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.
1. Balance – Ally 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 drive – Maddie Petroelje/Hudsonville – “Jump through your hips” 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 Release – Jillian 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.
4. Elbow Under/Elbow Height at Finish – Meagan Tucker/Howell – Creating at least 45 degrees 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.
5. Guide Hand Impact – Ethan 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.
6. Arc Angle – Tommy Gregwer/Grandville – Creating 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 Alignment – Avery Zeinstra/Byron Center – The 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. #WeHoldFinishes – Alli 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 Carlson 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 Rotation – Stone Smeenge/Hudsonville – The 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 and 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 Shot – Jillian Brown/EGR – I 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/Confidence – Max 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.
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.