STR8 Shooter: ‘What I Look For As A Shooting Coach’
These two points will clean up almost every shot.
by John Townsend / @JTshootingcoach
We have all had those days playing the game of basketball where, for whatever reason, everything just seemed to fall into place. You could see the plays unfold two passes before they actually happened, your defensive anticipation was sharp and of course, your jump shot felt so smooth and easy that an NBA three pointer felt like a 12-foot bank shot. Why is it that those days seem so few and far between? I am going to do the best I can to explain why. Well, at least explain the shooting part.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is John Townsend. I profess to be a shooting coach and have been for a little over 22 years. I spent the last three seasons as the full-time shooting coach for the Portland Trail Blazers, and I have worked with over 100 NBA players. Of those 100 players, two have been No. 1 picks; four have been NBA All-Stars, one Rookie of the Year and one Gatorade Three-Point Champ. I have also done basketball shooting work in such places as the Canary Islands, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Spain and Jordan. I have done things with club teams from China and South Korea as well, but domestically here in the US. With all that being said, I am going to give you a good idea how to increase the aforementioned days of shooting great and decrease the days of shooting poorly.
The first thing I am going to look at when watching any player shoot a basketball is the basketball itself. Does the ball go in? If so, case closed. No need for me. If the ball does not go in the basket, where does it go? Does the shot miss left? Does the shot miss right? Long? Short? Of those four different ways to miss a shooter wants to do all he or she can to eliminate missing left and right. After watching the way the ball is missing the basket I will next look at the shooter’s hand, specifically their hand position. When working with any shooter I teach them about the center of the basketball. The center of every basketball is the air nozzle. That is where the shooter’s middle finger needs to be placed when shooting.
Next come’s the shooter’s wrist. What kind of position is the shooting wrist placed? I created an invention, the STR8 SHOOTER, specifically for this purpose, to eliminate ulnar and radial deviation in your shooting wrist. In layman’s terms, any kind of wrist movement to the outside or inside, left or right of your arm. By having a straight wrist it will allow your shooting wrist to “Hammer” back in the shooting motion, like the hammer of a gun (think Steve Nash). If a shooter can achieve this hammering motion, more than likely their wrist is straight. The strongest part of the wrist is the outside. Because the outside is the strongest, most players in general have their wrist slightly bent toward the outside. Keeping your shooting wrist straight will help in shooting the basketball straight.
I know, I know, I never mentioned the word “balance” or “follow through” and nothing even about your shooting elbow. Sorry. That is what you will get from other shooting coaches or basketball coaches in general. Please give these first two teaching points a try — hand position and a straight wrist. The straight wrist will take care of a lot of your shooting woes, especially if you combine that with a “Hammer” in your wrist during your shooting motion. In my 22 years of experience, I have found that these two points will clean up almost every shot.
Do your best to be a STR8 SHOOTER. I will check back here at SLAMonline next week where I hope to outline the second phase of shooting straight.