My brother mentioned how his number one problem, even at 32 years of age, is that he still plays the game too fast. This is a problem that plagues most players, both young and old, and it's something that can really hold you back from reaching your full potential.
We will conclude #ThePlayerCoachSeries by addressing the dangers of rushing, and how it impacts the most critical aspect of shooting/scoring: the finish.
You’re in the right position…you’re shot ready…you now have the ball…you’ve read the defense…now take your time!
The key to taking your time is building a rhythm; you must do everything with controlled rhythm that evolves into a natural flow.
What you want to be mindful of is never being in too much of a hurry.
The enemy to rhythm is rushing*.
*Of course there are moments in the game that call for taking rushed shots, like a low shot clock or end of the quarter/half/game.
How do I not rush?
Put yourself in a position where you don’t have to rush your shot.
When you get the ball you must think to yourself, “I’m taking my time because I already know what to do.”
This is where practice comes in. Practice is really the only place where you can truly develop this mindset. This is the foundation of how you are to build your own personal rhythm.
The idea is that you want to be able to shoot the same shot in the game as you would when you’re working out by yourself.
This is the time when you must get into more of an isolated mode of thought. It’s you and the basket. It’s important that you don’t just go through the motions in practice; instead treat it as a way for you to confidently carry over the “practice shot” into the “game shot”.
Preparation & Execution
This is a process you may consider to help you learn how to take your time. You prepare by constantly working on the same rhythm shot, at your pace, over and over again in practice. You execute by transferring that same exact rhythm into the game.
Of course the real challenge is that unlike practice, when you get into the game, you are going to be surrounded by others who are trying to disrupt your rhythm.
However, if you accept this challenge, you might possess the greatest finish advantage on the court.
When you’ve put in all the work on your offensive game, you already know what you can do. Now you can play to your strengths and play a lot smoother by staying connected to your confidence.
Let it come; the game will come to you.
Always remember: you don’t have to force the shot if it’s not there.
PRO TIP: Think Ahead
Thinking the entire play through before you execute can be very advantageous. Sometimes you can make a move or do something to set something else up. This works well because you have the advantage of control; you know exactly what you’re doing, while your defender is unaware that you’re setting them up. This control will help you maintain the pace and rhythm that you prefer throughout the entire play.
See the big picture by always looking ahead. What does this mean?
When you have the ball in your hands, understand and know that after you beat your defender, someone else is going to help, and then subsequently someone is going to help that helper.
Look ahead at the help defense.
Consider this scenario:
You have the ball, and you see that you might have a path to the basket.
First ask yourself, “What is the help defense doing?”
Try to foresee all the outcomes. Here are two, for example:
Maybe the help defender is going to commit to you, and you will have the corner pass for a 3.
Maybe he’s late and you will have a layup.
Thinking ahead will help you make split second decisions right in the nick of time.
Note: Sometimes you may have to bluff—meaning, you lull your defender by going at a slower speed in order to set up another move, preferably an explosive counter attack.
No Need For Speed
Understand that it’s not always about being the fastest. Sure, some can play like that, but if you want to be the best, I personally think you have to take your time.
Focus on the Finish
You finish the strongest when you don’t second guess yourself. Remember that it’s about not going too hard; you want to be sure to always go at a pace that feels both comfortable and controllable.
Here's the bottom line: the shot’s either there or it’s not there; this is what it essentially comes down to.
Look--if every player were perfect, we’d all be Ben Simmons...or Devin Booker. But we’re not.
Take your time.
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach