I went a little John Madden on Ashley and Delilah’s shot checks. (If you don’t know who John Madden is, please ask your dad.) I do like what I see with Ashley’s shooting progress. The first set of photos shows where Ashley, grade 6, was in during this past March. This diagonal, direct shot at the basket and jumping forward after pushing the ball from the hips/chest is the #1 flaw for girls. Second, you can see in shot #3 is how the guide hand flicks the ball – the thumb flicks it at the last second – and works against the right hand, which is the hand that does most of the work. Ashley, like Jamal, is a point guard and they both are scrappy, hard-working players who are eager to shoot (point guards don’t often get a lot of looks) and in turn, they often lunge toward the ball a bit because like all true point guards, they want the ball back in their hands fast.
What is great about the next set of photos is how much more vertical body control Ashley is showing in these shots, taken last week. Shots #4 and #8 are almost perfect. The irony in shot #4 is that Maggy (circled in green) is actually in a much better stance with her butt behind her and her knees more over her ankles than she was in the photos taken and posted earlier. But Maggy’s head is a little too far back. Getting back to Ashley, the stance is a big part of this issue – as it is for Delilah and for Maggy, as evident by the imbalance in #5 and how the knees jut forward instead of butt going back in #6 and #7. Second, I see that guide hand thumb sneaking into the scene, mostly after Ashley moves her head around the ball – we’ll see this next. I think #8 would have been perfect and a beautiful shot of a pretty shot if it weren’t for that sneaky guide hand thumb. But 8 is looking very, very good …
Now let’s look at the root of the problem – the preparation (there is very little evidence of the shooter being in a squatted position before she gets the ball – the “seat”). What ends up happening is the catching, then setting the ball on or around the shoulder in a very methodical fashion – Mag and D have this issue, too – and in Ashley’s case, her left hand is crossing the line down the center of her body, which leads to the movement of the head and then the right elbow moves even further out. Ashley should focus on getting in the seat BEFORE she catches the ball, then check the mirror to see that the ball covers the right eye and the edge splits the forehead (red line). The guide hand does not cross that vertical line. When you’re not ready to shoot, typically shooters catch the ball with some nerves, then they jump forward (as evident in the game shot on the right). It’s important for Ashley to develop a comfortable (not too deep – Maggy sometimes goes too deep), nose-0ver-toes, be able to touch the knees with finger tips and line everything up on the right without the left/guide hand crossing the middle line so that the head stays still.
We are going to implement a series of drills in practice that deal with reoccurring shooting issues as soon as the gyms open after Labor Day. Until then, review these notes carefully, take one correction at a time, and stay close range as you record your reps, reps and more reps during quality “Shoot & Swim” time at the end of summer.