Simply put, being "shot ready" means always being a threat on offense.
My older brother Alan and I will never forget the first time we heard our basketball Coach Terry Tucker say this to us during practice circa 2002. Our team name was Hardwork, and our discipline and hustle matched the logo on our Lakers-inspired jerseys. We were led by Coach Tucker, who was strict with a strong military background to boot. He demanded toughness, and playing for him you learned what that truly was--first starting with mental toughness, and then followed by physical toughness.
Well, one day in practice Coach Tucker said something to my brother and I that we had never heard in our lifelong youth career of attending elite basketball camps, clinics, and tournaments, and to this day we haven't forgotten what he told us. In fact, it is pretty much our basic foundational principle when it comes to the most important aspect of basketball: shooting. What Coach Terry said was so profound, yet so simple that we as children laughed the first time we heard him say it. He told us we weren't "shot ready". And he would repeat this phrase again, and again, and again, until we finally stopped laughing, and truly got the message.
Recently my brother and I were reflecting on this diamond of a concept first introduced by our coach some 15 years ago, and have decided to pass along what it means to be shot ready.
What does it mean to be shot ready?
It is a very simple concept that requires you to be ready to shoot the ball 100% of the time you are on offense. The key word being "ready".
When you don’t have the ball, you always want to be a threat to the defense. It is vital that you understand how important it is to always make yourself a threat. If you don’t make yourself a threat, then the other team won’t worry about you, and they’ll sag off of you, which will crowd the defense and clog the paint for your other teammates.
What does it look like to be shot ready?
Specifically, it means having your legs down, actively engaged and ready to shoot. Have your hands up and ready for the ball. It is important that you are always in this shooting position and that you always have your hands available and ready to shoot when the ball is passed to you.
When it comes to your posture, remember these two keys: 1. stance has to be low, 2. hands have to be up, ready to shoot.
You always want to be ready to shoot, but it’s not just shooting that you are able to do--you need to be triple threat stance ready as well, as you must be ready to react to the way the defense plays you.
Make the defense respect you.
The greatest result of being shot ready is forcing the defense to engage with you, and therefore being an effective player on the court for your team, almost by default.
If you simply look like you're ready to shoot (i.e. you have your hands up with a low stance), even if you're not a good shooter, they still have to respect you. They have to respect the fact that you're going to shoot the ball, and they are going to have to make a decision on how to close out on you.
How to know if you're not shot ready?
You’re supposed to be in position. You’re not shot ready if you’re not in position. That has to do with spacing. Always find a space on the court that you can connect to, and a place where you know that you can be an effective shooter.
For example, if you aren't a great three point shooter, but have a great 15 foot jump shot, try to get to those spots and be shot ready. Conversely, if you are an excellent three point shooter, always get behind the line and spot up and be shot ready.
If you don’t know what to do, or something gets messed up, as it often does, always find a space on the floor to connect to and maintain your spacing.
Make them pay.
This is the best part of the game. Punish the defense for not respecting you; create a problem for the other team by putting the ball through the hoop.
As a player coach, being shot ready is the first basic concept that you must learn. Next time you're playing basketball and are on offense trying to score, first ask yourself: am I shot ready?
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach