ELBOW IN: DOES IT MATTER?
From the day we pick up a basketball, we're told by coaches to keep our elbow in when we shoot. However, in spite of this, I would say 90+% of players shoot with their elbow sticking out. Furthermore, some of the greatest shooters ever shot with a chicken wing. So...does it really matter?
YES. Coaches wouldn't stress this if it wasn't important! Can you be a GREAT shooter with your elbow out? OF COURSE! You can make shots backwards or underhanded if you practice enough. But if you're shooting with a chicken wing, you're making shooting MUCH harder than it needs to be. Why put yourself at a disadvantage from the start? I trained my forearm to remain completely vertical when I shoot, with my elbow DIRECTLY under the ball. There's a reason this works! If your elbow is tucked in, all you have to do is LIFT & EXTEND straight up to release & shoot a straight shot. I NEVER miss a shot left or right. It's not because I'm just naturally good, believe me. Becoming good at anything takes countless hours and repetitions. it's just because I understand the MECHANICS of the task I'm trying to execute. If your arm is crooked (LeBron is just used as an example here), you are far more prone to LEFT/RIGHT misses because you have poor alignment. If you could eliminate left & right misses, you'd instantly become a much better shooter. A STRAIGHT shooter is a GREAT shooter.
The problem with shooting in today's age is that there is a constant ongoing battle between the "do it right" approach, and the "do what's comfortable for you" approach. Why is it that we're told to step out of our comfort zone so often in life, yet when we're trying to learn a skill for which there is a CLEAR, well known blueprint on how to succeed, some people tell us to simply do what's comfortable? Shooting with your elbow in is NOT comfortable OR natural. AT FIRST. Just like with any goal you're pursuing in life, you must face & overcome discomfort to get from where you ARE to where you want to BE. If you can put up with a few hundred reps of shooting the OPTIMAL way, your body will start to recognize and accept what you're trying to do, and then REMEMBER it.