Breaking shooting slumps during tryouts

You always want to show your best at tryouts but there are moments where shooting slumps can affect your whole game. Every player needs to come to the realisation that this is going to happen at some point. But don’t stress, it does pass. Here are some tips to get you through the slump.

  1. Get focused mentally From my experiences playing ball, shooting slump are mental. String a few bad games together and it’s in your head; body tightens up and the shot isn’t going up with confidence more a hope. Get prepared mentally by visualising your shots dropping just before you go to bed every night. If it is the night before a try out or game. Picture yourself getting your feet set and going through the perfect hooting motion in your head. Picture the ball going through the hoop all net. Sounds silly? This is something that I always do with my sport psychologist. Before I leave to go play basketball overseas we always go through visualisation techniques. This is also something that Australian Olympic athletes do. The Australian row team go through visualising the whole race stroke by stroke. I have heard that when the rowers go through this visualisation process whilst seated in the consulting room they break into a sweat. Even though they are not doing anything physical. The visualisation techniques help you focus and break any mental bad habits. What’s a mental bad habit? There are many, but the one I am referring to is doubt at your own ability and lack of confidence shooting the ball. The technique is broken down much like a basketball game; into four quarters.
    ​Q1: Focus on catching the ball in rhythm and what the ball feels like in your hands
    Q2: Think about your feet being set
    Q3: Visualise the ball leaving your hand with perfect rotation
    Q4: Ball going through the rim all netBefore any major tryout or game I use this exact visualisation technique. What do you really have to lose? If you are in a slump surely you’d try anything to break it.
  2. Around the basket shooting
    I’ve seen so many basketball players struggle from mid to long range just get into the gym and shoot hundreds of shots. Yes, practice is good but over training especially when you are in a slump is a very bad thing. Why? Well over training makes you physically tired. Your body needs rest! Shooting slumps are mentally taxing so why would you make yourself physically tired as well. You’ll be just adding to the problem. Fatigued legs means a shot falling short. In a slump this could be deflating. When I’m in a shooting slump I always work on shots close to the basket and NEVER extend past the free throw line. Just to get some confidence back I work on form shooting under the basket for around 30 mins; form shooting under the basket is also my warm up routine before training or a game.
  • Form shooting under the basket – form shooting is going through the perfect shot motion without jumping. You should be no more than 1 meter away from the bottom of the basket. Do this for 15-30 minutes moving around the basket.
  • Jump shots in the key – you can make this a high or low intensity workout. If you are in a shooting slump I’d say find the happy medium where you are comfortably making shots. Remember, this isn’t a fitness workout but more form shooting. Staying inside the key shoot jump shots and get your own rebound. Do this for around 15 – 30 minutes. Don’t stay in one spot make sure you move around. If you get a feel for the ball and the shots start to drop move on to off the dribble shooting. Please do not over dribble and make fade away shots. Stay disciplined, take one or two dribbles and shoot the ball in perfect form.
  • Mid-range, outside the key shooting – this is something that you should do only after the above two steps start working. In that I mean you are starting to make shots at a high percentage. Work around the outside of the key to begin with much like the game around the world. After you get the feel for your shot then step back a meter from the key and get some form shooting. All of the outside key shooting should take around 30 minutes.
  1. Get back to basics BEEF
    When I teach young kids to shoot I teach them BEEF. BEEF? Yes, Balance Eyes Elbows Follow through. In a shooting slump I always tell people to get back to the basics. With shooting it’s BEEF.


  • Feet shoulder with apart
  • If you are a right hander, right foot slightly forward. If you are a left hander, left foot slightly forward.


  • Eyes focused to the back of the ring or front of the ring.


  • Shooting arm elbow should be tucked in
  • Shooting arm elbow should be in the shape of a C

Follow through:

  • Extend the arm on shot
  • Flick the wrists or hang the spider

These are some tips I use to get through a shooting slump. Now this may or may not work for you but make sure that you are mentally strong and believe that you are just going through a funk. It won’t last forever.

Shooting isn’t the be all and end all during a tryout. If you are in a funk during a tryout period display something else. Defense, rebounding, communication, hustle and leadership are some great attributes to display. Trust me! Coaches do take notice of that stuff.

I know this article could be a little confusing the way it has been written hopefully the embedded video helps. But if you do have questions or feedback please use the Ask A Question page to send me an email.

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