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How to Become a Better Finisher Around the Basket

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The NBA is full of great finishers - guys that all defenses dread playing against because they can get to the rim and make things happen. Guys like Tony Parker, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Derek Rose are all offensive minded athletes who can not only score at the rim but can create open shots for their teammates and single handedly put the entire opposing team in foul trouble.

They are so good at what they do that they make destroying defenses seem simple and effortless. Styling your game after any of these players is a great idea as long as you realize being a great finisher is not quite as easy as it looks. It takes athleticism, knowing the proper techniques, and lots of purposeful practice. There are also several things you absolutely can't do if you want to be an effective scorer around the basket.

First and foremost you can't be soft with the basketball, especially from the time you take your last dribble until the time you release the ball from your hand. If you are soft or weak with the ball you have a much greater chance of having the defense knock it out of your hands, losing control of the ball or worse turning it over.

The second thing is that you can't be afraid of contact because if you are going to score around the rim you are going to get hit, slapped, kneed, and bumped. In fact, if you really want to be an effective finisher then you need to be what I call a "seeker."

As soon as you get within 8 feet or so of the rim you should be trying to find a defender so that you can initiate contact, draw a foul, and complete a three point play.

The third rule is NO one-handed scoop shots. I say this primarily because you cannot be strong with the basketball if you don't have two hands securing it. Not only that but shooting an underhand scoop shot in traffic is like serving the ball up to a shot blocker on a silver platter and will often up end up looking like a volleyball "spike."

The fourth absolute is that you can't stop after contact is created. We've already established if you try to score around the rim you are going to get hit and I'm sure you already know that the refs are going to occasionally miss some calls.

The worst thing that you can do when this happens is to stop playing, throw your hands up in the air and start complaining to the ref or look over at your coach. Instead, if there is no whistle and you miss your shot, hustle to get the offensive board and try to get a put back. Mentally move on and don't dwell on what you can't control.

The fifth and final thing you can't do is you can't jack up or force shots. Way too often I see players get down in the finishing area and either get stuck or don't know quite what to do so they panic and throw up a bad shot. Every time you do this you lose credibility with your teammates, your coaches and the officials.

If you haven't spent hours practicing a certain shot on your own then you really have no business trying to shoot it during a game. Remember just because you're closer to the basket, than say a 3 point attempt, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good shot.

It takes a lot of work to be an effective finisher and perfecting the proper techniques, footwork, and finishes doesn't happen overnight. However, if you can eliminate the five things mentioned above then you've already won half the battle.

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