Off Season Development Trick - This is When You Improve Your Team's Shooting Percentage
If you want to develop better shooters and improve your team's overall shooting percentage, you must start in the off season!


  • It's almost always counter productive to fix shooting mechanics during season. It must be done during the off season.

  • It's impossible to turn a kid into a great shooter during your short season (especially when there are WAY too many other things to do). It must happen in the off season.

  • It's difficult to develop new skills and improve during the season. It must be done during the off season.

What you need is a step-by-step process to develop a great shooting team starting after your season is over, all the way through the summer, until the very end of your season (when you're hopefully playing for a state title)!

Here's a great technique to evaluate your players and help them improve after the season is over.

Very few coaches know about this technique...

When your season is over, you need to chart your players "shot tendencies". This is important!

We learned this awesome trick from coach Herb Magee. Herb suggests that you are wasting your time if you don't analyze your shot tendencies. And we think he's right!

Here's how it works:

You have each player shoot a bare minimum of 50 shots and chart their shots. The key is to chart detailed results of each shot. You will track how many shots fell short, too long, to the left, and to the right. This information will help you determine what this player needs to work on.

You will discover that each player tends to consistently miss a certain direction. In many cases, players consistently miss short and hit the front of the rim. It's extremely useful for players and coaches to know this information.

However, almost NO coaches or players chart this information. They practice with little purpose or direction.

In some cases the player need to work on everything because their mechanics are terrible. In other cases, you'll often find that players consistently miss either short, long, or to a certain direction. If a player consistently comes up short, now you know this player needs to work on distance control and getting more power in their shot.

If you think about it, it's silly to go out and practice hours and hours without knowing your shot tendencies. You can get a lot further in life by practicing smart.

After watching and assessing your players, make a list of all your players, with special notes beside each player. As an example, you can do something like this:

NameMechanicsAreas to ImproveGoal / Notes
Joe SmithGreat mechanics but tends to miss short.Needs to improve distance control, mid-range shot, and free throwsImprove overall shooting percentage and develop a great mid-range shot. Just needs to step things up to the next level by practicing more.
Jeff JohnsonGood mechanics, except release point is low (flat shot).Raise release point and locate target earlier.Get in lots of reps to raise release point, locate target earlier, and learn to shoot off the dribble better. Improve percentage in all those area with more practice.
Alex BellTerrible shooting grip. Continually misses target to right and left.Needs to change mechanics, grip on the ball, and arm alignment.Get LOTS of reps AWAY from the basket. Fix grip mechanics and arm alignment. Be ready for game shots late summer.

Essentially you are setting logical and attainable things you want to improve with each player. This will allow you to develop a logical shooting program for your players, easily keep tabs on things, and help your players improve.

The next step...

Want a simple and guaranteed way to give your team supreme shooting confidence?

Want to learn how to quickly break bad shooting habits?

Want a step-by-step system that will develop a team of great shooters?

We've been fortunate enough to learn these tactics directly from some of the top shooting experts in the world. You can learn about all these tips and tactics in our new basketball shooting guide.

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Coach B says:
3/27/2008 at 11:18:00 AM

I really enjoy your news letters. I find them very helpful and reinforcing. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  1 person liked this.  

Coach T says:
3/27/2008 at 11:48:50 AM

This is very helpful I would like to use this with my players, it seems to be able to work.


peter marino says:
3/27/2008 at 1:13:54 PM

tahnk you for the drills


Brian Caplin says:
3/27/2008 at 6:44:57 PM

i have a great program for grades 5 & 6 girls of my own if anyone wants it just give me a girls were undefeated this year.

  1 reply  

Russ says:
2/12/2016 at 3:28:24 AM

please send me info, i may coach grade six next year for my daughters team


nick xanthos says:
3/28/2008 at 7:08:36 AM

I m going to use it is very good especialy when you have not good percentage on shooting


Mark Theurer says:
3/28/2008 at 7:57:55 AM


I''m sure you get all kinds of interesting stuff that guys think is the latest hot thing. So if this fits that description please feel free to circle file. But I have found this to be a very, very simple way to teach mechanics. I coach Jr High girls ( sometimes younger ). Both of kids played in grade school and high school and I really developed this as I was trying to come up with a simple reference for a player to make correction on their own if the shot was not fulling. My kids would always look at me during a game and say what I''m I doing wrong the shot isn''t falling. Anyway here is the quick reference tool. I teach my kids to remember LEAF.
L= Legs / make sure you have your legs in your shot. IF your shot is short= not enough legs.
E= Elbow / is your elbow in and forming the 90 degree. IF your off line= your elbow is out. 90 degree corrects flat shot.
A= Arch / are you shooting the ball up and not at the rim.
F= Finish / finish you shot, let the arm and the and stay out there like you are posing for a photo. IF your distance inconsistant this will help. ( Mom needs time to focus that new camera. )
I know this is pretty simple and there is more to a shot. But this allows both myself and players to quickly run through a 4 point analysis and make correction in the heat of battle. I find that 90% correcting one or more of these aspects works. LEAF is something easy for my young players to remember and work with on their own during the summer in the driveway.


Jeff Haefner says:
3/28/2008 at 8:11:15 AM


That's a great idea. I've never heard the LEAF memory trick before.

I think it's always good to have these memorable tricks in your arsenal. Like you said, there's more to a shot, but let's face it. You'll be lucky if young kids remember HALF of what you teach them! Any trick to help them remember is a good thing. Just so long they understand there's more to it (in case they really want to get to the next level).

In our shooting ebook (getting edited right now) we have a bunch of memory tricks like this. If you don't mind, we'll add LEAF to the ebook as another memory tool.

Thanks for sharing.



Joe (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
3/28/2008 at 11:21:23 AM

Hi Mark,

Just an additional comment. You want to be careful with the elbow, because everyone's body is different. Some may feel reallly comfortable with their elbow in while others will be really tense and struggle with this. A tense shooter results in missed shots.

You definitely don't want their elbow flared out, but the elbow can be slightly out if that's what they feel comfortable with.

The importance is to make sure that the ball goes in a straight line from their shot pocket to their release point with their index and middle fingers pointing at the center of the rim.


Mark Theurer says:
3/28/2008 at 1:42:10 PM

Jeff and Joe,

Please feel free to included this in your shooting E book. I will look forward to the new book. I've never been published before. (Ha!)

Joe, your point on the elbow is well taken. I think this is a thought that can be applied to many mechanics that we teach. Don't get to caught up in what you see in your minds eye as the perfect mechanics. Make allowances for the build, abilities and make up of your player.
By the way- do you shoot with your elbow out?

Thanks again gentlemen


Joe (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
3/28/2008 at 4:02:51 PM

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the input! I would say my elbow is in.


Ariel Rabe says:
3/29/2008 at 11:59:24 PM

Allow me to humbly share a little about free throw shooting. My experience with one player (15 years old), is that his shooting alignment (his shooting arm is perfectly angled) is right but misses the mark most of the time, it was either short or long, hitting the front or back rim and lower than 55 degrees. It is as if there was too much pressure in his release of the ball and with the follow through was somewhat forced and with observed difficulty. The answer to his free throw shooting problem: double bending of knees (he bends slightly once then bends lower and up to the point of release). The ball, with a back spin, softly hitting the bottom of the net, this time most if not all the time.


connie says:
3/30/2008 at 5:08:50 PM

How much shooting time during practice should 5th and 6th grade girls be doing...
We have been together for a year and shooting is probably our weakness.

and what are a few drills to keep them wanting to shoot.


Jeff Haefner says:
3/31/2008 at 10:36:14 AM


As far as time goes, you should spend enough time to allow your players to develop proper shooting form.

They are young still and no matter what you do, you won't turn them into all star shooters this season. That takes time.

You can however take a solid attempt at helping them improve shooting form. So when they get older, they don't have BAD habits and they have a chance to become great shooters.

I suggest having them shoot away from the basket for shooting drills to develop proper form. They can partner shoot. It takes hundreds and thousands of repetitions to develop GOOD muscle memory with good form.

Then they can groove shots very close to the basket. Have them grove 50-100 six foot shots every day. Nothing difficult. Just straight on shots over and over. This will help with confidence and improve form (if you watch them closely).

As far as time goes, it depends how many kids and baskets you have. Instead of using time as your indicators, you should use number of shots.

If your players need to adjust form, they should shoot 100 shots a day away from the basket. It might take 3 weeks for them to develop new muscle memory. Generally speaking, I would set goals for around 50-200 shots per day in your practice. That might take 5 minutes. It might take 30 minutes.


Jeff Haefner


Randy Stone says:
4/1/2008 at 4:58:33 PM

Brian Caplin,
I''m definitely interested in your 5/6 grade girls program. Sometimes I feel like I''m beating my head against a brick wall.


harold says:
4/3/2008 at 12:33:01 PM

how to correct short shooting


Joe Haefner (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
4/7/2008 at 7:31:49 AM

Hi Harold,

It's hard to tell without examining the shooter. Most of the time, it's something as simple as using your legs more. They need to bend their knees and make sure to use their legs to generate power to get the ball to the basket.


Paul Ramos says:
4/9/2008 at 10:38:21 AM

I coach both women's juniors and women's seniors teams here in the Philippines and a lot of the infos that i read from the newsletters here are very helpfull, some new ones and some reminders. But all in all, i commend the group for their sharings.
Regarding off season shooting development, i'd like to share what i've tried to improve on my kids' shooting percentage. i've manufactured a smaller diameter home-made ring, that i clip on to the basketball goals which makes it a little harder to make shots. We had that ring for the whole off-season to pre-season trainings period. Then we have it removed approaching our in-season, which give the kids more confidence with their shots because of the feeling that it's easier now to make the shots. Try taking their scores during off season then another during pre. I hope it would also help your teams with their shooting the way it helped mine.


ann cates says:
7/18/2009 at 10:13:02 PM

i shoot great in practice and when training, but i do not carry over the high shooting percentage in a game situation. how can i improve game scoring


Jeff Haefner says:
7/20/2009 at 3:46:51 PM


What kind of shots are you taking in the game? Are the high percentage shots? Are your feet set and in your range? Are you off balance? Are you rushing the shot?

There will always be some game slippage and you'll never shoot the same percentage as you do in practice with no defense. What kind of drop off are we talk here -- what is your game shooting percentage? And what's the range of a typical shot that you take?


Dallas Armbruster says:
4/18/2013 at 12:41:59 PM

I would like to know how to correct a 6th grade girl whose shot is too flat.


Ken Sartini says:
4/19/2013 at 4:40:20 PM

Dallas -

This could be a strength issue? What is the rest of her form like?

Have her stand next to a wall and practice her form..... and as she brings her arm up...( there should be a window that she can see the
rim / basket ) the elbow of her shooting arm should be around eye / ear. That should help to get some arc on her shot.

Try this out, then come back and let us know if this helps. Good luck.


Ken Sartini says:
4/19/2013 at 4:43:46 PM

Forgot to add this... remind her to use her legs in her shot.


Coaching Toolbox says:
11/16/2018 at 3:12:40 AM

You''re definitely right about this. Shooters are one of the assets of the team. Giving tips about on how to improve their shooting skills are highly relevant especially for our players.


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