Shooters hone these skills

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Maggie Lucas developed a quick release at a young age, and it’s one of her biggest strengths as a shooter.

For pretty much my entire basketball life I have been considered a “shooter,” which means if I get a clear look I am letting that thing fly. I started to think about what makes some of the best shooters and what some of the qualities are that a pure shooter must have to be successful.

From growing up watching and studying some of the best shooters of all time, such as Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Larry Bird; recounting my own experiences; and watching others in women’s college basketball, such as Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Tricia Liston, Jordan Hooper and Rachel Banham, I came up with a few ingredients I think are most important for a shooter to possess.

Repetition: A great shooter takes thousands upon thousands of shots before ever getting on the court and playing games. This creates muscle memory and a consistent shot.

Short memory: This is one of the most important qualities a shooter must have. For me, this always has meant not letting one, two or even five misses stick in your mind. The main focus has to be remembering the feeling of what a great make feels like and the rhythm used to make that shot. Letting a few misses pile up in your mind will keep you from taking advantage of the next great shot that becomes available.

Quick release: I can remember going to a doctor when I was around 12 and being told, based on the height of my parents, especially my cute little mom, that I wouldn’t grow taller than 5-2. Instead of getting caught up in that, I went home and told my dad we had to make my release as quick as possible. Luckily for me, I ended up growing 7 inches more than predicted, and because I developed a quick release, getting my shot off with little space became one of my biggest strengths as a shooter.

I think the best example of a quick release is Ray Allen. Go back to last year and Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when it seemed as if the Heat were going to cough up a crucial game on their home court. With just seconds left, Allen got off a seemingly impossible 3 over the Spurs’ defender, sending the game into overtime, where the Heat would win.

Knowing your form: For me, in addition to having a short memory, being able to critique my shot on the fly is key. My position coach, Fred Chmiel, has been very good at helping me identify what is “off” with my shot when I miss a shot or two. He always asks me, “Why?” and I usually can identify where I need to adjust my form. There are so many different shooting forms out there, but as long as you are consistent and correct your usual mistakes, you can be a successful shooter.

Footwork: It’s likely the defense is going to be pretty aware of where a shooter is at all times. For this reason, it is important to have efficient movement. While in college, I have worked to improve my footwork, and I have to admit Coach Fred is a footwork genius. He has taught me some of the most efficient and effective footwork when coming off all kinds of screens to create my own shot.

Well, until next time, I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving! The Lady Lions will be headed to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam for some exciting, competitive games and beautiful weather! Follow me on Twitter @maggielucas33 or the Lady Lions @pennstatewbb!