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Process Goals and Player Development

Sometimes I wonder about NBA players. On True Hoop, I saw a paragraph about Tyson Chandler speaking about his coach, Larry Brown:

“I’ll shoot a hook shot or a short jump shot and I’ll make it and he’ll come back and say, ‘Oh Tyson, come on, you have to get the ball in your fingertips.’ After he says something like that it feels uncomfortable. But then I’ll shoot it and miss it and he’ll say, ‘great shot.’ Your first reaction is to say: ‘What are you talking about, great shot? I just missed that.’ But I’ve come to the realization that he understands that it doesn’t matter if you miss it that particular time. If you continue to shoot the ball the right way and you get to the point where you shoot the same way every single time, you’re going to make a higher percentage. It works out better than if you’re shooting half the time one-way and half the time another.

Chandler was a lottery pick out of high school and has been in the NBA for nearly a decade, and he appears surprised by the idea of the process, as opposed to the result.

Developing players often mistake this concept too. It is often hard for a young player to accept that a made shot was a bad shot or that a missed shot was a good shot. We are conditioned to focus on results – “by any means necessary.”

However, while a player may make one shot when using poor technique, he is not likely to be consistent. The goal is not to make one shot, but to make many shots. As one’s technique improves and becomes more consistent, the player’s results will be more positive and consistent as well.

While the goal is to make shots, the path to making more shots is to focus on the process. By focusing on perfecting one’s shooting technique, as opposed to just making the next shot, the player will have more success over the long run, as Chandler is discovering with Larry Brown.

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