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Shooting Stats Don't Lie

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A good friend of mine coaches a girl's team and recently had a starter quit the team because he wouldn't give her the green light to shoot the ball any time and any where she wanted.

The player argued that at the beginning of the season she had more freedom to shoot but as the season progressed that freedom was removed. She wanted it back and he didn't give it to her so she quit.

In the course of their final conversation, my friend pointed out to his player that her overall field goal percentage was 34% and her three point field goal percentage was 16%.

To make things worse, he said, he never saw her putting in any extra time trying to get better in order to improve her shooting.

She responded by saying that the stats were misleading and that she considered herself to be a great shooter regardless of the percentages. She was then told very bluntly… "You are either a bad shooter or you are a good shooter who is constantly taking bad shots. There really are no other options."

Let's take a quick look at a few ideas concerning shot selection and see how they can impact shooting percentages.

1. Who gets the most shots? In my mind the answer is obvious - the best shooters! Vance Walberg, creator of the dribble drive motion offense calls "streak" every time his team goes two possessions in a row without scoring.

That means that only the two best shooters on the floor are allowed to shoot until the team scores again. Unfortunately, if you are a coach I can almost guarantee that 80% of your team thinks they are good enough to get a fair majority of the shots. If you are a player, you think you are one of the best shooters on your team, even if you haven't made a shot in a month.

How do you know who shoots the ball the best? Stats - game stats, practice stats, and individual work out stats - because stats don't lie. Walberg consistently uses a 20 minute shooting drill to help determine his best shooters and the results are always posted for everyone to see. Everyone who looks at the list knows the pecking order of shooters. If you want to move up then improve your percentages.

When your best shooters are getting the most shots your team shooting percentage is going to go up and so is your winning percentage.

2. Where do the majority of your shots come from? Legendary coach Hubie Brown says that if you divide the court into three sections (left, right, middle) that even your very best shooters will have a much lower percentage in one of the sections than they do in the other two. (I once had a player who shot 68% from the left three point line and only 30% from the right three point line.) If you are a coach are your best shooters getting most of their shots in their "wheelhouse" or are they scattered all over?

If you are a player, are you looking for shots you can make most of the time while avoiding ones that you can't? Do you even know where your most productive shooting spots are located? If the answer is no, then why not? Some simple stat keeping can give you tons of crucial information and make you a much better shooter.

3. What offense are you running? I know a lot of coaches say it doesn't matter what you run but how you run it but I respectfully disagree. If your best scorer is deadly with his or her back to the basket are you running the old Loyola Marymount fast break and shooting the ball every seven seconds? If your best scorer is Derek Rose should you run the Flex and insist on five passes and two ball reversals before a shot is taken? Of course not! What offensive system you run does matter as the majority of shots you get are going to be a direct result of that decision.

Take a look at your game shot charts and see if your best shooters are getting enough quality shots as a direct result of your offense. If not, a change might need to be made.

Whether we are talking about teams or individuals, shooting (and winning) percentages will go up if the best shooters get the most shots in favorable shooting positions. The best thing is that those areas don't need to be debated because like it or not stats don't lie!

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