Basketball Shooting Progression
I have a five-stage shooting progression that I like to use at my one-on-one lessons, youth clinics, camps, and even pre-game warmups. I’ll even use it when I’m trying to evaluate the stage a player is as a shooter.
1. Stage 1 is learning the correct fundamentals of holding the ball, getting squared up to the goal, and then delivering the shot with a perfect follow through – no pressure, no movement – just shooting the ball from 2-3 feet using perfect form. The main drills that we use in this stage are simply shoot 3 swishes in a row at 2-3 feet, and then back up a step. For older players, we might even use one hand.
2. Stage 2 starts using lots of repetition and we normally start with “off the catch” shots. Again, there’s no pressure and no movement and I emphasize the fundamentals from stage one. These shots are taken at about 12-15 feet from the goal and we concentrate on having our shooting hands ready to catch the ball, and we work on catching the ball with our feet in the air.
We work on catch and shoot in a rhythm with one shooter and one passer for 10 shots, then changing roles. Then, repeat with players picking up off the dribble 10 times in a row going both left and right.
3. Stage 3 involves moving at game speed but still no defense or pressure. We work on game cuts at game speeds for game shots. I want 10 game-like cuts and shots for each cut that the shooter makes in our offense. This includes cuts off flare screens, curls, popups, or whatever terms or cuts you use in your program, and we try and mix up shooting off the catch and shooting off the dribble.
The focus here is finding your range and knowing what good shots are – ones that you can hit 6 out 10 times in practice. We also can find out which shots the player needs to work on to elevate his game.
In the summer we focus on taking shots that we’ll need to be taking for the upcoming season, and during the season our focus is practicing the shots that we will be taking in games.
4. Stage 4 is shooting with pressure produced by time, performance goals, one defender, or a combination of two or more of these things. This stage is important because it allows us to track the percentage our players can shoot, which helps them understand which shots are appropriate to take in games (based on their execution in practice). During the summer, keeping statistics on a workout sheet is vital because it provides motivation, helps you see how you’re improving, and helps prevent the boredom of just going through drills.
5. Stage 5 is being able to apply the fundamentals at game speed and in a 5 on 5 scrimmage. Players must be able to execute shooting the “right” shots using the fundamentals we work on every day in practice. Stages 1 to 4 mean nothing if there is no carryover to games.
I like to run through stages 1-4 for at each individual workout – whether during the off-season or during the individual development stage of our practice. Stage 5 typically takes place in scrimmages or during the 5/5 time at practice.
In short, I want my players to understand how this progression goes, what its purpose is, which stages they;re at, where they should be, and which ones they must improve on. It’s a good way to keep track and improve.