Sunday, July 24, 2011

Relearning how to shoot a basketball

As I mentioned before, I've been shooting baskets in the early morning a lot lately. Good way to start the day. The twist here is that I'm taking virtually all my shots left-handed, something I've never done before. This is part of an overall quest to strengthen my left hand, wrist and arm to help with drumming.

What I noticed right away is that I didn't know *how* to shoot lefty. Shooting a basketball requires a number of different muscle movements to all be coordinated with each other. You plant your feet and step a certain way into the shooting motion, you turn your body to a given angle, you raise and extend your shooting arm from your body for a certain amount of time, you use your non-shooting hand to help steady the ball for part of the motion, the wrist and fingers move in certain ways as you take the shot. Right-handed, I do all this without thinking - I don't do it particularly well, but that's a matter of finer adjustments and endless practice. The basic motion of shooting is automatic. From the left side, not so at all - my movements were way, way out of sync.

Most of the above applies to throwing a baseball, a football or anything else. We've all heard the phrase "throwing like a girl", though innate gender differences have nothing to do with it - female athletes learn to throw the right way just as readily as males do. Men have more strength to put behind the throw, but even a very strong man wouldn't be able to throw well with the throw-like-a-girl motion. The boy/girl thing exists only because most boys tend to grow up throwing sports balls around and most girls don't. And once you learn how to throw, it's like riding a bike, you don't forget it or even have to think about it.

Back to my lefty shooting, I've improved my form a lot in just five or six sessions. It's still not anywhere near what my right-handed form is, but it's not completely clumsy as it was the first time out. The biggest difficulties are using the right amount of force when shooting from off to the side of the court and getting enough power behind long-range shots without totally losing my aim. Actually hit a couple of fadeaway jumpers today, which I was utterly hopeless on the first time. About 50,000 more years of practice and I'll be able to do that like Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe.


  1. Wow! I'm impressed that your left-handed shooting is coming along as quickly as it is. Thanks for the non-chauvinistic explanation of "throwing like a girl". I've long hated that phrase.

    I tried writing "Natalie" upside down in cursive the other day (righty). I was surprised to see it actually look correct when turned right-side up, stylistic failings aside. I'll have to try it lefty next time.

  2. Thanks - though if my lefty shooting has come along quickly, it's mostly because I started off at such a low level that any improvement would seems drastic. Still lots of outright airballs and enough bricks to build a Carl's Jr.

    I just tried writing "Natalie" as you did (righty) - not too bad, though the orientation of the loops isn't very clear. I've done some lefty writing lately but could stand to do more.

  3. would seems = would seem, of course