Marvin Harvey: Shot Doctor Written by Mario Hicks

Where does the Shot Lab™ information come from? Is it opinion? Is it something that was taught to Marvin Harvey, or is it something that was studied, and founded as factual? We will find out in this blog by Mario Hick who interview Marvin Harvey.

Where does the Shot Lab™ information come from? Is it opinion? Is it something that was taught to Marvin Harvey, or is it something that was studied, and founded as factual? We will find out in this blog by Mario Hick (showed in the photo above), who interview Marvin Harvey.


The world renowned shooting form “Ready-Rhythm-Release” that was created by Marvin Harvey started as a single class assignment. Harvey was attending Ottawa University, located in Ottawa Kansas, where his professor assigned the class a research paper that had to be on the topic of “sports.” The instructor gave out specific requirements for the paper. It had to be done on the basis of a Scientific Method. This meant that the topic had to be searchable, founded principles, teachable, and proof that the thesis works.

After much debate, Harvey landed on the topic of ‘Shooting Form.’ This is something that his German Junior College Coach (JUCO), Fred Pohlman, taught him back in 1976. What Harvey thought at the time were just lessons in being a better player, he later found out that Pohlman created the basis for the perfect shooting form. This revolutionary discovery changed not only Harvey’s life, but also the game of basketball as a whole.

In order to receive a passing grade for the class, Harvey had to find a way to prove his theory worked. He began his research to solve this. It started with his attendance at countless NAIA and NBA games, in Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. This arena was home to the NBA Kansas City Kings, before they moved to Sacramento to become the Sacramento Kings. With an analytical mindset he focused on the differences in what Pohlman taught him, versus what the coaches at the top levels of basketball were teaching their players. Harvey had the opportunity to see the great shooters of that time, in person/read about them, like Pete Maravich, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Jamaal Wilkes, Scott Wedman, and Bob Love. Not only did he take thorough notes on all of these players, he also completed in-depth analysis. After extensive research he was able to compare the differing techniques and from there he was able to see what the perfect components of shooting were  : making the ball go straight, hand positioning, levels of arc, timing, rhythm, balance, and footwork. He then formed his own shooting method: the Ready-Rhythm-Release (3R’s).

In order to prove that his method worked, Harvey did what every big brother would do. He took his two younger brothers and taught them how to shoot. One of his brothers became one of the best stretch-forwards in the college and professional ranks, the other led the nation in scoring at 33 points per game.

It should be noted that Marvin Harvey didn’t start teaching the shot to anyone until he had studied it, experimented with it, and saw that it was profound. Back in college he said something that surprised a female college professor, but has stuck with him till this day, “I would never be so selfish, as to teach someone my way,” for this reason he continued to study and experimented on his theory before teaching it.


To develop his teaching style, Harvey began to research various styles of instruction, like the “B.E.E.F.”. He then did a study on the developmental steps involved in teaching a baby to walk. Then he researched the universal laws of learning, repetition, and the power of creating habits. He went on to build a deep process from simply starting on the inside and building outwards.

To master the shooting success of his research one must first learn to master the movements. “The first muscle you have to train is the brain.” says Harvey.

Harvey programmed each student by way of mirror drills. This involves the student looking in the mirror without a ball, creating muscle memory, and programming the movements in the brain. After that is locked in, Harvey then uses repetition of the new movements, but moved to the court where the students would try to repeat the movements without a basket, it was pantomiming.

He’d also have students shoot at the lines on the floor or at the side of the backboard. Then he would have them start shooting one step away from the basket, but even then he didn’t allow students to make them. He first had them stand one step away and attempt to touch the rim “softly” by driving the finger tips through the ball in the first five spots. This would help program maximum touch and control of the ball. At that point, he would allow them attempts to make the basket. This method is referred to as ‘one-steppers.’ Once a student could make 20/25 shots correctly, Harvey would allow them to take one step back and repeat the process until they were out into the five-stepper area, also known as the three point line. Teaching students in this way would increase muscle memory as they moved further from the basket.


Harvey referred to this as the “Pro-Shot”. He began teaching the “Pro Shot” method to children through trial and error, and through this he learned that thirteen years of age was the youngest age for those participating. He found that those below the age of thirteen struggled in this process due to their lack of strength. Thirteen and those entering high-school were the perfect age because of the time it allowed to work on mechanics.

“Every shot is based on the free-throw form,” as he founded in his research. The steppers allowed mastery of the first three-steppers, which were about fifteen feet away from the basket. From there he added the Pete Maravich footwork for the “catch-and-shoot” portion. In an effort to program the “catch-and-shoot” method he used the same formula except the players would start at the three-stepper and move out as far as they could without losing balance and strength. At which point he added the “shot-off-the-dribble” … adding the footwork he studied and copied from Jerry West for the four and five-steppers to accomplish all phases of the shot.


At the beginning, Harvey’s brothers were the only pieces of proof that the method worked, but that was enough for his thesis. As a part of the presentation, he had to teach it, demonstrate it, and assist the instructors through the process of making a basket. As a result he received an A on his thesis paper, impressed everyone, and with the success of the thesis he was able to write his first book on shooting.

He started teaching Physical Education and Coaching in Olathe, Kansas in 1983, and this allowed him the opportunity to experiment on his techniques. He started his own private training for children who wanted to learn shooting, however, he also found students who were tall and did not learn the shooting-dribbling-passing skills (3-Essentials), because they played the post position. So in 1984 he also developed a “Big-Little” Skills training were he would visit various players homes to train them in their driveways, and he would use the same methods found in his thesis, building the shot from scratch, but added ball handling skills. This was all while he kept studying players, analyzing and comparing his 3R’s theory with college players (Michael Jordan UNC, Christian Laettner Duke, Lynette Woodard KU, who played for USA Basketball, and Jennifer Azzi Stanford).

In 1984, Kansas University coach Kevin Cook, went out to recruit the best shooters in the Kansas and Missouri areas. Cook noticed almost every player he went to recruit seemed to have a similar formula etched in what seemed like every driveway especially in the Kansas areas.

When Cook asked the recruits what it was and why he saw it every home he went to their response was that a “Shooting Coach” came to their homes and trained them. It was the 3R’s formula that Marvin Harvey wrote about in the thesis, and he had started experimenting on the form with local high scholar’s to show that the methodology had proof.


Marvin Harvey, at the time had also met KU’s Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard and had started experimenting with her. After Kevin Cook got a chance to meet Marvin Harvey and watch him work on multiple levels he came up with the mockery “The Shot Doctor”, a title that Marvin Harvey would later file for a patent on. Thus came the term, “Shot Doctor”… a Shooting Teacher that would make house calls to fix “sick-shots”, or build them from scratch. Immediately Harvey became a household name in the four state area.

In 1984 Marvin Harvey became the official shooting coach for the KU Women’s Basketball team, and would eventually leave his mark on kids from the four state area, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma that came to KU women’s and men’s basketball camps. During 1987-1989 he toured the United States with the Lynette Woodard Camps as the Shot Doctor, with a number of NCAA Coaches, including KU Women’s Head Coach Marian Washington, sponsored by Dial Soap. The camps stretched from California to New York, and mostly all the states in between.

By 1991, Marvin Harvey had trained enough players to know how profound his theory was. He experimented on training and coaching a group of 13U girls that he eventually ended up coaching as an AAU team that went from players who could not make the major AAU Club team in Kansas to playing for a National AAU Championship.

Moving forward he and Kevin Cook produced the first Shot Doctor video that sold nationally, breaking down his theory to the simplest form. Gaining popularity as the Shot Doctor trained NBA players and college players at KU and MU during the summers. From 1991-1993 he toured the state of Florida training kids from Pensacola to Miami, still growing and experimenting the theory.

When Kevin Cook went to the WNBA as the Assistant Coach for the 4-Time WNBA Champion Houston Comets, Marvin Harvey was in the background teaching players how to shoot free throws, and included workouts with the best players in the WNBA and worked with John Lucas (NBA Player, Coach, and Player Development Coach), at the Westside Tennis Club, training NBA and male NCAA players.


In 2000 the experiment was finalized. After he had coach one year as an assistant coach at the University of South Alabama, he was hired to transition his first NBA Player, Antonio Lang (Duke), from a post player to a perimeter player. This transitioning coined the phrase, “teaching shooting from the floor up” and Lang went on to finish his career in the NBA and had a celebrated career in Asia, where he lives today and is the Head Coach of a Japan professional league team.

Harvey returned to Orlando, Florida and started another private shooting program. It quickly turned into individual and small group shooting session as the Athletic Director at the Valencia JUCO facility had kids of his own that needed shooting help. Players from the Orlando Magic and different NBA teams came to his sessions, but one player in particular was born during that era; Raja Bell.

At the time Raja had jumped from three NBA teams in what was going to be his fourth season coming up. He would either have to become a shooter or go overseas to play. He was known as a “defensive specialist”, which in the NBA meant, “A player who couldn’t shoot”, but after spending time learning Marvin Harvey’s method, the next year he proved he could shoot the basketball. On August 3, 2005, Bell signed with the Phoenix Suns. Bell responded to the presence of Steve Nash and became an extremely solid contributor. He started in all 79 games he played in, and finished the 2005–06 season averaging 14.7 points per game in 37.5 minutes per game.

From there Marvin Harvey became the Shooting Instructor at Champions Sports Complex owned by Barry Larkin, Dee Brown, and Tony McGee. Both Barry and Dee had younger kids and challenged Harvey’s shooting theory, and insisted that he create an entry level shooting workout that younger kids could learn and then transition when they were strong enough or old enough. This was a great challenge for Harvey as he created two programs that are highly recommended in today’s basketball.

1) The “All Star” (kids age 7-12) shooting form, which was an altered version of the 3R’s. The kid did all the same movements to create power but they “looked over the basketball” instead of “looking under” the ball. He tested the theory out on Dee’s daughter and Shane Larkin, both were very successful. Today, one is in college the other is in the NBA.
2) Having a conversation with Dell Curry about his son Stephen Curry, who at the time shot the ball from his waist and was very good at it. Harvey was keen on the subject by now and told him the ideal time to transition him from the “All Star” to the “Pro” shot was the age of 13, or before he entered high school. “This way he would have four years to make mistakes, miss shots, and master the “Pro Shot”…” Harvey continued,  “there is no high school level shot, there is no college level shot, it’s All Star and Pro.”

Today Harvey teaches these shooting principles around the world, how to start the player out, when to transition, and how to develop their shot.

The next year Tamika Catchings won a Championship in Russia on a team coached by Kevin Cook, and she asked Cook if he knew anyone in the states that could help her transition from the post to the perimeter. Cook made the call to Marvin Harvey, and after an assessment during the NBA All Star week, in Houston, Texas, Catching hired Harvey to transition her game.


In 2008, Marvin Harvey opened the first “Shot Lab™ LLC” in Tampa, Florida. He designed it as a “one-shop-stop” where players could fly into Tampa… the airport was ten minutes from the Lab, downtown was ten minutes, and the mall was in between. The Shot Lab was designed with a weight room, the 40 x 60 floating wood floor, a complete video analyses room, with a players lounge included. Catchings and other WNBA and NBA players were there frequently.

In 2011, Catchings won the WNBA MVP Award, but Harvey and Catchings agreed to tear her shot down and start from scratch, after suffering a foot injury keeping her from going overseas. They worked together strategically for ten (10) months, and by April of 2012 they had put the pieces back together. In the 2012 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever won their first Championship, and Catchings was crowned MVP.

Today the 3R’s is the most recognized shooting form in the world, not because of Marvin Harvey, but because Michael used it, Kobe copied it, and Raja Bell torched the NBA with it.


Many people claim they are shot experts, or Shot Doctors, but not many people have put in as much research, experimenting, or work into mastering the shot like Marvin Harvey. The Scientific Method lays out a process for accessing, assessing, and researching all aspects of a thesis, and over the last thirty five years, thousands of players have benefited from his teachings, mostly over-seas, but in the states, a number of players from the high school to the NBA level have sought the help of this “private-shooting-coach”.

It is safe to say, there is only one real Shot Doctor.

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