Why I Don’t Teach Shoulder Width Feet

I hate it so much!!!  But probably not for the reason you think.  See, I’m actually on-board with the idea of wide feet, I just LOATH the body part that we all chose as a reference point.
Do me a favour (I’m Canadian, that’s how we spell it)… try to look at both shoulder at the same time.  Bet you can’t!  But we expect kids to be able to accurately measure how wide their shoulders are and apply that to their feet.  Lunacy, I say. Lunacy!
(Can you tell I’m in a silly mood as I type this?)
Now, try this.  Look down at your HIPS.  See those things just below them, in direct sight-line, that look like feet?  Those are your feet.
When I talk to players about their balance, I encourage them to get their feet “hip width” apart.  I think the new reference gets their attention a little bit, is easier to see, and most importantly, actually helps them make more shots.
But we can still screw this up.  See, there is a HUGE difference between having the insides of your feet the same width as your hips and having the outsides of your feet the same width as your hips.  I would suggest going with the insides of your feet the same width as your hips.
For most players, you put them in this position and it feels really wide to them.  The fact of the matter is they spend most of their time casually shooting around, they don’t need good balance, and so they get their feet very narrow and wide feels strange.  But I would be willing to bet that if you had that same player take two hard dribbles at game speed against a defender, they would pull up with their feet much wider.  They are CAPABLE of doing it.  They just don’t understand the importance and force themselves to build the habit.
See, the width of your feet will go a long ways to providing your body the stability it needs to stop the energy that it creates.  It certainly isn’t the only factor, but it is an important one.  And the reason that I reach a little wider than most people is simply because I want to try to build one habit that applies in all situations, even the worst case scenario.
What I want to avoid is implying to a player “listen, when you are just shooting around, or shooting free throws, or open catch and shoots, you don’t really need great balance because you aren’t creating much bad energy” but then they get into a situation where they DO need that stability but the habits aren’t there to execute.   Instead, I’d rather prepare for the worst case scenario where we DO need the stability, and have it even when we don’t.
And people will say “Yeah, but Steph has narrow feet, and he’s a great shooter!”  To this I reply, if you want to bet that you are even with the best shooter that ever lived in all other facets (like hand-eye co-ordination, muscle memory, number of reps taken in your lifetime, etc) then by all means, copy Steph.  But if you acknowledge that maybe we need to have every advantage we possibly can, try to get wider.  You’ll be surprised how much it can help.


  1. Mitch

    What drills would you recommend to teach young kids (ages 7-8) balance when shooting?

    • Coach Dave

      That young I would just start with teaching them how wide the would need to be to be stable, then let them experiment with controlling their balance. Just jumping around and trying to be strong on their feet!

  2. Shaka

    What would be the perfect stance for lefties? I see so many types of stances from Harden to Conley to Dragic.

    • Coach Dave

      I would try to for all the same ideas. Nothing really changes.


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