One of the most common questions I get from coaches and players alike is, "how many shots should I be shooting in a day?" It's a tough question and I always hesitate to give a number, there are just too many variables.
Very few things in shooting development are concrete, absolute and unwavering. There are; different players, different habits, different times of year, different levels of ability, different stages of career and development. The list goes on and on. As a coach it's our job to determine on a constant basis what is necessary in that moment.
C'mon Coach... Just Tell Me How Many Shots
The number that seems to be considered appropriate is 500 makes a day. On first glance this appears to be a good number and great idea... but is it?
Take 500 shots with one shot occurring every 5 seconds will amount to a 41-minute workout, a pretty good number when you factor in attention span and energy level but that is assuming you make every shot. A weaker shooter may take 1500 shots to make 500 and that workout just became an exhausting 2 hours. This also assumes that they take no breaks and worked on no other parts of their game.
Focus On This Instead
I don't focus on the number shots taken or made, or the amount of time spent in the gym (although I will pay more attention to the latter). Instead I focus on whether improvement was made in the area we set out to improve. It doesn't need to be mastery or even significant improvement because realistically neither of those is possible in one day. Just continue working on the habit and do it again tomorrow.
A player that is a great shooter when called upon to make shots in their off season should have no trouble making 500 shots in a day. That same player the day after playing a double overtime game may be better served by finishing practice, shooting 10 great free throws and getting out of the gym.
Conversely, the player that is a weak shooter who may have only played 6 minutes should be getting their reps. In a similar vain the weak shooter who is rebuilding some habits may think they need to get a lot of shots up. The reality is some days there will so much focus going into each shot, so much learning or dialog between coach and player that they can have a more productive day with fewer shots.
So whether you are a player or coach don't get fixated on the number. Stay focused on the process and the improvement will come.
If you aren't sure where to begin in your workouts, try my Shooting 101 and Drills 101 videos bundle. They're a great resource for players and coaches.