Maintain Your Shooting Touch In Only Three Minutes
Many dedicated athletes work hard during the off-season to develop their shooting skill. But the physical law of “use it or lose it” – “slippage” – is a major dilemma with the time commitments of Fall sports. Michael Jordan once stated that he needed to practice shooting every day – an hour after practice DURING the season – just to maintain his touch. So what’s the answer to the “slippage dilemma”?
Problem Solved With Microwave Popcorn
Maintaining your shooting touch involves making sure the ball comes off the hand in perfect balance. For this to happen, the middle finger (last finger to touch the ball) needs to be directly under the middle of the ball after moving in a vertical plane. Here’s a drill that involves shooting air shots that will help develop and maintain this skill and, it only takes three minutes – the time it takes to pop microwave popcorn.
Begin by positioning your shooting foot (your right foot if you are right handed) heel to toe on a line that is about 15 to 20 feet long. When working outside, lay down 1” blue painters tape on your driveway or sidewalk.
Position your two shooting fingers (index and middle) on the ball while referencing the valve stem in one of three ways – a) straddle it, b) index finger on the valve stem, or 3) middle finger on the valve stem. Choose the one that feels most comfortable. One of these produces the best Left/Right accuracy. If you have further questions about finger placement, contact us.
With your body flexed at the knees and waist and the ball positioned out in front of the shoulder, flex the wrist backward as far as possible – so “wrinkles in your wrist” are evident. Keeping the wrist fully flexed WHENEVER the ball is in your hands creates a quick release.
With your shooting elbow and middle of the ball directly above the line, execute air shots in groups of 10 throughout the entire 3 minutes. Your goal is have the ball strike the line a minimum of 7 out of 10 attempts.
This next step is critical. You need to make sure the two shooting fingers move in a vertical plane during the release. This produces the BEST Left/Right accuracy. To check this, STARE at the “fingernail” of your index finger BEFORE the release and then look at the “pad” of the index finger immediately AFTER. The finger should have moved in a vertical plane. It’s only necessary to watch one finger because the middle finger does the same thing. At the last moment, move your eyes to the ball and to see if it lands on the line.
Lastly, feel the control and force on the ball coming from the inner half of the hand – as if the 4th and 5th fingers were missing. This keeps fingers 4 and 5 from pushing on the side of the ball.
What makes this drill so good is that it not only improves the release, it also makes all the force during the shooting motion to move straight up – perfect balance. If you lean to the side, the ball doesn’t land on the line.