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1. Welcome from the Coach
A parent/coach who just ordered my Swish videos told me of his son's coach and how he restricts his boys from shooting:
"His 5th grade coach has restrictions and only certain areas of the court that they are allowed to shoot from (inside 15 feet all around). They get benched or even threats of game suspensions if they violate the rule. Not FUN!"
As the man further wrote: "It's important for youth coaches to encourage shooting for everyone from all around the basket (up to reasonable range), encourage taking the risk of shooting, encourage failure as a learning tool, to understand that taking ill-advised shots is a learning experience as well."
Wow, a 10 year old being threatened with being benched or even suspended for shooting from the "wrong" spots. This is another example of the very damaging and destructive coaching that is happening to youth around the country. I mentioned a couple Newsletters ago the boy who was told never to shoot during the Playoffs or he'd get pulled. What do you think that did for his self-image? Did it make him "tougher" to be so treated? I doubt it. Another season of such treatment will probably lead to him quitting the game.
On a recent trip to New England for clinics, I met an amazing resource on the subject of Youth Sports by the name of Bob Bigelow. Bob lives in Winchester, Mass, and has been spending a lot of time the last 15-20 years speaking and writing about the subject of Youth Sports. He gives talks and clinics, stressing the need to, as his latest books states it, "Just Let the Kids Play!" He has studied and researched the subject upside down and backwards, and is doing his best to change the way sports are taught to our younger kids.
I recommend the book to all coaches and parents. He has strong opinions, and the research to back them up, as to when select teams are best introduced, about the height of baskets for different age groups, and many other aspects of Youth Sports. The book will illuminate you as to what's happening ... and to possible solutions. Bob may be available to come to your area to speak to coaches and parents, as well as do clinics for kids. He's spoken to companies like Nike about this and is offering specific proposals to help change the direction of youth sports.
I've been mentioning the Positive Coaching Alliance out of Stanford/ a group that's focused on the same subject and has a network of coaches all over the country. Bob mentions them in his book with great admiration. Bob seems to know just about everyone in basketball on the East Coast and much of the country (he played in the NBA for four years), and I hope some powerful sports organization sees to appoint him the "Czar" of Youth Sports and gives him the support and funding he needs to truly lead and inspire change. Far too many kids are having their sports futures crushed by coaches who feel winning is the most important (or only) thing.
Getting cut from an "elite" or
"select" team at a young age can be a devastating experience,
and Bob quotes the statistics of kids quitting teams and sports
because of such abuse. At a time when sports can take them on
a powerful journey of self-discovery, challenge, opportunity,
self image, teamwork, the value of hard work, etc., way way too
many are quitting sports. That is unbelievably tragic for those
kids self esteem and future. God speed, Bob!
After a recent set of clinics, my top Coach-in-Training, Ernest Johnson, from D.C. and I were talking about the value of Feedback. I've been taught by my mentors that physical learning occurs from in-the-moment "awareness of experience" much more than from being told what to do or reading about it or even seeing it. When you can FEEL something, like the difference between a tight wrist and hand and a relaxed wrist and hand, that feeling (experience) will teach you about wrist-hand tension and how effective or ineffective it is. The "idea or concept" of something is superseded by the "experience" of it, and a much deeper learning can occur.
As we were talking about feedback, Ernest got into one of his frequent crazy and spontaneous moments and started yelling into the phone, "Feed me, Feed me, Feed me, I'm hungry, Feed me, I need feedback!" That gave me the idea of an "Awareness Monster" needing to be "fed" with feedback. It's like the Cookie Monster demanding cookies, this vision of a wild and crazy pretend monster that is after us to be fed. "Me want Feedback!!!" I think this analogy will be fun for kids: Feed the Awareness Monster!
FEEDBACK IS CRITICAL TO LEARNING
A phrase that describes the effect of this goes something like this: "The experience with high awareness of one shot can teach you more than taking 1,000 shots with no awareness." Some people believe you have to make thousands of "perfect" shots before you learn how to do it at will. That's pretty discouraging, because how can you make perfect shots when your stroke is imperfect. As I like to shape that line (and what may be the intention of many people who use it) is to say that perfect AWARENESS of thousands of shots is what you need to learn to shoot, not perfect SHOTS." And when awareness is high, it won't even require thousands. Perhaps hundreds. Perhaps 10's. Of course, you need lots of experience, but when your awareness antenna is raised high and tuned into your stroke, learning can be very quick.
The more the feedback, both by yourself to yourself and to you from others, the greater your learning. If you're not giving feedback, then no one knows where you are relative to your experience. You might be totally asleep; you might be totally aware. (Without great practice, it's probably more the former.)
When coaching someone, set up a system of feedback and learning will be enhanced. If working in pairs, teach them to give feedback to each other. It's effective for the shooter to speak first and then for the observer to give feedback. If the observer speaks first, the experience of the shooter is diminished.
From my experience, most players are reluctant to give feedback to a peer, probably not wanting to appear critical or contrary. Speak to this and maybe mention how the Awareness Monster needs feedback for learning. For kids who resist speaking feedback to a shooter friend, a less threatening way is to have the observer simply give a hand signal, thumbs up for "Yes, I agree," thumbs down for "No, I didn't see it that way," or the thumb at the halfway point for "I'm not sure" or "I missed that one." The point is that the observation of an outside party can help the shooter see and feel the shot motion.
Watch and Learn: However you do it, observe
the interplay of shooter and experience (awareness) -- plus an
unbiased third party, where possible -- and learning. The more
awake everyone is the higher the level of learning. Learning
takes time, but with high awareness, remarkable breakthroughs
are possible ... and quicker than you think.
"Plus ça change, plus c'est la méme chose!"
This is a French saying that says, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I thought of this as I watched the first two evenings of the new NBA season this last week. I was kind of naively hoping I'd see better shooting. With everything so new, and new arrangements of teams, new rookies, coaches changing, I thought perhaps another summer of shooting practice might improve the level of shooting in the League.
NEW SEASON ... SAME OLD MISSED SHOTS!
I made a spreadsheet of the Free Throw and 3-Pt shooting for each of the 30 teams that played in the first 15 games of the year. It was pretty revealing. (I wish they had a statistic for non-3's taken from, say, 5 feet away or further. That would really shock people. Including dunks and layups and tip-ins with outside field goals confuses the issue. Take away the easy ones and the Bigs -- and the League -- would be pretty embarrassed by their stats for outside shots.)
71.7% FROM THE LINE, 31.5% FOR 3'S
FREE THROWS 71.7%:
I don't know how 71.7% stands relative to previous years, but it's pretty poor in my book. For players as gifted as these guys, who play as much as they play, to make fewer than 3 out of 4 is disappointing, to say the least. Maybe these days 72% is considered "pretty good," but in the old days it would be considered mediocre. Further broken down, 13 teams shot 70% or lower, and 5 teams shot 60% or lower.
Here are the box scores for the worst 13
performances from the line:
Look at these worst 19 totals from the
IS THERE ANY HELP AVAILABLE?
To come to a Free Throw line and make ~75% is not a major human accomplishment. The rim is huge and forgiving, approx. twice the diameter of a ball. The rim can be brought down over the head and shoulders of most adult males in our society. There is a backboard that will often help if the shot goes long. There is no one defending the shooters. They have 10 seconds to shoot. The center of the basket is only 13 feet 9 inches away from the line.
WHAT'S THE DIFFICULTY?
WHAT ARE THE COACHES COACHING?
A LOST ART MAKES IT DIFFICULT
It takes physical technique to shoot well, not just thinking about it or getting mad, as Shaq said he would do, years ago on Roy Firestone's show. Trying to "psyche" yourself up doesn't work very well or very long. Having a special "Pre-Shot Routine" isn't the answer either, though I hear it as a requirement by more and more coaches. The guys who are shooting poorly have a routine. They meticulously perform the routine each time. Has it made any difference?
ANY technique can make some shots go in ... sometimes. An old person who doesn't even play the game could toss up shots, maybe even underhanded, and often make 1 out of 2.
What's more difficult is to make shot after shot after shot with great accuracy, especially under pressure. Making shots when it doesn't count is like making putts in golf on the practice green. Once you get on the course and scores are kept, IT'S A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME!
I HAVE A SOLUTION
If some of the players and coaches want my help, it's available. I can show them how to create a "pure" shot motion that is Accurate, Consistent and Repeatable. Once understood and learned, the motion will send the ball the same distance every time. It will come down softly, more and more dead center. Once distance is under control, then all you need do is learn to control the direction beautifully and ... Swish! It becomes a simple motion. Pressure won't bother you so much because you "know" what you're doing. You're not just psyching yourself up.
My videos show very clearly what can be done to master this simple shot. The answer will also be simple, a motion you can perform over and over and over, even under pressure. There are some things that need to be learned and practiced and mastered. But it's not difficult stuff. And it's thrilling to learn. And, best of all, anyone can do it.
Is anyone reading this who wants to take
some action? Call me --> 888/794-7422
With the original Swish video, we included a half-sheet paper with printing on both sides called "The Shooting Guide." It is a summary of the Swish Method that a player or coach can take with her/him to a court to help remember things and a sequence of exercises. That Guide is now available on my website on the "For Coaches" page: Shooting Guide
If you only got Swish 2, or lost the Guide, you can download and print it and then take it to a Photocopy Shop and photocopy it onto a double-sided sheet of paper and cut it down and laminate it so it's more durable. It summarizes the Swish Method in a condensed format. Watching Swish and Swish 2 is the real deal, and this Guide helps make the method more portable and understandable when away from the DVD's.
Other documents available to download (from
last month's Newsletter):
COMPILATION OF FIRST 88 NEWSLETTERS AVAILABLE!
To download it, click on this link and
it will automatically ask you if you want the download. Click
to continue and it will put it wherever you want.
These are the issues from May '99 through
Aug. '06. The PDF is 4.2 Megabytes in size.
A SPREADSHEET FOR ALL THE TEXT HEADINGS IN SWISH 2
Also as announced last month, you can download a spreadsheet of all the text headings (including Chapter titles) for Swish 2.
As I said, a coach from Indiana who loves Swish 2 and is heavily into teaching it to his players asked me if I could get him a list of all the Chapter/Sub-Chapter/Text headings for the entire Swish 2 DVD. He wanted to determine the starting time codes for each text location and thus be able to give his kids homework to watch a certain part of the DVD and then talk about it and work with it at the next practice.
The resulting four-page spreadsheet is available on my website as a PDF. To download it, click on this link: Swish 2 Outline
A parent creates a learning experience with the opposite hand:
"Hi Tom: It was an honor to talk to you on the phone last week. I have watched Swish and some of Swish 2. I haven't had time to work on it much, but I got my son, who is 9 and a good shooter for his age, to open up his stance. I have been preaching that he "square up" for years. He proceeded to hit 5 straight free throws. I spent another day with him practicing and decided that the best way, for now, was to practice the method left-handed. Since he has no real experience (and bad habits) from the left side, I figured that it would be easier to get him to do it.
"We went through the different steps practicing the Release and gradually adding the UpForce for about 20 minutes. We then decided to just practice shooting right handed since he had a game the next day. His right handed shooting was much better instantly.
"He hadn't had enough practice to have a great game the next day (0-4 on free throws), but he took 2 threes and hit the second one. It put us ahead 14-11 and we won 15-13. We will get to work so he can't psyche himself out on the line. He won a camp free throw contest 2 summers ago at age 8 against 13 year olds, but this spring he seemed to get a mental block and has gone cold from the free throw line. I am certain that he will fix this problem soon. I'll keep you posted."
- - Brian M., Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
LET'S LOOK AT THE HAND POSITION
This is just a quick little thing that can make a big difference in your shot. As I was practicing recently, having fun learning and observing the learning process (and drilling shots from 6-10 feet away, over and over and over), I noticed recently the very important thing we can call the Hand Position. Where the hand is in the setting and release of a basketball is critical for control and accuracy. If it points off to the side, then some kind of compensation has to be made as you shoot, and that threatens control. If the hand is not in line with the eye and basket as you shoot, accuracy will always be a challenge, as an angle back to the basket has to be figured.
Let's look at three different areas of
the positioning of the hand:
1) BEFORE THE SHOT
2) DURING THE SHOT
3) AFTER THE SHOT
So, increase awareness of your Hand Position throughout the shot and you will learn and perform at a higher level. Trust me. No, don't trust ME!!! Trust your experience! Try shooting with immaculate Hand Position, and then shoot with off-line or rotated hand position and compare the results. Your "experience" will teach you what works best.
(Note: I rarely use the word immaculate," but it came to me and I went with it, knowing it was a good word, but not remembering exactly what it means. My dictionary says it means, "perfectly clean, without a flaw or error, pure, innocent, sinless." I'm not sure about the innocent and sinless part of that, but being clean and pure, that's great stuff. Work on getting your Hand Position, and all the other aspects of shooting, pure and clean, and they'll be writing books about you and your awesome shooting.)
If you love the work I'm doing and my Swish videos and you have marketing experience and ideas, please give me your advice on how to market it all. Do you see any special ways I can promote my website on the Internet? How can I get the Newsletter into various Newsletter Directories? How can YouTube and other such video services be used? Is the old-fashioned "Direct Response TV" cost-effective these days, or is it just too expensive and risky? How else can this simple and powerful approach to shooting be promoted and get noticed? If I can sell hundreds of thousands of Swish DVD's, maybe then I can hope to make an impact on the great game of basketball.
Thanks for your help. I'll be happy to mention your name with any of my successes, if you want that.
A topic I'll address next month: "Can You Work On Your Shot During the Season?"
I come up against this all the time, coaches saying they don't want their players "messing" with their shots once the season starts. I'm getting some input from other people on this and will add my own 2¢ worth. My point is that if shooting is a problem, it's crazy NOT to work on it during a season! Players do in other sports. Basketball is no different.
You might not want to make "major" changes to technique, but minor and subtle changes can easily be made. If a player can't shoot and is jeopardizing the team with a high percentage of missed shots, what's the risk? And you'll find out that with the Swish Method, shooting is really very simple. If kept simple and taught with awareness, extraordinary growth and development is possible any time during a year.
I invite you to bookmark my Swish Website (http://www.swish22.com) so you can go there easily to catch my latest comments on shooting. You can read about my videos there (including endorsements, testimonials, reviews and an overview of the videos), my coaching, and the many articles on shooting I've written. You can see video clips and archived back issues of this Newsletter and, of course, subscribe, if you're not already getting this on a regular basis.
Please tell others about this newsletter, my site, and my videos. Forward the newsletter to them and suggest they read it and the many archived issues. Send them the URL (http://www.swish22.com) and let them know there's a proven method for powerful shooting. This great game of ours deserves a Renaissance in shooting!
NOTE: I have a 2 1/2 minute sample clip from Swish 2 available in Flash technology (streaming video of high quality). Go to the video clips page (see below) and click on the link for Swish 2. It will give a taste of the quality of shooting that's possible with this simple, powerful approach to shooting. There's a six minute flash clip from the original Swish video there, too.
Some of the direct links to my webpage:
CLINICS THIS FALL (Go to my "Clinics" page for details.
East Palo Alto, California, Sunday afternoon,
If you'd like to organize some shooting clinics or camps, or for private sessions here in northern California, let me know. To Email Tom
To stay in tune with the latest news about
all Clinics, Camps and Coaches' Trainings, go to this page: Clinics page,
and click on the respective area and clinic.
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