playing in. I think I saw 24 or 25 games. As the night went on and parent/player texts came in, it was a roller coaster of emotions. It’s rare to have all 6 of your kids shoot well and all of their teams win on the same night. So it was often excitement for the player who had a good night but empathizing and planning for one who did it. As the varsity coach, I had some amount of control and one game to focus on. As a shooting coach, I had less control and 5 games. I underestimated the emotional roller-coaster every Tuesday and Friday night would be for me.

  1. Being able to select your players/parents is heavenly 

Almost every high-level coach has player challenges, parent drama, team chemistry issues, or trouble with their administration. In my 18 varsity seasons, even in the best years and in great programs/communities, I usually had some situation of some kind to deal with. Players applied for this shooting coach program. I got to hand-pick the players and parents. I only worked with players who I wanted to work with and parents I wanted to be around. I’ve never had the luxury of cutting down to a handful and it certainly made the work more enjoyable. I was surrounded by kids that wanted to succeed as much as I wanted it for them. This program requires you to be almost obsessive about the game, which is exactly what I am. 

  1. I took on too much

The experience was great. The kids were awesome. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped that what I had mapped out would be what it was like in real-life application.  I originally thought 5 was the right number and it probably is. 8 was too many. I had one weekend off in 6 months and that was Christmas. I worked 40 weekend days during that time frame.  In September/October, it was 16 individual workouts a week, which when you combine drive, planning, and data collection is about 25 extra hours a week. In-season, the 8 hours of workouts each week had to be on weekends because kids have practice/games on weekdays. Working at least 10 hours every weekend from December-February was a lot. There was game attendance every Tuesday and Friday night and about 2 hours per player of film work and analysis each week.  I don’t like to glorify busy, but all of that was a lot. 234 total sessions with players. Didn’t miss one for illness. That was a lot of time away from my family, friends, and hobbies. I love the program and believe in it, but 5 or maybe 6 is the right number and if I do it again, I’ll need to cap it at that and make some overall adjustments, which may include some partnerships and not everything being individual.

  1. I will get better at this / Motivating and supporting a player out of a shooting slump isn’t one size fits all – Not every player needs the same thing when they are struggling. Some of their challenges were mental/confidence, others were physical/mechanics, or it was even health/injury related. Supporting kids out of those times wasn’t easy and there isn’t a road map. Some of the 8 kids I worked with wanted to go 100 mph every session. Other times, they were sore, banged up, or tired. I tried to always ask them how they were feeling that day and what they wanted to work on instead of just what I had planned. That gave them more ownership and let them know that I cared about how they were doing and not just getting to work. Sometimes I was more successful than others. The better I got to know them, the more I could help. The better our relationship and trust was, the more we grew. I am consistently reading, watching, and attending things that grow me as a shooting coach. I estimate that I’ve watched over hundreds of thousands of shots in person or on film. That will be over a million in the near future. The more I learn and grow, the better I will get, and the better shooting coach I will become. As I do this specific job more and more, I know I’ll get better and better.
  2.  Hard work pays off, usually

I’ve been around some of these players for nearly 2 years. Some had success far and beyond what they set their goals to. I didn’t do enough to help other players reach their goals. Those who fell short certainly weren’t due to a lack of hard work. So many variables can impact you making shots in games and my support helped some achieve well-beyond their goals and in other instances we fell short.

  1. It’s time to take #MakeShots to a new level

I’ve stumbled upon a very good thing. I’m positively impacting the basketball careers of kids at all different ages. This is just the beginning. Big plans are in store for #MakeShots in the near and distant future. I know it’s in God’s hands and I fully trust him. Where this might go next is beyond me and I’m ready for the ride.

#MakeShots8 – What Does a Shooting Coach Do?

 

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I’ve talked to many parents, players, and coaches about the “personal shooting coach” training I’m doing with players from September-March this year.  After training over 400 players, including professionals and Division 1 players last year, I decided to stop public training and focus all of my work with 8 kids. Here is a little information about how the idea started, where we are at 2 months in, and what the rest of the season will look like.

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THE KIDS

I chose 8 players (6 High School and 2 Middle School) after getting many applications from kids all over the area. Players applied for the “shooting coach” program and I selected them this summer. That group is:

1. Jillian Brown – Junior, East Grand Rapids

2. Emma Bruwer – 8th-grade, Lowell

3. Alli Carlson – Sophomore, East Grand Rapids

4. Andrew Carlson – Senior, Rockford

5. Tommy Gregwer – Junior, Grandville 

6. Maddie Petrolje – Freshmen, Hudsonville

7. Brooke Toigo – Sophomore, Forest Hills Eastern

8. Trevor Zamarron – 8th-grade, Greenville

While I loved training and impacting so many kids last year, to really dramatically improve shooting, I believe the instruction has to be frequent and more intensive. By going with only 8 players, it’s allowed me to better differentiate drills to meet their needs, get to know them as people, and give them the reps and workouts necessary to make improvements. Each of these players has different strengths, things to work on, and personalities. Their common bond is work ethic, determination, and they come from families who are willing to support their improvement as players and as people.

I really think this program is a unique model that isn’t happening anywhere in Michigan.

The Program

The general set-up of the program is for players to have 2 shooting workouts a week during Sept/October to best prepare for the first day of practice. We met over the summer to design what their areas of focus would be and to set % goals for drills most closely tied to skills they wanted to improve.

I checked in with the high school coach of each player, sharing with them the aspects of the program and getting advice on what skills they’d like their player to work on. They shared with me the types of offensive shots/system/sets the player would be involved in during games this winter. They gave me some great feedback and direction. That type of trainer/coach relationship is very uncommon and many coaches shared their appreciation for me reaching out so we could work collaboratively.

We have put in almost 120 workouts over the last 2 months getting them ready for practice starting in the coming weeks.

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Preseason

Players get a copy of their workout after each session and a data-collection page that chronicles their shooting percentage of every drill we’ve ever done. We track everything.

Every 10 sessions, we do an entire data day. On that day, we track all shots, types of makes/misses, comparison from off the dribble to catch and shoot and look at it compared to our last data day.

Kids compare how they are doing with others as the training records for the top 20-25 drills are listed on the website.  This has really driven some to continue to improve as they are all very competitive. We don’t hope or think they are becoming better shooters, we either have the numbers to back up the progress or we don’t.

One of the most important skills we are trying to improve is players knowing what their IMG_9210.jpgcommon shooting errors and strengths are. When players start to struggle, we go right back to our fundamental drills and reinforce those key skills. Just like in games, players won’t always have good shooting nights, but they need to know the keys to breaking out of slumps that are sure to come. We’ve spent a lot of time the last 2 months on the mental aspect of shooting. Obviously, the ultimate transfer has to be carrying over our session work into games.

In-Season

During the season, we will have one workout a week to continue the work we’ve done on their shot. In addition, players will also receive film analysis of every shot they take in games. I’ve developed a shot analysis chart they get sent to them after each game that includes makes/misses on rim finishes, mid-range, mid-range off the bounce, 3’s, and 3’s off the dribble. It includes types of makes (front-rim, swish, back-rim, side-rim), misses (front, back, left, right) as well as assigning a value to each shot from 1-3IMG_9488.jpg based on how good of a shot it is for them to take. 

Kids get a copy of those shot charts along with feedback about what shooting components to be mindful of the next week of practice. I will also attend 3-4 of their games in person and we will start shooting percentage goal-setting in the coming weeks. I can’t wait to see how the #MakeShots8 performs in games this winter!

The Journey

I love investing in kids and supporting them along their basketball journey. We work hard and sessions aren’t always easy, but I try to be a positive voice and support person in a day and age where teenagers really need it. It’s allowed me to connect and reconnect with so many kids. I’m glad to have made this choice to work with the #MakeShots8 and see how helpful I can be to their games and basketball careers. At the end of this season, I’ll decide on whether or not I will be offering the personal shooting coach program next year.

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Looking Back on Year #1 of #MakeShots

I’m big on reflection. Looking back, learning, and then looking forward again. After about 13 months of #MakeShots training, it felt like the right time.

Over a year ago, I started a small business focused on providing shooting training for basketball players of all ages. In that year I’ve trained over 400 players around the Midwest, during 500+ sessions, in over 50 gyms. I’ve worked with 2nd-graders that could barely hold the ball, to entire varsity teams, Division 1, 2, and 3 players, some of the best high school shooters in the state Michigan, and even professionals. There was the first #MakeShots summer camp that sold out 5 sessions. I’ve been fortunate enough to train the children of 15+ high school basketball coaches and even a Division 1 head coach’s child.

Currently, I’m the private shooting coach for 8 select players in the Grand Rapids area. What started as an idea in a hotel room in Chicago and began in a driveway in our neighborhood, has evolved bigger and faster than I ever imagined. What was a hobby/interest has turned into a second job. Here is a little more about that journey.IMG_8256.jpg

1. Basketball void – In our area, I know of many quality places where players can go to get bigger or faster. There are great options for improving ball handling. I think there is a MAJOR void in shooting instruction. With all of the great high school and college coaches I’ve been fortunate to be around, I’ve learned a lot and have something to offer players. When you focus on just one nuance of the game and pour all of your learning and energy into it, it’s amazing how much your knowledge can grow. That’s the focus I’ve brought to shooting the past few years.

2. I’m meant to be in the gym – My Dad was a coach, My Grandpa was a coach. I was a varsity coach at the age of 24. I’ve always felt at peace in the gym. Since leaving the varsity level, I’ve spent a lot of time coaching my own two kids. While I’ve really loved doing that, it comes with its pros and cons. With my time coaching them decreasing, so was my time in the gym. That didn’t feel right. Over the last year, I’ve met so many amazing kids and families. I’ve walked into gyms in places I didn’t even know existed. But every time it felt right. The relationships and work feels right. That’s because being in a school or in the gym with kids is where I know I’m supposed to be.

3. It’s not the fault of the kids – Over the last decade, I’ve gone to basketball games and watched a kid make 7 dribble moves and then airball a 10-footer. There seemed to be a disconnect. I watched my own son walk into the YMCA and fire up half-courters or hook shots while “practicing.” Clearly, not enough players have been taught what a quality shooting workout looks like. Not enough of them know the intricate details of their shot, what the keys are to them making or missing shots, and what to do when things go bad. Past that, kids don’t have a mental plan for dealing with shooting adversity. But that’s not the fault of kids. Those are things that need to be taught and learned.

4. The evolution of the game – I appreciate defense, hustle, a great pass, teamwork, assists, taking charges, roles, screening, deflections, all of it. But the 3-point line has revolutionized the game. Being able to #MakeShots, especially from 3, has never been more important than now. That isn’t going to change. The ability of players of every size and position to make perimeter jump shots is a key to them making an AAU team, starting on the varsity, or a college scholarship. IMG_8256.jpg

When I talk to people about this type of training, it’s a little hard to describe, as I do think it’s different. I’ll do my best to explain it using some talking points that I think give some clarity. Here are a few.

  • It’s about the player. I have a model, structure, and program, but it’s not for all kids. I don’t have a business, corporation, or boss telling me what philosophy to use. I can truly personalize the experience for what the player needs. Some players need the reps and volume. Others need to get a better understanding of their shot. Some need to learn what a quality shooting workout looks like and a few need to make mechanical changes. I have players that work almost primarily on 3’s, some on fundamentals inside 10 feet, others off the bounce and on and on. It’s not about me and what I want. It’s about the player and what they need.
  • There is a unique artistic beauty to every jump shot. Jumpers are so unique, kind of like handwriting or the way we talk. Jumpers are a trademark of our lives as basketball players. But they are different…so different! There are so many moving pieces that go into a shot and no two are alike. I don’t want them to be alike, its part of the beauty. I joke with kids that every jumper has a disease, none are perfect. Some might just have a cold, a runny nose, or even seem like cancer, but they all are flawed in some way. I don’t have “shooting non-negotiables.”  I have very specific shooting beliefs and philosophies, but those aren’t imposed on any player. The #1 thing I look for, as simple as it sounds, is how often shots go in. When it doesn’t, we find the common miss and then work from there. I have a list of 5 basic things we start with and those usually give us a good game plan of what to address and how.
  • #MakeShots isn’t for everybody. My style isn’t a fit for all players. The cerebral part of breaking down a shot isn’t for everyone. The ultra-focus on one skill isn’t the greatest area of need at this specific point of everyone’s basketball journey. Other trainers, systems, or focuses are better for some kids than #MakeShots. That’s OK.
  • There are no guarantees. Shooting is too complex and there are too many variables to offered guaranteed success. I’m awfully proud of the gains kids have made in workouts and games and that track record is beginning to speak for itself. However, the number of training kids come to, their openness to coaching, and many other things play a large role in improvement. The value of my word is more important than any guarantee.
  • The work is rooted in data. We can prove numerically whether or not #MakeShots is positively impacting the shooting of players. Data collected during workouts and games is the ultimate test of the training. This work is quantifiable. We track shooting numbers in every drill, every day. We set goals for drills and track progress towards them. There is a large data day every 10 sessions. Soon, we will be setting goals for the upcoming season. Everything is about shooting percentages, numbers, and improvements we can point to.
  • Coach vs. Trainer. Those two roles are different for many reasons. Very few trainers have 18 seasons of experience as a coach at the varsity level.  All of those seasons allows me to bring something different to training. That makes me a trainer who has coached vs. a trainer. Those are two different things.
  • It’s not that complicated. Players who learn how to participate in a quality shooting workout, and get lots of repetition, will get better. Sometimes, it’s simple.
  • Don’t listen to me. Really, none of that matters! It’s me talking about my business, what do you expect me to say? Talk to the players and families. They will tell the true story of #MakeShots and its impact.

I don’t have a “lab” or a “world headquarters.” I’m just one person with 20+ years of coaching experience, who loves developing relationships with kids, that enjoys teaching, and has developed an expertise in this one facet of the game. I’m not sure where this might go next and I’m really not too worried about it. My faith, conversations with my family, and the feedback I get from players, families, and coaches will take me wherever #MakeShots is supposed to go next.

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My first day off, where I haven’t worked either job, including weekends, will be a week from Saturday.  That will be after 53 straight days of work. I don’t write that to glorify busy, but to give you an idea of how hard I will work to be successful at both jobs. So many of you reading this have been part of this journey and for that, I am truly grateful. My wife and kids have been all-in supportive. People like Noelle Brown, Jeff Tucker, Sarah and Mark Zictherman, Matt Perez, and Mike Petroelije have believed in the training from the very beginning. All of that means the world to me. Thank you!