How to coach the Upforce

Q: Coach, how to you get the shooter to get the UpForce you talk about?

A: It's what's called leg drive, leg lift, leg power, etc. It's a force generated when you bend your knees and straighten them (plus using hips, pelvis and back) to drive your body upward. I like to look at the percentage of that force that is utilized in the shot. To teach your players to shoot FROM that energy, ask them to tell you what percent of the available upward energy is IN their shots, from zero % to 100%. As they get familiar and aware of how they're using (or not using) that energy, they will naturally start to use more and more, and the Release gets quicker and the shots fly higher ... and truer. Suggest that they play around with that energy, experiment with it. To get a higher percent, just shoot quicker, and that may mean getting the ball to the Set Point earlier so they can do that. Close-in jumpers can use a lower percentage because (1) you're probably needing to elevate to get over defenders, and (2) you are in so close there's a big margin for error. You can also raise the Set Point for close-in shots, which allows you to shoot quicker and more full out.

Q: I really believe you're right on with the UpForce, high follow thru and high arc on the ball. What about the shooters elbow? Where should it be? I believe it should be under the ball and in the natural alignment with the body."

A: I'm not concerned with the elbow. My focus is on the shooting hand, the center of the palm. If that is in line with the target, and if it's in line with the shooting eye (either above the eyes or below for younger kids), then the elbow will be out to the right a little (from 3-6 inches, depending on the length of the player's arm). That's the way the hand, wrist and arm are built. That's natural! If you force it under the ball, it tilts the hand off the target. This idea that the elbow has to be under the ball is some adult's notion of alignment that doesn't jive for me with the reality of how we're built. The hand over the elbow over the knee over the foot is even more restrictive. Try my suggestions and see what you discover!

Q: We start teaching with one hand holding the ball just outside you right foot on a right hand shooter and then bring the ball up into a good u shape with the wrist cocked and a relaxed grip and bend legs and shoot the ball with one hand working on a high follow thru and good arc on the ball. Please comment on your feeling about this.

A: Just don't make it a "formula!" That they "have" to do this and do that or it's not right. That puts them in their head. I don't talk about "u shapes" and "wrist cocking." If your intention is to bring the ball to a Set Point that is generally in front of the head (the back of the ball) and above the eyes (higher up for stronger, bigger kids), they will have whatever arm bending and wrist cocking they need. If they try too hard to cock the wrist, they will probably over tighten those muscles. Keep everything relaxed and simply show them where you want the ball to be set, and they'll figure it out.