Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lebron showing us the Way

Basketball Trainers/Coaches across San Antonio all have a story to tell. The story goes:

Little Suzie was a three point shooting queen when she was younger. As she grew older, her shot abandoned her. She used to make ALL of her jump shots and people marveled at her brilliance. She started training under this guy but her jump shot got worse, even though she was with him for one ENTIRE month. She then started working with this woman and her shot did not get any better. She worked with this new coach for TWO WHOLE months. Suzie was the best player in the CYO and YMCA and now she is a high school student and gets very little playing time. Obviously the coach is an idiot.

The above scenario is very common to coaches/trainers. Here is some reasons why.

1.The fact is that, Little Suzie was never a great three point shooter. Great three point shooters shoot over 40% in games.(Some would argue 45-50%) The thing that made Little Suzie seem like a great shooter was the fact that she would shoot the long shot with some success. Her shooting 25% from three point land,eventually made her and her parents believe that she was the female Larry Bird. She shot so many of them that she was bound to hit a few in a row at times and this gave some the impression that she was a great shooter. The numbers do not lie. The truth of the matter is that, it takes hundreds of thousands of shots to become a great three point shooter. Kids lack the appropriate size and strength to consistently make the long ball in games. Here is an interesting fact, only two of the Top 10 NBA three point shooting leaders, are under 6'5. The list includes three players 6'8 or better. This fact supports the reasoning that size and strength play a vital role in shooting successfully behind the arc. I am not saying that you need to be big to be a good three point shooter. What I am saying is that being big and strong helps.

2. Other than strength, the most important factor in being a great shooter is form. Good Form comes from PROPER REPETITION. Little Suzie experienced some success by doing it the wrong way. Again, I always use the example of a child spelling Cat with a K. Kat sounds like the truth but we all know that it is flawed. Little Suzie would chuck the ball from her hip or chest and hit a few shots and mom and dad would act like she was spelling Cat the correct way. They think this so-called success is helping, but in truth, it hurts Suzie's development. Since she feels that her shot was never broke, she refuses to fix it. The problem is that it was always broke and as the game progresses, the inconsistency and ineffectiveness of her shot gets exposed. Sadly, Little Suzie coaches/trainers are now the blame for her recent struggles.

Sports Illustrated recently had a great article on Lebron James. The article went on to describe how Lebron's development as a pro has been remarkable. James was the most heralded rookie ever and had immediate success. He has lead his Cavaliers from the position of annual cellar dwellers, to a legitimate contender for an NBA title. Even with all this early success, James fixed his shot over the summer.

The article writes:

Just as Tiger Woods remade his swing when he was already dominant, James spent last summer quietly reconstructing his jumper, working with assistant coach Chris Jent five days a week, an hour and a half per session. If you watched James shoot last year, you know why; even though teams were petrified of his penetration, he sometimes looked like he was chucking pumpkins at the backboard. According to NBA. com, he hit only 37.1% of his two-point jumpers from the top of the key and the wings, which are the money spots for an off-the-dribble midrange shooter. So James worked to develop what Jent calls a "calmer" shot. This meant better balance -- when firing on the move, James has to contend with the considerable momentum created by his weight -- and keeping his right elbow locked at his side so that, as James puts it, "the ball will go straight instead of veering off sometimes."
Like a pee-wee player, James began by putting up one-handed shots close to the basket. Next came one-dribble jumpers and free throws, then midrange shots. Remarkably, never once during the sessions did he fling a three-pointer. (Let's see you spend one hour at the gym and resist the temptation.) "He's so strong that he can shoot a jumper from half-court," explains Jent. "Form first, and the range will come."

If one of the best players in the world can retool his shot by concentrating on form and thousands upon thousands of shots emphasizing repetition, then why can't Little Suzie. Lebron did not blame the coach and/or trainer. Little Suzie's parents should take heed.