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.
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.
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.
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.
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.