The Mental Toughness Required to be a Shooter
Becoming a shooter requires a lot of fundamental mechanics that consists of footwork, proper balance, holding follow through, and even ball placement but one key thing that isn’t talked about is the amount of mental toughness that is needed as well. As a player development coach myself, I’m always expressing the importance of getting shots up and mastering your shot. Great shooters live in the gym and even play small games with themselves such as not counting made shots that hit the rim, not missing more than two shots in a row and more. All of these things are very important to becoming a great shooter but without the mental toughness of dealing with missed shots, all of the work that you put in can be hard to show in game play.
January 6th 2009, I was a senior at Vallejo High School and I remember playing against Fairfield High School who were one of the top teams in the state at the time. Being a shooter on my team, I knew I needed to step up big in order for us to win. However, I didn’t score a single point in the 1st quarter and missed my first 5 shots. At that moment I had to lock in and keep my confidence high or else it was going to be a long night for me as well our team as Fairfield jumped out on us early. During the 2nd quarter I started to catch fire to the point where I found myself hitting four 3s in one quarter. This hot streak would lead into the 2nd half as we battled into overtime. Down 2 with 10 seconds left I was able to knock down the game winning 3 to win the game. After not scoring a single point in the first quarter, I finished with 31 points including 6 three pointers. Despite the success, it was the mental toughness through the struggle that got me through the game.
In many cases players will get overly frustrated over one missed shot. Some will begin forcing the issue by taking bad shots, passing the ball less, and even rushing their shot. These are all things that show lack of mental toughness as a shooter. Allowing the game to come to you is a huge part of staying even kill. Never getting to high when shots are going in and never getting to low when shots aren’t going in, is the biggest secret to mental toughness as a shooter. Every shot is a new shot, and the previous result has no impact on the next shot.
In workouts great shooters will shoot anywhere from 500-1000 shots a day. A great shooter will miss 100 or more shots when getting these amount of reps in but very rarely do we think about how many shots we miss when working out. That same approach can actually apply to game play. Although making 400 shots out of 500 is a great percentage, missing 100 shots is still way more than what you will miss in game play so missing 5 in a row or even 10 in a row in a game shouldn’t discourage you. The only thing that should be evaluated when you miss shots in the game is how you are missing, and is it more of a mechanical issue or are you on target but the ball just didn’t go in.
Putting up the reps and having the proper mechanics can make you a good shooter, but having the mental toughness to go with it makes you a great shooter. It’s the reason why Stephen Curry can smile through a tough shooting performance like he did in the 2022 Finals against the Celtics. When you reach a point of being mentally tough as a shooter, you will be unbothered by missing shots in game play. Keep working on your craft and mastering your shot, but also work on the mental. The Mind will always control the body!
Written by Skilled Express