I often walk down the street to practice shooting at a friend's house who has a basket on his garage facing the street. The driveway is sloped down and out, starting with the rim about 9 feet high under the basket and increasing to 11', 12' and more as you head toward the street I shoot mostly in close, up to 10-12 away because of that.
I'm constantly working on my Release. Even though I have it mastered, I still return to it when I'm shooting. I'm not really "working" on it, but rather I have fun with it and enjoy seeing perfection (or close to it) come from my shot motion.
What I've come to realize is that this is the best shooting practice, working on mastering the simple Release motion. The Release is the "Delivery System." It's what puts the ball into the basket. It's what controls direction (accuracy) and distance. If it's not completely learned and trustworthy, your shooting is always suspect. That's why you see such mediocre shooting these days at all levels, the release motions are not predictable, reliable, repeatable.
FIND YOUR DISTANCE!
The key thing in learning and beginning to master your Release is to find that one distance for you, where, with minimal leg action (and always the same), you can put the ball into the exact center of the basket with medium high arch all day long, perfect swishes! Of course there will be some variation, but most will be swishes and many will be dead center. When you're really "on," you'll be swishing 5, 10, 20 in a row anytime you wish.
I recommend an open stance. I also advocate having the ball in line with your shooting eye, not the ear or shoulder, as some players do it. And I advocate that the Release be an upward pushing action at the same speed and force every time, with relaxed wrist and hand. This is really easy stuff to learn. If it's not "easy," you're probably doing something ineffective.
Align the ball with your shooting eye as you bring the ball to your Set Point (below the eyes for younger players, above the eyes for stronger players), then with a tiny leg action, maybe just a rocking motion or up on the toes, fire off a medium-high Release. Your hand will bounce a little or a lot when the wrist and hand are truly relaxed. (Very young kids can use a little down-up leg action so they have enough power to get the ball up to a couple feet above the rim and more from that close-in distance. Just make it the same leg action every time.)
MOVE UP AND BACK TO FIND THE DISTANCE
Then just move forward or back until you find that perfect distance for a constant Release and a consistent, medium-high shot to dead center. One of the feelings I suggest you seek is that the shot "can't go any further or lesser." It will just come down into the center of the basket.
When you find that special distance for you, with practice you'll find you can make shot after shot after shot, sort of effortlessly. You can close your eyes and do it just about as well. A great exercise is to teach yourself to shoot with your opposite hand and do the same exercise. You'll probably find your "off" hand is weaker and you have to come closer by a few inches or a foot or more.
This is joyful stuff. Swishing shot after shot on command shows you how awesome your physical body is. Keeping it all simple is important. Shooting CAN be very simple, the basic stuff, that is. Flying, leaping, moving shots are more complicated, and take more coordination and practice. But to just stand there 4', 5', 8' away and just drill shot after shot after shot is relatively easy. Add some leg power and there's a medium-range jumper or free throw. Add a lot of leg power and there's the 3-point shot.
WHEN YOU HAVE A RELEASE...
When you have a Release you can count on that is pretty much on-line every time and which controls distance by simply varying the arch, then you've got something. Then, as you move around the court, you simply add leg power, align the ball with the eye as long as you can as you bring it up to the Set Point (or dip it, if you catch it high), and fire off the Release, varying the arch at the last instant. Swish!!!
The Release is the Delivery System. It puts the ball into the basket. The job of the wrist and hand is simply to cradle the ball and keep it on line with the action of the shooting arm. And remember that the legs power and stabilize the whole thing. Great shooting to you!
Tom Nordland is a shooting expert and coach from California via Minnesota. His videos, coaching and writings are inspiring a Renaissance (a rebirth, a revival) in shooting around the world as players and coaches are taught the things that really matter in shooting. A great shooter as a youth, Tom was given a gift of seeing shooting like few have ever seen it. He sees the essence of great shooting and how to get there. The good news is that its very simple. The few great shooters of today and yesterday mastered simple things, not complicated motions. Improved shooting is now possible for everybody in the game, and mastery is available to those who sincerely dedicate themselves to it. Visit Toms website (www.swish22.com) to read of his background and his articles and newsletters, and to view the remarkable endorsements and amazing testimonials for this approach to shooting.
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