There is a common belief amongst basketball players that strength training will negatively affect their jump shot.
This might be the most detrimental myth in basketball today.
In today’s basketball landscape, athleticism and shooting ability are in high demand. Strength training is a huge piece of developing athleticism, whether you are genetically gifted or not. And, as you will find below, strength training is also a key piece in the development of your jump shot.
Let’s examine why strength training won’t miraculously ruin your jump shot.
It all comes down to how strength is developed in your muscles.
Strength gains come very slowly, with improvements coming over weeks, months, and years of consistent training. Therefore, you will not wake up one morning suddenly launching the ball over the backboard with an unexpected surge of added strength.
There are two exceptions to this, though. First, you may run into problems with your shooting if you are not practicing
consistently. Imagine, with daily practice the changes in strength will be so small you will adjust seamlessly, but if you go weeks without practice you then must adjust to all those weeks of strength gains at once (besides, if you are serious about improving your game, shooting should be a daily routine). The other exception being immediately after working out. Naturally, following a workout you will experience muscle fatigue and you will be unable to produce the same levels of force as you are used to. This problem is remedied by scheduling plenty of rest time between strength training and shooting or doing your shooting practice before your strength training.
This leaves the question: “how does strength training improve my jump shot?”
First, imagine what would happen to your shooting percentage if you were shooting freethrows with a ball that weighed twice as much as a regulation basketball.
Take a minute …
Is it safe to say you would shoot worse with a heavier ball?
Now imagine you’re shooting with a ball half the weight of a regulation basketball.
You might assume that you would initially shoot worse as you adjust to the difference, but with enough practice you would eventually shoot much better with a lighter ball. This is because accuracy increases when the object (the basketball) provides less resistance.
Now here’s the secret…
There isn’t much difference between using a lighter ball and getting stronger. Both improve your ability to shoot the ball further and with more accuracy, but only one of the methods can be taken into a real game.
Look at the images below – on the left you see a young basketball player who does not yet have enough strength to efficiently shoot a basketball from distance. He must lean all the way forwards just to get the ball to the rim, which gives the ball very little arc. On the right, you see Kyrie Irving shooting without any forward lean. He has the strength to rise and launch the ball from long range without changing his shooting form, maintaining the natural arc of the ball.
As a serious basketball player, training cannot be just about developing skills. Strength training gives you the physical tools to perform at a high level on the basketball court and enhances the expression of the skills you have built up through your on-court training.