Most people don’t think of it this way, but the floor is really the only tool that we have to use as a shooter. We push off the floor to create energy, and how we position and use our feet will go a long way towards becoming great shooters.
I want to show you some of the key factors in using your feet and the floor, and give you the help you need to build these important habits.
I’m hoping you can use these ideas to improve or build a system development system of your own.
But if you want to gain my PROVEN SYSTEM OF DRILLS to improve foot positioning, balance, and stability, CHECK OUT MY SHOT DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM – CONSISTENCY AND BALANCE.
BALANCE – WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER?
Shooting is all about energy. We need to create energy to get the ball moving and we need to create energy to get open. But not all energy helps us make shots.
Very rarely does the energy we create by moving on the floor actually help us make shots because it isn’t flowing straight at the target or straight up in the air. So our first goal as shooters is to be able to STOP the negative energy that we create by moving on the floor. Three things happen when we create negative energy:
- We will give that negative energy to the ball and miss in that direction.
- We will waste time getting our energy stopped and risk getting a shot blocked.
- We will provide negative energy in the opposite direction with another part of our body and develop complex habits.
How we position our feet will go a long way towards helping us stop the negative energy we create when moving, so that we can create more positive energy when shooting. This is all about balance, which is basically your ability as a shooter to control your body as it moves.
Generally, when you think about improving your balance you’ll need to control your foot WIDTH.
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HOW WIDE SHOULD YOUR FEET BE?
One of the most common ways to think about stability or balance when shooting is to think about the width of your feet.
I teach players to get their feet “hip width apart” whenever possible because this is the sweet-spot between two goals.
- Wide enough to be stable
- Narrow enough to be powerful
Try this right now wherever you are. Stand up and get your feet outrageously wide. I’m talking 3 feet apart – that kind of wide. Now, imagine someone pushing you sideways on your shoulder… you are barely going to move, right? But now think about jumping as high as you can. That position doesn’t feel very powerful, does it?
Now try the opposite. Create an opening in between your feet that is only a couple of inches in width. I bet you feel like you can jump pretty high out of this position… but you would have trouble keeping your balance if someone pushed you sideways.
We need to find the sweet-spot between those two different goals – wide enough to be stable, but narrow enough to be powerful.
But keep in mind, we can find POWER in other places in our shot, whereas it will be hard to find stability in other places. So if we are going to make a mistake, it is better to sacrifice power to get stability. So if you are going to choose between too wide or too narrow, choose too wide.
You may have noticed, I mentioned being “hip width apart” when most coaches say “shoulder width”. The only reason I talk about “hips” instead of “shoulders” is that when a player looks down at their feet, they CAN see their hips and CANNOT see their shoulders. So since the idea is about the same (hips and shoulders are about the same width) I choose to focus on the body part that can be seen.
Lastly, I measure from the insides of a player’s feet. There should be a gap between their feet that is big enough that a player could sit down between their shoes and their hips would barely touch the insides of the shoes. This kind of stability isn’t always necessary, but having more stability than needed is never a bad thing.
Hip Width Apart is an easy concept to think about but a tough habit to build. Need a step by step guide to better foot position so that you can actually apply the new habit into a game? Click here to start building better balance habits.
WHAT ABOUT FORWARD/BACK STABILITY?
The same concept as foot width will apply when a player is losing their balance either forward or backwards – they need to create more width forward and backwards.
This doesn’t mean that we need to get feet wider apart. It means we need a greater separation between the front and back of our body. In other words – if we looked at our body from the side, we’d want to see it get wider.
I focus on pushing the hips down and back, and the shoulders forward to create this width. This position puts players into an athletic stance that helps with stability.
This positioning also allows players to use their legs as shock absorbers as they move. The bent legs and hips will absorb the negative energy they created by moving and help the player find a more stable position before starting the shooting motion.
Knowing WHAT to do is one thing… learning HOW to build the habit is another. You need BOTH! That is EXACTLY what I do in my SHOT DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM – CONSISTENCY AND BALANCE
WHERE SHOULD THE TOES BE POINTED?
Once the goal of stopping negative energy has been achieved, the shooter’s body should transition into focusing on creating positive energy as it lifts. How a player positions their feet goes a long way towards creating positive energy.
I encourage players to point their toes at the target as much as possible when they shoot. Remember, shooting is all about ENERGY and we need to get as much of that energy flowing at the target as possible.
If a player were to point their toes to the left (as a right handed shooter) then as they rock up onto their toes, their centre of gravity will be moving up (positive energy) and to the left (negative energy). If they continue jumping, there is a very good change that the player will jump in the direction that their feet are pointed, not only creating a lot of energy in that direction that needs to be cancelled out by another body part, but also making the hoop a moving target.
The more negative energy I see being created by the feet, the more I will work on minimizing it. But if a player points their feet to the side and is able to jump straight up and down in the same spot, I might not worry about it at all. The direction of the feet isn’t the most important part… the direction of the ENERGY is.
Need help limiting negative energy and producing more positive energy? Click here to start building effective habits with the help of my SHOT DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM – CONSISTENCY AND BALANCE.
STAGGERED FEET OR LEVEL?
This is another one of those coaching debates that I think has been made too much of, when what we should be focusing on is the ENERGY.
Whether a player has a level stance, a slight stagger, or a large stagger in their feet isn’t the ultimate thing that matters. The goal is to be able to use that foot position to create POSITIVE energy by pushing evenly with both legs, as much as possible.
I teach players that we want their legs to function as one unit, pushing straight up in the air, not two individual legs each potentially pushing opposite directions. To make this easier, I encourage players to have their legs as close to mirror images of each other as possible.
I don’t want players to have a LARGE stagger in their feet as this promotes the back leg pushing FORWARD and the front leg pushing UP, which will make distance control more difficult.
In a perfect world, I would want players to have a level stance, but I will happily accept a slight stagger in their feet as long as their legs look like they can push evenly. A stagger of about half the length of a players foot is perfectly acceptable in my opinion. The reality is that we are constantly finding the compromise between the “optimal” position and the “comfortable” position. I don’t mind giving a little to comfort if I have a LOT of optimal working in the player’s favour.
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While the ball might already be out of player’s hand, I do focus on the finishing position of their feet at the end of their shot.
How a player is able to finish the shooting motion will show a lot about the control they had in the middle of the motion, or their release.
As much as possible, I want the finishing position to mirror the starting position. We worked hard to make sure we were going to create as much positive power as possible early in the motion, so let’s continue with that goal late in the motion.
- Finish with wide feet – the game is continuing and balance and stability is always important.
- Finish having created energy at the target – don’t rotate your feet to generate more power, that sacrifices accuracy.
- Finish having created energy straight up in the air – not leaning to one side.
Once we learn the “what” and “why” of all these different habits, then we come to the biggest challenge…
HOW DO WE GO ABOUT BUILDING THEM?
The reality is, knowing WHAT to do is only a small fraction of the challenges we face in becoming more consistent shooters.
Knowing HOW to build the habits is what sets a GREAT SHOOTING COACH apart.
There are 3 important phases in improving habits to become more consistent.
- You must identify the right thing(s) to work on.
- You have to isolate the bad habit and learn to do it differently
- You have to layer drills so that you can learn to APPLY the new habit into game situations.
- Skip over any of these steps and you’ll be banging your head against the wall wondering why you aren’t becoming more consistent.
HOW I CAN HELP
I’m hoping you are learning enough from me to be able to build your own progressions of drills that will allow you make more shots. Progressions that focus on the correct habits. That do a great job of isolating the part of the shot that is REALLY the problem. And that allow you to really apply the new habit as you get better at it.
If that is the case… AWESOME!
But if you need more help, I’m here for you.
For those of you that don’t want to spend their time with the trial-and-error of building their own progressions of drills and want to get MY PROVEN PROGRESSIONS RIGHT NOW, you can get my SHOOTING DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM “Consistency and Balance”.
In that program you get all the drills and tips that I use with my NBA players to help them make more shots. You’ll get detailed explanations of all the drills, see the order in which I do the drills so they actually build off one another, and all the tips that I would give along the way.
You’d get to focus on each stage of your development for as long as YOU need because no two people learn at the same pace. I’d give you an idea when you should move forward, and when you should spend a little more time. And you’d get lifetime access to all of this!!!