Shooting 101 - With Rob Babcock

Babcock asked us to give the ball a higher arch on the way into the basket. Our bad, Rob, the picture's only so big...

How's your jump shot? Can you hit free throws, threes and mid-range leaners with consistency? Is your name Ray Allen?

Or, are you like the rest of, where you could use a bit of instruction?

Fortunately, Wolves assistant GM Rob Babcock is here to help you. With over 20 years of experience in professional basketball, Babcock knows exactly what it takes to become a great shooter. Furthermore, he's written out a step-by-step guide detailing how to get to the pinnacle of the shooting-bliss mountain.

Babcock's been kind enough to offer his "Shooting Fundamentals" guide in a four-step series exclusively on timberwolves.com, so stay tuned all week. Give it a read, print it out, and get yourself onto the pavement where you can bend your knees, flick your wrist and be on your way to shooting lore.


BABCOCK'S SHOOTING FUNDAMENTALS SUMMARY
1. You don’t have to be a great athlete to be a great shooter. You do have to have at least average coordination and strength. You can improve yourself in these areas. You also need to have satisfactory vision (and depth perception), whether that vision is natural or corrected with glasses or contacts. There are plenty of great shooters who wear contacts.

2. You must master the basic shooting fundamentals. There are always variances in what or how the fundamentals are taught, but most coaches teach the same basic things. The important thing is to master them.

3. Many players are good shooters in practice and poor shooters in games. You must try to duplicate game conditions when you practice. That means shooting when you are tired, shooting under pressure, competitive shooting and shooting with distractions.

4. Many players master the fundamentals, but can’t relax or concentrate. Don’t overlook working on these areas.

5. Once you have mastered the fundamentals, confidence becomes crucial. The brain records every make and miss. Make sure you make a lot more than you miss. Plan your practices accordingly. A good rule is: if you miss 2 in a row, move in and don’t move out until you make 3 in a row. Don’t set yourself up for a bad shooting workout. Don’t shoot after lifting weights or if your legs are too tired. To shoot well, your body has to be ready. If you are having the occasional bad day, then stop shooting and work on other areas of your game. You should never have a bad shooting workout. Leave every workout with the confidence that you are a good shooter.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice. Don't fool yourself. Great shooters are not born, they are made and it takes thousands of hours of practice to do it. Because of the amount of practice it takes, if you don't love the game, you are not likely to become a great shooter.


SHOOTING FORM AND TECHNIQUE
The following points are critical to developing your shot. It is important to concentrate on perfecting these basics before attempting to learn different types of shots.

1. Fingertip control – Do not let your palm touch the ball. The ball should be controlled by the fingertips at all times. This will help in controlling the direction and obtaining a good backspin.

2. Your shooting hand controls the ball – The opposite hand is used for balance, and control up until the release. Be sure that your opposite hand is on the side of the ball and not in the way of the flight of the ball.

3. Elbow Alignment – Your elbow (on the shooting arm) should be close to your body and lined up with the target. If your elbow moves out and away from your body it may change the direction of the flight of the ball.

4. Release-Follow through-Flip-Finger spread – The release of the ball should be with your wrist and not entirely with your arm. If you use your arm too much, you will have trouble controlling the distance of the ball. The final release should see the support hand drop off, and the shooting hand follow through with a flip of the wrist. The fingers should be spread and the follow through should remain until the ball goes through the net.

5. Target – There are many different ideas on what you should look at when you shoot the ball. Here are three acceptable targets, depending on your shooting needs and desires. Whatever target you use, keep your eye on the target and not on the flight of the ball:

a) THE FRONT OF THE RIM – This helps for determining the direction, but sometimes hurts your distance and arc. If you use the front of the rim as your target, you should visualize the ball dropping down over the front of the rim.

b) THE BACK OF THE RIM – Some coaches suggest this for players who continually shoot the ball too short. The problem is you may shoot the ball too long and your target may be blocked from your view.

c) THE IMAGINARY CENTRE OF THE CIRCLE – This involves picking the spot that the ball will pass through for a perfect swish. You then visualize the ball passing through this invisible spot. This method takes a great deal of concentration, but if mastered produces the best result.

6. Arc – It is important to have a good arc on the ball. This increases the chance of making the basket, by increasing the area of the target. A flat shot has to be a perfect shot to go in. If you have a flat shot, you can improve it by shooting over an artificial barrier to increase your arc (e.g. a friend with a broom). The best way to improve your arc is by learning to shoot for a swish. It is hard to consistently make a swish without having a good arc.

7. Rotation – The ideal shot has a backspin to the ball. This backspin is what gives you the good touch on the ball. With good rotation, you increase the chances of getting a bounce up if the ball hits the rim. The rotation is created with the fingertip control and follow through. You can check your rotation by lining the seams of the ball perpendicular to your fingers, and flipping the ball up to check the rotation. Watch the ball to see if it has a good rotation. This is the only time you should watch the flight of the ball. You should always keep your eye on the target and not the ball when you are shooting.

8. Concentration – All the correct fundamentals are not enough if you do not have good concentration. We will cover concentration drills later.


FORM DRILLS
1. FORM SHOOTING (WITHOUT A BALL) – this drill is to evaluate your form. Take an imaginary shot and watch your form. Shoot in a mirror to check your elbow. Start the drill in slow motion to check all of your fundamentals.

2. FORM SHOOTING (WITH THE BALL) – This is also to evaluate your form. Line the seams of the ball perpendicular to your fingers. Shoot the ball straight up in the air. Watch the rotation of the ball. Watch your follow through. Do as many repetitions as needed to develop consistent fundamentals.

3. FLIP DRILL – Stand right next to the basket and shoot with one hand. Do not use your legs. Concentrate on your form (especially the flip of the wrist and follow through). Work on getting your eyes on the target and shooting for a swish. Work your way around the basket, but stay close. Work on bank shots, too. IMPORTANT – Be sure that the ball comes down off the backboard when shooting a bank shot. Pick your spot on the board and be sure to keep your eyes on that spot. See how many you can make in a row. When you get better, see how many swishes you can make in a row. If you have a partner, make a competition out of the drill.


Check back tomorrow to learn how to shoot a jumper, along with a series of drills to improve your J.