A special thanks to Creighton Burns for passing this Andy Louder essay on to us.
So you've spent countless hours in the gym perfecting your shot. You've had a few breakout games but you are still struggling to find a way to consistently score more points. Sound familiar? If it does, you certainly aren't alone. There are lots of good players that go through this phase. The key is to understand that it's not a permanent phase and that you can move past it with the right training and understanding.
Here's one of the main things you need to remember... if you become a good shooter you can't keep it a secret for very long. The focus of a good defensive team is to try and force the other team to shoot the ball as far away from the basket as possible. To encourage this they usually sag off. They try and take away any opportunities you might have to drive towards the basket to get a closer shot. In other words, they encourage the other team to shoot jump shots. This is why when you first become a good shooter it's a lot of fun! You get a lot of open looks from the outside and have the opportunity to score a lot of points. However the honeymoon doesn't last long. Once a team figures out that you can hit the open shot from outside they completely change their strategy. Instead of sagging off they get up in your face and never leave you alone. This is where a lot of players fall apart. They get really frustrated by the pressure defense and can never get a shot off. To try and score points and contribute they end up forcing shots. Things get worse and worse because they miss most of their shots and start losing their confidence. They go from having a few games where they score a lot of points to barely putting up 4-6 points a game.
Write this down. If you are a one-dimensional player, you are very easy to guard. Unless you are over 7 feet tall you are going to have a very difficult time scoring points by just being a good shooter. You've got to be able to get by your defender and create your own shot. If you can do this, a world of opportunity opens up for you.
Think about this... You get the ball and the guy guarding you knows you are a good shooter but also remembers the last time you had the ball you crossed him up and got a lay-up. How is he going to guard you? He knows that if he leaves you enough room you'll just shoot a jump shot over him but if he guards you tight you'll get around him for an open shot. Now you're in the driver's seat. This is a much better situation to be in than just hoping somebody sets a good pick for you or that the defense will play a soft zone so you can get an open three-pointer.
Here are some great NBA players to watch who all do a phenomenal job of creating their own shot: Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwayne Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Allen Iverson. Watch them on television and pay attention to how they break down their defenders when they pressure them. They don't just score their points when someone passes to them while they are wide open. They have the ability to make things happen.
How to Get Started
Start simple when begin trying to create your own shot. The worst thing you can do is get so excited about it that you play out of control and force the issue. If you do this you'll end up committing turnovers and taking bad shots and that is never good. The key is to start small by practicing just one move. Once you master one specific move that allows you to get open, then you can start leaning others. Maybe your one move starting out is just a quick jab-step or a cross-over dribble. It doesn't need to be fancy at all, it just needs to be something that puts your defender off-balance so you can make a move to get open. You'll be amazed how much a difference just knowing one move can make.
It's also important to note that you should never attempt anything fancy until you have it mastered in practice. So once you decide on the first move you are going to learn, don't do it in a game until you've done it in practice several times and had success doing it.