This Anti-Dip Approach Hurts Shooters

It was the offseason before my junior year of high school. My head high school coach took another player and myself through a workout. We were the two best shooters on the team.

He said, "I notice on every catch that you guys dip the ball."

As a player, this was news to me. I didn't realize I was doing that.

To quickly summarize, the dip occurs after you catch the ball and prepare to shoot. The shooter immediately drops the ball to their stomach or hip level then immediately goes up through their shot motion.

He then continued, "How about we try to eliminate that? That way, the shot is quicker and more efficient."

It made sense to both of us. So then we tried to eliminate the dip in our next shooting drills.

After about 10 minutes of firing missiles off the rim and the backboard, the coach gathered us to talk again.

He said, "Okay. I just wanted to test that out. Go back to the way that you were shooting before."

I know... I know... When you first introduce a skill or concept, you might struggle with it. That's not a reason to abandon something that will make you better.

But you have to look at the context...

  • The other player and myself were already good shooters. Our mechanics were good.
  • We didn't have any issues getting shots off during games.

So like any good coach, he did a quick evaluation and realized it wasn't worth messing with.

Til this day, I remember how awkward and robotic it felt trying to make this change. It didn't feel fluid or rhythmic at all.

And today, many well-intentioned coaches try to eliminate the dip in the shot process.

They want the player to keep the ball at their shoulder or chin level and go up with the shot motion from there.

Thankfully, Tom Nordland pointed out to me early in my coaching career that almost all high-level shooters dip the ball on perimeter jump shots.

I went back and studied the film... he was right!

It's actually much harder to find a great shooter who does NOT dip the ball when shooting from the perimeter. Outside of Manu Ginobli and JJ Barea, there aren't many.

Steph Curry dips. Diana Taurasi dips. Trae Young dips.

Reggie Miller dipped. Larry Bird dipped. Mark Price dipped. Michael Jordan dipped.

High-level shooters execute the dip so quickly that it's difficult to see for the untrained eye. At first, I had to watch the video at slower speeds.

Combining this with the fact that players with lightning quick releases like Steph Curry used the dip, I realized it didn't affect the quickness of the shot release very much.

Was it worth having a shot that you get off in 0.5 seconds versus 0.55 seconds if it potentially affected the accuracy? Probably not.

So from that point forward, I rarely said "Don't dip the ball."

However, I was still hesitant to teach the dip in the shooting process. It was something I thought just naturally occurred.

And many players weren't even aware that they dipped the ball.

But I kept running into the same problem...

There was still a small group of shooters who lacked consistency and looked robotic.

The problem wasn't work ethic. The problem wasn't coachability. These were great kids.

After I further analyzed these players and asked them questions... I realized something.

Many of the poor shooters were taught to eliminate the dip in their shot motion and were successful.

As a result, they lacked that rhythm, fluidity, and coordination that all of the high-level shooters possessed.

Most importantly, they lacked accuracy! They weren't making as many shots.

This is another reason why I advise against forcing players to eliminate the dip.

I truly believe becoming fixated on eliminating the dip hinders more shooters than it helps.

At the same time, you have to be careful with implementing a dip while teaching shot mechanics!

I've had a few experiences where I temporarily messed up a few shooters when I started experimenting with teaching the dip.

Next, I'll explain more about the problems I experienced and one of the best ways to incorporate the shooting dip...

In fact, you might not even use the word dip with your players. I don't.

I got this great approach from a relatively unknown shooting coach from a small town in Texas who was once invited to a tryout with the San Antonio Spurs almost solely due to his shooting ability.

I'm excited to share it with you next!

Also, please reply and let us know what you think... what have your experiences been like? Have they been similar? Do you completely disagree? Please share your thoughts!

Resources for Better Shooting

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Daniel C. says:
7/13/2021 at 10:31:09 AM

Does the dip only apply to catch-and-shoot situations or do players incorporate it off the dribble or in other scenarios too?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
7/18/2021 at 8:02:18 AM

The dipping of the ball applies to catch and shoot situations. However, it can also apply to triple threat situations after jab steps and pivots too.

From my experience, when shooting off the dribble, players gather / pick up the ball with two hands and there isn't time to dip the ball down after gathering. It's important to pick up the ball (bring it to your other hand) in the same spot each time... consistency. Some players pick up near hip level and others closer to the chest. The key is consistency.


Bill Elliott says:
6/23/2021 at 1:47:02 PM

Yes! Completely agree with "the dip" establishing a rhythm for the shot, leading to more consistent results. My experience was the same - had no idea I was doing it, either. It was just how I shot the ball. Now, I have a 12-yr old on my youth team who is a good shooter, for his age. I haven't tried to mess too much with anything he does - his form is decent (not quite strong enough yet, so the shooting elbow sticks out a little too far), but it's simple and repeatable. The one thing he doesn't do is 'the dip' - he pulls the ball straight under his chin, never taking it down to his mid-chest or stomach, to better establish a rhythm to the shot. I've struggled with how to introduce 'the dip' as I don't want to totally screw him up! I tried talking about it and demonstrating what it looks like, and was met with a "I have no idea what you're saying" look. Can't wait for the next post.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
6/23/2021 at 5:13:52 PM

Thanks for the reply, Bill!

Of course, it's hard for me to say without seeing the player shoot over the course of a season, but I usually go by the mantra of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I think you will have some players who can shoot the ball this way. I've seen a few. I think it's just harder for the majority to accomplish by forcing them to keep the ball elevated.


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