Just about all good shooters go through some type of shooting slump at one point or another and the younger you are (less shooting experience) the more often these slumps take place. Below are 5 things to consider the next time you feel a shooting slump coming on.
Are you're sure you're even in a shooting slump?
Missing a few shots is not a shooting slump and shouldn't always be a major cause for concern. For the last 17 years Ray Allen has been considered by many to be the best perimeter shooter in the NBA. (Of course since the NBA is arguably the best of the best in terms of talent and competition, if you're the best in the NBA then you're probably the best in the world!)
What shooting percentage does the best shooter in the world possess? Ray Allen shoots 45% overall and 40% from behind the 3 point line. That means for every 10 shots that Ray Allen attempts he misses more than half of them. And he's the best!
It always cracks me up when I'm playing in a pickup game and some guy completely loses his cool because he's missed a couple shots. I'm usually thinking to myself, "Dude, from what I've seen, you're a 25% life time shooter at best! How can you be shocked or upset when you miss? You should be used to it by now. You're not in a slump - you're just a really bad shooter!"
So let me ask you this as tactfully as possible - are you sure you're in a shooting slump?
Don't hesitate, don't think, don't aim, - just shoot the ball!
Now I'm certainly not telling you to force bad shots or to take shots of any kind if you're not wide open. What I am saying is that if you are open and it's a shot that you usually make more often than you miss, then shoot it! That's part of your job. Part of your coach's job is to decide when you have missed enough shots and he will definitely either tell you when that time comes or he will sub you out.
Too many players try to do their coaches' jobs for them and constantly ask themselves "Should I shoot it or shouldn't I?" Even the slightest hesitation or lack of confidence is enough to throw off your shooting mechanics and cause you to miss the shot. If you must think anything then think "Net," or "Swish," or some other confidence building trigger word.
Review your mechanics.
If you are normally a good shooter who is having trouble putting the ball in the basket then take a good, hard look at the mechanics of your shot. Is your shooting shoulder properly aligned with the target? Are you getting enough lift on your shot and shooting up and not out? Are you holding your follow through and pointing your index finger directly at the center of the rim?
If you're not sure then film yourself during a game, practice, or individual workout and compare your mechanics to previous videos of you shooting well. If you need more instruction on proper shooting mechanics then check out the many videos and eBooks available in the HoopSkills Store.
Shot selection and location.
Taking shots that aren't suited to your skill set can put you neck deep in a shooting slump quicker than you can imagine. You should only be taking shots in a game that you can routinely make at least 60-70% of the time when you are unguarded.
Hubie Brown says that all shooters have one great shooting area, one average shooting area, and one below average shooting area. Chart your games and shooting workouts to determine your own three shooting areas and then make sure you are only shooting shots from where you can make them.
Many players find themselves in shooting slumps primarily because they are taking too many attempts if their below average area. As soon as they eliminate those shots their shooting percentage gets back up to normal.
Practice, practice, practice!
Wishing that you will start shooting better is not going to make it happen. There are many shooters who need to shoot every day in order to stay sharp. However, shooting segments are often eliminated from practices as coaches try to create more time to prepare for upcoming opponents.
Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and Ray Allen are all as famous for their work ethic as they are for their jump shots and shot hundreds of shots every day even in the later stages of their career. Most people really have no idea how much time they spent on the court getting shots up. They think these players were somehow just gifted with amazing shooting skills and that's not the case at all. These players spend countless hours shooting to perfect their craft. There are no shortcuts.