The Evolution of an Outside Shot – Part IV

Posted 14 September 2017

It has been almost exactly one year since I last posted about my ongoing Quixotic quest to develop an outside basketball shot.  In the intervening period I have had to deal with chronic pain in both knees.

Fortunately I have gotten significant relief from cortisone shots, but unfortunately the relief is fairly short-lived; I get about 2-3 months of relatively pain-free activity, and then another month or so of increasing pain until I am forced to go back for more drugs.  The orthopod tells me that I can continue to do 3-4 shots/year, but eventually I’ll be in the market for new knees.

As it turns out, I have an appointment in about a week to see a joint replacement specialist, and I suspect the result of this visit will be a knee replacement surgery appointment :-(.

In the meantime, I have been making some actual visible progress on developing an outside shot, and just today I hit two 3’s in a 3-on-3 game, one of which was the game winning shot – wowee!!

Here’s a short video showing front and side views of the current shot technique

The Evolution of an Outside Shot – Part III

23 September 2015

Well, it’s been over a year since my last post on this subject, and while I’d like to say I’ve made great strides, In reality progress has been somewhat spotty.  From November of last year until about two months ago I had been practicing my shot almost every day, and was seeing slow but steady improvement.  I even got to the point where I was making the occasional 3-point shot ‘in competition’ (at my age, the ‘in competition’ is definitely in quotes!).  However, while my shooting prowess was increasing, so was pain in both my knees, and sometime in July it got to be too much to bear anymore.  When a doctor’s visit and a set of X-rays ruled out skeletal damage as the culprit, I tried some massage therapy to see if that would help; it did, but not significantly enough to get me back on the court.  At the recommendation of the massage therapist,  I started a physical therapy course, and although I haven’t quite finished the PT sessions, my knee pain has gone from ‘cant-stand-it-anymore’ agony to ‘mild-old-age-annoyance’ stiffness.  I’m not sure how much of this is just abstinence from shooting and how much is due to the exercises, but at this point I’m not sure I care! 😉

So, yesterday I went back to some mild practice shooting for the first time in a couple of months.  Instead of just shooting 3’s, I’m limiting my practices to short-range, foul-line, and what I call ‘2-1/2’ range (halfway between the foul line and the 3-point arc).  I was encouraged to find that the break had not erased all my skill gains (such as they were), and I was still able to shoot with a reasonable amount of good form for an ‘almost-septuagenarian’ ;-).  The following short videos show side and front views of my ‘2-1/2’ point range shooting form.   Hopefully I will be able to increase the frequency and duration of my practice sessions without re-injuring my knees.

The Evolution of an Outside Shot

So, in order to not get beat up under the basket, I must have a reliable outside shot.  I never needed an outside shot before, as I was always the guy banging around under the basket.  Now that I’m old and feeble, this is a real good way to get hurt (ask me how I know).  In the good old days, I might get bruised up in a game, but would be ready to do it again the next day.  Now if I get bruised up, it might be several weeks before I can play again!  I can remember remarking to my wife that “I can tell I’m getting old; it used to be that I took a couple of aspirin after a big game for relief from bruises, but now I find myself taking a couple of aspirin before the game”.  And this was when I was on the uphill side of 40! ;-).

OK, so I know I need to develop an outside shot – but how hard can it be?  I have the basket and backboard installed, and I have my double-height basketball escape-prevention mechanism in place.  All I had to do (I thought) was go out and shoot a few baskets and voila!  3-point shot!

Not

Being the scientific type, I started out by measuring my 3-point shooting performance over time using Excel, and was encouraged somewhat to see steady progress in my shooting percentages over time.  However, after doing some inet research I discovered that my shooting percentage from 3-point land was about half what was required for reasonable performance in competition.  About the best I could do was somewhere in the 30’s to 40’s (on a good day).  This sounds pretty good until you discover that most experts agree that one’s percentage in competition is about half the practice percentage, and 30’s to 40’s in competition is considered the minimum requirement for a productive member of a team – oops!!

3-Point shooting percentages taken over a 6-week period

3-Point shooting percentages taken over a 6-week period

After a while, it seemed like I just wasn’t getting any better, no matter how hard I tried or how much I shot (and by this time, I was shooting several hundred shots per day).  Also, I was concentrating entirely on 3-point shooting, and my other shots from shorter ranges (including at the foul line) sucked even worse.  So, I did what I have done every time I have been faced with a hard problem – I tossed out all my assumptions and started researching “the perfect basketball shooting form”.  In the process, I ran across a series of videos created by Arthur Jackson of “One on One Basketball” fame. The videos are at http://www.monkeysee.com and go from the correct shooting stance, proper shooting mechanics and follow-through, and typical mistakes.  The first video in the series is “How to Shoot a Basketball“.

After viewing the videos and comparing them with video from some of my practice sessions, I realized that my shot form was, well, shot.  I was going to have to start all over again and develop a shot from scratch.

The above video was shot in late August 2014 and shows the essentially two-handed shot style I had developed up to this point.  The following video shows the shot style I have developed a couple of months later, based on the Arthur Jackson video series.

 

BBall Wannabe

 

After selling my glider this summer, I decided to return to a sport I have loved all my life – basketball. The only problem is – at age 65 that seemed just a little bit optimistic, if not outright insane! I had actually tried a return to b-ball 10 years or so ago, but got dinged up in pretty short order and had to quit.

As a result of being fairly tall and strong in my misbegotten youth, I had never developed much of an outside game. My normal MO was to simply crash the basket and force up shots from inside 3 feet. As I discovered when I recently tried getting back into the sport, what worked at age 25 doesn’t necessarily work at age 60 or so. So, being the engineer I am, I analyzed the problem and came up with a different approach. My plan this time is to develop an outside game, allowing me to patrol the 3-point line and avoid injury by avoiding the area under the basket.

Of course, this implies the ability to actually score effectively from 3-point land, something I’ve never been able to do. I was going to have to start from scratch and develop a skill I’ve never had before – cool!

First things first; I needed a basket and backboard, and a place to put them. I had the place – a nice concrete apron in front of my garage, complete with retaining walls on three sides (and a loooonnnnngggg driveway on the 4th). Ordered the basket, backboard, and 2 basketballs online, and within a week or so I had the backboard and basket up and installed. The garage apron area was just large enough to accommodate a 3-point circle, with about 3 feet left over directly in line with the basket. Once the basket was up and leveled, I spray-painted a dotted-line 3-point circle (high-school dimensions – not pro!), and started shooting.

The first thing I discovered was that my looonnnngggg driveway ate basketballs at a prodigious rate (well, it didn’t actually eat them – just transported them into a different area code). Yet another engineering problem to solve. After considering and rejecting several different designs, my research led me to a kid safety outfit selling a 25-foot long, 3 foot high retractable driveway net. With the help of a really cool hammer-drill and a 3/4″ concrete bit, I was able to install this where the garage apron area necks down to the aforementioned long driveway, and (mostly) stopped basketballs from escaping.

The second thing I discovered was that ‘mostly’ wasn’t good enough – I was still getting bball escapees on a regular basis, even with the retractable driveway guard in place. So, I ordered a second driveway fence and installed it on top of the first one – problem solved (mostly mostly). I still get escapees on occasion, but they have to work a lot harder to get away now ;-).