Almost more times than I can count, I’ve heard great shooters talk about how they started their daily practice close to the rim. If you want to get better at shooting from distance, you need to start in close.
Why? In order to be great shooter from long-range, you need to be consistent and have a “soft touch”. This is a product of good arch on your shot and a relaxed, fluid shooting motion. You also must be confident in your ability to make the shot. The 8-10-12 shooting drill helps to facilitate each one of these vital components.
8-10-12 The Drill
This drill starts 8 feet from the hoop on the side of the rim. This distance is about half that of a free throw. Your goal is to make three shots from this spot. While you are shooting you can focus on using good form and getting good arch on your shot.
After hitting three shots from this spot, take a large step back to 10 feet from the hoop. Hit three shots from here.
Finally, take another step back and hit three shots from 12 feet out.
Once you’ve made three shots from each of these distances, move over a couple of feet toward the lane and start the drill over again from a different spot. When you’ve worked your way through each of the three distances again, move into the middle of lane. The drill continues on like this until you’ve made it to the other side of the basket.
Starting from a distance that allows you to make more than you miss will allow you to build a motor pattern that is built on making shots. When you move back in distance in small pieces, you allow your body to use the same pattern with just a little more strength and power needing to be recruited. So you build one shot that has a very strong brain and body connection. The end goal is to have your shooting motion become a movement pattern that is stored in your brain that you don’t have to consciously think about during the game. All you have to think about is finding your target and knocking in the shot.
Progressions and Modifications
After you have consistent, good form, and you are making over 75% of your shots. You can add increasing distances. So instead of shooting from 8-10-12, you could shoot from 10-12-14 and so on. If you have plenty of time to work on the drill, you can challenge yourself to make more shots from each spot. The end goal, as a high school player, would be to be able to make around 75% of your shots in a drill from spots 16-18-20 out from the hoop.
2004 Holiday Classic with a “Young” Coach Gaston