What should my legs be doing while I'm shooting?

Q: Tom, I enjoyed the video immensely. I learned a lot and your teachings helped to reaffirm my theories on shooting. I can't wait to introduce your methods and drills to my team. One question I do have is with the legs. This is still a dilemma for me to understand. I have always taught that you stand with your legs straight and bend your knees and then rotate to your toes. This way the ball and your body does not drop down. Some kids want to drop down and almost touch their rear end to the floor. That way there is too much movement with the body and the ball. Do you agree with what I'm saying about rotating to the toes? Should I be concerned about the players dropping their body along with the ball?

A: It sounds like you're getting too complicated, and I don't know what you mean by "rotate to the toes." If you mean rotate the entire body to become "open," then that works. I don't think you have to concern yourself with how they are jumping. Just ask them to be aware of ... (1) how much energy or force they're generating, say on a scale of 1 to 10, and then (2) what percent of that energy is being transferred to the shot. From my study and thought since the video, I've come to feel that we need 100% (or as close to that as possible) for all medium- and long-range shots and free throws. Any hesitation in the jump reduces the stability factor that the UpForce (leg drive) provides. Close-in jumpers don't need 100%, since you're in so close and you may need to elevate to shoot over people, but don't wait so long there's nothing left of the UpForce. And for these shots, you can raise the set point so you can shoot more quickly and more fully, without holding back.

The kids will learn how to generate leg power and how to utilize it through the awareness. If you complicate it, they spend all their energy trying to "do it right," and lose the naturalness. If you ask for awareness and they're still bending their knees in an exaggerated fashion, then help them see that.

Keep it as natural as possible. Remember that almost every time you "say something," it gets the kids into the trying mode, trying to do it right, trying to impress you, trying not to screw up, etc. If it's an awareness instruction, that puts them into the curiosity mode, the exploration mode, where real learning takes place.