Over the last year or so I’ve really become convinced in the importance of the “reality” of the movements that players use in their fakes. Answering the simple question: “Did the fake look like a real movement?” usually also is the same answer for “Was the move effective?” My favorite move in basketball is the “shot stop.” It is similar to a shot fake but different in some important details that can be very valuable for a player to dominate that will help them in all other moves with the ball.
There are two places where players often make mistakes and the move no longer becomes “real”, it becomes just a “movement.” These two places are the eyes and the feet. When a player drives left, he or she is almost always looking left. But players at all levels when they make a left to right crossover often either look at the defender or make an exxagerated look to the left that not only doesn’t convince the defender they are going left, it often gives away the fact that a crossover to the right is coming.
Paul Pierce is one of the best in the league at using his eyes to sell his moves.
Talking about the feet is more complicated, especially when you are talking about moves off of the dribble and I’m not going to go into that. But from this line of thought about the importance of the eyes and the feet in all kinds of ball moves it leads to my favorite move for a player with the ball, a move I refer to as the “Shot Stop.” A move that has the same objective as a shot fake or ball fake but is different in the movements. It is simply the player PERFORMING THEIR NORMAL SHOOTING motion and then stopping at some moment during that normal shooting motion. It sounds simple, and is simple but it takes a focused effort by the player to change years of habits of doing a shot fake.
Shot Fake vs “Shot Stop”
In a shot fake the player with the ball may be looking at the defender or anywhere else on the court. In a “shot stop” the player is looking at the basket at all times.
In a shot fake the player with the ball may have his feet in a variety of different positions, usually anticipating the penetration that follows the fake and therefore the feet take a little bit wider position or even one foot “steps back” to be able to push off quicker. In a shot stop the players feet are exactly the same as they would be in a normal shot.
In a shot fake if the defender does not commit to the shot, the player with the ball has to reload and start over to be able to shoot the ball because of one or more of the following: 1-eyes not on the basket, 2-feet not set to shoot, 3-the ball is in a location that does not exist in the normal shooting motion. While in a shot stop the player can quickly decide to shoot the ball if the defender does not commit because all of the body movments are the same as the shooting motion.
Here is a video that I have used at a few different clinics that tries to relate the feet on the shot fake to the dance in Thriller by Michael Jackson while some examples of something similar to the “shot stop” by the greatest player of all time.
How you refer to something is key in how it is understood by your players. If you refer to this move as a ball fake, head fake or shot fake. Those names may already have a previous meaning to your players, while the term “shot stop” has no previous meaning and it is very clear in the name that you want the players to shoot the ball and then stop the shooting motion. I edited this movie before I became sold on the necessity to refer to this move only as the SHOT STOP.
The only reason I don’t consider MJ’s moves a shot stop is because he takes one of his hands off the ball and if he were to shoot the ball he would have both hands on the ball. So I would classify his move as a shot fake in the hands and a shot stop in they eyes and feet.
The idea is that eventually the player will no longer be performing a move but simply be prepared to shoot and constantly be able to test the readiness of the defender by beginning the shooting motion. If the defender gets a hand up to defend the shot the player with the ball can easily stop the shot and continue playing, defending on the advantage that the “shot stop” created. But most importantly if the defender does not get a hand up to defend the shot the player with the ball can seamlessly react and shoot the ball.
This year is the most on court time I have had with players and it allows us to explore different ideas and skills in player development that previously were impossible, this is one area that I’m trying to work on with the exterior players, especially the ones who can really shoot the ball. Yesterday one player in particular who I am working on to incorporate the “shot stop” into his arsenal said, “I was going to do the move but the defender didn’t get his hand up…so I just shot it.”