How I’ve Helped NBA Players Change Their Form

How I’ve Helped NBA Players Change Their Form

I need to make sure you understand my job.

When I’ve worked for 3 NBA teams I’m assigned players to work with.  I don’t work with the whole team, and I certainly don’t spend a lot of time with the better shooters.  An occasional conversation or adjustment here and there, but nothing too intensive.

I spend the vast majority of my time with the players that struggle with shooting.  The weaker shooters.  The players that every coach along their career has tried to help, but hasn’t been able to help.  Those are the players I’m expected to improve.

RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

And I’m proud to say I’ve had success.  Every player that I’ve worked with at the NBA level has shot a career high in my time working with them.  I was asked to help a player that was switching shooting hands.  He shot a career high that year despite no experience with the new hand.  I was asked to help a player that made 42% of his free throws in college.  He made 72% in his rookie year.  I was asked to help a back-up center that was a 53% free throw shooter.  He’s now an 80% FT shooter, shoots 3s well, and starts. 

I realize this sounds like me bragging.  And I am. I’m really proud of these accomplishments.  And when someone tells me that the theory they think I have is wrong (as though they know everything I teach from one tweet or instagram post), or that what I’m teaching isn’t what Steph does, I chuckle to myself and say “then why did the players I work with get better?”

Let me eat some humble pie here for a second.  PLEASE understand that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO TEACH SHOOTING.  What works for one player may not work for another.  

That is when I really took a jump as a shooting coach.  When I learned how and when to go off script.  When I stopped trying to fit everyone into my theoretical box, and was able to start to identify and fix specific habits.

Let me share with you the framework I follow when working with a new player….

IDENTIFY THE FLAW

I start by paying attention to the way the ball leaves the player’s hand, the arc of the ball, and the most common miss.  Once I’ve determined what the common miss is, then I’ll go looking for the cause of that error. 

Usually I work my way backwards in their shot.  If I see left misses far more than right, then I go looking for parts of their body that are generating energy to the left.  Or if their shot is flat, I try to figure out what body positions or moves are causing the ball to be pushed forward instead of up.

ISOLATE THE FLAW

Once I’ve determined the habit that is causing the common misses, I work on finding drills to re-coordinate that movement.  The player has a habit of firing muscles in a certain sequence, and my job is to simplify the environment as much as necessary so that they can learn to fire the muscles differently.  

If I just ask a player to change the habit in the same environment they are used to, the muscles are going to fire in the same way they always have and the habit isn’t going to change.

I need to simplify the environment as much as need to get the player to actually change the sequencing.  Otherwise, they will keep shooting the same way they’ve always shot.

LAYER DRILLS AS STEPPING STONES

Once a player is becoming more proficient at the new sequencing, I help them learn to apply that new habit in more game-like environments.  

I think of this as “laying stepping stones”.  If I expect a player to jump right to applying the new skill in a game environment, then they may not be able to.  So I try to lead them towards applying the skill in smaller stages, growing in complexity as their skill develops.  I lay a stepping stone in a slightly more complex or game-like situation, learn to apply the skill in that environment, then lay another step stone to progress a little more.

This takes place over the course of several weeks, as oppose to one workout.  It takes time to build a habit, so I consciously make a point to be patient and search out the appropriate level of challenge for the players current ability.

This is what I do in each of my ONLINE WORKOUT PROGRAMS to help players improve their Balance, Arc and Guide Hand.  We isolate the habit, re-coordinate it, then layer drills to learn to apply it.  And the beautiful part is the drills and teaching points have been proven successful, because they are all the same drills I’ve done with my NBA players. Make sure you check them out.

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