Updated: Aug 2, 2019
Written by: Coach Mychal Martinez (@CoachMychal) with collaborations from Coach Luke Duckett (Twitter: @lduckett31, IG: @luke.duckett)
Being able to shoot the basketball consistently adds three dimensions to an individual’s game. Three-dimensional players have the ability to Catch and Shoot, Drive Right, and/or Drive Left – making them the perfect triple threat to the defense. Players who cannot shoot the basketball are two-dimensional players as they rely on driving right and driving left - making them the EASIEST players in the game to guard.
This post breaks down the twelve universal micro skills (skills within skills), along with detailed teaching points, that players and coaches can use as a reference point in order to develop better shooters and three-dimensional players. The video below, with freeze frames that follow, of an in-game jump shot by J.J. Redick (41.2% NBA Career 3-Point Shooter) provide a visual aid to go along with the micro skills being described.
DISCLAIMER: The goal of this post is not to encourage players and coaches to develop shots that look like J.J. Redick, but to imitate the universal micro skills that make him a great shooter. It is more important for players to master the PERFECT SHOT FOR THEM. Not the perfect shot. The 12 micro skills below should be used as a blueprint for developing better shooters.
Micro Skill 1: Redick meets the ball with “hungry hands” (fingers to the sky). He meets the ball rather than waiting for the ball to hit his body while maintaining a slight bend in his shooting elbow. Locked elbow and straight arms will create unnecessary and wasted motion to the lift pocket (the starting point of your shooting motion).
Micro Skill 2: Wrist is loaded back (close to 90 degrees) on the catch to form a shot pocket for the ball to settle in. Coach Luke Duckett, Colorado Premier Basketball Club Director of Operations, often uses the phrase “wrist with wrinkles” as a reference point for players to recognize how far of a “wrist load” 90 degrees actually is. Notice the shooting hand doesn’t wiggle or flop on the catch. It STICKS to the ball.
Micro Skill 3: Redick’s hand is spread wide and in the middle of the basketball with the ball tight to his body. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT micro skills for players to master as hand placement determines the direction of the ball at the point of release and also keeps the elbow under the basketball.
Micro Skill 4: Basketball and hips dip (down and up motion) in rhythm. Without the dip, there is no momentum into the shot.
Micro Skill 5: Feet are hip to shoulder width apart to create balance and control upon elevation.
Micro Skill 6: Vertical elevation is a byproduct of good balance in Freeze Frame 2/Micro Skill 5. BALANCE and CONTROL ensure no wasted motion.
Micro Skill 7: Ball lifts in a straight, vertical line to the shot pocket (the area before the release). Remember, the quickest, most efficient way to get from one point to another is in a straight line. If a shooter “pushes” the ball forward or “sets” the ball, for example, above their head, they are creating wasted motion and their shooting percentages will drop.
Micro Skill 8: Shot pocket (area before the release) is above the eyebrow and in front of the face. Redick does a great job of going “To and Through the Shot Pocket” to create a fluid release.
Micro Skill 9: Balance hand is on the side of the ball. This ensures there is no interference with the non-shooting hand. You never want to “block” your own shot by placing your balance hand in front of the ball.
Micro Skill 10: Elbow and wrist snap in sync. The angle that your elbow snaps to is the angle you can expect the ball to travel on. Snapping the elbow too much forward will lead to a flat shot and snapping the elbow too high will lead to sailing shots.
Micro Skill 11: Elbow snaps above the level of the eyebrow (area of the shot pocket) to create a high arching shot that is around 70 degrees or one to two basketballs HIGHER than the backboard (on almost all standard High School baskets). High arch also ensures a better “drop angle” for the ball which allows more room for error.
Micro Skill 12: Balance hand is vertical with no thumb interference for a perfectly framed shot at the top of the follow through.