The Set Point

Q: "My question is where is the best release? My arms are like 2 feet long so i guess the release should be in front of my forehead. But should i bring the ball up to my forehead as i bend my knees then shoot? or as I push off the ground i start to shoot so there is no need to stop. When i am like 2, 3 or 4 inches of the ground the ball is out of my hands."

A: The Set Point is best, I feel, if the back of the ball is near the front of the head and overhead, if you're strong enough. Young kids will have to start with the ball below the eyes, and when you're strong enough, raise it at least to above the eyes, and higher, if possible. As you get even stronger, then raise the Set Point above the head a couple inches, or more. That makes it harder to block, and may even allow you to get the feeling of letting go more, in that you won't feel "too" strong. The "Setting" of the ball happens as you start to bend your knees. It's all integrated. Don't separate it. Your goal is to have the ball set as quickly as possible so you can shoot early, quick and high, powered by the legs and lower/middle body.

Make it a goal, for most jumpers and free throws, to "use" 100% of the available energy provided by the leg drive. You'll know what this is as you observe it. If you hesitate, you lose percentage. Top of the jump shooting is 0%. Try going for 100% (or very close to it) and see what happens. You will probably have to learn to set the ball quicker, but that's easily learned.

Q: "Sometimes I don't follow through fully because if I do that, I feel like the shot is gonna be too long. My release is so high but i don't feel it is so effortless. My school has a small gym and the celling isn't that high sometimes I tried to make my shot a little bit flatter so it doesn't hit the celling.

A: My guess here is that your Set Point is too low for your strength. You want the feeling of "full out," about 70-75% of maximum speed and force, in the Release action. It's full out and to the end-of-the-arm, quickly, no holding back. Experiment and see what that means for you. It's great that your shots are high, bordering on too high. That's very rare. It means you're plenty strong and can handle a higher set point, which is harder to block.

Q: "Some people bring the ball up and their knees are bent and they have to hold the ball over their head for a second. I saw a picture of Larry Bird with the ball over his head and his knees bent and in this book he also said to shoot at the top of the jump. I know that is wrong.

A: The setting of the ball and the knee bend happen at the same time. If you set too early and then bend, you've become mechanical. Stop thinking about it so much and just do it. Feel what happens and the body will adjust. And yes, again, shooting at the top of the jump sabotages the power and arch you want for great shooting. Larry Bird shot mostly set shots, as he was strong enough to make his fakes and get the shot off quickly. I've seen a video of a time when he had to jump to shoot and he shot quickly, on the way up, and had high arch.