Feet, Finish & Faith: A Simplified Guide to Shooting

By John Leonzo

May 6, 2014 - Miami, FL, USA - Miami Heat guard Ray Allen shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson during the second quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Credit Image: � Michael Laughlin/TNS/ZUMAPRESS.com)

After recently hearing Kevin Eastman speak, I have been challenged to simplify the way that I teach some of the most fundamental basketball skills. Coach Eastman had stated that he has broken down every skill in the game into 3 bullet points for teaching, and I challenged myself to do the same thing. The 3 bullet points that I came up with for teaching shooting are 1. Feet, 2. Finish, and 3. Faith. I believe that simple is powerful. A great coach does not need to hold a 45 minute clinic every time they provide a correction, but rather they are able to provide a concise, yet powerful point each time they correct a player.

The feet are the foundation of the shot. I do not get caught up too much on what direction the feet are pointed, provided that they are generally directed towards the basket. However, I do spend a lot of time emphasizing rhythm and balance, which both are established with the feet and are cornerstones to an effective jump shot. Good feet lead to good balance, and good balance leads to a consistent and repeatable shooting form.

Feet

  • Comfortable and consistent stance
    • Some players prefer a stance that is more narrow, and others prefer a stance that is wider. I believe that a player should chose whatever stance is comfortable for them, provided that their stance does not impede their balance or power. The ideal stance for a player is to have the feet directly under their hips, allowing for proper balance through the shot while also seamlessly allowing the power to transfer from the lower body to the upper body.
  • Push from both legs
    • It is pretty simple to see why this effects balance so much. If you push primarily off one leg or the other, their is a weight transfer that occurs in the body and can cause the shooter to lean or float one way or the other. Pushing both legs into the ground allows for the shooter to go straight up into the air consistently.
  • Same spot landing
    • When a player does not land on the same spot that they jumped from, it becomes very hard to control the jump shot. Obviously the best players in the world (Durant, James, Dirk, Etc.) are an exception to this rule. They have mastered the art of body control and still do retain some measure of balance even on their fall-away shots. Same spot landing can correct many of the common errors that result in missed shots. Most shots that are missed short are caused by jumping backwards. Most shots that miss long are the result of jumping forward. Most shots that miss left or right are caused by a twisting rotation of the lower body and hips during the shot. The same spot landing corrects many of these issues.

Finish

  • Elbow higher than shoulder
    • For the longest time I used the phrase “elbow to eyebrow” when teaching the follow-through of a jump shot. What I had found was that using the terminology actually caused players to pull their shooting arm across their face in front of the eyebrow. While the intent of the phrase is only for the elbow to be at the height level of the eyebrow, many players had a habit of literally pulling their arm in that direction, either consciously or subconsciously. The term “elbow above shoulder” was introduced to me by Phil Beckner and I have taken it and ran with it since. I like this term better because the focus is still on a high elbow, and the players have a better picture of what I am trying to communicate. I do not get bent out of shape if the elbow is not perfectly aligned with the rim, because the primary focus of the elbow is to provide lift and arc, rather than to aim and direct.
  • Pointer finger in the net
    • I try hard to use the word “net” over “rim” in my workouts because I feel that it is important that the players are hearing and focusing on what they want to get. If the player has a proper grip, as long as the pointer finger is pointed at the net during the release of the ball, the shot will go straight. I always say that “straight shots are great shots”, because once the shot is consistently straight, the rest is easy to correct. The elbow provides the arc, and the finger provides the direction. One easy tip to get players to release the ball off their index finger is to encourage them to “push their finger into the ball on the catch”. I have had great results with this.
  • Balance hand up
    • One error that many players make is dropping their balance hand prior to the release of the ball. This motion alters the balance of the shot because there is a slight weight transfer that occurs from the shooting side of the body to the non-shooting side of the body as the balance hand drops. The balance hand should be raised up high with the shooting hand as the shot is released.

Faith

  • I have never seen a good shooter that thinks they will miss when they shoot. Great shooter believe 100% that each shot the take is a make. Plain and simple.

Here is a video that I created breaking down the feet, finish and faith method of shooting. For more videos like this, please visit my website: leonzobasketball.com.

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John Leonzo

John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.
John Leonzo

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May 6, 2014 – Miami, FL, USA – Miami Heat guard Ray Allen shoots over Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson during the second quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Credit Image: � Michael Laughlin/TNS/ZUMAPRESS.com)
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