Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
Why Your Shooting Drills Donít Work

January 20, 2021


In todayís newsletter, you will find....

  • Why Your Shooting Drills Donít Work - And How Your Memory Affects This
  • Camp Question: What Happened to Your Elite Guard Camp?


  • Why Your Shooting Drills Donít Work - And How Your Memory Affects This

    - By Joe Haefner

    Ages: Youth, High School, College/Pro
    Audience: Players, Parents, Coaches

    Here is one reason why your shooting drills donít work... and it basically has to do with your memory.

    When you first shoot or execute any other skill (or motor pattern), you access your long-term memory and move it to your short-term memory.

    And this remains in your short-term memory for 20 to 30 seconds.

    So if you think about it, almost always when you shoot during a game, you are accessing long-term memory and moving it to short-term memory.

    How Most Players Practice That Lowers Their Shooting Percentage During Games

    Now think about how you practice shooting and workout drills! A lot of players do the complete opposite.

    Many players go to the gym and theyíll shoot the same shot or rep the same skill over and over (block practice).

    For example, you might cut to the wing, catch the ball, take 1 dribble towards the basket, and shoot. Then you do this 10 times in a row.

    So on the first practice shot, you access your long-term memory and move it to short-term memory, like you would in a game.

    However, shots 2 through 10 are NOT accessing long-term memory because itís still in your short-term memory. You are accessing short-term memory to recall the skill.

    This is NOT how the game is played.

    Almost every shot taken in a game accesses your long-term memory. So we definitely need to set up our workouts and practices to work on this!

    In addition to defense, shot clock, and a crowd, I think this is one of the reasons that you see players shoot better in practice drills than in a game.

    I think itís also the same reason that a study showed that NBA players shot 73% on their first free throw compared to 78% on their second free throw. This study covered 20 years of data!

    How to Set Up Your Drills to Shoot Better in Games

    One way to replicate accessing long-term memory like you would in a game is to vary the skill on each repetition.

    For example, if Iím working on some shooting from the wing. I might practice a sequence like this.

    1. Cut to Wing > Shoot off the Catch
    2. Cut to Wing > 1 Dribble With Finishing Move at the Rim
    3. Cut to Wing > 1 Dribble Pull Up Jump Shot
    4. Shoot 1 Free Throw

    Here is another sequence with dribble moves.

    1. Cut to Wing > Shoot off the Catch
    2. Cut to Wing > Dribble Move > With Finishing Move at the Rim
    3. Cut to Wing > Dribble Move > Pull Up Jump Shot
    4. Shoot 1 Free Throw

    You could repeat the sequence 5 to 20 times.

    Here is what a sequence would look like if you used all 5 progressions from the examples above:

    You could also move to different spots on the floor. You could vary the cut.

    After you grab the rebound, you could also do a dribble move sequence back to your starting spot.

    You certainly arenít limited to the examples above. The only limit is your imagination. You could create mini-stations where you alternate between dribble moves, passing, lay ups, 1v1 defense, shooting off the catch, shooting off the dribble, etc.

    Get a Workout Partner and Use Purposeful 1v1 Drills!

    If you have a workout partner, you could set up 1v1 drills. That's important because almost every shot you take during a game involves the defense. Itís even better if you have enough players to practice 2v2 and 3v3 in these situations too!

    Here is an example of 1v1 drill that would complement the drill above.

    I highly advise you get a workout partner and do these types of drills in almost every workout.

    At the very least, I would advise that 25% of your workouts have drills with defenders.

    Iíve done workouts with players where we used game-based drills against defenders for 100% of the workout. That was because they had a high skill set, but lacked the experience attacking defenders and making choices with defenders present.

    You Should Still Use Block Practice and Rep Out Skills

    I believe that you should definitely incorporate block practice when first learning new skills and concepts... We use block practice as one of our teaching tools with our Breakthrough Basketball Camps... along with serial practice, random practice, and game-based drills.

    Even advanced players should incorporate block practice for rhythm, mentality, confidence, and technique development. I believe even professional players can find benefit in block practice.

    I believe you need a healthy balance of repping skills out (block practice), varying skills (serial and random practice), and playing against live defenders (random practice and contextual interference).

    Brian McCormickís The 21st Century Basketball Practice is also a great read that covers these concepts and ideas in more detail.

    Let us know what you think! You can reply to this email to share your thoughts.


    What Happened To Your Elite Guard Camp?

    Camp Question: Hey, Iím just curious if you guys are still doing your guard camp. It was one of the best camps we attended and I was hoping to do it again. Thanks, Rob.

    Joeís Response: Great question and here is some great news...

    The camp hasnít gone anywhere! Weíre still doing it, but itís under a different name.

    Itís now called the Elite Skills and Playmaking Camp...

    Why did we change the name of the camp?

    Well, into todayís modern basketball, players arenít limited to the traditional guard positions any more if they want to be a playmaker.

    Players of all sizes and shapes can develop an elite skill set and know how to make high IQ plays. And thatís what this camp is all about!

    You learn how to score and create plays from everywhere on the court... the perimeter area, around the basket, and in transition.

    Thatís why you see tall players like Luka Doncic, Diana Taurasi, LeBron James, and Nikola Jokic develop elite skill sets and the ability to make plays for their teammates.

    Ideally, coaches want five playmakers on the floor and thatís what weíre here to help with!

    So if youíre interested in becoming a high IQ player, making great plays, and developing an elite skill set, check out the Elite Skills and Playmaking Camp!

    Here is the camp schedule where you can learn more and register for a camp.


    All the Best,

    Joe Haefner
    Breakthrough Basketball