Teaching the Shoot or Drive Basketball Decision

January 10, 2018

The shoot or drive basketball decision is hard to teach. It is even harder to help a player conceptualize. I want to show you how we teach, and help our players conceptualize, the shoot or drive basketball decision.

There are a number of performance variables that influence the shoot or drive decision. Here is a list of some of these performance variables.

As you can see when you factor in these performance variables the shoot or drive decision becomes even more complex. Since I only want to focus on the individual player’s shoot or drive decision, I am going to assume that none of these performance variables are a factor in the player’s decision-making.

The only performance variable we will consider is the defender responsible for the offensive player making the shoot or drive decision.

How to conceptualize the shoot or drive decision

To give the shoot or drive decision a visual we define open as the offensive player having more than an arm length advantage away from their defender. We define not open as the offensive player having less than an arm length advantage away from their defender.

Shoot or Drive

This is simplistic, but it helps us explain and teach the shoot or drive decision based on reading an advantage vs. disadvantage situation.

If an offensive player has more than an arm length advantage from their defender, they should shoot.

If an offensive player has an arm length or less disadvantage from their defender, they should drive.

This video demonstrates some of the reasons a player would shoot or drive based on the advantage vs. disadvantage read, and the specific basketball situation.

What about the pass?

In our zero second skills training and basketball decision mind training philosophy, we do not discuss a “triple threat.” We teach one threat, and that is shoot. The shoot decision is based on the arm length advantage read. If a player has made the decision to shoot, we want them to shoot with freedom. The secondary reads, drive or pass, come after the player has made the decision not to shoot based on the less than arm’s length read. Therefore, the pass is a secondary decision.

Focusing on the shot before the drive or pass, sequences the decision-making process. This focuses a player on making one decision, followed by a counter if that decision is not available. Beyond the decision-making process making the shot the primary decision is also supposed to give a player confidence to take a shot when they are open, in range, and in rhythm. Of course, some of the outlined performance variables influence the decision to not shoot the basketball, but I want you to understand our overall approach.  

There are decision based reads, locations on the floor, and personnel driven variables that result in a pass decision over a shoot or drive decision. For example, we spend a lot of time working on the extra pass after a dribble penetration and pass. We try to follow a penetration with a shot or an extra pass, rather than another penetration.

Extra passes are most often determined by the movement of the basketball from a good to great situation. While we might have a good shot (more than an arm length advantage for a player who can shoot), we may have a great shot (more than an arm length advantage for a better shooter) if we make an extra pass. This would trump the shoot or drive decision. For the sake of this discussion, we have eliminated the pass as an option so we focus specifically on whether a player should shoot or drive.

How do we teach the shoot or drive decision?

Beyond using Basketball Decision Training to create a more random shooting drill, we use BDT to bridge the gap between basketball decisions and basketball skills. Neither have been ever without the other within a game. Instead of teaching the skill, and then building the skill in the game application, the skill and the decision are combined in BDT.

Moreover, the decision comes first in BDT, just like in a game. First the offense player must read the decision cue. Secondly, they must apply the skill. Too often when it comes to teaching the shoot or drive decisions (or other basketball decisions) the skill is taught first, when in reality the decision comes before the skill.

BDT connects the concept of shooting with no defense, and the concept of shooting with defense. The BDT decision cues stimulate a decision based on a game read that simulates a defender being present. In this case, the coach or player providing the decision cue would stimulate a shot or a drive. The passer/defender would step towards the offensive player to cue a drive. The passer/defender would put their hands down and/or jump backwards to cue a shot. This would simulate the more than arm length away, and less than arm’s length away reads an offensive player would make during a live situation.

Training with BDT provides a framework for a player to understand the cues present in this one-on-one offense vs. defense decision-making process. It also provides an opportunity for the offensive player to apply the skill resulting from the decision.  The progression to live offense vs. defense is when true decision-making becomes permanent, but BDT provides an easy to understand learning bridge

Learn more about how effective BDT can be in bridging players’ learning from practice into a game with this demonstration of Shoulder Game Basketball Decision Training drill below and this full video learning experience: Learn BDT

Basketball Immersion combines skills training with mind training to develop players through small-sided games, a games approach to coaching basketball and basketball decision training. Join today to get access to all our video learning for only $97.00 for a full year membership. Get Access Here

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