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Archive for the ‘shooting’ Category

A Shot That Goes In and Then Comes Out

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 17, 2016

Basket Interruptus is the Latin term for the shot that for all the world looks like it is going to be counted as two points, or three, but rattles an almost interminable number of times inside the rim and then pops out. So disappointing; so deflating.

Since the beginning of time, I have been telling players at our weekend camps and our http://nevertoolate.com
and in one-on-one sessions when the ball goes halfway down and then comes out that it is because they didn’t hold their follow-through. Seriously, if the ball comes that close to staying in but decides to come out what other little thing could have convinced it to finish the job? Some extra backspin to pull the ball down off the rim for sure; some extra backspin that came from some extra follow-through. Hopefully your two or three points will never be interrupted again.

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“Nice Touch!”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 17, 2016

The ball dances on the rim, three, four bounces, maybe even a little bump on the backboard, all soft as a shower in a five-star hotel, and then drops, nestles in, really, through the hoop. Someone on the court, the poet, the evangelist, the self-anointed coach on the floor, says what should be said: “nice touch”. This makes the shooter feel good.

At our NTL Weekend Camps and at our NYC and NTL Weekly Practice Program clinics, we talk about shooting a lot and when we talk about shooting one of the things we emphasize is the follow-through, the act of your hand staying with the ball as long as possible, as intentionally as possible (see hand in cookie jar; see goose neck in photo below).follow-through

One of the other things we say is: when the ball is on the rim, it knows where it came from, it knows what the quality of the last contact was. Did the hand flick it, let it go without care, hard like a hammer throw, hoping the ball will go in? The opposite of “nice touch” is “brick”. You don’t want brick. There is a connection between you and the ball. Keep that feeling between you and it as long as you can and when the ball is still on the rim, bouncing, deciding its fate, and your hand is still high in the air, following through, saying to the ball “I’m still with you!”, it will have a much better chance of rewarding you with another two or three points and the glory of all the players on the floor knowing that you are in possession of “nice touch”!

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50 Little (Big) Tips (7th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 5, 2015

1. When going left, dribble lefty. When going right, dribble righty. When you don’t know where you are going, don’t dribble at all.

2. You are playing a league game or a game where there’s a ref or somebody who is going to impose rules. It’s your team’s ball, side-out in the front court. Pass the ball to a teammate in the backcourt. (You can throw the ball into the backcourt from anywhere and it is not a backcourt violation. Just don’t touch it till you get both feet in the backcourt!) The pass to the backcourt eliminates the danger of a) catching in the front court near the half court line and stepping on the line and getting a totally demoralizing backcourt violation and b) getting trapped by a defender and the sideline/backcourt corner.

3. The first overnight basketball camp I ever went to was Friendship Farm run by Jack Donahue, the great Lew Alcindor’s (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) high school coach. The camp was heaven on earth; all basketball all-the-time. Great high school players and great high school and college coaches. (Bobby Knight came in on day and nearly killed us with defensive drills.) One day during a break, Warren Isaacs, all-time Iona College great and long-time big-time pro in Italy, pulled me aside to work on my hook shot. At one point, Coach Donahue walked by and muttered, “you’re only as good as your running hook”. Whatever Coach Donahue said, I took as gospel. You should too.

4. When you play a game of one-on-one, vary the rules. Don’t always start at the top of the key, don’t always leave the rules open ended. Some ideas: a) top of the key but one dribble maximum; b) start on one or the other low post areas, back to the basket, and go three dribbles maximum (anything more is grammar school ball); c) start in the corner or the wing; d) play one-on-one full court; e) ball handler starts at 1/2 court with a live dribble, defense starts at the top of the key. What game do you want to play?

5. Unless you are dunking the ball or dropping the ball down into the hoop, use the backboard to finish layups, especially breakaway layups. Angle out on the last step if you are coming down the middle (easy to do) and finish around the rim, not over the rim. Over the rim (meaning straight into the hoop) without using the backboard can result in the ball rolling off the rim and out. So depressing. I cannot tell you home many times I have seen heads hung after the ball rolls off the rim and out on “all alone layups – even in the pros! Take the rim out of the equation. Ball + backboard = 2 points.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, post play, rebounding, rules, shooting, team offense, without the ball | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (6th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on September 14, 2015

1. As in any thrown ball, if your hand goes to the outside of the ball, the ball will curve. In basketball, pretty much the only time you throw a “baseball pass” is when you hit a teammate who has gone ahead of all the defense and you are throwing a 70′-90′ pass. If you throw it with your hand rotating around the outside of the ball, it will curve away and not hit your target. Instead – and this is absolutely beautiful, try it! – finish with your thumb down, your hand coming under the ball rather than around the side. This gives it a smooth backspin rotation, just like on your jumper, which we know, always hits it target!

2. When Tom Thibodeau (NBA Coach of the Year, 2010-11) and I coached together for four years at Harvard, we played a ton of pickup games together. During those games, he talked a lot, some of it smack but a lot of it just random basketball stuff. One thing he used to say was “never catch a deflected pass”. You know: someone throws you a pass and a defender deflects it. Don’t know where Thibs picked this up (it sure sounded like he was parroting something he had heard) but it makes sense in that one is likely to misjudge the flight of the ball and it will deflect off you and out of bounds.

3. When Robert Parish got traded to the Celtics in 1980, he was a four year veteran with plenty of skills. Playing with Larry Bird over the next decade, he added many more. Bird used to outlet the ball 3/4 court left-handed. He’d rebound on the right side of the rim, turn over his right shoulder and looking up court, use the hand that was away from the middle (where defense tends to be) and the hand that he could outlet quicker with, his left. Three years later, Robert Parish was outletting lefty too. If an NBA veteran can pick up a skill like that, so can you.

4. When you run the break, you run wide, right? But don’t run wide all the way to the baseline or corner (unless you are spotting up for an NBA style three pointer in the corner, the NBA’s favorite shot). Instead, hesitate when you are wide but even with the top of the key, and then angle in so you come to the hoop above the block. (I got this from Rick Pitino when he was at Providence College many years ago.) This angle allows you to A) catch and use your body to protect and finish on a layup; B) gives you the angle where you can use the backboard (rather than on a baseline drive where it’s just rim) and C) hit a teammate with a bounce pass angling in from the opposite wing. (Defense is between you and the hoop thus giving you a window to make the pass through the lane; couldn’t do that if you were coming in from the corner!) Again: angle in above the block, please. You will never regret it.

5. Similar to the efficiency of the lefthand outlet, after rebounding and deciding you are going to dribble the ball up rather than outletting with a pass (a la Magic Johnson), take the first dribble with the inside hand, the hand that will allow you to stretch the ball up court quickest. On the right side of the court, that would mean your left hand. On the left side, your right hand. If you are not outletting, you better get moving and using a long inside hand dribble is the best way to start your speed dribble up court!

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, rebounding, shooting | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (5th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on July 22, 2015

IMG_24331. After feeding the post yell “double”. This is fundamental, as fundamental as the “Mikan Drill”. Why yell double? The player guarding you invariably goes to bother the receiving post player. One of the first (fundamental) things the post player does is turn and look middle. The post player cannot look middle AND see your player who has vacated you to double down. Help out your teammate in the post by yelling “double”!

2. Let the post player get position before you feed the post. Not doing so more often than not results in a deflection (almost as bad as a steal). Posting up means, posting up by definition is, getting the defense on your back so you can manipulate and hold off defense so that the post player can receive the ball cleanly. It’s offense: be patient!

3. Make your left as good as your right, practice lefty (or off-hand) jumpers to better understand form. Of course we don’t mean become an ambidextrous jump shooter; gauche. But there is a reason that all great shooters are, informally, like during games of H-O-R-S-E or just in goofing around, very good off-hand jump shooters. They understand form so well that they can apply it both to their off-hand and to their strong hand. (My record in shooting 18′ jumpers alternating left hand and right hand every shot is 20 in a row. What’s yours? Try it! And then try it again and again; you’ll figure it out and become a better shooter overall.)

4. Shoot for swishes (“Swish Game”). Fred Hodson of Jonesboro, IN, NTL’s famed Shot Surgeon at our Weekend Camps (he slices open, takes apart and slowly stitches back together your shot – no pain killers) says “shrink your target”. In other words, don’t just shoot to get the ball in the hoop; shoot it to get it in a particular part of the hoop. There’s a game, comes by many names that is helpful. The “Swish Game” goes like this (it can be done from anywhere): you take two from the FT line. If you miss, it’s minus one; if you make a perfect swish (no rim at all), you get plus one; if you make but hit the rim, you get zero for that shot. Then your partner (opponent) does the same, takes two. Play to plus six or to any number you want. Making shots will all of a sudden become a by-product of shooting.

5. Aim for the bottom corner of the backboard when feeding a post player who is being fronted. I got this from Tom Thibodeau when we were coaching together at Harvard and we’d play pick up or summer league games. I’d have it on the wing; he’d be posting up. I would situate myself so that Thibs would be between me and the hoop. If he was fronted, he’d keep the defender there and tell me to throw the ball up to the corner of the backboard. This would keep the ball out of the middle of the lane where hep might be coming but also allow him (the post player) to pull it in, get footwork down and score in the lane.

Posted in beautiful basketball, general improvement, notes: college & pro, post play, shooting, without the ball | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (3rd in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 12, 2015

Week Three

1. Practice like a pro (http://video.sfgate.com/Stephen-Curry-and-the-Art-of-Dribbling-28411894)

2. Practice “toes to the corner” – shoulder pointing in toward the hoop to protect the ball – finishes (or as I used to hear Rick Pitino say, “put ’em in jail!”)

3. Engage in games, competition: H-O-R-S-E, Streak, Knockout, especially One-on-One (competition is good for basketball development)

4. Play “chest up, high hand” defense (heard Bo Ryan, U of Wisconsin head coach, say this recently)

5. Always run wide on the break (I remember watching Karl Malone run so wide on the break when John Stockton was pushing it up that it looked like Malone was out of bounds or going to run on top of the scorers’ table.)

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, post play, shooting | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (2nd in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 25, 2015

Week Two

First Tip: Layups 12 Different Ways

In games, layups present themselves in a variety of ways; it’s not always the classic “right knee up on a righty layup”, “lefty knee up on a lefty layup”. Here are 12 ways to shoot a layup:

1) right knee up righty layup (the classic);

2) left knee up on a lefty layup (the opposite hand classic);

3) right hand, “wrong foot”

4) left hand, “wrong foot”

5) “Power Layup”; off two feet (right side)

6) “Power Layup”; off two feet (left side)

7) lefty dribble, righty layup

8) righty dribble, lefty layup

9) righty finish left side of hoop (back turned to the middle)

10) lefty finish right side of hoop (back turned to the middle)

11) EuroStep right side

12) EuroStep left side

Second Tip: Alternating Hands Dribble when speed dribbling

When needing to cover a long distance, maybe after a steal or long rebound, and you have no one ahead of you and you want to finish the trip and the play as fast as possible, use the alternating hands dribble technique. Don’t cross the ball over, extend your arm and put the ball down in front of the other hand. 3-4 dribbles and you should be able to cover a full high school (84′) or NBA/NCAA (94′) court.

Third Tip: Sikma Move

Named after NBA legend, Jack Sikma. Also known as “inside pivot”.

Fourth Tip: Use defensive fakes

Especially important when defending a 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 fast break or when helping against penetration on defense and you want to make the dribbler pick up his/her dribble without fully committing to the dribbler.

Fifth Tip: Screening the low side of a defender in a ball screen

Many defensive players, especially in pick-up games or recreational league games react to a ball screen by trying to go under the screen. If so, screen on the low side of that defender so it is even harder for that defender to get under the screen. This will drop the defender so far under that the ball handler who you are screening for will be free for a wide open, undefended shot.

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, defense, fast break, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, post play, shooting, without the ball | Leave a Comment »

50 Little (Big) Tips (1st of 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 23, 2015

In our Boston NTL Weekly Practice Programs, we are running a clinic during the winter term called “50 Little (Big) Tips & Scrimmage”. The idea is to present 5 “tips’ each week for the ten week duration that don’t usually get talked about, tips that heeded and added up can make you a much better basketball player. We introduce and demonstrate and practice them and look long and hard for players to implement them during the practice-ending scrimmage.

Week One

1. Weakside offensive rebounding on shots taken from the corner:

Missed shots taken from the corner go long 2/3rds of the time. Since defense positions themselves between the ball and you, pin them underneath the basket and take those 2/3rds of the time misses as they go long.

2. Whenever you have the ball and you see the back of a defender’s head, pass to the person that is being face guarded. It’s 2 points and an assist for you.

3. “Fake a pass to make a pass.” Can’t get the ball to where you want to pass it? Fake a pass to get the defense to step off and then make the pass where you originally intended.

4. Offensive rebound by predicting where the rebound is going by watching the flight of the ball and then move to that spot. (Where the ball hits on the rim will determine where the ball will go. Practice it. Get good at it. Go get the ball like Dennis Rodman. “The ability to read the ball in flight and predict where it is going.”)

5. Attack the defender’s top foot. Defender’s right foot is up? Attack it by going to your left. Defender’s left foot up? Attack it by going to your right. Having that foot up makes the defender crossover step, a slower move, and a move that puts them a step behind you.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, general improvement, notes: college & pro, passing, rebounding, shooting, without the ball | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ode to the Free Throw by Phish, “The Line”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 11, 2015

“Every shot I’ve taken, has led me to this moment since I was four feet high.”

Awesome.

Dry mouth push it out I can hear my heart pound,
A hero’s what I’m not.
Voices scream, flashes flare, frozen as the people stare,
My crucifixion shot.

Friends were electric on the western side,
While triangles were shifting on the floor.
Squeezing out the breath that I don’t have,
The quiet now they only want two more.

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

Every shot I’ve taken, has led me to this moment since I was four feet high.
Big Dee is watching I remember what he taught me: “Don’t let them see you cry.”

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

You try to see your future from the line.
You’re clinging to the notion you’ll be fine.
But the circle’s getting smaller all the time.

Dry mouth push it out I can hear my heart pound,
A hero’s what I’m not.
Voices scream, flashes flare, frozen as the people stare,
My crucifixion shot.

And you step to the line.
And you step to the line.

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Mastering the Free Throw

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 5, 2015

 

MASTERING THE FREE THROW

DEVELOP TECHNIQUE

The simpler the better. The more complicated your shot is, the more movement there is, the harder it is to duplicate over and over, especially in pressure situations. Develop a short stroke.

See the target.

Shoot straight.

  • Give Yourself a Reason to Trust the Technique

Know what works.

Prove it many times.

  • Trust Technique

Once you’ve proven it, you no longer have to worry about missing. All you have to do is apply the technique.

  • Practice alone
  • Practice with someone
  • Practice

THE BEST TECHNIQUE

  • 1) Feet form a wide base. Feet set. Knees bent. Big toe that is on the foot that is the same as your shooting arm (right foot/right hand) on the nail hole at the middle of the FT line
  • 2) Set your shot. Ball set. Forearm straight up and down if possible.

Take a good look at the rim. (Never rush. Players who shoot quickly are players who are afraid of missing.)

  • 3) Stand and extend. (Simplicity.)
  • My mantra: “Start straight, finish straight.” (Elbow in at finish.) Start straight means shooting forearm as straight as the walls around you.
  • Imagine the shot. Imagine what it takes from legs and extension to not be short. Never be short.
  • Take a good look at the rim. (As Al McGuire used to say: “the answer is in the eyes”.) This helps you figure out range. Don’t get mesmerized and woozy looking at it; just figure the distance and say hello to the rim.
  • Follow through at the rim, directly straight at the rim. Good follow-through will give you good rotation.
  • Stay with the shot. Pose. (Think Christian Laettner.)

GAME SITUATIONS

  • You always want to be relaxed and apply your technique. You go to the line in the middle of a game and you should think of nothing but applying your technique, the technique you trust. You apply the technique, you make the shot.
  • In game deciding situations, you never want to think about missing. If you think about missing, you miss. Instead, think about applying the technique you trust. Don’t say to yourself, “can I make this?” Instead say, “can I apply the technique I trust?” The answer, of course, is “yes!” You’ve done it hundreds and thousands of times.
  • And that is why you need to develop a technique, a method that is simple and easy to duplicate. Start straight. Short stroke. Finish straight over the rim.
  • Practice.
  • Practice.
  • Practice under pressure, even if it’s make-believe pressure.

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