Fakes are maneuvers an offensive player uses to move a defensive player out of position. Once the defender is out of position, the offensive player is able to create a scoring opportunity. We are going to cover two key fakes in great detail: the shot fake and the jab step. When learning to shoot off fakes, always think shot first. This way, you will always be low, in a shooting position, on balance, and ready to play basketball. You always want to maintain the triple-threat position in which you’re prepared to shoot, pass, or drive the ball. Many players use fakes, but oftentimes they will overextend on a jab step or straighten up on a shot fake. These mistakes make it impossible for them to react quickly and give the defender time to regain positioning. Staying low and athletic, along with having solid footwork are the keys to maintaining good balance and executing good fakes whether they be shot fakes or jabs.
Just like it sounds, a shot fake means faking a shot. The shot fake is a valuable weapon to add to your arsenal because every defender wants to block a shot. It doesn’t matter how short or tall he or she might be, all defenders have an inner desire to leap up in the air and attempt to bat your shot away to the cheap seats. Coaches can work on closeouts all they want, but the tendency in game situations is for players to run out at a shooter completely out of control and find themselves flying through the air. The shot fake capitalizes on this natural instinct of the defender. You want to block my shot? Well here’s your chance. With a properly executed shot fake, the offensive player will take the defender out of the play and find himself with an easy scoring opportunity.
To execute a shot fake, start in a balanced, athletic stance with the knees bent. You should be facing the basket with your eyes on the target. Lift the ball to your head while keeping your knees bent (see figure 8.4). This position will allow you the option to either shoot the ball immediately if your defender doesn’t react or to go to the hoop by putting the ball on the floor and stepping into your pull-up jump shot (a show-and-go move, which will be discussed in the next section).
Make sure that when you lift and show the ball on your shot fake, you keep your feet still. Many players take a negative step, as shown in figure 8.5, when attempting a shot fake, meaning that when they lift the ball, their foot steps away from the basket. Concentrate on keeping your feet still and avoid taking a negative step so you are able to go right into your shot or to the hoop for your pull-up. Many referees will call you for a traveling violation on a negative step simply because it doesn’t look right. Also, if you take a negative step while positioned in the corner, you’re likely to step out of bounds because of the limited space.
Finally, your shot fake should be executed at the same rate of speed as your normal shot. Too many players fake too fast. Allow time for your defender to react and then make the correct scoring decision.
Remember, a fake is not a fake if it looks like a fake. Think about the last sentence and study it. When you make a shot fake, you want it to look like a shot not a shot fake. Most players’ shot fakes during games look unnatural and cumbersome because players only practice these moves when coaches tell them to execute shot fakes in a certain practice drill. Think about the amount of time coaches actually spend on shooting each day in practice. If coaches spend 30 minutes each day practicing shooting, which is on the high end, how much time can they spend on shooting where you have to create your own shot, use shot fakes, shoot off the dribble, come off screens, and so on? There simply isn’t enough time for coaches to teach shooting the correct way in a variety of scoring methods. So, as a player, you must put the extra time in and continue working on your game. How good or how great do you want to be?
Once you’ve become comfortable practicing the shot fake from a stationary position, it is time to work on this move in your spinout routine or work on the move pass-and-catch style with a teammate coming from straight on. Practicing with spinouts or pass-and-catches allows you to drill yourself under more gamelike conditions. I like to develop this skill first from the top of the key area and then progress to shooting from seven spots. Because you will be drilling at game speed, you can begin adding more movement into your fakes.
Remember to keep your feet still, stay in your athletic stance with your knees bent, and bring the ball up to your head on the shot fake. After using the fake, shoot the ball and freeze your follow-through, keeping in mind the same shooting mechanics you’ve been learning throughout this book. Staying low on the shot fake is essential. If you straighten up, you will have to bend at the knees and the waist to regain a sense of balance before rising and shooting. When you lift the ball up to fake, make sure you stay in your shot line. You will lift the ball and bring it back to the shot pocket, and then you will go immediately into your shot. You can drill the shot fake, by going for a certain number of makes from various spots, shooting strings style, or even shooting three-strikes style. Once you’re comfortable with the shot from midrange, practice it from long range. Remember, you are working on this move in a straight-on catching situation. That means you will always begin by receiving the ball using your normal one-two-step catching technique before getting into your scoring move.
And, finally, once you’ve worked on making a shot fake then shooting from a straight-on catch, work on it on the move going left to right and right to left off your inside pivot foot. I like to work this move from either wing, spinning out toward the baseline and then out toward the middle of the floor. For example, if you are a right-handed shooter practicing the shot fake then shooting from the right wing, you would begin by making 10 shots spinning out toward the baseline and pivoting off the left foot. Once finished, you would spin toward the middle, pivot off the right foot, and make 10 more. You would then repeat the routine from the other side of the court, keeping in mind the principles of receiving on the move. That’s a total of 40 makes.
Of course, you can also practice shooting strings style or three-strikes style. Once comfortable from midrange, work on the shot from long range. As always, when you pivot on the move, make sure you are balanced and properly aligned to the basket. If you are practicing pass-and-catch style with a teammate, you can close out on each other and alternate shots while keeping an individual score. Once a player reaches a certain number of baskets, he or she can be declared the winner and the loser has to run a sprint.