Getting a player to change a habit is hard.
Getting them to apply the habit in a game setting so that they can actually see the results is even harder. And that is the key – if the player can’t actually take and apply what they are working on in a game, and do it well enough to actually get improved results, then what is the point?
In many cases, I’ve had success in helping players improve that have struggled with shooting their whole lives. Many people have tried to help them but haven’t gotten results. This process is the reason I’m able to get results. If you follow this simple process, you can get amazing results too.
But first, understand this… I used the word SIMPLE. I did not use the word EASY, or QUICK. It takes time, patience, diligence, determination, and a WHOLE LOT OF HARD WORK.
Each step is critical. And there is no clear plan of “do this this many times, then move on to this.” There is just a long series of educated guesses that we make, looking at the results, adjusting the course, and repeating the process.
Each step has its own challenges and pitfalls but the biggest general challenge is this – it is difficult for players and coaches to be patient enough to actually build a habit. Both want it to happen quickly and because they rush, they never actually gain traction. So one or both give up. Then a few months later they try again but rush the process and never make progress. Years later, they are in the same place still having made no progress.
If they had just slowed down and been patient they could have made progress in a couple of months.
Identify the habit you are working on
The critical first stage to improving a player’s shot is correctly identifying what they need to improve or change. In some ways, this can be simple and in some ways it is very challenging.
Every coach or fan can see something that is WRONG with a player’s mechanics, but don’t always get to the CAUSE of the problem.
Here is what I mean… If a player pushes the ball with the GUIDE HAND, most coaches can identify that. But many coaches go about trying to fix the guide hand without realizing that the guide hand issue can be caused by the shooting hand position, and that the shooting hand positioning can be caused by a low set point. Coaches need to continue down the chain of command to discover all the potential root causes. If they don’t, all they will do is potentially expose another flaw and cause more misses.
Having trouble identifying the root cause of your misses? Want a step by step guide on how to improve your habits? I can help with that.
Hold yourself accountable to improving it
In the work I’ve done with youth players all around the world in my Inner Circle I’ve also discovered the issue of accountability. Typically, I’m working to help the parents help their children.
In most cases, we identify the habits we need to work on, we identify the drills that will help the player isolate that habit, and the next day they send me video of the player doing the drill. Just about every player that sends me video the first time isn’t even close to isolating the skill – they are just going through the motions with no focus, no deliberateness, and no accountability. In many cases it takes me about 3-4 days of re-explaining what we are trying to accomplish, the level of focus needed, and the accountability that must be in place to being in a new position before a player starts to do a form shooting drill well.
I’ll give you an example. One 16 year old player wasn’t able to get his guide hand off the ball and shot a very two handed shot that often missed off line. We identified the need to get the shooting hand under the middle of the ball at the set point, and I fully explained a drill to help the player isolate that micro-skill. The drill has the player hold the ball at the set point for 3 seconds before shooting, and I explained that this was his time to make sure the index finger was on the very bottom of the ball.
The next few days the father and son would send me video of the son doing the drill, but with nowhere near the level of accountability to the habits we were trying to build. It was a slow, form shooting drill that was meant to be VERY deliberate, but they weren’t being deliberate at all. It took me 4 days to get them into the correct position so that the drill was actually doing what it was designed to accomplish.
And this happens in person as well. A talented player can think that a form shooting drill is pointless or beneath them, and not give the level of attention needed to the details. Or after the 4th day doing a drill they think they can put the drill on auto-pilot and the drill will build the habits for them.
Whatever the reason, it can be a challenge just to get players to do SIMPLE things well. They want to learn CHALLENGING things but in many cases it is the simple habit that was never properly learned that is holding them back. These drills can be slow and they can be tedious, but the outcomes are WORTH it.
Worried you might not be doing effective drills? Need a step by step breakdown of how to build your habits? Click here to start building better shooting habits
Once the player is correctly isolating the habit we are working on, I need to help them apply that habit into a game. Doing form shooting alone isn’t going to help the player in a game setting because the two environments are so different.
But I also can’t expect a player just to make that jump themselves. I need to guide them through that process. And it is the exact same kind of process that we use in other areas of our lives. Many of us learn to drive not on the streets, but in an empty parking lot. Why? Because that allows us to isolate the habit of just controlling the car without having to worry about things like traffic laws, other cars, pedestrians, figuring out where we are going. The driver gets to focus on just controlling the car.
And when they start to do that well we slowly make the situation more difficult. We don’t take them from the empty parking lot directly to the free-way at rush hour. We slowly build up to MORE. A quiet residential street first. Then slightly busier. A little more traffic. With each time driving we introduce a new challenge that is only slightly more difficult than the one before.
I do the same things with drills. I add layers to search for the appropriate level of challenge for the micro-skill we are working on. I want the drill to be as much like a game as possible, but as simple as needed to actually execute the new habit correctly.
I add 7 different kinds of layers…
From there, I’m constantly playing with these layers to find the appropriate level of challenge for the player.
When a player is executing a habit well, I’ll add more. Sometimes this is more of the same layer (faster, further out), and sometimes this is a brand new layer (“Now try with a hand in your face.”)
Be aware you can adjust any of these layers. They are not on/off switches, they are dimmer switches. If a player is reverting back to the habit you are trying to break, dial back the situation slightly.
Also be aware that when you add a new layer, you can always subtract some or all of another layer in the short term to help the player get used to the addition. For example, when I start to add movement we often slow down for the first couple of reps. Or we will move back in a step or two. Or both. And as the player gets comfortable with the new habit you can quickly add previous layers back in.
Just keep coming back to the idea of searching for the APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF CHALLENGE. If a player can do that then they will learn to apply the new skill into progressively more game-like environments as they improve.
Do you need help finding the appropriate level of challenge for your drills? My system shows you how.
How I solve the problem…
Over the years I’ve developed proven progressions of drills that I use to isolate some of the most common shooting issues. Simple drills that not only allow players to change the habit that is holding them back, but also allow them the time to get good at it.
My systems also immediately teach players how to APPLY what they are learning into progressively more game-like situations. Players and Coaches are shown how to layer drills to give hundreds of different drill variations, designed to help them find the appropriate level of challenge.
3 Systems, 6+ hours of video content. Dozens of drills with dozens of layers. Tips and progressions. These systems are EXACTLY the same information I share with my NBA Clients.
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