Improving your game

Zach Harper —  December 12, 2012 — 4 Comments

LoveShot

If you’re not a good shooter when you’re playing basketball, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your form/motion and become a more accurate shooter. 

The best way to go about it is to tinker with isolated segments of your jump shot. You want to remain balanced and comfortable so that it’s a natural and fluid shooting motion. Your end game is to make sure the release point is proper and the motion is repetitive. Ideally, you want to cut down on unnecessary movement, but as long as you’re balanced and the release point is consistent, a funky motion doesn’t really matter that much.

When you first start breaking down someone’s shot, I like to look at the feet. When I did a little coaching (both individual and team), I’d immediately check a shooter’s feet to make sure there was a good base and balance. You can have a great release point but if you’re not balanced on the majority of your shots then it’s going to be really hard to be successful shooting the ball. Some people are naturally pigeon-toed and their feet face out. If it can be comfortable for them to have their feet facing straight to the basket, that’s great. But comfort is the key there. As you move your way up, you want to make sure the feet are shoulder length apart, legs provide good balance the rest of your body is squared up to the hoop.

From there, you can tinker with the motion through trial and error. Bring your elbow in. Bring your elbow out. Push your hands up. Don’t push them so far forward when you shoot. Get more arc on your shot. Spread your fingers. Snap your wrists and have a good follow through. Shoot for the same release point. Move it to the side of your head, in front of your head, on top of your head. Find the release point that is most comfortable for you. Keep your eyes on the hoop and don’t snap your vision to it while you’re in your shooting motion. All of these tips are different for players, depending on what you’re working with.

But the important thing is trial-and-error until they find comfort and results. It would be great if everybody could shoot with the same motion as Ray Allen, but we’re not all aliens. You want to turn your motion into muscle memory, so when your legs get tired or your arms get heavy, your muscle memory can pull you through the exhaustion and into maintaining good accuracy.

I’d actually imagine most learning experiences in the basketball world are trial and error. Defensive improvements need to be more systemic and regimened but perhaps figuring out how to take away comfort zones for an opposing offensive player is trial and error too. Learning how to be a leader and a franchise player is also trial and error and we saw that with Kevin Love yesterday.

Love’s first comments to the media today were, “well, I thought it was going to be a lot more positive. I said a lot of great things about the team. It ended up being a more negative article, which I didn’t necessarily like but in today’s day and age in America, you figure out what sells.” There are a couple of ways to take this reaction from Love. It’s possible he got duped by Woj. Woj writes notoriously inflammatory things about subjects he doesn’t like. They get a big reaction and it’s generally good fodder for everybody. As long as the things are truthful, there’s really nothing wrong with it.

It’s also possible that two guys who don’t like David Kahn and his management style got together and tried to take him down a peg. Stuff “leaks out” to the media all the time and it usually has an agenda attached to it. Normally, I would lean toward the latter and just say he’s doing damage control because he didn’t get the public reaction he was hoping for but then I saw this tweet from Woj.

Woj tweet

The fact that Woj went out of his way to make sure people know this about Love makes me think it’s somewhere in the middle. Love isn’t one to hold his tongue but he learned a valuable lesson about using big megaphones to voice his opinion at bad times. And there are few megaphones as big as the one Woj’s columns typically wield because he’s one of the biggest names in the business.

“I said what I said,” Love explained to the media scrum. “At 24 years old, fifth year in the league, there are some things you just express to the people that I said that about, I guess.”

And this is where Love’s trial and error gives him a learning experience. What he said wasn’t wrong; it’s when and how he said it that is the issue here. He’s the leader of the franchise and you can’t have the leader of your franchise making immature decisions. I think Love has learned this lesson and after talking with Rick Adelman and David Kahn (and possibly Glen Taylor at this point), he knows you can’t just spout off about anything you want whenever you want. The good thing with him is he seems to be brutally honest, which is something franchise players need more of.

The bad thing is he’s brutally honest and sometimes that gets you into trouble.

“A lot of athletes these days say the right thing and aren’t outspoken. I happen to be in this article. I’m not going to go forward and say I have anything to apologize about. I said what I felt. I didn’t mean to alienate my team, my coaches, the organization or more importantly the fans…I said a lot of things about the team and were we’re at this point and I’ll continue to say it throughout the year because that’s how I feel.”

There are nice things about this quote that I really find refreshing. It isn’t a “sorry if I offended everybody” type of apology that usually isn’t even an apology but an indictment of the offended. In fact, this isn’t an apology at all. This is Love standing by his words and not running away from the situation. It’s nice to see a player stick by his words and not just vomit out some prepared PR spun monologue. This is Love taking responsibility for his words.

If he learns the time and place to use his strong opinions from this debacle, then he’s taken another step forward toward being the guy that leads this team. For guys like Kevin Durant, it’s typically not a bumpy road on the road to stardom. For Love, well he’s not Durant and he is traveling on a bumpy road. It’s not saying he’ll eventually be Durant but he’s definitely learning from his own path.

Now it’s up to him to play well, keep this team together as they get healthier and lead them to the playoffs like he wants, like the team wants, and like the fans want. This isn’t a guy weaseling his way out of the Timberwolves organization. I stand by what I said yesterday when I said he’s given himself a win-win with a potential exit strategy. He begged for a five-year extension and now he’s reminded the team that since they didn’t want to commit to him the way he asked, he doesn’t have to commit to them past this contract.

He received a little blowback over the last day, has learned from it, and we’ll get to see moving forward if he’s actually learned his lesson. I would imagine the next test is All-Star Weekend when he’ll have a lot of national people asking him these questions about leaving in a media scrum. We’ll see then if he’s still saying the same things or if he’s keeping his mouth shut and focusing on the task at hand. Trial and error is great for learning how to be better at what you do, even if it’s a little awkward in the middle.

Now let’s get back to seeing them play some basketball.

Zach Harper

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4 responses to Improving your game

  1. my only problem with it is his self-branding as some sort of outside the looking glass nba player that only goes it his own way. yes, kahn is the worst, but love comes across as entitled. not entitled in the thoroughly discussed “over-paid, out of touch athlete” kinda way, but entitled in the sense that his self-worth is out of touch. is he a cornerstone franchise player? debatable. taking numbers out of the equation (oxymoronic, no?), i would say he isn’t, at least not until the defense catches up to his offense….or at least he stops yapping to refs and starts getting back on D.

  2. And here I thought you were going to drop something about how Ricky’s shown xyz on his shot lately. Maybe next week?

  3. Thanks for the tips. I will apply them to my son’s shooting issues.

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