To the Basketball World:
Please, let's examine the generally believed instructions that you must “Square up” to shoot a basketball, and that wrist flipping and shooting at the top of the jump are important and needed. And that the elbow needs to be directly under the ball.
MAY I SUGGEST NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE?
I've been researching and studying shooting for over 19 years and I keep running into these old “myths” of shooting. They've been taught to kids for decades and still shooting is in the dumpster at all levels of the game. Have you ever thought that maybe they are part of the reason for the decline in shooting?
THE GREATEST SHOOTERS DO NOT DO THOSE THINGS!
I'm here to suggest that an open stance is more effective and powerful than squaring up. That the elbow does not belong “directly” under the ball, and that a Release powered by the arm fully extending with wrist and hand fully relaxed will lead to superior shooting (NOT by wrist flipping). And, SURPRISE, this way of shooting is the “secret” of how almost all of the greatest shooters have always done it!
SQUARED UP WORKS GREAT ... FOR TWO-HANDED SHOOTING!
I don't know where this all started but, to me, the squared up stance is very effective ... for two-handed shooting, which nobody does any more! I could shoot set shots that way when I was playing, and I even used two-handed, underhanded free throw technique for awhile in high school. I was good at the former but found the latter uncomfortable, if not ineffective. Some people just can't get that way of shooting free throws, and nobody likes it, except Rick Barry. Two-handed shooting is obsolete!
AN OPEN STANCE IS MORE NATURAL, MORE POWERFUL...
An open stance and “stepping in” to shoot is a more natural way to shoot. There is no reason to square the shoulders and keep them that way while you shoot one-handed. Any kid, if asked to shoot a ball with one hand, would rotate the body while shooting so the strong arm is extended toward the target. And an open stance is more stable. As a coach said one time when I mentioned the value of an open stance, “It's like a boxer would stand to throw jabs!” Yes, a left-handed boxer would adopt an open stance, with right foot, right shoulder and right arm extended toward the opponent. To stand square would give you a weak stance. There is power and stability with an open stance. Push against a wall from a squared-up stance, and then open your stance and push again. Feel how much more power there is in the latter? To learn to shoot quickly, the simple 1-2 step in can be done in a flash. What's more important, getting your shot off quickly (and missing a lot of shots) or shooting in a way that helps ensure success?
ELBOW UNDER THE BALL? WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT?
If you align the hand with your shooting eye and basket, and have the hand facing the basket directly on the line of the shot, the elbow will be out a bit (5-10,” depending on the length of your arm), not directly under the ball. You can't have both, an elbow directly under the ball and the hand directly lined up with the target. Try it! See if you can do both. If you can't, which do you think is more important? I think you'll agree with me that “It's the hand that matters, forget the elbow!”
FLIPPING THE WRIST ENGAGES SMALL, FAST-TWITCH MUSCLES
Flipping the wrist is one way to add power to a basketball shot, but I think you will see it's putting power and control into small muscles which are less reliable under pressure. A wrist-flipping motion is also a horizontal action, thus flattening the shot and making it “hotter” (less effect from gravity to slow it down).
A PUSHING ACTION IS SIMPLER, MORE PREDICTABLE
Alternatively, a pushing action to full arm extension, aimed upward with relaxed wrist and hand, can be molded into a “Constant motion,” eliminating all kinds of variables. Thus the shooter has a greater sense of what's coming off the fingertips. The motion can then rely on the larger, more reliable muscles of the legs and lower/middle bodies for the variable power.
AT THE TOP OF THE JUMP, IT BECOMES ALL UPPER BODY
Shooting at the top of the jump is an incredible weapon ... if you can do it. But it's very difficult and gets more so as you move back and the target gets smaller and smaller. Few athletes can shoot well this way all the time. Shooting more quickly engages the big muscles more and their action provides a stable platform from which to shoot. Add to that motion a constant Release and you've really got something!
REACHING YOUR HAND INTO THE COOKIE JAR DOESN'T HELP!
Another instruction tossed out from time to time is to reach your hand into an imaginary cookie jar. But note that such a motion is downward, thus flattening the shot. It also increases spin, which may or may not be desirable. And it's engaging those pesky small muscles of the wrist, hand and fingers. Instead, I suggest you push upward with the arm and relax the wrist and hand. Try it both ways and see which gives the higher, softer shot action.
ANOTHER MYTH: ALIGN EVERYTHING UP!
Some say that the squared-up stance and hand and elbow aligned (some say to include the knee and foot in this alignment) are somehow important, that such a vertical line is helpful. My response is “What for?” To me, the line that matters is the one from the hand and ball through the eye to the basket. That's determining where the ball goes. Any other line is superfluous. Some even say that the ball should be over the shoulder to include that part of the body in the “line.” It sounds cool, but it's off line with the eye so accuracy becomes more of a challenge.
DON'T COMPLICATE IT SO MUCH!
The biggest problem in the game today is the poor to mediocre shooting. It's happening at all levels, from the NBA through the college ranks and down, of course to high school and middle schools. How shooting has been taught the last 20+ years is part of the problem. It doesn't have to be complicated and full of rules. There are some simple truths and the rest are variations on the same theme. To me, here's what's important:
- Open the stance, step in to shoot where possible.
- Align the hand and ball with shooting eye and basket. As you bring the ball up to the Set Point (where the Release starts), be aware of aligning the ball with eye and basket as early and as long as possible so you generate some "Inertia" (ball moving and in line) to catch and use.
- Develop a Release that's a “pushing” action, to the end-of-the-arm at the same speed every time. The goal is a “constant” Release motion, which minimizes variables. If you're a strong player and have a Set Point above the head, keep the back of the ball in front, not allowing it to go overhead. Out front you will have to push the ball upward, which is desirable. If you take it overhead, a throw and/or flip is encouraged, even required.
- Relax the wrist and hand such that the hand can bounce in the Follow Through. Give the wrist and hand only this job: to cradle the ball securely and to keep the ball on line with wherever the arm sends it.
- Control distance by varying the arch (trajectory) at the last instant. This is the easy way to shoot. If you try to have the same arch every time by varying the Release or the timing with your legs, it's much more difficult. If you vary the arch, you can then just “let it fly” at the same speed and force and trust your instincts to know how high. This is the easy way to shoot!
OPEN STANCE ALLOWS YOU TO SHOOT FROM WHOLE BODY
Note that if you square up and shoot at the top of the jump with the upper body, that's all you get ... just the upper body. But if you open your stance and shoot early in the jump or down-up motion, you'll get the feeling of shooting with your entire body, a stable feeling. And alignment with the eye is much easier the more open you stand. It just MAKES SENSE to shoot this way.
THIS IS A WAY TO SHOOT THAT RESONATES WITH EVERYONE!
The Swish Method can help everyone. It's simple yet very powerful. You'll wonder why no one told you of this way to shoot. And you'll start on a path to excellence that will be noticed by other players, coaches and fans.
CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE AND THE SWISH VIDEOS
Go to my website, www.swish22.com, to check out my background, articles by and about me, video clips, top endorsements, amazing testimonials, and my 112 Shooting Newsletters. I've been writing about these things for 9 1/2 years.
THERE IS A MORE EFFECTIVE WAY TO SHOOT!
There's hope for the game in this way of shooting. You'll learn what and how to practice. You'll learn how we learn and see how to coach the skill to others. When you practice, you'll improve, unlike most players of today who don't know what they're doing. This approach will start you on a process that will be thrilling. To make dead-center swishes over and over and over is exciting. It shows you how capable your body is. Make the Release “automatic” and you'll start dropping shots from everywhere.