What if I told you there was a skill that gave you more points in games, more trust from your coach, and more minutes on the floor? Would you be willing to practice that skill for hours and hours at a time?
And what if I told you that this skill did not require endless hours in the gym, but could be learned in a few minutes, and mastered while you practice and play?
That skill is shot selection.
Show selection is simply knowing what shots your are best at, and taking only those shots in games.
The result of good shot selection is amazing! You will score more points on fewer shots, your teammates will trust you with the ball, and your coach will give you more playing time. More importantly, your team will do better, as shooting high percentage shots not only lets you score more points, it allows your teammates more opportunities to score as well!
On the contrary, poor shot selection can be devastating to a team. We have a term for poor shot-selectors: a ball hog.
If you have played with a ball hog, you know how quickly they suck the life out of a team. First, the offense stops moving, as their teammates give up hope of getting the ball and instead wait for an ill-advised shot. Next, the team get discouraged on defense; why work so hard to get the ball back just to watch yet another bad shot go up? Finally, as the score gets lop-sided, the team gives up altogether. Why even try at all?
To diagnose whether your shot selection is good, ask yourself two questions:
First, do I average at least one points-per-attempt? If you are making 50% of your shots from inside, and 33% of your shots from outside, odds are that you are generally taking good shots.
Second, do my teammates and coach want me to shoot more shots or less? If they want you to shoot more, you are taking good shots! If they want you to shoot less, you might be too trigger-happy.
Improve Your Shot Selection
Assuming you have already spent the time working on the basics of the game like jump-shots and lay-ups, improving your shot selection is a simple, three-step process:
1. Know your best shots and spots
Do you like shooting off the dribble, off the pass, or out of the triple-threat? Do you prefer moving right to left, or left to right? How far away do you need the defender to make it? What spots on the floor do you like to shoot from? Do you like to pull-up or jump shoot?
2. Record yourself
During a pickup game, at practice, and full games. Watch the tape and think about every single shot you take. Was it a good shot? Was it a shot your coach or your teammates would be upset if you didn't take?
3. Recognize the patterns
Study yourself. When and where do you tend to take bad shots? It might be that you take a bad shot right after the guy you were guarding makes a shot over you (I see this "revenge shooting" all the time). Or perhaps you take bad shots in the fast break. Or you get impatient during long possessions. Maybe you take too many fade-aways, or too many pull-ups? Know your own weaknesses, and guard against those bad tendencies
There is no better or easier way to help your team than by simply taking good shots. Take the time to really understand your own positive abilities and negative tendencies, and give your team the best chance of winning you can!