Ben Simmons made his first career three-point shot during an Oct. 8 preseason game in Philadelphia versus the Guangzhou Long-Lions of the Chinese Basketball League. Sixers’ fans are now waiting in anticipation to see if Simmons emerges as a consistent shot-maker.
The made three-pointer, combined with offseason footage showing his ability to consistently knock down perimeter shots, could be signs that shooting efficiency improvement is imminent for Simmons.
Predicting whether or not Simmons improves his shot-making ability this season is not our aim. However, providing leading-edge player development solutions if Simmons’ improvement is not a smooth line upwards, is.
In this piece, we will also examine common underlying causes for players who have experienced chronic shooting issues. Before we can understand these issues, we must first take a look at the components that make up a player’s shot.
The Layers to Shooting Efficiency
When improving shooting consistency over a period of time, there are several levels to the player’s jump shot that should be considered.
The Physical: Form and structure is the outward compilation of a player’s inner dynamics. On-court shot repetition is requisite for engraining new behavior, such as of an effective shot. When a player’s form changes from shot-to-shot, or if there is an inconsistent percentage, more often than not, there are deeper issues at play.
The Mental: Mental clutter can affect form and consistency. The mental side should not be overlooked and is an important part of a player’s shot. If there is not alignment, it can be counterproductive, and create resistance for the player. This can cause issues with shooting mechanics and overall shot-making ability. This element can affect focus, confidence, form and consistency.
Outside Influences: When struggling with a shooting issue like Simmons is, there exists another major challenge. The outside world can create a level of pressure and distraction that many a player has a hard time dealing with.
The media, friends, family, coaches and teammates can complicate the shot process by causing alternative narratives that can make the player feel uneasy, not confident, and/or downright mad. With Simmons, there are many who hold an opinion and voice it for why Simmons is struggling. There are also many, who are offering suggestions for how Simmons can improve.
All of this outside chatter can be a distraction. Players must find a way to neutralize, and or avoid these distractions as they move through their preparation. If the player does not, this can add a layer of complication to the process.
Very rarely does the underlying cause lie in the player’s shooting mechanics.
Ineffectual mechanics and shooting inefficiency almost always map back to mental clarity and focus. If a player finds him or herself unfocused, this can ultimately cause issues with shot mechanics. If this persists over a matter of days, weeks and months, players can begin to lose proficiency with their shot.
This is especially true for players like Simmons, who go through a season or more of chronic shooting issues. The mental can weigh heavily on the psyche and can do a number on a player’s confidence.
Even in situations where they may not mean to, players are always building habits. If there exists a pattern for not being focused, than this can carry through all parts of a player’s game, wrecking havoc. This can be true for not only shooting but also on other skill-sets as well. Habits must be built through focused confidence. This is one of the most powerful ways to build shooting acumen.
Attacking chronic shooting issues solely from the physical repetition side can produce mixed results. A one-sided approach like this can overlook the psychosomatic issues that are underlying the player’s shaky shooting performance.
Taking a look at Simmons’ summertime footage, and preseason three-point make, it looks as if his shooting mechanics are fluid and in rhythm.
(Courtesy: Synergy Sports)
Comparing this to his three-point attempts taken within the flow of the 76ers offense during the 2018-2019 season, it appears as if Simmons is taking steps forward.
(Courtesy: Synergy Sports)
However, it is important to not confuse initial progress with permanent improvement. For Simmons, there could be mental hurdles at play, which if left unaddressed could hinder his improvement in the shooting department.
The Integrated Player Development Approach
In the case that he is not, tweaking his current player development process to address the inevitable volatility from the mental side could work to stabilize his shooting efficiency.
Integrated Player Development combining on-court skill work with mental performance implemented early, often and continuously throughout the season provides the highest probability to do this.
High-Performance Mindfulness strategies, mental performance techniques, and on-court skill development could be most effective in doing this.
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