“I started breaking down every single little detail of this simple stroke and tried to make it perfect. Get one perfect stroke and try to do it again. And just got lost in trying to perfect the stroke,” Kyle Korver said to USA Today.
“I focused on one detail and after 100 strokes, that didn’t feel like a detail anymore. That felt natural.
“There was a smaller detail after that. I found a new detail and then a new detail and then a new detail. Eventually I was stroking, and eventually I wasn’t that tired.
Kyle Korver, statistically the best half-court shooter at the time of this interview, was not talking about his consistently automagic jumper. He was s reflecting on a misogi, an annual Japanese Shinto ritual of purifying the body and mind by doing something batsh*t crazy. Basically, you take on a taboo challenge you never imagined you were possibly ever capable of completing, in order to radically expand your sense of what is possible.
It’s like going through the deepest parts of hell on earth so man can gain newer, doper levels of confidence.
Something you can’t simply do in daily life no matter how hard your professional basketball training routine is.
For his first misogi, Korver paddle-boarded 25 miles of California from the Channel Islands to Santa Barbara right before the 2013-14 season, the season where he made at least one 3-pointer every single game for 127 straight games. The previous record was 89 straight games by Dana Barros. A lot of luck has to be on your side to achieve a streak like this, but fortunately for Korver, luck wasn’t handed to him, he had his hand in creating it. In another misogi, he did an underwater 5k while carrying a giant stone. Ok then. Carry on.
What’s a professional basketball player doing wasting his time learning to paddle-board? What an irresponsible guy, he’s got an NBA multi-million dollar contract to honor? 25 miles in the open waters sounds like a suicide mission…
Perfectly valid questions and concerns for the rest of us, but there’s a method to the madness.
“That exercise of finding that [paddleboard] stroke was revolutionary to me in shooting. You take the same concept of the stroke and do it with your shot.”
For a trained marksman, there’s always more to discover than preconceived notions lead us to believe. For shooting, we believe that to be extraordinary, one must spend his or her whole life launching jumpers in the gym by perfecting mechanics, developing a growth mindset and constantly trying new drills. And in doing so, you can shoot as well as the best shooter today someday.
At a certain point, the growth stops.
10 years ago, our notions told us the perfect shooter shoots as well as Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. Then came along Kyle Korver and Steph Curry and broke that notion by adding new dimensions to the skill of shooting at the NBA level.
And to do that, they had to add new dimensions to their practice. Both Korver and Curry in today’s world have the luxury of integrating sports science and wearable technology to develop their shooting strokes off-the-catch and off-the-dribble.
You have to find inspiration from worlds outside of basketball – the world of science, the world of advanced math, the world of ancient history – and tie the lessons back to your own.
As a result, Korver now has an expanded checklist of components / steps in his shooting motion from start to finish. It’s a 20-step checklist, which from start to finish takes about .3-.5 seconds. The rest of us out here are still trying to figure out the BEEF concept, and looking for tips and tricks to shoot better. Here’s the full list (thanks USA Today for these stories):
- Wide stance.
- Exaggerated legs.
- Drop through heels.
- Engage core.
- Slight bend at waist.
- Up strong.
- Elbow straight.
- One hand.
- Fingers spread. (The Splytter can help you with this)
- Slight pause.
- Elbow up.
- Land forward.
- See the top of the rim.
- Ball on fingertips. (Avoid sticking to the palm. Cough: Splytter)
- Strong shot.
- Shoulders forward and relaxed.
- Ball and arm risen straight.
- Hold the follow through.
- Keep the release point high.
- On turns, square shoulders.
This isn’t in any particular order, and Korver doesn’t check each one of these every time; dare I say, it’s not humanly possible.