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Coach's Corner

Improve Shooting With Strength Training


Contrary to some opinions, lifting weights doesn't adversely affect shooting touch. The idea that weightlifting tightens muscles - leaving players stronger, but less flexible and muscle-bound - is simply not true.

Check out the many areas that shooters can improve upon by hitting the weight room and pumping some iron.

Shooting Range. Players who can step out beyond the defense and consistently hit shots must be reckoned with by the defense. A good outside shooter opens up driving and passing lanes for themselves and their teammates.

All players can improve their shooting range to some degree. Actual shooting practice comes first of course, but building strength and power in the hips, legs, shoulders and arms enables players to shoot more comfortably and accurately from longer distances.

Shooting In Traffic. Driving to the basket for a shot attempt is not for the faint of heart. Abundant body contact and hard fouls are the norm and players who hope to convert field goals in and around the paint must be strong and tough.

Developing overall body strength, muscle size and mental toughness in the weight room greatly improves an athlete's ability to shoot and score while absorbing contact.

Late-Game Shooting. How many times have you witnessed players coming up short on their shots as the clock winds down at the end of a close game?

Sometimes it comes down to the stress of dealing with a win-or-lose situation or by the increased defensive pressure that comes with late-game action. While both these conditions have something to do with shots clanking off the rim during crunch time, the main culprit of poor late-game shooting is individual fatigue. A fast-paced, hard-played basketball game wears down even the most gifted of athletes, leaving them spent and weak toward its conclusion.

The antidote for this late-competition exhaustion is regular strength training. Lifting weights on a year-round basis gives players the strength to shoot effectively from both the field and the free-throw line in the last few minutes of a contest when it counts most.

Balance. Possessing good balance is not a luxury for the deadeye shooter—it's a prerequisite. Strengthening the body through weight training, especially lower-body weight training, greatly enhances an athlete's balance. Improving balance particularly helps players shoot more accurately when on the move, allowing them to stop on a dime, gather themselves in rhythm and rise straight up for a shot attempt.

Jumping Ability. Strength training is an outstanding vehicle for improving a player's vertical jump. Two of the best strength-training exercises for improving jumping ability are deep, explosive squats and weighted step-ups.

Jumping higher during shot extension allows shooters to get better looks at the rim on a consistent basis.

Creating Shooting Space. When athletes build addition- al size and strength through their shoulders, they become more effective at using their upper bodies to bump off would-be defenders.

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