Even the greatest shooters of all time can find themselves in a slump. For example, the NBA’s Golden Warriors superstar Steph Curry had to get himself out of his shooting slump last January, as he shot 38.5 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from behind the arc – the least-efficient full month of his career, per ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. At the time Steph shared, “It’s a never-ending process and journey, there’s always something you can tweak or focus on and there’s so many reps that go into practice in the season and offseason and all that. It’s a constant journey, that’s why I love what I do.” So today we’ll provide a few ways to help you along your journey. We’ll take a look at how to overcome a shooting slump in simple steps. Let’s get after it!
So if you’re missing a lot of shots, here are some of the best things to do to try to get your magic back. At the end of the day, it’s most important you stay positive and believe in yourself, as you work through this list.
Analyze your shot selection, and try to identify patterns in the types of shots you’re missing. It’s OK to miss – everyone misses. What you don’t want to do is keep missing the same way because it means you’re not using the feedback the experience is giving you. When your shot is overshooting or falling short, especially check your feet and knees. If your shot is going left or right it might be your follow through. Be sure to track in your head the feedback each shot is giving you, and make adjustments accordingly.
First, understand that you’re going to miss shots – there’s no way around it. One of the greatest shooters of all time, Steph Curry, went 3-of-17 from the field and only made one of his 10 3-point shot attempts vs. the Miami Heat on Jan. 3. And you’re probably not Steph Curry.
If you’re missing a lot of shots in a row, stop and move in closer to the basket to just build back up some confidence with reps you’re hitting. If that doesn’t work take a water break and try to clear your mind, if you’re feeling mentally drained or frustrated.
Run through a quick check body list of fundamentals to ensure you’re doing them correctly to see if those adjustments can help fix whatever is going on. Start from your base and work your way up.
Feet placement: Make sure that when you’re shooting both of your feet are planted under you evenly, instead of being staggered. Then make sure your hips and shoulders are square to the basketball hoop.
Knees: Is your shot falling short? Probably not enough legs. Ensure you’re getting into a low squat position. Think about how you would sit down into a seat – as that’s the feeling you want to achieve.
Arms: Make sure your elbow is lined up with the basket on your shot, and not flaring out. Also ensure you’re creating proper momentum through your arms by quickly bringing the ball down into your waist and back up (you don’t need to do this off bounce passes as you’re in your natural down up rhythm when you catch those, but this is especially important off chest passes).
Hands: Make sure you’re not palming the ball and instead secure it with just your finger tips. Keep your pointer finger aligned with about the mid-point in the ball. Remember to follow through by ‘reaching into the cookie jar’ or just think about closing your fingers to your wrist, or closing your pointer finger to your thumb if your shot is going to a side.
Skills trainer Ryan Razooky has a helpful video that walks through some keys to shooting form which might highlight other areas of focus for you:
Sometimes you can’t see what’s going on clearly. You can video yourself to see if watching you gives you any clues, or get feedback from a coach or teammate – who knows you and the game well – to identify and correct any technical issues.
Steph Curry said he relies on his trainers for crucial feedback when trying to fight out of a slump. “Obviously Brandon Payne and Bruce Fraser, the two guys that I work with all year, during the offseason, in season, on my shot, on my workouts, my reps,” Steph said. “So there are plenty of conversations around little tweaks or little things they notice that I can focus on and really get out of a shooting struggle, or even highlight how the ball is spinning, the arc and stuff like that.”
“Brandon goes into a lot of details in terms of the actual shots I’m taking, percentages around the floor, things we work on in the offseason to get ready. We can always fine-tune that stuff so those two guys I listen to, obviously, in terms of if they see or notice something they know how to approach me with that information and not to try and distract and overwhelm me with it, but be timely with that wisdom.”
Experts recommend visualizing 2-3 times per week for 10-15 minutes each. Mental imagery is a form of deliberate and directed daydreaming in simulation. Imagery is such a powerful tool because when you create mental imagery the same area of your brain lights up with activity as when you’re actually experiencing something. If you can imagine it, your body will accept it, and believe it.
When a person imagines themselves succeeding on court, they activate similar areas of the brain that also become active when they are actually engaging in the task. This is known in sport psychology as “functional equivalence,” essentially demonstrating that we can ‘trick’ the lower order dimensions of our mind into feeling that we are completing a task without actually physically doing so.
“When we visualize it, we can see it unfolding with perfection, so we are rewiring our brains to have essentially perfect muscle memory.” said Dr. Dish Basketball trainer Mike Lee.
Pro players use this technique to great success. “I try to visualize where I’m going to get my shots. Where I’m going to be on defense. And just try and see that ball go through the rim before it does.”said one of the greatest shooters in NBA history Klay Thompson.
“I just kind of visualize when I’m going to do. What the other team’s going to do. I swear it helps.” shared WNBA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Stefanie Dolson.
To visualize, include:
All of which would accompany your total performance experience. The clarity and controllability of your images will improve with practice.
When you visualize, do it from the first-person point of view through your own eyes. Not from a bird’s eye view where you’re picturing everything from above. That way you’ll have achieved your basketball goal, as if it really were you. Learn more about basketball visualization here.
If you’re mostly struggling to shoot during games, but doing really well with solo practice shooting, change up your practices. While getting reps up can help, reps by yourself is nothing like what you experience in a game. Be sure the drills you’re doing involve reacting and pressure, so that you’re learning to make quick decisions. If you don’t have a partner, play mental tricks by giving yourself constraints such as a time to beat or a number of shots you can’t miss in a row. Check out some creative basketball shooting drills to build confidence here.
Grab your best outdoor or indoor basketball and hit the court. (If you need a new ball, we recommend the Evolution – size 7 for men, 6 for women, 5 for kids.)
You’ve got this! Now you know some simple steps to fight your way out of your slump. Up next, discover ways to get more playing time.
You can also develop your basketball IQ anytime, anywhere, with our fun basketball IQ card game (here for beginners and here for advanced), created in partnership with a Nike basketball trainer!