Can you set the ball too early? How do you fix that?

Q: A question related to coaching the girls team: I don't want to be overprecise, but is it possible to bring the ball up to the set point too soon? In other words, as a player has the ball in triple threat position, when should the ball get raised up to the set point? As the player's knees drop the body down before starting to rise up? Before that? I see some players getting the ball to the set point well before initiating the shot but it usually looks awkward.

A: I'm aware of how tall girls (maybe boys, too) are told, sometimes, to get the ball overhead right away to avoid having it knocked away and this gets them very mechanical and unnatural. It works to get the ball more out of reach, but it also inhibits the player from getting a powerful, fluid lower body/upper body action to shoot from.

I think the main thing here is not to get too technical about it. If you try to analyze exactly when, bio-mechanically, the ball should be set, it gets kids in their heads about it and all naturalness leaves. If the kids know that they want to get ready soon enough to "use" all the available leg drive (what I call "UpForce") as they go to shoot, they'll learn naturally when and how to set the ball. Until the "setting," the ball is held below the eyes in what can be called the triple-threat position. It will require a "quick" setting, without it becoming mechanical ("do this and do that," etc.). The following kinds of questions will help them get it:

· Okay, that time did you feel you set the ball too quickly, too late, or just in time to catch the leg energy? 
· That time, did you feel rushed with the shot, or did you have plenty of time? 
· Did you feel you were mechanical when you brought the ball to the Set Point? 
· What percent of the leg drive did you shoot from that time? (Suggest a goal of higher and higher percentage, approaching 100%.)

Questions like these will lead them to learning, whereas telling them when to do things will make them mechanical and tight. Trust them to learn this stuff without analyzing too much. If they feel they're setting too early, they'll naturally adjust to a later setting. If they're too late, they'll figure out how to get ready sooner the next time.

At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Let me know how this works. I know from my coaching, if I mention anything physical, it gets the students immediately into (1) making themselves wrong, and (2) trying to get it "right" or trying to "fix" it. Awareness questions are much more powerful.

Good luck with this great experiment! You're already a wonderful and caring coach. Hopefully my counsel will help you learn ways to coach even better. (I'm just passing on what I've been gifted by great coaching mentors.)