Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond – a graceful, talented giant who could be the steal of the 2012 draft – is the latest in a long line of big men (along with a smattering of forwards and guards) who struggle at the stripe because various coaches and shooting “gurus” taught them to shoot backwards.
Being “coachable” is a good quality for a young player, but only if the coach knows what he’s doing. Unfortunately for Drummond, both as a UConn freshman last season with a short stroke and as an NBA rookie with a longer stroke (currently on display at the Orlando Pro Summer League) he has displayed the backwards form that is the tell-tale sign his instructor or instructors subscribe to the “scientific” approach to shooting.
Such instructors dream of a hoop landscape where every player of every size and shape has the same identical assembly-line shooting motion, the key to which is the position of the shooting hand, fingers and wrist at the completion of the stroke (a position that should be maintained for at least a few seconds).
Alas, this obsession with follow-through positioning frequently leads the students of the shooting scientists to put the cart (the follow-through) before the horse (the stroke). The stroke, such as it exists, is merely the means to an end: the holy pose that, in theory, guarantees jumpshooting and free-throw success.
These poor, deluded players (Dwight Howard, Evan Turner, Jason Maxiell, DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins and Andris Biedrins, to name a few) are so obsessed with a mental image of “putting the hand in the cookie jar,” “holding the gooseneck pose” or, worst of all, “holding an elevated gooseneck pose,” that it short-circuits or supplants the stroke.The latter is illustrated in this New York Times photo of Marion Jones, when she was preparing for a WNBA tryout. In the summer of 2006 a young shooting scientist taught it to Andrei Kirilenko, who proceeded to have the worst season of his career and probably set an NBA record for most wounded-duck jumpshot airballs. During that season I sent letters to various Utah Jazz personnel explaining what had gone haywire with Kirilenko's shot but never got a reply.
Rather than allowing their natural stroke to determine what their follow-through looks like – as countless non-scientific shooters have done successfully for decades – the backwards shooters put their faith in the quack wearing the white lab coat. Worse, they keep it there, one putrid month after another – and in many cases one putrid season after another – faithfully and foolishly waiting for the day when everything magically clicks.
Even if you somehow manage to be adequate from the stripe with such a delivery, it’s most unlikely that you’ll ever be a good mid-range spontaneous jump shooter, someone who can shoot instantaneously and instinctively when an opportunity presents itself from 12 or 15 or 17 or 13 feet, sometimes leaning or fading, sometimes banking, sometimes wide open and straight up. That requires touch and feel, two qualities tough to maintain if your mind is focused on a highly technical and probably unnatural finishing pose.
Some of these players (Dwight Howard, for example) have been under the spell of one or more shooting pseudo-scientists (whether in private practice or bona fide NBA assistant coaches) for so long they’ve lost touch with their natural stroke. Other bricklayers may never have had a natural stroke to call their own. I suspect that’s the case with Biedrins and perhaps Drummond.
Most kids learn to shoot through trial and error till they find something that works for them. But if you get shoe-horned into organized ball right from the start you might miss out on that all-important experimental phase. So right off the bat you’re getting all this technical instruction on how to shoot like somebody else who may not be a good model for you. Or maybe he’s a decent model but the coach is a rotten teacher. Or maybe you have some distinctive physical characteristics that would lead you to excel with a homemade stroke (as has been the case with many NBA and college greats) if your coaches would just get out of the way and allow it to develop over time.
It looks like Drummond needs a trial-and-error phase trying out different types of strokes suitable for a big man while he frees his mind of any and all concerns about follow-through poses and positions. (That’s assuming he doesn’t have a pretty decent natural stroke from his high school days worth resurrecting and polishing.)
Shooting is much more art than science. His current coaches would be doing him and the team a favor by encouraging such experimentation rather than molding his shooting motion in the manner of a mad scientist obsessed with pounding square pegs into round holes.
Do you think that in some cases you just have to ignore what coaches say to you because you know what works for you ? Or will that just result in you being classed as uncoachable and having a large ego ?
If your teaching kids then yes u should go by the book with shooting motions. Kids need to know the basics before they are allowed to tweak anything. If your talking NBA players then no. There is no way Shaq's humongus hands would be able to do the textbook shooting motion, there just too big. Try shooting normally with a tennis ball and see what I mean.
So for Andre Drummond, No, just find what works. Go old school Rick Barry and shoot your free throws underhand. It is one point reguardless of how it goes in.
Kendal Gill made an interesting point during summer league saying drummonds hand positioning is off line. I say that hand positioning and release angle is very important. If you look at Tony Wroten's jumper he releases the ball to the left, creating a kunckleball spin. We all know how ugly his shot is.
Personally, I know there is an ideal way to shoot the ball. I had a shooting coach fix my form in high school and my Ft% jumped from 40% to 80% between seasons, so form does matter. However, once a player has spent enough time with his shot it should not be tampered with. Once in the NBA, why mess with someone's jumpshot. If they're in the Nba, just leave it be. The shot is probably already good enough as is.
You can get good at shooting basketballs in the pop-a-shot game and those balls are smaller than normal. Why is that? It's the same premise for somebody shooting those things and a big center like Drummond shooting a free throw with a normal sized basketball.
He might need to shoot the ball over his head like Larry Bird used to do. Bird didn't really look at the ball when he was shooting it, and he was focused on the goal. He didn't have textbook form but he got good arch on it and had a soft touch so he could get a shooter's roll on his shots.
1) There are basic mechanics that are necessary for a good shot. Obviously you need to be able to repeat the same motion so that the ball takes the same path every time. You need to get rotation on the ball coming out of your hands. You need to get the right angle on the shot (too much arch and too little arch are both problems). You need to use your wrist and release the ball from your finger tips. These factors are common to all good shots.
2) The "picture perfect" shot of Ray Allen is overrated (he has a tremendous shot, but it's also extremely visually appealing). You don't need your arm straight out and elbow bent at a 90 degree angle. Many players have a higher release, shoot directly over their head (behind their head), or slightly to the side. But they still have the essential mechanics down.
Conclusion: Players should be taught the correct mechanics. If Drummond's shot is flawed mechanically (and I think it is), then he absolutely should recreate his shot from scratch... that may actually mean going away from the 90 degree elbow shot. Wroten absolutely needs to change his shot, it's completely broken and there's no point practicing something that simply can't work.
However, other players like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George came into the league with decent mechanics, but just needed to practice and perhaps make some subtle tweaks. Obviously their shots shouldn't be restructured.
I always thought that Shaq should just shoot a hook shot. It was the one mid range shot that looked natural for him.
@CameronCrazy511; tell that to Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and countless other NBA players who made it to the pros with their driving game and struggled or struggle still with their jumpers. A lot of that can be fixed with tweaks, saying "it's probably already good enough as is" is ridiculous.
In the case of Tyreke in particular he fades away literally every time he takes a shot and is never on balance; his inability to shoot the ball has taken him from face of the franchise to trade bait within the space of 3 years. Is that good enough as is?
I agree that there is a right and wrong way to teach shooting form, but as a coach you can never give up on a player's jumper as a lost cause or accept it.
Also, from a personal standpoint, a lot of it is mental. I used to be an average FT shooter, but never terrible, until a game when we had fought to a tie at the end of regulation and I was on the line with a chance to win the game by hitting either shot.
I missed them both and I've lacked all confidence shooting FTs ever since, in my most recent game I shot 0-4 from the line.
I've really worked on getting consistency with my shot, and I learned that a lot of that comes from shooting mostly with your legs, so I've spent hours practicing getting good lift and taking my arms out of the equation.
However, when you're shooting FTs you don't jump on your shot, so it can throw off your whole mechanics, you almost have to train a completely different way to shoot FTs without it affecting your regular jumper. Drummond isn't a particularly bad shooter in live play, but you take his legs from under him and he struggles.
I hope he figures that out sooner rather than later, because you don't want it to become an issue where he lacks the belief that he can hit his FTs like it has with me.
I believe that being tall changes the release point and results in a more difficult flatter shot or, if you still want to have arc, a higher shot that will be coming down faster which results in harder bounces and less friendly roles. Clearly these big NBA centers have some real issue with Free Throws that you just don't see in normal population of basketball players. You can go to any gym in America and you wouldn't find many guys who can't hit 50% of their free throws. And these are just normal folks way past their school days and who don't practice their free throws at all. The big hand theory also probably holds some water as well.
But some of the mechanics do look weird out there. Shaq definitely shot a funky FT. For those who can remember, the Knicks had a center called Chris Dudley. The guy was in the league from 1988 to 2003 and he had a career FT% of 45%. That is just freakishly bad. You'd really have to search far and wide on your local playground to find a guy who really couldn't break 50% if you gave a couple of years of practice. Dudley couldn't do it with decades of top level balling and the coaches that come with it.