Shooting Positions Terminology

A little while ago I got an awesome message from a subscriber of my newsletter. It was awesome because of its honesty and simplicity.

They asked "I keep hearing about the set point, but I don't really know what that is. Can you write a blog about different terminology for positions in shots?

YES! Yes, I can.

This whole endeavor, the blog, the newsletter, the social media, it's all centered around trying to help youth coaches. When I started, I sat down and tried to determine who my audience was. I tried to imagine them as one single person. What I came up with was a 42-year-old, that is coaching at a Middle School or a community team, and maybe they played a little basketball when they were younger but they didn't think of themselves as a coach yet. So I started this thing to try to help that person.

Now, I'm hopeful that the information that I share might help out other, more experienced coaches as well.

So, let's talk about terminology.

Different people out there have differing ideas on terminology. Some want to make sure that everyone is speaking the same language, so they want everyone using the same terminology. It makes sense, especially on a team. If you say something, you want your teammates to understand what you mean.

With shooting, I try to be a little more personal. I have different terminology for different players. Two players of mine could be working on exactly the same idea, but we talk about it totally differently.

Why? Because they are different people, and how they think about their shot is different. So with one player I could say "finish on balance," but with another it was more helpful to say "Dominique Dawes" (that's a long story to explain why). They both meant the same thing in the end, but I was using the player's language that made sense to them.

But in this blog we'll chat about the common shooting positions, and what I call them, and what other people call them.

Let me make this clear though, I'm not trying to persuade anyone to switch to my terminology. My hope is simply that you'll better understand the points I'm talking about in these blogs.

Triple Threat Position

You may have heard it called: Shot Pocket

This is the basis for most youth teaching. To me, it is the starting point of the shot. A player is in an athletic position, with the ball in a position to pass, dribble or shoot. Most young players begin the shooting motion in this position so that they have room to generate power as they lift the ball. I even talk about this being the starting point for the shot with NBA players, though as they develop they may rarely have the time to get into this position.

Set Point

You may have heard it called: Shot Pocket or Release Point

This is usually the epicenter for the confusion. Different coaches have different names for this position. Some use a name that implies low in the shooting motion ("pocket"), while some use terminology that implies the end of the shot ("release").

I tried to be clear about what this position is to me. It is the transition point between "lifting the ball" and "shooting the ball." Before this point, the shooting hand isn't really in a position to LIFT the ball, therefore it isn't in a position to shoot the ball. If you are a 2-motion shooter, there might be a slight pause in this spot, while a one-motion shooter moves fluidly through this position, but both shooters are in that position for at least a fraction of a second. To me, this is a key position in shooting. Correction - this may be THE key position in shooting.

Release Point

You may have heard it called: Follow Through

I use "release point" as a description for the moment we release the ball. I just find it eliminates some confusion.

Non-Shooting Hand, Guide Hand

You may have heard it called: Balance Hand

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory, and to be honest I haven't settled on one that I use. I tend to say "non-shooting hand" but that gets a little lengthy too type, so I tend to type "guide hand." I can be lazy like that.

Let me know in the comments if there are any other terminology that you would like covered in a future blog!


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