DO WHAT YOU PRACTICE – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Tamika Catchings 2011 WNBA MVP

Tamika Catchings 2011 WNBA MVP

As an offensive player sometimes you have to revert back to simply taking what the defense is giving you. You don’t always have to force the issue. The defense is always going to show you some weak points in their game where you can take advantage, and when those points come up you should simply take advantage. If the defense is going to give you the shot you should take that shot and force the defense to come up and play you closer, which will open up other options.
Whenever the defense gives you an option to shoot, you should be confident enough to take the outside shot, the pull up (off the dribble), step back, whatever, if the defense is giving it to you, you should take it. It should be no different than taking a free throw when you are fouled, you shoot the free throw because you have worked on the free throw technique and you are confident.
“Do what you practice” is something that you always hear me say, but what does it mean?
In practice, a pro player works on making shots, doing the pull up off the dribble, the jab step, the step-back, free throws, hundreds and thousands of times a day. So why does it change in a game? The rim is still ten feet high, the dimensions of the court are the same, the only difference is there are players around you, but should that be a reason to speed up, or should it be a reason to slow down, so that you can read the other players on the floor clearly, whether they are on defense or offense?
Most of it is because of one term that has changed skill and player development, “game-speed”. Game speed applies to any part of the game except shooting. You can work on dribbling with two or three basketballs, running full speed up and down the court, jumping over and going around cones as fast as you want. You can work on doing an offense, running around screens, defense, passing-and-cutting, etc. etc. But shooting is an art. It has rhythm. It has timing. It takes hand-eye coordination, and most importantly, it usually comes down to having good “touch” on the ball.
However, and even more importantly, if you are open for a shot what reason do you have to get the shot off quicker, or what need do you have to jump higher when you are already open for the shot? The answer is, you don’t. You simply take what the defense is giving you and that’s the open shot.
So where did this type of teaching come from?
Primarily it came from players who didn’t learn how to shoot when they were younger, or didn’t learn to transition their shots from the elementary shooting form (looking over the ball) to the Pro shot (looking under the ball). For that simple reason, these players have to adhere to this “game-speed” theory, because on the higher levels they will get their shot blocked, so they are taught to get the shot off quicker, have the knees bent early, everything locked and ready to jump into the shot. Then they are taught to do that hundreds and thousands of times, quicker and quicker and in some cases, jump higher and higher.
You can spot these players because they are the players that are in the gym first working on their shot, and getting the shot off quicker, and jumping higher more than anything else that applies to the offensive attack. Very seldom will you see one of these players putting the ball on the floor and going around someone, because there is no time to learn that. They have been taught to practice one thing, and be able to do that one thing well to survive in the game.
However, if you have learned the proper techniques of shooting, you don’t need to speed up your shot. If someone is running at you, because you have “foot work”, and you know that if the defense is running at you, you are NO LONGER an open shooter, AND, you have forced the defense to show their weakness, so you simply go around them. And depending on what the second line of defense is showing you, that gives you the knowledge of what to do next.
If you practice always having your feet in the position to shoot, attack, or jab, during your workouts and when you practice, you simply do the same in the game. You read what the defensive player’s weaknesses are, or what they are giving you, and you respond. After each game you are going to work on new things that happened and add the new things into your practice routine. When you get into the next game, because you have worked on “old and new” things, over and over, they become instinctive, they become a normal response. It becomes “brain off – body on” unless you interfere. Meaning, using that magical term that separates the good players from the great players: “fear of failure”. If you do what you practice there can be no fear, because your work ethic in practice eliminates fear.

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