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Gamification: The Most Basic Way to Learn to Love Shooting (and Basketball)

Remember when you were a kid and you used to love reading books, and then formal education inadvertently and ironically told you what to read and how to read the right way, and inadvertently killed that thirst for curiosity and hunger for knowledge? Basketball isn’t all that different.

The most common way to learn how to shoot the basketball in a basic sense is by youth coaches and instructors teaching their kid players the fundamentals and proper techniques. While it makes great sense to do it this way, I believe it’s better to teach how to have fun through self-learning and to teach how to find your own form first and then to reverse-engineer your shooting habits by making the fundamental adjustments and corrections. Better to learn to love and play forever than to play the right way for a while and then quit forever.

Whether it’s teaching youth, teen or adult players, avoid the initial boredom and technicality at all costs.

The most basic way to learn how to shoot is by playing shooting games versus yourself. And you can do that whether you’re shooting around by yourself, playing 21 with a group of strangers or playing 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, etc., with your friends. Recreational games are for fun so you can afford to create the challenge in your mind, not on the outcome of each game, but on the attention you pay to every shot you take.

No matter the game, take each shot one shot at a time, and think closely about the way you shoot, the types of shots you’re tempted to take, and from which spots on the floor.

Challenge yourself to take more and more shots, one shot at a time. What you learn about your own tendencies and shooting habits, your strengths and your weaknesses, will not only give you greater insight into your shooting ability, but it will facilitate your love of the game of shooting.

As you go from amateur to intermediate to advanced to pro player, you’ll realize that shooting itself is just as much of a game as the broader game of basketball is. To get better and better at both games, you need to learn to love and you need to love to learn. So, start playing games in your own head, keep challenging yourself to take more shots, one at a time, and then look to correct your weaknesses. Before you know it, you’ll develop the habits of smart and hard shooting practices born out of a natural intrinsic enthusiasm, not because of what your “shot doctor” prescribed you.

And if you’re still worried that you’re wasting shots and time…


Keep learning and having fun with ways to do shooting wrong and eventually, you’ll find your self working until you do it right.