A few years ago, a coaching buddy, my son’s former club coach, asked me to work with his teenaged son to fix what he calls, “ Ugliest shot ever seen.”
I was humbled that a former pro player thought enough of my coaching ability to seek my input. His kid could dribble a ball left handed as well as right before he could tie his shoes. He became one of the best ball handling and passing point guards in Switzerland.
But somewhere along the way, some well-meaning instructor probably tried to teach him too early the cockamamie, off balance, fall away, game highlight shots of NBA players, who only mastered this move after practicing proper form for a billion hours.
Call me Old School, but fundamentals still matter especially when learning a new skill. I developed my shooting prowess because I learned the basics early on from Coach Dad, who passed down the protocol from his dad, Coach Mac.
Hour after hour, as dad rebounded my shots, he calmly repeated the same mantra, one-two step, load, lift, release, follow through.
I perfected my shooting form during endless practice until “eyes on the rim, elbow in, feet squared, body balanced, right foot forward, knees bent, wrist cocked, follow through” became branded into my muscle memory.
Kids never realize how much time it takes to learn a jump shot nor how much longer it takes to unlearn poor form once muscle memory takes over.
A jump shot is fine art.
Perfection takes practice.
But jump shot advice could apply to learning any new skill.
Keep your eye on the target.
Stay balanced. Feet, hips, shoulders, elbow, knee, ankle aligned.
Legs provide power, arms lift, fingertips guide.
Shoulders back. Chin up. Eyes forward. Soft touch. Stay focused.
When everything goes catawampus, start over.
Hum a song. Get a rhythm.
Snap the wrist.
Shoot. Rebound. Repeat.
Just like in life.
On your journey, step to meet the pass.
Whatever comes your way, don’t duck, rise to the challenge.
Read the defense and recognize obstacles blocking your way.
If you miss the goal, don’t give up, aim higher.
Never neglect to acknowledge the person who gave you the assist.
No one is alone in the game.
Great advice, Pat! You’re so right — learning any new skill takes hours and hours of practice (GOOD practice!) And unlearning bad form, then learning good form, lengthens the learning process. Having a teachable student is crucial, too. I wasn’t much of a basketball player, but I practically lived on the tennis courts, so I can fully appreciate what you’ve said here (especially about acknowledging the person(s) who assisted you!)
I appreciate the reminder from you and Debbie, noting that practicing WELL is so vital to growth and success. The commitment to consistently accurate practice takes being honest with yourself or having a good coach give you the feedback to recognize when you need to try again…try again…try again.