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Table of Contents

  1. How do I get game shots?
  2. How do I know when to shoot or pass?
  3. How can I develop a quick release?
  4. Will lifting weights affect my shot?
  5. What can I do to restore confidence in a game?
  6. Advice for twenty-something just starting ?

It seems like I do everything ( and some) that  was written on the page. Here's my situation: I play on a JV girls team and  I used to be a starting forward, and know I got demoted to bench warmer. I  hit most of my shots in practice( but I haven't made any so far in a game)  the only problem is that there is a girl who is almost 6 feet tall, so  the guards always pass to her, even if I'm wide open.Some of the plays are  even built around her. So I want to know if there is anthing I can do to  improve my game (specifically shooting under pressure), so that my coach,   my team and myself will believe in me.

The worst thing and the best thing about your situation is that it makes you really look at what you can and can't do well. Assess your own skills first, ask your parents for an honest opinion ( sometimes they just think you're the best and can't see past you being their kid to give any helpful advice ). Ask your coach, the assistant coach, the freshman coach, your old coach from rec
league... what do they see??

Now, the most basic shot is the layup or bank shot from right under the
basket. I don't believe that the 6 footer is making all of her shots,
and is most likely missing 60 to 70 percent of all of her shots. You
may not see it that way if she scores 10, 15, even 20 points a game.
Check the stat sheets. She is probably going 3 for 10 with a few free
throws to have a 10 point game. Where do all those misses go? If you
are really SERIOUS, they are going to you and you are putting them back
in the bucket. The most important thing to do for yourself and your
team is to forget about the 6 footer getting all the looks and get the
rebounds!! If she misses 6 or seven of ten shots and you get the
rebounds on half of her misses, that's three or four easy shots from
under the basket. If you make 2 of four shots and throw in four more
free throws cause you got fouled on the ones you missed, now you have 8
points. Coach wants those second looks and those 8 points. Now you're
back in the starting five and getting a few more looks from the guards
because long tall sally is getting double teamed on the other side and
is having a harder time getting open.

Easy to say, but YOU MUST REBOUND THE BALL!! You're on JV, so you must know about boxing out. If you don't, ask the assistant coach to work
with you on it. You do know, so get after it!! If you're really hungry, if you really want it, it's there for you!! Work harder than your opponent and get that ball. Don't stand there and hope that the ball falls your way, go get it!! And do this in practice!! Every time! You play the way you practice. If practice is more laid back than a game, change it! Practice should be more intense than the games. All practice is overkill and overtraining so that when you get to the game, it's easier and fun! Run faster and work harder than all of your
teammates in practice. Rebound, rebound and then rebound some more.
Fight to get your shots up!!

AND..... The most important thing....DO NOT STOP SHOOTING!!! You've
heard this one 'you miss 100% of the shots you don't take'. It's true!!
Shoot at home, at practice and in the games. Don't be afraid to miss!!

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How do i know when its a good time to shoot or pass?

If you're running the point, you need to get the offense moving, running the play. Sometimes the team isn't moving or the defense is covering too well, and there is no pass. Then it's up to you to take the shot from outside if
they give it to you, or penetrate if they're covering you close. When
you penetrate, the lane will be open or the defense will be closing it
down. If it's open, take the ball to the hole. If the lane is shutting
down, you need to see your teammates and get the ball to one who's open
for an easy shot. Very important - decide by the time you hit the free
throw line. If you pass the line with the ball, finish it off. When you score from the point spot, it forces the defense to play you tighter and opens up opportunities for your 'mates.

If you are not the point and you are receiving the pass, think triple
threat. You probably know this, but catch the pass, square up to the
basket, then:

1. Shoot the ball if you're in range and open.
2. Pass the ball to an open teammate who has a better shot than you.
3. Dribble and penetrate.

These are the only three things you can do with the ball.
Don't think too much and don't worry about missed shots. The best
players only make 40-45% of their shots. If you take 10 shots a game,
you will only make three or four. Add in a few free throws and you are in
double digits.

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How can I work on a quick release?

Quick release - off the dribble: you can save time and increase your
reps by only taking the last step or two to set your feet, pick up the
rock & shoot. No matter where you dribble from, the last step is always
going to be the same, so work on this with a rebounder and you can get
lots of shots in.

Off the pass: set yourself up to shoot as soon as you get the ball.
Square to the basket. Your right foot should be back, catch the pass,
step up with your right foot & shoot. Work with a rebounder & a passer.

One more thing to try - plyometrics with a medicine ball. Find a 5-6
pound medicine ball & simulate the motion you make when you pick the ball up off the dribble. Move quickly to increase your speed against the resistance of the ball.

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If I lift weights, will it affect my shot?

Yes, lifting weights will affect your shot, but it should be in a good way. My son was lifting in the off-season on his own and shooting every day. Then he starting lifting and conditioning with the team in the pre-season, and didn't shoot as much. After tryouts and practices, he started leaving a lot of his shots short. He started lifting on his own outside of team practice and started hitting his threes again. Lots of coaches are against in-season lifting. Make sure that you only work your arms twice a week, and never the day before a game or on game day.  Work on your triceps, biceps and shoulders. Check with your coach on proper lifts and techniques.

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What do I do when I lose confidence in myself during a game?

Confidence is tough. It shouldn't be, though. You know how hard you work at the game. You've taken enough shots to know that they don't all fall in. Our home page mentions the zen of hoops. You don't have time to think about your missed shot if you're focused on the game. You've got to get back on defense and stop the ball, get the ball back, get down on offense and take the shot again without worrying about whether it will go in or not. The missed shot is one instant in the game. The girl that broke you down and scored on you is one instant in the game. The instant is there and then it's gone. You have to play in the now, in this instant to play your best. If you think too much about the last miss, it either turns into the next miss or you stop shooting. Focus on what you have to do right now and play hard. You won't have the time to lose confidence.

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Do you have any advice for a twenty-something just starting in basketball?
Do you know of any training for us old folks who have never really played
ball before?

We have to start with the basic advice - are you in reasonable aerobic
condition or should you check with your doctor before starting to play
full-court? Basketball is both aerobic and anaerobic - long periods of
constant activity with many sudden bursts of extra effort. You need to
have a basic level of fitness before you start.

Next, learn about the game. Don't watch the NBA or WNBA to learn.
Watch men's and women's games. The commentators really tell you about
the plays and techniques that the players are using. Go to the library
or bookstore and pick up a book. I always recommend Hal Wissel's
Fundamentals of Basketball. This book tells it all and diagrams it for

Most important, get out whenever you can and dribble and shoot. These
are the most basic skills in the game. Pete Maravich has an excellent
series of videos that cover basic and advanced techniques in
ballhandling, dribbling, shooting and passing. Find a league or "Y" to
join in games and play. Be ready to play hard. Basketball is an
intense game. The men and women at the top universities and in the pros
are among the best athletes in the world. This game will get you in the
best shape of your life. Good Luck!

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Revised: February 29, 2000.