Number 5: Understanding Context to Teach Skill Transference

At the time of writing this post, I received a text from a friend showing a video of Ja Morant getting some shots up following the game against the Charlotte Hornets. The question that inevitably came up was, “Is Ja Morant getting better?”

There is so much to unpack from such a simple question followed with a video of an elite, top-level basketball player getting shots up after the game. So, let’s get into it.

When it comes to the skill of shooting, it is important to note that it can only be developed after hours and hours of repetition. So, reps are important when it comes to shooting.

The video shows Ja Morant shooting catch and shoot three pointers. My question becomes, “What is he working on?”

It is quite difficult for me to come to that conclusion from watching a brief 30 second video of an elite player shooting the ball.

Here’s what it looked like to me.

He wasn’t working on his mechanics or form. He didn’t need to, he had just finished the game. He hasn’t forgotten the skill of shooting the ball after one game. Additionally, mechanics and shooting form is usually developed during the off-season or in the warm-up to provide a sort of “mental massage”.

He wasn’t working on game shots. I know this because he was shooting catch and shoot three pointers at a leisurely pace. If you’ve seen his games, then you’d know that these aren’t the types of shots a player of his level takes or gets in the game.

Also, he wasn’t working on any decision-making when it came to shooting. He was just catching and shooting the basketball. So, my analysis so far is he’s not developing his shot in any of the above three categories that I mentioned.

Personally, that video jumps out to me for these reasons:

  • It could be that Ja Morant had a poor shooting night or a poor performance (based on his perception, not ours or game stats) and wanted to see the ball go through the net a couple of times before he left the facility. This means that he was finishing on a positive and on an increased confidence level, which would definitely help him get better mentally.
  • It could be that he is developing a new routine (plenty of players like to have a set routine). Having routines is great because it helps develop an anchor, reduces anxiety and increases calmness in the mind. I’m not saying that he is anxious or lacks calmness. However, routines are never a bad thing. Just look at JJ Redick and Steph Curry.
  • It could also be that these shots are part of his cool-down process. Allowing his body to re-adjust after a high intensity game. The cool-down process is different for everyone, however some key components remain the same. Low intensity activity to allow the body’s temperature and blood flow to decrease.
  • It could be for a completely different reason such as overcoming a mental block or even a combination of the previously mentioned thoughts.

So, coming back to it – Was Ja Morant getting better?

  • Well, are we asking if he is getting better technically, tactically or mentally? My answer would change slightly, as I’ve alluded to above.

This is one of the reasons that I try not to jump to any conclusions after watching a brief video or highlight clip. It is also one of the reasons why people don’t ask me questions often. A simple question takes us down a rabbit hole.

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