One of the most important skills in sports is the ability to shoot. Being able to hit those three-pointers and shots from the outside in basketball, or beating the goalie in soccer, lacrosse or hockey is what determines the outcomes in games. Some will argue that defense determines the outcomes but if you can’t score, you can’t win and if the other team has great shooters, you’re not keeping them off the board. Shooting is key to success.
Yet, how well do we coach players to become better shooters? If you look at most practice plans, the actual skill of shooting is not emphasized. Rather, shooting in game situations is emphasized. For example, most practices will dedicate a few minutes to a 2-3 person shooting drill that mimics a game situation; transitions, off screens or from a set spot. Coaches usually then proceed to practice another game situation. This isolated shooting drill is then the only part of practice where shooting is emphasized. There is no buildup or addition of competition to apply the skill in additional game situations. Coaches could slowly add defenders to progress to a 3v1 to 3v2 to 3v3 shooting drill/game.
Another aspect that coaches ignore is that the skill of shooting is just the final in a series of skills that are needed. Before you shoot, you need to know how to get open… your teammate has to be able to pass…you need to be able to catch and position body…you need game awareness to decide if the shot is the best option. You need to be able to shoot with defender trying to block. The typical 2-3 man shooting drill doesn’t address all of these other skills needed to shoot. Good coaches understand how to add the other “pre-requisites” into their practice plans.
Transitioning from a the skill of shooting to being able to apply it in a game takes knowledge from the coach. Using the Games Approach to coaching will allow those players to apply the skill of shooting into competitive situations. Eventually through the use of playing lots of competitive small-sided games, players will develop their shooting skill to meet the old adage of
- Great shooters prepare two passes ahead.
- Average shooters just one pass ahead.
- Non-shooters catch then figure out what to do next.
One final area that players need to address, more so than coaches, is to maximize their practice time by taking Game Shots, from Game Spots at Game Speed as emphasized in the following video.