A former player started the season shooting poorly on a high volume of attempts. She played a lot of minutes and attempted a lot of shots, so I ruled out the coach impacting her shooting (another player said she was struggling because the coach subs every 2 minutes, so she never gets into a rhythm).
As we texted back and forth, the player said she just needed to get in the gym and practice more. I asked about an injury, and she said that she was rehabbing every day. I offered to look at her shots and see if I saw anything.
As I expected, she appears to favor her injury slightly. However, she rushed most of her shots despite being relatively open.
I asked about their shooting practice. She said they don’t really practice shooting, but when they do, they never have defenders.
I attribute her struggles to two changes since she played for me; first, her injury, which certainly has an effect; and second, the change in shooting practice.
I advised her to spend more time on her rehab and offered a few ideas to supplement the normal off court rehab.
Next, I suggested that she needed to find a way to practice with defenders closing out. She said that her coach took her out of the game because she passed up a open shot, but she did not feel that she was open. These feelings, this sense of openness must be practiced. Simply shooting in a gym by oneself will not enhance the decision-making aspect of shooting or the acclimation to defense.
Good shooters will never be left alone completely; there is always a defender present. The question is the defender’s distance and speed, and the space that the shooter needs to feel open or un-rushed. When shooters practice with defenders, they improve their ability to calibrate the time and space and make better decisions. They identify open shots more quickly and accurately, and consequently defensive pressure has less of an effect.
These skills cannot be trained in isolation. The solution is not more reps, but different reps.