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1. Welcome from the Coach
Welcome to my free Monthly Basketball Shooting
Newsletter. Each month I write about the skill of shooting in
the game today and how it can be more effectively learned and
coached. If you like what I'm saying, please tell others about
it and suggest they subscribe, too. Remember: Great Shooting
CAN be taught!
This newsletter is a vehicle for communicating
what I know about shooting and for a conversation on how shooting
can be improved. With your help, I intend to shift the game and
help players and coaches everywhere re-discover the Lost Art
of Shooting. Thank you for reading this and subscribing to it
and sharing it with your friends.
They say that, "A picture is worth a thousand words!" I don't know who "they" are, but I'll go along with it. The point is that something seen is much more valuable than merely something heard or read or thought about.
To extend that, what I've come to learn from my wonderful mentors is that personal experience (what we can also call "awareness") is much more valuable than pictures. Maybe we could say that "Personal experience is worth a thousand pictures!"
Personal experience is how we learn best. Maybe some people can just see an idea and be able to recreate it and do it and learn it, and some can probably just be "told" an idea verbally and "get" it. But my guess is that most people have to experience something directly and personally in order to learn it. In the coaches' trainings I've had with the golf school I'm associated with, one of the coaches put it this way: "Awareness isn't just the most effective teacher, it's the ONLY teacher!"
TURN WORDS INTO OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE
In the clinics I give, I often see myself talking too much and getting the kids involved too little. It's easy to say things and think they're "getting" it. If some of them nod or seem to be paying good attention, that feeds that kind of thinking. But just remember that your lessons or suggestions need to be converted into some kind of experience they can personally be present to, be aware of, in order for deep learning to be possible.
EXAMPLE: ALIGNMENT OF THE BALL WITH THE
EYE AND TARGET
So I can say to a group of kids something like, "Be sure to have the ball in alignment with eye and basket as you bring it up to the Set Point, and also as you release the ball and through the Follow Through." I might mention how "An Object in motion toward a target tends to stay in that line of motion," etc. (See the June Newsletter) And I can think I'm doing good coaching by saying that, and maybe emphasizing it with a demonstration or just by stressing the words, or repeating them: "Align the ball a longer time and you'll shoot better!"
IT NEEDS TO BE TURNED INTO AN EXPERIENCE!
For the example above, set up a structure where your players can experience Alignment AND Non-Alignment. At first, have them shoot back and forth with a friend or at a wall and experiment with different ways to align the ball as they shoot. (Working away from the basket takes the pressure of performance off and they can learn more easily. After it's starting to be learned, then you can add the basket.) Have them first just be aware of what they do and when and how long the hand & ball are aligned with where they want the ball to go. They should start to evolve a motion that is much more aligned, especially if you remind them that accuracy depends on it.
Then ask them to shoot in different ways that are NOT aligned well. Bring the ball to the Set Point up the right side of the body, like in line with the right ear or shoulder. Then bring the ball up on the left side. Then bring it up with awareness and connection to eye and target the entire time (or as long as possible). When all are aligned for a good period of time, they should experience that their shots are more accurate and predictable, and that will be the learning.
Do this for any focus, increasing awareness of it by awareness, including different ways and exaggeration. When they can "distinguish" any skill -- and all its variations -- then they can coach themselves. They'll do the (self) coaching and you'll get credit for being a wonderful coach.
Just a quick comment on the B-E-E-F method of shooting instruction. I hear and see this so-called "method" brought up occasionally in various coaching on DVD's, etc. In my opinion it's a very incomplete method, and actually counter-productive in the one area that it attempts to be instructional.
Here's what it stands for, as far as I
The first and last, Balance and Follow Through, are big "Well duh's" to me. Of course you want to be "in balance" before you shoot! If you're not, the experience should very well teach you the ineffectiveness of how you're shooting. And of course you want to Follow Through! Who wouldn't, if they were aware of things. If you just throw or flip the ball up there and pull your arm back immediately, you'll surely experience your shots have less chance of success, less connection to the target.
And the first "E," for Eyes on the target, not the ball, is also an "Of course!" Taking your eyes off the target to watch the ball serves no purpose except to validate your doubt. Archers, dart throwers, bowlers, pistol shooters, etc. all stay focused on where they want to go. Though they can't turn their heads to see it, the better golfers are totally with the target in their minds throughout the swing, rather than focusing on the ball, as so many amateurs do. Staying in contact/connection with the target during the Follow Through is very helpful, adding a little more power and control for me when I do it consciously.
The Letter I wish to challenge is the second "E," Elbow under the ball. I feel this instruction has confused a lot of players over the years. As I see it, we aren't physically designed for it, unless you want to turn your body 180 degrees (far too open). Our arms come out of our shoulders, which are ~10-15 inches off to the side. If you want the have the ball in line with the shooting eye (and who can argue that any other alignment would be more accurate?), and if you feel the hand should be turned facing the target as you go to shoot (to allow the simplest motion toward the target), then the elbow HAS to be out to the side. Check it out yourself right now. Bring your hand in line with and above the eyes to a Set Point and center the hand on an imaginary target. Note how the elbow wants to be out a little (4-8 inches, depending on length of arm). Now bring the elbow directly under the ball and see how it torques the wrist and hand, which now point ~45 degrees to the left (for right-handers). See how you can't get the hand to face directly to the target in this position without contorting it? From the elbow-under-the-ball position, the hand will have to rotate as you shoot, thus imparting sidespin.
You can shoot with the ball in line with the shoulder, and from that point the elbow will be directly under the ball. But then Accuracy is always a challenge. When the object (in this case a basketball) is not in line with where you're looking and seeing and wanting to go, then finding the basket always requires a calculation of an angle back to the target. This complicates shooting. For the Set Point and hand to be facing the target, the elbow has to be out a little. It won't be "flying," as then the hand isn't aligned with the target. Let the elbow be where it wants and needs to be. Forget it. It'll straighten just fine. Make the position of the hand the important thing and you'll shoot better.
WHAT DOES B-E-E-F NOT ADDRESS?
A shooting method ought to address those concerns.
To me, the B-E-E-F thing is three "Duh's"
and one "I don't think so!" If you use it as a shooting
method, please question it and maybe you'll want to consider
something like the Swish Method as a more complete and relevant
"Our daughter is a 7th grade basketball player. She does not play AAU and does not have aspirations to be in the WNBA. She just wanted to be better at shooting the ball because she is not especially fast or tall and felt that would be the best way she could contribute to her team offensively. After using Tom Nordland's shooting style, she became the best shooter on her team. Her confidence has skyrocketed. The team she is on right now does sprints at the end of practice. The girls vote for the person who will shoot the free throws on their behalf, for every free throw that is made it is one less sprint at the end of practice, all the way down to zero if the shooter makes them all. Imagine how my daughter feels when she knocks down all of her free throws and the team walks out without having to do a single sprint!!! She has done it enough that the coaches had to modify the rules or the girls wouldn't get the conditioning they need."
- - J. Phillips
"Hi Tom: Yesterday morning I ran a four-hour shooting clinic based on your Coaching Lesson plans 1 and 2. I had nineteen boys ranging from 10 - 14 years old. Some of the players have played for 2-3 years, others for less than one year. They are all part of either the u13 or u14 Sheffield Junior Sharks basketball club squads. I've been coaching them since July 2004.
"I took the time to view the DVD several times, worked with my younger son Oliver, and printed off and condensed down the lesson plans 1 and 2. The gym we practice in is pretty good - it is at a school and has single court with two main baskets and eight wall-mounted side baskets. That plus plenty of basketballs.
"Firstly let me say I was astounded by the session. I had every faith that the Swish method would work - it makes great sense to me, it is consistent with the way I have tried to coach shooting in the past, and I could see that the simple approach would be readily understood. But the outcome was frankly amazing! As the session developed and we went through the progression, pretty much as your lesson plan advised, the improvement in the boys shooting was astonishing. I couldn't help smiling -- at first just inwardly, but then just a broad grin -- and everywhere on the court I could see players doing the same.
"I have to give credit to the boys -- over a sustained four hour period without anything more than several water breaks, they concentrated throughout and showed great self-discipline. But they could see for themselves that the method works and they just kept working with it -- so it gave instant positive feedback.
"It works - it's amazing!" was the response from the boys.
"Your advice in terms of encouraging them to be self-aware and to watch others and give honest feedback worked so well. I was very impressed -- as young teenagers they will chat to each other about so much (TV, school, NBA etc) and often at the "wrong" time (when the coach is talking), but trying to get them to communicate on court on D etc. -- they all clam up! But today they talked far more to each other about their shooting as the session progressed, particularly "yes/no" on the release.
"On introducing the release, I used your "sitting down" approach from the DVD instead of standing in circles, but then moved onto that. It allowed me and a couple of assistant coaches to look at grip, set point, hand/wrist etc. more easily.
"But the real take off came with the Pure Release Distance. Once they started swishing it at the PRD (particularly with eyes closed), they were sold! Interestingly, one player took the instruction to find the PRD by trial and error to mean once he could hit swishes with no leg drive from a spot close to the basket, he next decided to increase the distance and try to repeat but going for the basket. Once I spotted what he was doing it I brought the group back together and emphasised that this exercise is the key one to the method and that it is not a test of strength, but of repeatability. Once this particular understood this, he went back and used it well and was one of the first to really express his astonishment -- "it works!"
"Once we had put it all together with jump shots from a variety of spots - short, mid, long range - each player choosing their own, I then went to shooting from their weak hand/arm. I reckoned that this would a) make them think and b) help them realise that the method is so simple. We went through the progression very quickly and I had players swishing "wrong" hand shots - again everyone was impressed.
"Because they had concentrated so well, we had enough time to look at free throws too. Again, they understood quickly, took the "down-up" advice and applied it with the rest of the method. We used your micro-mini-full progression with very good results.
"The last section of the session I split them into four teams on a shooting competition we run usually in more relaxed sessions than our normal practices. Each team had to hit five shots from four spots round the key. Not unexpectedly, the added pressure/excitement/competitiveness had an immediate impact on their performance. Only four or five out of the 19 clearly tried to use their new shooting technique - the rest reverted more or less! After one run through we repeated it twice more with reminders in between about how they should be shooting. Performance improved noticeably. But it showed just how fragile it can be.
"I have had great feedback from my assistant coaches and from parents - one mum came in about three quarters the way through and said the atmosphere was buzzing and that her son has not been able to stop talking about it since (he was one who really took to the method - shooting 16/20 free throws!).
"So, if it's not already abundantly
clear, thanks, Tom, for this method! Now I have got to make sure
we follow it through and reinforce constantly. I am sure we will
see an improvement in our jump shots and free throws in matches.
We are in our national age-group playoffs and we know we are
going to come up against better and bigger teams. Most of our
points come off layups from steals/turnovers generated by high
pressure D. But we won't be able to rely on that to the same
extent -- we will need to be able to hit open jump shots and
free throws to win -- the Swish method may yet prove to be the
crucial ingredient in our season. I'll let you know."
"Hello, I surely wish i could come
to the clinic, but I live and coach in Alabama and probably won't
be able to make it. I have the video and it helped tremendously.
I will use it for years to come. My team went from 1-25 two
years ago to private school state champions this year and a big
part of it was our shooting. we hit 33 out of 42 foul shots
in our state tournament. I would take that at any level. Especially
considering last year (11-10 record) we shot about 45%. Thanks
so much. Is there any way I can order a t-shirt to give you
guys some publicity out here?"
'Hi Mr. Nordland, My son and I attended
last Saturday's clinic and enjoyed it very much. We had purchased
the video a few months ago and our shooting began to improve
immediately. What really impressed me about the clinic was the
way in which you taught the kids a method for learning that can
be applied to anything, not just shooting a basketball -- i.e.
paying attention to what your body is doing, constantly evaluating
and searching for the sweet spot (Ichiro Honda said that success
is 99 percent failure), slowing things down to level where one
can control things, etc. I was lucky enough to have a great piano
teacher some time ago and his methods were similar, and now,
as a professional musician I find myself using these techniques
all the time. Thanks for sharing this with the kids."
"Funny thing happened yesterday.
"Dear Tom, Your video is absolutely awesome! It truly is 'Shooting Simplified.'
"Let me start off by saying that I followed your advice on the video regarding learning, patience and experimentation. After viewing the video, I saw immediate results. With each practice session I steadily improved and was consistently experimenting to understand and feel (physically and mentally) each aspect of your method. At first I had no idea how to get that "perfect backspin." But after a few weeks I have noticed exactly the difference in merely flicking the wrist (which will produce a lot of spin) and pushing the ball with the UpForce (which will give it more natural backspin).
"I also appreciate the lack of 3-pt shooting in the video in that you place focus on SHOOTING and not on hoisting up a dime-a-dozen shot. Sure, you could learn how to shoot an iffy-three, but I would rather know how to REALLY shoot.
"Again, your video and advice on learning are extraordinary. If a 21 year old guy like myself, who never really played basketball, can learn how to shoot with ease, then it's a testament to the work you've put into your teachings."
A very satisfied customer,
"Hi Tom, Worthy of note - my son,
Jack (who's at the Jim Calhoun Camp at UConn this week), was
out in the driveway shooting when he realized something was wrong
with his form. Without my prompting him he stopped & went
inside to review "Swish" again. I was amazed he did
that -- I find him very coachable, but you'd better really have
something for him if you want to offer advice. Never before
had I seen him seek a solution like that. He came back out,
told me where his problem had been, and his shots started falling
again. He was back in the groove. That made him happy, and
should make you happy too."
"Hi Tom, Just want to let you know
we watched your swish video the other night. It
<<<HERE IS A TESTIMONIAL FROM THE DAUGHTER, ABOVE >>>
"Hi Mr. Nordland, By watching your
video, I became eager to see the new techniques that would help
improve my shot. When I went outside to practice basketball
right after viewing it, I focused on the shooting techniques
I had learned and which I never used before. This included: putting
a high arc on the ball by having a high release, using my legs
for upforce to shoot, and watching the basket throughout my shot,
not the ball. I also practiced drills that showed me how to use
these techniques such as the jumping up and down drill which
helped concentrate on the upforce. Two days after watching the
video, I went to the WNBA pre-All STAR game and entered an all-age
knockout contest. While waiting for my turn, I remembered your
video and all the new shooting I had practiced. I thought this
contest would be a great way to test my abilities so I tried
using the new techniques when shooting. Before long I had incredibly
become the knock-out Champion, won a pair of Diana Taurasi's
Nike sneakers and had the chance to play another game with Diana.
"Tom, We have conversed by email several
times over the past three years, so here is
"My two sons just went to a two evening
shooting camp at a local AAA school. Our 5th grader was 10 for
10 at the free throw line and won hotshot for his age group.
Our 8th grader was near miraculous in his threes. He had to
perform 80 three-point attempts (which he had never done before).
He was 15 of 20 in a corner, 15 of 20 at the left wing, and
15 of 20 at the right wing. He moved to the top of the arc and
missed his first three attempts, then drained 17 in a row. I
shot with him yesterday afternoon and he couldn't hit a barn
with a hand grenade!! He said he was still tired from the day
beforeimagine that! Thanks!"
"P.S. FYI, the big improvement came just recently after I read one of the monthly newsletters and watched the video clips. I paid close attention to the locking of the elbow just before the release of the ball. We call it 'lock and limp.' The elbow 'locks' lightly at completion of the push while the hand and fingers remain relaxed or 'limp.'
"Thank you for giving them a great start. Since we bought your tape three years ago the boys have been the best % shooters on their teams. I wish I had been taught your technique when I was young. I'm 47, and shooting the best I ever have. Last Saturday night I had my best night ever shooting threes, nine in a row. My wife (not credible) as witness."
BEING "RIGHT" ALL THE TIME AND THE VALUE OF MISTAKES
I just had a thought this morning. As a young player wanting to improve your skills, I imagine there is often a lot of doubt in your abilities. I know I had them when I was young, and I think it's very normal in a young person. You're trying to "find yourself," as they say it, in life and, in this case, in basketball.
BEING "RIGHT" ALL THE TIME
The point is that without mistakes there is no learning. Resistance toward taking chances and making mistakes is often a recipe for disaster. "It's impossible to build success without failure," says De Santis.
In basketball or any sport or activity, if you are always playing competitive games and not allowing much time to just practice, to fool around, to try different things, to experiment, your game will be stunted. As I've said before, games demand the best performance you can generate. Mistakes aren't welcome. But games, which can be very valuable in your overall development, need to be sandwiched in among lots of practice for the best overall learning and growth.
LEARNING TO SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
I, meanwhile, was trying to say things "right" in German. It's a difficult language. For example, I remember they have six different forms of the word "The." As I remember, you have these choices: Der, Die, Das, Des, Den and Dem. Which one you use depends on the subject and object and tense, and this and that, etc., etc. That threw me for such a loop I never did end up saying, or learning, much. If I had just said whatever version of "the" came into my head, I could have gone on to speak other phrases and learn much more quickly.
DON'T BE AFRAID OF MISTAKES -- WELCOME
And one final, important message I want
to convey with this issue of KIDS KORNER is to TRUST YOURSELF!
Trust that you are okay, trust that you will learn. Trust
you don't have to be Right all the time. In fact, you're expected
to be WRONG a lot! Mistakes are the way to breakthroughs. If
you are fearful of making mistakes, you'll miss the learning
and breakthroughs that can come. Welcome mistakes, but learn
from them. Making the same mistake over and over means you're
not paying attention.
I invite you to bookmark my Website (http://www.swish22.com) so you can go there easily to catch my latest comments on shooting. You can read about my DVD/video there (including endorsements, testimonials, reviews and an overview of the video), my coaching, and the many articles on shooting I've written. You can see video clips and archived back issues of this Newsletter and, of course, subscribe, if you're not already getting this on a regular basis.
Please tell others about this newsletter, my site, and my DVD and video. Forward the newsletter to them and suggest they read it and the many archived issues. Send them the URL (http://www.swish22.com) and let them know there's a proven method for powerful shooting. This great game of ours deserves a Renaissance in shooting!
Direct links to my webpage:
As summer is waning, my clinics have also slowed down to a crawl. I'm using the time to work on and finish my second video, Swish II, due out by the end of September. As of now nothing is planned, though I expect to do a lot of traveling this fall.
To stay in tune with the latest news about
all my Clinics, Camps and Coaches' Trainings, go to this page:
Camps and click on the respective area and clinic.
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