5 Ways to Snap a Cold Streak
No one has ever compared my shooting ability to Steph Curry or Ray Allen, and no one ever will. But I've hit a cold streak. I've had games where I shot the ball poorly before, but this is something new. Several weeks, almost a dozen (pickup) games, and I am probably a combined 0-for-30 from three.
Now I will never wow with a flurry of step-back threes, but I am used to taking two to three shots a game and making about half of them. How do you come back from thirty misses in a row?
Here are the five best ways to thaw the cold:
1. Shoot Just Enough
My natural tendency after missing a bunch of shots is to stop shooting - this is a mistake. The only way out of a slump is to start making shots. And recent studies have shown that if you do not take shots, you cannot make them. So you must shoot the ball.
Others, believing they have to "shoot their way out", shoot even more - this is also a mistake. When in a slump you are not, by definition, making many shots. In basketball, possessions are precious, and throwing up shots unlikely to go in is a great way to hurt your team's chance of winning (looking at you, Carmelo Anthony).
In a slump, strive to shoot "just enough" to break out. Enough shots to break out of the slump, yet not enough to hurt your team. A good rule of thumb is to shoot half of your typical volume.
2. Watch Your Eyes
No one knows exactly how a shooting slump happens, but the mind plays an important role. Once you start missing, you start questioning your shot. And when the ball leaves your hand, but begin questioning whether it will go in.
If the story ended there, you would be fine. But when you start questioning whether the ball will go in, your eyes follow. Your eyes follow the ball. At the very last second of your release, at the most critical moment of the shot, your eyes flip from the rim to the ball. And that eye movement often causes the miss. And the miss will only make you question more.
So watch your eyes. Stare at the rim until the ball goes through.
There is far more to the game of basketball than making shots. Mentally, it is critical to ensure that your shooting slump doesn't become a game slump.
Being in a slump means missing shots, which hurts your team. Focusing on taking more shots, or on getting shots to go in will only hurt you and your team more.
Help your team by re-focusing your energy on defense, rebounding, passing, the fast-break, and close-range shots. All of these have a tremendous impact on the game.
4. Go to the Tried and True If you have a go-to shot, now is the time to use it (mine is a low block turnaround fade)! Seeing the ball go in a few times can be enough to snap a cold streak before it really starts.
If you don't have one and are in the middle of a slump, please to heavens don't try to find one now. Use the other points here. Once you are out of the slump, develop one! Pick a tough-to-defend move, and shoot it until you can hit at ~80% every day.
5. Get Some Lab Time
The worse a slump gets, the more you need to see the ball go through the net.
Between games, go to the gym you are most comfortable in; your "secret lab". Take a lot of shots. Start within 5 feet of the basket: shoot at least thirty shots. Back up 3-4 feet; take another thirty shots. Work your way all the way out to the 3 point line.
Before a game, repeat the same routine, adjusting the number of shots as time allows, and focusing more on shooting closer to the basket. But I would advise against taking any threes: every miss before a game will only unnerve you.
Start close. Watch shots go in.