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Why the Ability to Shoot is so Important in Basketball

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I sat and watched one basketball game after another recently and wondered aloud "what is the most important factor in winning basketball?" I went through offense, defense, rebounding, ball handling, passing, etc. I went through some specifics like point-guard play, offensive rebounding and turnover ratios. I was very interested in coming to a conclusion and then it hit me as plain as day.

Basketball is a game where the team who scores the most points wins. I can be as in-depth as I want to but in the end the game is very simple and easy to break down. One team tries to score and the other team tries to stop them. The team that scores the most points wins every time without fail. You score points in basketball by putting the ball in the hoop and therefore the most important factor to winning in basketball is the ability to shoot at a high percentage.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's there was a college team that I've written about before that was coached by Paul Westhead. The team was Loyola Marymount, a small college in California that is in the West Coast Conference. Coach Westhead wanted to get a shot off every 4-5 seconds and his teams usually did just that. They were a blast to watch. His theory was to have his team take the first open shot they came across when they got the ball. It worked in the college game but in the pro game not so much but the secret to that offense was that you needed players who could shoot the ball well.

It is often said that a good shooter is someone who hits 50% of their shots and or someone who hits 40% from the 3 point line. The 40% comes from the fact that you'll score the same amount of points hitting 40% of your 3's as someone who hits 50% of their 2's and it's correct. So how can we develop and take advantage of this principle?

As coaches it means having the best shooters take the most shots with the highest percentages of going in. Closer to the basket gives you a higher percentage while further away and contested is obviously tougher. You'd be surprised how twisted this simple strategy gets and how lost it gets. It didn't get lost with Coach Wooden or Red Auerbach when he coached the Celtics. Make the game simple and you win, but compound it with fancy offenses and fancy moves and it only causes roadblocks to victories.

For players, this means learn to be a good shooter. Learn to make close shots just as you would far shots. Practice being able to get your shot off while being guarded and coming off a screen. On this basketball training site there are several articles that discuss these topics and that can be read and followed very easily. The key is to be one of those trusted players who can shoot and make high percentages so that you can lead your team to more wins.

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