Shooting like a pro
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your elbow in an L-shape, have your index finger guide the ball and follow through.
Shooting a basketball sounds easy, but if it really were that simple then Dave Love wouldn’t be travelling across the country to break the habits of ballers everywhere.
The shooting specialist stopped by John Paul II Catholic High School on Sunday (Sept. 23), to teach about 40 young basketball players the fundamentals of making a basket from the ground up.
Starting with footwork and moving to the way a ball should be held, the University of Calgary shooting coach’s impact is seen almost immediately on the over-11 year-old-players.
The kids practiced jumping and then setting their feet as they landed before taking a shot. They would miss some and hit others, but when Love comes around to personally watch each player as they shoot, all the kids would take their time and focus on each new fundamental just learned from the 10-year plus coach. Almost always, when the player would methodically take their time to shoot, the ball would swish through the twine.
“The habits, as far as shooting mechanics, I can find a kid in London, Ont. that has exactly the same bad habits as a kid in Grande Prairie, Alta., in Victoria, B.C. or Halifax, N.S.,” Love said. “Basically, we’re trying to get the kids back into some of the habits that will help them make shots instead of the habits, that over time because of limited strength and limited size, are causing them to actually miss shots.”
Love has the resume to back up what he preaches, teaching everyone from pint-sized ballers all the way to the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns.
But, Love’s favourite type of player to work with could be practicing in John Paul’s gym Sunday.
“You have players you work with and I just enjoy their company and I think they’re great people and again (former Suns) Grant Hill would be on that list as well with (another former Suns) Louis Amundson,” Love said, adding Hill, a future Hall of Famer, as one of the best shooters he’s ever worked with. “But, they’ll be kids at this camp who they’re just fun to be around.”
In Love’s time with Amundson three years ago, he helped the professional increase his free throw by 11 per cent and gave a lending hand to him achieving a career high in field goal percentage.
On Sunday, the shooting technician only has three hours with two London groups, but if the players have dreams of sinking the game winning shot in overtime to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy — and who doesn’t — then they’ll have to put in some of their own time.
“What are the great shooters doing? I’ve heard Steve Nash, and I’ve seen enough evidence to believe, that he makes 500 shots a day,” Love said. “Do kids at this age need to be shooting that many? Probably not, but as long as there’s such focus into what you’re doing then if it ends up being 15 minutes a day then that may be enough to at least scratch the surface.”
It will take some time before the kids at the mini camp actually master the art of shooting a basketball and are nailing Laettner-like 18-foot turnaround shots, but their parents should be wary before challenging their kid to a game of one-on-one.
“I’ve noticed an improvement,” said Leonor Costa, who brought her 11-year-old niece to the shooting clinic. “She’s kind of a little timid, so with me she’ll be a little more aggressive.”
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