The Most Important Things to Practice - Shocked That 72% of Shots Were This!
If you want to be really, really good, it's quite simple...
You should focus on what happens the most during games and you should focus on what is most effective. And become really, really good at those things!
You will hear a similar theme preached by coaches of some of the all-time greats...
While this is true, many forget to do just that.
If you start browsing around social media and YouTube, you find lots of cool tricks, complicated moves, and neat looking stuff, but I question whether these activities transfer to better game play. Some might, but a lot don't.
Don't get me wrong... I like to do some of those things and even have players experiment with some of it. It can be fun!
But that's only after we've done the important work... the things that really matter! I'm a huge fan of the "Big Rocks First" philosophy originally presented to me by Don Kelbick.
When I watched Don's workouts with NBA All Stars, Olympic gold medalists, and undrafted NBA players who became 3-point leaders and NBA champions, you'd be amazed at the simplicity.
Most of the workout usually entailed this:
Game-Like Cut > Shot
Game-Like Cut > 1 Dribble > Shot
Game-Like Cut > Dribble Move > Shot
And you will find great players take a similar approach. They master the simple things that occur over and over in games.
The following analytics will give you an idea of what works and what you should focus on...
Analytics for Shooting off the Catch and Shooting off the Dribble
So what are the things that will actually make you better?
Here's the first thing we're going to focus on...
I compared shooting jump shots off the catch versus shooting jump shots off the dribble. The data was collected from Synergy Sports.
Since it's difficult to get accurate analytics for the youth and high school levels, I wanted to filter down from the NBA and WNBA into the college ranks to see if there are any trends.
This is from the 2019-20 seasons.
The first conclusion is quite simple...
Shooting jump shots off the catch tends to be more effective than shooting jump shots off the dribble.
Women players at the college level were 36% to 40% more effective and men were 28% more effective!
With the WNBA, players were 33% more effective and NBA players were 20% more effective!
And if the trend continues, this difference between shooting percentage off the catch and off the dribble could become even larger at the youth and high school levels.
So if you want to be a good player, guess what you should do in your drills and workouts...
Shooting off the catch!
Mastering the basics will take you a long way...
So Does Shooting off the Catch Happen Very Often? I Was a Bit Shocked!
Now it definitely makes sense to try to shoot more off the catch during games and it also makes sense to practice it.
But are defenses eliminating this shot? If they are, maybe it shouldn't be a huge portion of our workout.
Let's find out...
When I first discovered this years ago, I was even a bit shocked!
Look at the percentage of jump shots off the catch versus jump shots off the dribble!
As you can see...
57% of jump shots are off the catch at the WNBA and NBA level.
65% to 72% of jump shots are off the catch at the college level for men and women.
So conclusion #2 is quite simple...
You better make sure shooting off the catch is a priority in your workouts!
If you're not a great shooter yet, you probably should focus the majority of your time on shooting off the catch! Get great at that first since it happens so often and it's so effective.
At the same time, continue to improve your conditioning, strength, speed, quickness, and elusiveness so you can create separation from the defense to get more shots off the catch!
Am I Saying That You Shouldn't Practice Ball Handling or Shooting off the Dribble Very Much?
Absolutely not... I'm saying that shooting off the catch should be a major part of your workouts. Don't neglect shooting off the catch for frivolous activities!
Ball handling and shooting off the dribble are still very important...
While each situation needs to be analyzed based on age level and skill level, here is what I mean.
First off, you can't forget lay ups are still the best shot in basketball besides free throws!
So dribbling to attack the basket should be a big part of your game.
If you can shoot off the catch and attack the basket, defenders have to pick their poison.
If they guard you too closely, you can drive by them.
If they don't guard you close enough, you can hit the open shot.
Dribble penetration can also be a great tool to create more open shots off the catch for your teammates...
When you dribble towards the basket, good defenses will collapse. This creates an opportunity for a kick-out pass and a shot off the catch... which is a high percentage shot!
And you'll create other situations where your pass leads to an assist. We call those hockey assists or Gretzkys.
It's not how many points that you score or assists you get that matters... It's how many points you create!
Most coaches will recognize this. So you're more likely to get more playing time. And if you're good enough, this increases your chances of getting recruited.
Additionally, as you develop your shooting and your ball handling, think about this...
As many, many coaches have set up their defensive schemes to force players into shooting jump shots off the dribble, you could develop a skill that separates you from most players.
As long as you master shooting off the catch and scoring at the basket, now adding a deadly jump shot off the dribble to your arsenal will make you nearly unguardable...
You could become a player that is highly sought after!
Should Players 12 Years Old and Younger Focus on Shooting?
If you're working with players at 12 years and younger, I always prioritize ball handling, footwork, passing, and even athletic development.
These skills are just easier to learn as it requires less coordination and strength when compared to shooting.
And since it's easier to improve in those areas, players tend to get excited because they see noticeable improvements!
Your number one priority should be to create a passion for the sport and focusing on areas that they can see improvement should be your first step!
There are special cases where players are strong and coordinated at younger ages. And you could probably spend a little more time on shooting.
However, DO NOT force youth players to do it. That will kill the passion and they won't end up playing.
This article goes into more detail on the topic with youth players:
FREE Resources for Shooting Better and Getting More Athletic
If you need help shooting better and improving your speed, quickness, and jumping ability, you can check out these resources.
What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...