When we discuss shooting and the best shooters in the game, we always discuss the mechanics: their shooting form, balance and how they get their shots off. What we don’t discuss is the mental side of shooting and confidence. They’re both equally important.
This season we’ve seen a few cases that show why confidence is so huge in the game of basketball. It’s one thing to shoot the basketball but if you don’t have the belief that it’s going in then you’re wasting your time. Confidence is something that coaches really key on to their shooters and best scorers. If you ask Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, they believe every shot they take is going to go in. Regardless of where they shoot it from. That type of mentality on top of superb mechanics puts a good shooter amongst the elites.
The Markelle Fultz situation is one that speaks to the correlation between confidence and shooting. As the number one pick in the draft, one would think he had the utmost confidence in the world but that just wasn’t the case. While the details have gone back and forth, it was a combination of his mindset and injury that led to a complete alteration in his shot. They basically had to start from scratch and reconfigure his mechanics which is something we’ve quite never seen at this stage before. Especially from the top player in the draft. However, he prevailed and is making his way back into the NBA at the moment. It just goes to show how belief or a lack thereof can truly affect your game.
Paul George is another recent example of someone who’s being affected by shooting woes. After struggling in a recent game against the Golden State Warriors, George expressed something being off in his shooting mechanics (via ESPN).
“There’s something mechanical in my shot,” he said. “I’ve had struggles throughout the season and my career of shooting, but it’s all just been about not making shots. I don’t know what it is. It feels funny. Shooting the ball feels funny. So I’m going to work with the trainers and try and figure that out. But I don’t feel myself shooting the ball right now.”
Guys of George’s caliber are so accustomed to putting the ball in the basket. So when shots are not falling, it’s easy to get frustrated and concerned. While shooting slumps are natural, coaches will tell you to shoot your way out of it because all it takes is one good game and a player is back to normal. However, when the shots continue not to fall, that’s when a player’s psyche comes into play. He/She can begin to question their mechanics, get into their own head, and even tinker with their form.
Even myself, while I’m not a professional player, I consider myself a decent shooter and I’ve hit slumps and have begun to question things. You mess with hand placement, elbow placement and change things that aren’t necessary. It’s easy to lose that confidence and make unnecessary changes.
The key is to remain confident and believe that the shot will fall. The slightest doubt will make a difference and increase the probability of that shot not going in. Believe in yourself because if you don’t then no one else will.
From an on-court aspect, take closer shots and get in more reps. Practice closer to the basket and work your way out. During a game, try to get easier buckets to raise that confidence. If you get a couple layups or easy shots, then that basket will begin to look bigger and the game will become easier.
These are all keys to help you out of that slump but at the end of the day, none of it will matter if you’re not confident in yourself.