Dr. Dish Skill Builder: How to Get Out of a Shooting Slump

Everybody who’s ever played the game has been there: shots just aren’t falling. Even some of the greatest shooters to ever play the game have encountered shooting slumps. They’re not fun, and they’re not always easy to get out of.

However, they’re also not impossible to get out of. Sometimes it’s mental, sometimes it’s physical, and sometimes it’s both. How can you get out of it? We give you some actionable advice below.

Tips for Getting out of Your Slump

Diagnose the problem

This is one of the most important, yet also overlooked steps to getting your shot back on track. You need to diagnose what’s going wrong. One of the best ways to do this is to watch film of your games. Within that film, look to see if:

  • You’re on balance – Balance is critical to your shot going in. Look to see if you’re fading one way or another when you’re shooting. If you’re jumping straight up and down, your balance is probably not the issue.
  • Where the misses are hitting on the rim – Are your shots consistently hitting a certain area on the rim? If your shots are hitting the front of the rim, you might not be engaging your legs enough in your shot. If your shots are hitting left or right, chances are higher that you have a flaw in your release (elbow out, thumbing with your off hand, poor follow through, etc.).
  • You have proper arc – The arc on your shot can tell you a lot about how the mechanics of your shot. If your arc is flat, look at your release point on your shot. Chances are that you’re not releasing the ball high enough in your shot. A flat arc gives your shot almost no chance of going in.
  • You’re ready to shoot – Are you catching the ball ready to shoot? Are your feet squared up? Are your hands ready? Are your knees bent on the catch? So much of your shot going in is predicated on what you do before you ever get the ball.

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with yourself, so we recommend watching your film with a coach or trainer that can help you diagnose if your shooting slump is a mechanical flaw or not.

So what if you watch film of your shot during your slump and you don’t see anything wrong with your mechanics? That’s good and bad news. That means that there isn’t a lot you need to do mechanically, which is great news. However, the bad news is that it’s probably a mental issue, and it’s going to be up to you to get your confidence back.


Shoot away from the goal

This headline might sound a little confusing. We recommend finding a spot on a wall and shooting a form shot several times trying to hit that spot. It might sound a little goofy, but sometimes it’s good to get away from the hoop to refine your mechanics.

If you’re continually shooting shots on a goal while your confidence is low, every miss becomes more and more frustrating. Moving away from the goal and shooting at a wall allows you to work on your shot without the pressure of wanting to see every shot go in.

You can also work on your form away from the goal by laying on your back and shooting the ball into the air above you.


Visualize shots going in

This is work that can be done without even being in the gym. The power of the subconscious mind is pretty incredible. For 10-15 minutes per day, visualize yourself catching, shooting, and hitting jumpshots in games. I know, I know, this sounds so cheesy and you’re probably thinking there’s no way this can help. It can.

Look at the story of Major James Nesmeth, who was a combat pilot in the Vietnam war. He loved to play golf, even though he shot in the mid 90’s. Unfortunately, Major Nesmeth was shot down and became a prisoner of war for seven years. To keep his sanity, he played an 18-hole round of golf in his mind each day.

When he was finally freed, in the first round of golf he played since his capture, he shot a 74. The power of visualization is strong. Even if you’re skeptical, give it a try.


Watch film of your great games

If you’re struggling with the idea of visualization to get your confidence in your shot back, go back and watch real games that you excelled in. Watch how easy the game looked, and look at how shot after shot went in for you. It helps you realize that your shot isn’t doomed forever, and you do have the capabilities to put the ball in the basket. The mind is a powerful thing, so reprogramming it to believe in your abilities is paramount to your confidence.


Check your self-talk

If you find yourself thinking things like “I can’t hit anything” or “my shot is horrible” you have to find a way to cut it out. There is absolutely ZERO benefit to negative self-talk, so do everything you can to refrain from it.

Instead, you should be talking positively to yourself after every shot. Self-talk like “that shot felt great” or “the next one is going in” can really help enhance your confidence. We often hear coaches talk about ‘next play mentality.’ Meaning – you can’t focus on what happened in the past, it’s all about doing your best on the next play. That’s how you have to approach your jumpshot when you’re going through a slump.

It’s easy to talk about breaking out of a shooting slump. It’s not nearly as easy to actually do it. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you. Recognize that everybody goes through it, don’t feel sorry for yourself, and do what you need to do to snap out of it.

While it can be extremely frustrating to be in the midst of a shooting slump, the feeling of breaking out of it feels pretty darn good.