Shooting Details: Shot Preparation

In the last basketball tip, we started discussing the importance of details in shooting the basketball. Specifically, we talked about the detail of proper hand placement and positioning. This basketball tip will focus on the detail of what we refer to at the NRBA as ‘shot preparation’.

What does ‘shot preparation’ mean? Preparation in general is simply the act of getting ready for something. The better one prepares, the greater the chance for success. The less one prepares, the lesser the chance for success. All ‘shot preparation’ means is the act of getting ready to shoot the basketball. The better your preparation, the better you will shoot. The worse your preparation, the worse you will shoot.

“Shot preparation’ occurs before you receive the basketball. As you catch the basketball you should be thinking ‘shot first’ and you should be ready to shoot. If you catch the basketball and then you have to get ready to shoot, it is too late. That is why ‘shot preparation’ is such an important detail. Receiving the ball without being ready to shoot means that it will take you longer to get your shot off and create an inefficient shooting motion by creating more movement in your shot.

“Shot preparation’ is easy to mentally understand and physically execute. It must be practiced but it is not a difficult skill to master. As with anything, it simply takes a lot of discipline to do over and over again in order to for it to become a habit. Many players are too lazy, too cool, and too undisciplined to prepare themselves to catch the ball in a ‘shot ready’ position every time. You must be a shooter, mentally and physically, before you ever receive the ball.

So what does ‘shot preparation’ entail? I believe in keeping things simple, so I will give you 4 elements of preparing to catch the ball and shoot:

1. Get square – feet and shoulders
2. Bend your knees and sit down in your “shooting chair”
3. Get your hands up in front of your body, giving a target, and showing your palms
4. Call for the ball

Great ‘shot preparation’ means that you are square or getting square to the basket with your feet, hips, and shoulders. This would depend on factors such as whether you are spotting up to shoot or curling off a downscreen for example. If you are spotting up you should already be square but if you are curling off a downscreen you should be getting square as you receive the pass.

Great ‘shot preparation’ includes getting in your ‘shooting chair’. You do this by dropping your hips and bending your knees in preparation to catch the ball. You want to catch the ball with your legs loaded so you can explode up right into your shot. You do not want to catch the ball and then bend your knees as this is wasted movement. There is a greater chance for an error to occur the more movement exists in your shooting motion. As a result, we want to prepare by getting down and ready with knees bent to eliminate any unnecessary movement.

Great ‘shot preparation’ involves getting your hands up and showing a target. We teach our students that a great pass equals a great shot. You can expect to receive better passes from your teammates by giving them a target to pass to. In addition, we tell our players that a ‘clean catch leads to a clean shot.’ You increase your chances of catching the ball cleanly by having your hands up and ready.

Great ‘shot preparation’ requires calling for the ball. To be a great shooter you must want the ball in your hands. Developing the habit of calling for the ball not only gets the attention of your teammate with the ball but more importantly it is directly related to mental preparation and confidence. Calling for ball should be loud and clear. In calling for the ball, you can simply say “ball”, you can call out the name of your teammate who has the ball, or you can call out the location that you are ready to catch and shoot. What matters, is that you are wanting the ball and you are communicating that by calling for it.

These 4 simple actions of great ‘shot preparation’ don’t require a lot of skill, athleticism, or effort. However, they make a big difference in how well you shoot the basketball. Remember, it’s the little things that make the big things happen. If you want to be a big time shooter, you must master the details of shooting. Getting square, bending your knees, getting your hands up, and calling for ball are little details that will make a big difference in how you shoot the basketball.