Shot Talk: A Conversation About Shooting the Basketball

  1. This isn’t a “how to shoot” or a “how to teach shooting” video. I’m trying to answer this question: when watch these shooters, what do I notice?
  2. What shooters did I watch? Steph Curry, Sue Bird, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, and JJ Redick.
  3. Who are some of my influences when it comes to teaching shooting? Indiana HS Coach Sam Alford, his son Steve’s workout videos, Dick Baumgartner, Dave Love and Drew Hanlon.
  4. When I have questions about shooting–for example, where should the guide hand be placed?–I try to watch video of great shooters and look for the answers.
  5. I think of this video and post as a sort of video remix about shooting. Yes, I am using short screen grabs from other people’s YouTube posts the way I might use a quote from a writer’s article writing my own research paper. As a kind of Works Cited, I will link you to each video I screen grab for this project. I hope you will check out some of those YouTube channels and that my linking to them sparks some great conversation / content about shooting.
  6. A belief I have about shooting: good shooters don’t shoot the same way. There are multiple ways to be a good shooter. By the way, I believe the same thing about writing.
  7. For this video analysis, I looked for mostly catch and shoot situations. Great shooters don’t shoot the ball the same way every time. Sometimes the situation–off the dribble or sprinting off a screen–demand the shooter do something different when it comes to footwork, balance, or the path the ball takes from catch to release.

Here’s the screen capture from my study of Steph Curry, Sue Bird, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, and JJ Redick.

image of Steph Shooting from SC30.com

After watching the shooters in the above video, what did you see worth bringing to this discussion?

Here are some of my thoughts after watching those shooters:

  1. A consistent shooting motion can overcome minor mechanical flaws related to some idea of an ideal shot. I need to chill out about some more minor things I see with the players I work with.
  2. Left / right footwork for a right handed shooter is a good starting place. Step toward the ball on the pass with the left foot and put the right foot down on the catch.
  3. The pocket is where the ball is taken on the catch. Teach the pocket as a ball width away from the stomach and slightly toward the side of the body of the shooting hand. I first heard the pocket described that way by Dave Love.
  4. Rather than keep the ball close to the body as it travels from the pocket to the release, the ball travels away from the body to the set point in what looks like a half circle. The upper arms, forearms, and hands can move together as one to the set point. See examples in video above.
  5. I teach what I call rhythm shooting. This rhythm includes taking the ball down to the pocket as needed, (if the ball wasn’t caught there) flexing the legs, and then the ball starts to rise toward the set point just ahead of the legs starting to push and extend. The timing of that process, which is one fluid motion with no stops, is what I mean by rhythm. The word tempo also comes to mind.
  6. I prefer the shooter and the ball go up and toward the basket. Many players have something (hand, jump, footprint) that goes somewhere not toward the hoops. A very common flaw is for a player to drift a lot if they are catching on the move. Some twist of the body is fine and this can become more pronounced depending on what kind of shot is being taken. Of course as players’ skill evolves, they will make use of fade aways, step backs, and drifting in a direction to get away from the defense.

When I finished this project, I wondered where the players I work with look when they shoot. I think they can watch the flight of the ball, the front of the rim, or the back of the rim, but I realized I had not talked much about that to the players I work with.

I do have a routine I use when I start working with a player on their shot. Perhaps that is a future post.

Here is a list of the videos I used in making the video on this page. Again, I am thinking of these videos in my video as quotes I would use in writing a research paper.

Image of Steph Curry on right from SC30.com

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section or on Twitter about what you noticed when you watched these shooters shoot.

What to Watch When You Watch Golden State on Offense

There are only a few teams in the NBA that I’m interested in watching on a regular basis because they do something interesting with their offensive attack. Golden State’s open-post motion offense is one I pay attention to. I’ll use the video clip below to help explain some of what has caught my interest:

Four things to notice:

1. No player is in the lane.

I call at least this alignment by Golden State “open post” because no player has a foot in the yellow lane area. You might be right to argue and say it’s 4 out motion with a post player playing high. What this alignment does is allow all players space to cut to the basket. This works great for Golden State because when you start worrying about their shooters coming off of screens, everyone (shooters and screeners) has room to cut backdoor to the basket.

2.  Players weave with the ball.

What’s the weave? Watch how a dribbler heads to their teammate, the teammate goes behind, and the dribbler flips the ball to their teammate. After a dribbler gives it up, they can cut to the edge of the floor and come back for another handoff. Golden State mostly uses the weave to get the defense moving before they do the thing on offense they really want to do.

3. Players have choices.

Part of what appeals to me about the motion offense is that players have choices. Instead of telling players exactly where to go when, they can set screens and cut and decide what they will do based on how the defense plays. If you’re watching Golden State and Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference Finals, look to see what the players do on offense without the ball. I think you’ll notice a lot more movement from the Golden State players. One way isn’t better, but if I’m playing or coaching basketball, I prefer the kind of team play I grew up watching with Bob Knight’s use of the motion offense or Phil Jackson’s triangle. As a player, I hated having to go stand in my spot and wait to run the coach’s play. As a coach, I hated yelling, “Set it up.” I prefer to empower players to use what they know to make decisions on the fly.

4. #23 Draymond Green’s Down Screen

The action in this video is worth watching multiple times. Check out the screen Green sets for Thompson. I especially like the way he heads toward mid-court to get a good angle before he heads back toward his basket to get the screen.

A Few More Plays from Warriors Offense

Golden State, Warriors, NBA, OKC, Thunder, Western Conference Finals

Watch Curry. Rather than come off of the down screen, he cuts back door to the basket.

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Bogut and Curry set down screens. Then Bogut screens the screener Curry.

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Golden State, Warriors, Screen and roll, Westbrook, Curry, Bogut

Westbrook stops on the screen and roll. Did he think they were supposed to switch?