Swish – A Guide to Great Basketball Shooting
By Tom Nordland
Reviewed by: Glenn Nelson of www.HoopGurlz.com
Breakthrough Sports Productions, 1997
Color, VHS, 51 Minutes.
Cost: $29.95 Shipping/Handling: $4.95
Ordering: Click on the banner below
Package includes 35-page workbook and 2-page shooting guide.
If there is one thing that I know about each and every one of us this fall, it’s this: We all experienced that period or half or game or weekend (or season) when we mentioned something about the lid. You know the one. The one atop the basket at which you or your team was shooting.
Right. The lid. I’m talking about the other one, too – yours. The one you want to flip over shooting.
Talk to players and coaches, and usually the one thing they’d love to change about themselves or their teams is their ability to shoot the basketball better (well, maybe with the exception of Triple Threat; you guys can tune out now). In other words, removing that lid that seems affixed to the basket.
The epidemic of poor shooting is well documented. Percentages and scoring have been on a downward trend for more than a decade on all levels. Shoot, the NBA even has tried to reinvent itself to buff up offenses tarnished by diminishing returns from their shooters.
My good friend, Bernie Bickerstaff, the former coach of the Sonics and Denver Nuggets, used to tell me that the hardest thing in basketball was to work on one’s shooting. The repetition is taxing on the legs and the most difficult part is the discipline required. Another good friend, Ernie Woods, the winningest community college basketball coach in the history of Washington State, tells me, “You hear guys talk about shooting 250 shots a day. But did they have their elbow out on every one of those 250 shots?”
What to do? I know if I devoted all of my four hours per week (minus meeting and socializing time, plus breaks) with my AAU girls team to shooting, that still wouldn’t be enough. They need to practice, practice, practice. And none of us coaches have enough time to be with all of our players when they do practice.
I’m usually reluctant to place much hope on a how-to videotape. Especially in sports instruction, most of them look like the coach’s wife taped them, with the coach ad-libbing and demonstrating with players who don’t look like they quite grasp the coach’s point. All set to elevator music, of course.
That was pretty much the bar Tom Nordland had to top when I started viewing “Swish – A Guide to Great Basketball Shooting.” I decided to give the video a shot (so to speak) because I knew of Nordland from my travels around the NBA. He was one of several referred to as a “Shot Doctor” and had worked with Adam Keefe of the Utah Jazz and did wonders with Dale Davis (now with the Trail Blazers, formerly of the Masons).
A former hotshot guard for Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Nordland has impeccable credentials. He led his team to an undefeated season and the 1957 state title. He averaged 28 points that season and hit 19 of 20 free throws in the state championship game to set a record that still stands, and then went to Stanford on a basketball scholarship.
Nordland has a computer engineering background that is evident in the video. He uses a term, “UpForce,” that he has trademarked to describe the lift generated by the legs. So there is basis in science for Nordland’s methods.
Not to give away the compelling plot of Nordland’s video, I do have several positive observations. First off, his delivery is calm and reassuring, but his enthusiasm for the subject is abundantly evident. Second, the production, organization and pacing of the video is top-notch. Third, much of what Nordland has to say will immediately ring true to all experienced coaches.
In my nearly … gulp … 20 years covering and writing about basketball, mostly on the professional level, I witnessed several examples of what Nordland intends to be the outcome for those who follow his program. The best shooters in the game all have consistency in their release, lift from their legs and a relaxed approach.
That last aspect is difficult to instill in young players, especially when they also are being told to be intense at the defensive end. But, sure enough, the best shooters always are the ones who don’t even appear to be trying. The most efficient shooter on my team certainly is that way.
I am sold enough on Nordland’s “Swish” method that we are going to offer it through this Web site. Just click on the banners to order. Nordland’s latest mission is to train coaches to better teach young players to shoot. Living just a short plane trip away in Northern California, he intends to conduct clinics in the Seattle area in the near future. Watch our message boards for announcements.
For those interested in taking that lid off the basket for good, don’t just take my word for it. Check out what Kate Starbird, the former Seattle Reign and Stanford standout, has to say about Nordland’s method, "I think Tom's coaching can be extremely helpful to players at all levels. The techniques he teaches can be learned and mastered quickly, with only a few coaching sessions. He also coaches the mental side, how to be more focused and how to trust oneself. And he works with you to develop a practice routine. His ‘Swish’ video can be a great tool for individual players and for coaches who'd like to learn how to teach this method of shooting.”