The Need For a Basketball Shooting “Renaissance”

The simple anatomical and physical movement of shooting a basketball maintains a global status quo of mediocrity and has done so ever since the game started over a century ago. I don’t make such a bold statement without statistical support.

Since there are minor annual changes in each level of Basketball from High School to college to the Professional ranks, and without being precise, we can safely say that the High School National average from the free throw line is about 65%, with the colleges and Universities shooting at around 68% and the Pros naturally are far superior with a national average of around 71-72%. Excuse the sarcasm there. Since expectations are far greater than the record shows year in and year out.

What is the deal? How come there is such a small gap between the national High School average and the NBA. Well may be it is time to step forward out of the “dark ages” of the 20th century and pursue a similar Renaissance like they did during the times of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, in the 15th century.

Renaissance means a ‘rebirth’ with the objective of repudiating the previous era and to restore revolutionary, scientific ideals to revitalize free throw shooting principles to a level of excellence which would be manifested through elevated statistics, more athletic finesse and not just physical power. I hope this revolutionary free throw shooting knowledge can spread like a California wildfire with the aid of the famous Santa Ana winds, or maybe you would prefer a Hurricane named Katrina. She sure left her Mark. Just look at her statistics and the billions of dollars of damage she caused. Same concept. We need change just like Barrack Obama’s message that he pounded to win the presidency.

Something has to give. We can’t keep repeating the same bad habits which give the same results year in and year out. Without getting into exact details of the scientific principles that improve free throw shooting (and shooting in general), there has to be a reformation, a revitalization in our physical and kinesiological behavior patterns relating to specific body movements.

We must first recognize our weakness as a shooter and that is usually manifested by your personal statistics in practice and in games. Then there has to be an intense desire to improve which I think most players have but they lack the ability or resources to seek out and find superior free throw shooting knowledge which then must be instilled into our minds or mental framework and then pounded into the subconscious with a 10 pound mallet. You become what you think. So fill your mind with scientific shooting principles and the body will follow instructions as you practice new refined, reformed techniques which lead to superior shooting.

I know for a fact that 99%+ of the players out in the field that I interview unanimously give the same answer to this question about shooting free throw. What are you thinking about the moment you release the ball?..I am sure your eyes moved up in a northwest pattern to think for a moment what YOUR thought process is at this moment? Well, all the answers are focused on making the basket or not missing the shot. These answers are indicative of the poor mental processes of the shooter. Generally, humans can only think of one thought during any given moment. If your thought is one of making the basket then you have no time to think of your physical mechanics necessary to give the ball proper information like direction and distance which are the 2 most important aspects of shooting. This is where concentration can now be utilized with a purpose.

Since most people agree that “practice makes perfect” then how come their statistics never return perfect during practice sessions. For example, I always shoot in groups of 100 from every spot I feel I need work on. This way I know my exact percentage. (See my article on basketball shooting with a purpose”).

There are many scientific principles that must be followed to achieve perfection. Remember that ‘Science rules’. The ball does not care about race, color, creed, sex, size, age or emotion when it is shot. It only responds to perfect effort or perfect information disseminated to it, and it will go exactly where it is told. It is a very obedient non entity (thing).

Your shooting inconsistency may be a result of skewed ball rotation, incorrect arc on ball, (too high or too low) with the optimum angle being between 42 and 48 degrees. Remember the angle of release = the angle of entry. Maybe your forearm is too high near your ear or below your eye. Are your fingers too close together on the follow through. Are your fingers bent at the knuckles and pointing down to the floor on the follow through a la ‘cookie in the jar’ (ancient)? Are your eyes focused on the rim or the ball during flight? Is there any lateral movement on any part of the release mechanism? Do you know what signs to look for during a shot? Does your body sway? Does your off hand assist the shooting hand? Etc , etc.

You get the idea. There are a whole bunch of things that can go wrong and it could be one big problem or a combination of small flaws that lead to a big problem. Either way the result is the same. Mediocrity. The one thing that drives coaches crazy. And yet this is the one area that seems to have slid under the radar after 100 years. The only reason I can yalla shoot come up with is the fact that great free throw shooting is an elusive phenomenon. We are all capable of it, but the big problem is that the players are not getting all the information they need to become better shooters.

With all due respect to the coaches and I do speak softly here in fact I will write in italics to emphasize the gentleness with which I speak. It has to be our problem as the coaches and teachers. How can a player get better if he/she can outshoot the coach? The coach should set the standard for the players to reach by example. Just imagine how many coaches out there can’t shoot at all. This is not an easy topic to discuss because it is true. That’s why we need to get together as coaches and really improve in this department. []. Lord knows there is a lot of room for improvement in this area all over the globe. How can a green belt in Karate teach Black Belt martial arts tactics. Same concept.

Another reason for this mediocrity is that it is difficult to get a complete knowledge upgrade since great shooters and great shooting teachers are a rare breed and difficult to find. There are not many who can walk the walk and talk the talk. Kids respect this and it just happens to be the most important skill in basketball. If you can’t score you won’t win. A real dilemma. This is why you still see pro athletes who are poor at free-throw shooting because as they went through the ranks from Jr. Hi. to High school to College and then the pros you can see it is not that tough to slip through the cracks and not have any advanced shooting instruction. I am not talking about the basics. We all get that. This is why we are still shooting average because we do have JUST the basics.

It is my belief that if you can shoot 70% you can just as well shoot 90% with advanced shooting knowledge when dealing with free throw shooting and three point shooting. This is my mission in life. To perfect the activity that goes on within the one second it takes to shoot the perfect shot.

By Ed Palubinskas
Shooting Surgeon

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