How to Improve Your Shooting Guard Skills
Think back over some of the greatest shooting guards in recent basketball history. Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. Jerry West. Dwyane Wade. Reggie Miller. Ray Allen.
In addition to being physically gifted and coordinated, each of those players possessed a desire to improve their game throughout their careers. At first glance, many people will focus on the scoring ability that each player brought to the court each night. However, they also combined their shooting skills with defense, rebounding, and passing ability.
In order to improve as a shooting guard, you should focus on strengthening your entire game. Although you may not become an NBA star, with time, effort, and lots of practice you could still become an accomplished player in your own right. Work on the skill areas below, and watch your game start to blossom.
Increase Your Speed and Strength
The game of basketball is becoming faster and more physical than it has ever been in the past. In order to become a better player, you need to condition your body to be able to keep up with the competition. The best players are the ones that are able to perform at a high level during the course of a whole game. In order to do this, you must make sure that you are as strong in the fourth quarter as you were during the first quarter.
In order to improve physical strength, find a way to incorporate some weight training into your workouts. Adding muscle will not only help you run faster and jump higher, but it will also allow you to absorb more impact as you take fouls in the lane.
Do not just stop at the weight room though. Combine weightlifting with other conditioning drills to make sure that your cardiovascular strength is also up to par. The goal is to be the player on the court with the most stamina at the end of the game. When other players are worn out, you will be just getting started.
Practice on Your Shot
The keys to having a great shot in basketball are good form and repetition. Once you have established the correct way to shoot the ball, you have to continue practicing it so that it becomes a habit each time you go up for a shot. If you study the greatest shooters in the game, you'll notice their shot motion rarely changes no matter what part of the court they are on.
In practicing your shots, make sure that you do not just take all of them from a set spot on the court. Try to simulate game action if possible. Take some shots off the dribble. Work with a partner and work on taking shots coming off of screens on the baseline.
To increase your range, you should definitely try to work on some three point shooting. However, do not neglect your mid-range game. Shooting within the key and just inside the three point line is a dying art, and you can produce a ton of points with a reliable mid-range jumper.
Last but not least, work on your free throws. As a shooting guard, you will be counted upon to drive into the lane as well as shoot jump shots. With this in mind, you are guaranteed to be fouled quite a bit during the course of the game. Hitting a high percentage of your free throws will give your time a great chance to win games.
Work on Ball-Handling
Although many people consider the point guard to be the primary ball-handler on the basketball court, more and more shooting guards are also sharing ball-handling duties. A shooting guard needs to be able to dribble strongly with both hands while still be able to look up court to identify open teammates.
Improved ball-handling skills will also enable you to create your own shot off the dribble. A reliable jump shot is a great quality, but it is even more dangerous when combined with the ability to drive to the hoop.
Are you able to dribble well with both hands?
Become a Better Defender
In addition to having to produce points for your team, the shooting guard is also counted upon to defend the opposing team's scorer. It is important to improve your defensive skill set in order to lock down the other team's scoring threats.
When working on defense, focus on conditioning and footwork. So much of playing great defense is the ability to beat the other player to a certain spot on the floor. It is also important to have stamina to prevent wearing down over the course of four quarters.
A strong defender is valuable even when having a bad shooting night, so focus on defense every time you step on the court.
Help Out with Rebounding
Shooting guards are often the shorter players on the court, but they have a lot to offer when it comes to rebounding. When the shooting goes in for rebounds, it provides extra assistance for the center and forwards. Increased rebounds give your team a shot at second chance shot opportunities as well. Over the course of the game, these second chances could be the difference in winning and losing.
When you have the opportunity, work on perfecting your rebounding technique. Practice on boxing out other players so they cannot get to the rebound before you do. Work on being explosive to the ball so that when it misses you are the first person there to corral it.
Study Tape of Other Guards
One thing a lot of basketball players take for granted is studying tape of themselves and other players. By reviewing videotape on a consistent basis, you can identify areas of your game that need work. Whether it be correcting your shooting motion or learning how to defend against a certain offense, you can learn a lot from a good film session.
Studying video of other players can also be beneficial. If you have access to tape of a successful shooting guard, you can use it to see which one of his moves are the most effective during a game. You can also see how that player reacts during certain situations in a game.
Watching tape of opponents can identify player trends as well as team tendencies. Spending a little bit of extra time in film study can pay big dividends when you finally step back onto the court.
Become a Better Leader
Many people often assume that the point guard is the leader of the team because he usually has play-calling responsibilities. While this may be true on many teams, it does not mean that other positions cannot be leaders on their teams.
A good shooting guard should work on strengthening communication skills with the coach as well as his fellow teammates. Doing so will decrease the chance for in-game confusion, as well as make the unit more cohesive.
Being a leader takes place on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. In order to prevent the other team from scoring, a good shooting guard must work on communicating with his teammates so everyone knows what is happening on the floor.
Continue to Practice
As mentioned at the beginning of the hub, true success comes to those that are willing to put in the time and effort to be better. Practicing every aspect of your game will only make you a more well-rounded player, but also a leader on the court. That drive could one day lead you to heights you never even dreamed of achieving.
Questions & Answers
How many times do you have to practice to improve shooting guard skills?
It sounds cliche, but practice really does make perfect when it comes to playing basketball. Physical talent can get you far, but combine that with as many gym and weight room workouts as possible.
One of the huge knocks against younger players today is that they lack fundamentals. Those are developed through practice and building your basketball IQ.
So to answer your question, practice as much as possible. Combine pickup games, skill drills, and weightlifting. You won't regret it.