When I was growing up, all the heroic stories of great shooters were about them playing all day long. Pete Maravich played 8 hours a day, dribbling his basketball everywhere he went, even to the movies (glad he wasn’t sitting next to me, I would have punctured his ball).
Coaches perpetuate this by talking about ‘gym rats’, players who hang around the gym all day. It’s a test of manliness to play longer than the next guy.
I will be the first to agree with anyone who says you need a certain amount of time to develop skills. As a boy I played 3-6 hours a day some summers.
But even with that, I think that much of this mythology is a waste of time. Quantity of practice is important, but quality I’ve come to believe matters much more.
When applied to shooting, it looks like this. Players talk about shooting 500 shots a day. But I have watched players shoot 500 shots and have done so myself. After awhile you zone out, get numb, your mind drifts. I saw this with my own son as well.
In addition, its just flat out hard to get 500 shots in per day unless you have a neat tool like a Shootaway that automatically rebounds the ball and returns it to you. It takes a long time to shoot that many shots.
So I have come to advocate more focused shooting drills. Two of the best are consecutive shooting and nothing but net shooting.
Consecutive shooting is what it sounds like: making a certain number of shots in a row. I would suggest you find 10 spots and start by making 5 consecutive in each spot before you move on. Then move your goal up to 10 in a row. You can end when you achieve your goal. This I believe much more closely follows real game conditions; in a real game you are under pressure..and believe me, if you have made 9 shots in a row and you know you get to go inside if you make the next shot, you feel the pressure.
Another variation of this is nothing but net shooting. In this you only count shots that are ‘nothing but net’, every other shot, even makes that hit the rim, are not counted. So you commit to making 10 nothing but net shots from a spot and then move to the next spot. Do this for 10 spots and you will focus on good form and arc; concentration will be high and game conditions will be more closely simulated.
Those too easy? Try consecutive nothing but net shooting…now THAT’s a challenge!