I’m going to get right into this one!!!
Saying “get your elbow in” isn’t WRONG.
With any cue like this, if it resonates with the player you are working with, GREAT.
But as coaches, we need a deeper understand of what really matters.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
The elbow isn’t touching the ball. The elbow of the shooting hand is in the middle of the whole arm that is moving. Focussing on the position of the elbow misses the most important part of the shot.
Focussing on the position of the elbow is like assuming that every shot has to be straight on when you play pool or billiards. It isn’t the angle of the cue that matters, it is the contact point between the cue and target ball. (watch the first 90 seconds of this video)
I focus on the connection to the basketball. Where and how the hand is holding the ball. THAT is what really impacts the ball. That is where we need to direct more of our attention.
THE DETAILS WITHIN
Now that we know we should be paying attention to how the hand is holding the ball, we need to know what part we are look at exactly.
First, draw an imaginary line between the shooter and the hoop. I call this the TARGET LINE. This is the direction I want the ball going.
Next, look at the fingers of the shooting hand at the set point (the position where the shooter has the ball around their forehead height). When the ball gets to the set point they should have their fingers parallel to that TARGET LINE.
THE NEXT LEVEL
What NEEDS to happen for a player to be consistent is they NEED to get the middle of the their hand parallel to the target line at the RELEASE OF THE BALL. If they do this, they will be pushing the very bottom of the ball (6 o’clock) along their target line THROUGHOUT their release. And the ball will go straight.
If their finger isn’t parallel to the target line then they will be applying force slightly on one side of the ball at the beginning of their wrist snap, then snapping across the ball. If they are slightly early, the ball will go slightly one direction. If they are slightly late, the ball will go the other direction.
DON’T GO TOO FAR
And the reason I don’t talk about the elbow (in addition to it not touching the ball) is that you can OVERDO getting your elbow in. Meaning you can get it in so much that it’s actually bad for you.
But if you can focus on getting your finger (the part of your body that’s actually touching the ball) parallel to the target line then your elbow will fall into the optimal position.
This is something I go into detail on in my ONLINE WORKOUT PROGRAM “7 Days to a Better Guide Hand”. The hands are related to each other, and if you need to get your guide hand off the ball then you need to focus on the shooting hand just as much.
And if you love diving deep into these kinds of details, make sure to subscribe to my FREE SHOOTING NEWSLETTER.