How To Break Russell Westbrook Out Of His Shooting Slump
May 06, 2019
What’s behind Russell Westbrook’s shooting struggles? This season, Westbrook is shooting 24.9% from the three-point, 65.6% from the free throw line, the lowest averages of his career in both categories. Over the last three seasons, Westbrook’s Free Throw and Three Point percentages have declined year-over-year.
But why? What in the world is causing Westbrook, a sure fire Hall Of Famer, to slump his shooting percentages so badly? Let’s take a deep dive on what’s really going on.
Watching Westbrook before the game reminds you of a Broadway actor, and or singer about to go on stage to perform. His constant movement before the game, non-stop talking, moving, yelling, hand shakes, dances, ARE TO BUILD HIS ENERGY AND MOMENTUM into performance so high that he rolls effortlessly (WITHOUT thinking or trying) into strong shooting and overall performance. In the past this has worked, and to a very large degree the way he approaches his performance continues to be super effective. However, as of late, there has been a huge disconnect when it comes to his shooting consistency as it relates to how his constant High Energy Habits positively effect his shooting efficiency. Westbrook’s ability to take his focus off of the outcome, while neutralizing the unconscious inhibitors below the surface of his psyche that are blocking his shooting consistency, is the key for turning around the down- trending shooting performance that he is currently experiencing. But first, we must identify where the disconnect in Westbrook’s shooting consistency lives.
The issue lies in the fact that Russ seemingly only knows one way to get back into rhythm, which is by PUSHING HARDER and NEVER STOP CHASING HIS SHOT. This works great when YOU ARE ROLLING. But when you are not, it can be a disaster. The “Shooter’s always shoot” mentality, that many seasoned shooters employ, is no doubt an important element of maintaining confidence. However, when a player CHASE’s the OUTCOME of a make instead of making it a practice to focus on the FEELING of what it feels like to MAKE SHOTS CONSISTENTLY, then perpetuated shooting slumps can occur. From the outside looking in, this appears to be a component to what is ailing the OKC star.
Adding to this problem has been the NBA’s change in foul line rules. The league no longer allows players as much leniency as they once did. Players used to take their time, AND many times would step back OFF OF the free-throw line and behind the three-point Arch for several seconds before shooting their next foul shot. This is similar to what Westbrook used to do on a consistent basis before they changed the rules on him. Now, his routine is not as free flowing as it once was.
This foul line change for Russ, is likely a contributing factor to why he has struggled so mightily from the three-point line and with his jump shot. He has lost a KEY tool for settling himself down and remaining in his shooting motion flow throughout the course of the game. Stepping off of the foul line was Russ’s pressure release mechanism to keep him in a continued rhythm, positively affecting his foul line efficiency and his three-point/field goal shooting percentages.
Breaking up the free throw shots into intervals has been shown to help college and professional players let go of their emotional and mental baggage (related past foul-line experiences), while maintaining a level of “FEEL GOOD” required to consistently make shots. Finding a way for Westbrook to do the same, to maintain rhythm from shot to shot while side stepping the jitters, or unconscious blocks that may have jumped up to throw his shot off along the way, could give him the edge he needs to markedly improve his free throws. ****Again, think performers who never stop SINGING, TALKING, OR MOVING before they go back on stage to perform****
The second major component to Russ’s shooting woes: If you watch him play, notice how HARD HE PUSHES to continue to take shots. The “Shooters shoot” mentality that he plays with is great, but if a player is stuck on the OUTCOME of making shots instead of assuming the FEELING OF THE MAKE, then this automatically blocks a shooter’s efficiency because it automatically tightens up the mind-body. Conversely, ASSUMING THE FEELING OF MAKING EVERY SHOT has the effect of relaxing the body and the mind, ultimately manifesting the desired outcome of making shots more consistently.
Focusing on the FEELING of making shots, instead of the outcome, automatically triggers the mind-body connection into a chain reaction for generating the most efficient shooting motion.
Ok so, in addition to what is mentioned above, what else can Westbrook do to fix his Free Throw, Three Point and Field Goal percentages?
Firstly, through cultivating a free throw routine similar to his old free throw routine, combining a consistent step in motion to influence rhythm and free flowing movement on every shot (even if less than before the rules changes), while, also combining In-Game GROUNDING techniques geared towards refocusing his mind on the FEELING OF THE MAKE and not the outcome, could have the effect of helping Russ exponentialize his shooting percentages.
Through clearing the subconscious blocks like the thoughts, emotions, images, sounds, and FEELINGS associated with subpar shooting games, stretches, and performances that he has experienced in the past, while alsocontinuing to get his shots up in practice,could give Westbrook the chance to quickly and permanently break himself out of the shooting slump.
In-season Free Throw Improvement for professional and college players employing this philosophy seen below:
Daniel Dingle 11% (Senior Temple University)
Tal Dunne 18% (Captain, Ness Ziona, Israeli Super League)
Raviv Pitshon 56% (Ness Ziona, Israeli Super League)
Shizz Alston Jr. 54 in A Row - All-time consecutive made free throws Temple University