How to Shoot a Basketball with Perfect Form featuring Professional Shooting Coach Mike Dunn

Shooting Guru Mike Dunn

Tristan: All right, welcome in everyone. We got Coach Mike Dunn with us on the line right now. He heads up Mike Dunn Basketball, LLC. He is obviously the CEO, chief in charge there. Mike, how you doing today?

Mike: I'm great man. No complaints on my end, whatsoever.

Tristan: Fantastic, fantastic. Well, we love having you on here. I'm not going to lie, kind of stalked you a little bit on Instagram for a couple of years. We know that you've got that fluid motion, that real smooth shot. I know we were talking with you a little bit, well actually before we started recording here, about where that came from. Let's just get right into it, Mike. Tell us a little about the foundations of yourself, and basketball training, and how that shot came to be.

Mike: How the shot came to be is the easy stuff. That's just all my dad, just growing up, just teaching me how to shoot the basketball. So, a big shout out to my dad there, just kind of showing me the fundamentals. I also say this, if anybody follows me or the kids that I work with, I attribute being able to shoot the basketball, how I shoot the basketball, a lot to picking up basketball later. So I didn't start playing basketball until I was around 10 or 11 years-old, and I was strong enough to shoot the ball the right way. So I think a lot of times you see all these bad habits with kids because they started playing, they're playing so young, and they're shooting on ten foot goals that, the only way they can get it there is if their mechanics are out of whack and then as they get older those mechanics are still there because they instilled that in their brain and that's the way they need to shoot. So I lucked out in that regard for sure. And then as for the training part, played at Philadelphia University, got to play for training coach Herb McGee. Awesome coach. And it just so happened the stars aligned for me. He was a professional shooting coach. Still does stuff to this day, will still work with guys. I know he's still works with some Sixers here and there. And they'll bring them in for some, I don't know, I guess you could call it contract work here and there and stuff like that. As I played for him, he would take me around to his shooting clinics, his camps during the summertime and I would demonstrate while he talked. He got older, and really without understanding it at the time, especially as a college kid where you think you know everything, I didn't understand that he was kind of laying the foundation in a way in terms of kind of giving me the blueprint on how to go about this whole training stuff. And as I got older, I was working in corporate America for a while. I decided that I really miss basketball and I knew that I had all this information. I think a big thing too, is that the information that I had, I knew it was good information, but what good is it if I'm just keeping it to myself? So really, initially I started off the whole training thing, not really to make money with it, but really to just give out as much as I knew I could, and then just try to help as many people as possible while doing it.

Tristan: Yeah. It sounds like not only did he instill the blueprint for as you did say there, but also the educator's mindset obviously that comes as a basketball trainer yourself. Now, you were in corporate America, you made that leap out into the training world. How did you start to garner a client base? You know, what was the first sort of tactics there? Was it social media? Was it Instagram? Was it flyers all over town? What was it?

Mike: It's actually really funny because I didn't... When I first started doing it... So I started really trading in 2016 when I said I'm going to pursue this. And I honestly had no idea what it... I knew what Instagram was, but I wasn't on it. I wasn't on Facebook. I wasn't on... I was on nothing at that point. And I told my wife, I was like, "Man, I don't know how I'm going to do this." So one way I got clients was just going to gyms and shooting. I picked up clients by my parents to seeing me shoot and then asking me to work with their kids. And then the other way I went to craigslist, and I was just posting ads on craigslist and people would hire me, which was crazy. Like people would just call and be like, "Hey, what's your background?" I give my background and next thing you know I'm working with their kids. So it was crazy, but that's why I tell like where there's a will, there's a way. I just think that if you want something to happen in that you're going to find these different avenues to to make it happen.

Have you ever seen a good jump shooter that’s a bad foul shooter?

Craig: Yeah, you definitely get creative in ways to find new players to train with. Tell us a little bit about kind of the typical players that you work with? Is it youth players? You had mentioned college or even pro experience with your predecessor in the past. So what are the typical players that you work with?

Mike: It's all ages, definitely. I would say the majority of high school kids. I'm working with more college kids now, have had the opportunity to work with professional guys. And there's some things opening up for me now that's going to be really cool in terms of me working with more established pros as well. But I would say the biggest clientele... My biggest form of clientele now is high school kids.

Craig: Yeah. Got It. And so how do you kind of change your training strategy based on if you're working with high school players versus college players?

Mike: I mean, it's really a case by case basis, but at the same time what I'm focusing on in terms of... Usually when someone comes to me for something it's shooting related. So it's really diagnosing whatever that individual is kind of struggling with at the time and then just kind of building out from there. So there's always that little assessment period where I'd have to see what they're doing. I'd see their habits and whatnot. But after that it's kind of... Each individual workout is tailored to that person. I don't really believe in a cookie cutter way of doing things because we don't all learn the same way. And for that reason alone that kids especially pick up on things in different ways. I like to kind of assess how they're reacting to certain training methods and then go from there.

Craig: Got it. Let's talk a little more about shooting. I know that's what you're known for. I see a lot of examples on social media. What are some of the most effective shooting drills that kind of you walk the players through?

Mike: So I guess drills and shooting to me are kind of two separate things. So yeah, there's drills and I could tell the kid to go out and do a drill. Hey, I want you to shoot this many from this spot where it's constant moving, all that stuff, which is great stuff. It's great for a workout. But if you're actually working on the shot itself and being able to actually shoot the ball. And I think that's when things really start to slow down and then you kind of get into the micro skills of it. So I think drills are kind of separate, but when it comes to what the foundational pieces of shooting for me balance is huge, posture is huge. And really my big emphasis is keeping the ball close to the body and trying to get a direct line from start to finish. Keeping the ball as close to the body as possible while right before release, making sure the hands are underneath the basketball. So that's how I kind of break it down. The drills kind of come after. And I think the foot work's a really big part of it, too. But yeah, I'd say those are kind of two different things in my world.

Tristan: So the is come after. Now tell us your process there, how you get your students to really attain that balance they need. I mean, is that the core of what it's all about? You mentioned the footwork as well. What's that first thing that you're taking? Let's say with somebody who needs a little polishing out there. What's that first step you're taking with them?

Mike: Well, we go balanced oriented. It's funny that we're having this conversation now because things changed for me. I recently got to meet Rob Fodor who I can now consider a really good friend of mine. Rob's the shooting coach for the Miami Heat. And Rob completely changed my outlook on how players move. Didn't really change my outlook on shooting exactly, but on actual player movement. And so now that's kind of where I start in terms of the balance department. And that comes back down to the vertical posture I talked about. So, you know, dropping the butt, but keeping the chest up, chin up, and then being able to move out of that into shots. And it's really about staying on balance. Never really leaning forward too much. I know that there's a lot of times we preach these certain types of movements where we're really heavily leaning one way, but when we do that we kind of throw ourselves off balance. It's kind of hard to explain over the phone. It's a lot easier to actually show. But that's kind of where we start. We start in the vertical, the vertical drop posture, which we call it, and then move from there.

Tristan: There you go. Well you say it's difficult to explain over the phone, but we're going to try and dive into that a little bit more since we are an audio platform here. And if you want to see it, you guys can go to see Mike Dunn on Instagram. I mean he's got all the videos, all the diagrams. They're showing you a point by point, even some of what these pros are doing incorrectly or correctly. So now let's start there. So you are all about keeping the ball close to the body. Walk us through the perfect free throw routine.

Mike: To me, the ultimate free throw routine would start a ball held about waist level close to the body. So think about having that ball almost almost on your... So I'm a right handed shooter, so the ball would almost be on my right hip. And when you do that, when you bring the ball close to your body as possible, almost when it's actually touching your body. What happens is you're shooting elbow's actually going to go behind you. And it's kind of not a... It's not a very common teaching method, but we're all able to do that. Every human being is able to move their shoulder in a way that that elbow can now slide behind you and that ball can stay close to your body. So from that point on, now we're trying our best to bring that ball straight up into our shooting, into that shooting release point. And really what I'm trying to do is create a straight line from where I start on my hip up to that release point. So that's gonna give me the optimal arc on the actual release. So actually, it's a really simple concept, but if you notice a lot of players don't do it. So a lot of players start with the ball far from their body rather than close to their body. But if you watch Steph Curry shoot, if you watch Damien Leather shoot, you watch a lot of these guys shoot when they go to the free throw line, they naturally bring that ball right into their body, while free throws shooters that struggle tend to to hold the ball out a little bit farther away.

Craig: Now really interesting insights. And so yeah, we love, as Tristan mentioned, we love getting technical on this podcast. You told us about free throw shooting. How does that then change for a mid range jumper or even three pointers? You know, what changes in technique there?

Mike: That's the thing. I mean I would ask you guys like, have you ever seen a good jump shooter that's a bad foul shooter?

Tristan: Rarely.

Mike: So it directly translates. So the only difference is... I mean, now there's movement involved. Now you're analyzing different things in a game. I mean, you got to see where the defects is coming from. Your footwork has to be right. Timing. It's all that kind of stuff. But when it comes down to the actual being able to catch and shoot the basketball, the same fundamental principles are going to apply. But that's where it kind of comes back to what I was teaching, when I was talking about earlier that I was struggling to maybe verbalize a little bit. A big thing that I'm working on now is having players have their feet set and ready before their hands are actually on the ball. So when their feet are set and then your hands get on the ball, if your feet are already set then all you have to worry about is going straight into that shooting motion rather than trying to do both simultaneously.

Craig: Got It. So, we got a little bit technical. Let's talk about your players. As you're working with them, how do you identify those areas that they need to work on the most? Is there something that you see that's pretty common that a lot of the players that come to you, they want to find out or they want to work on? How do you identify what they need to do better at?

Mike: It's all different. I'll tell you a really good example. So I'm actually, I started working with a few girls' AAU teams and this is where it comes into how I said you assess each situation. So girls tend to shoot the ball differently than guys naturally shoot the ball, but not in a bad way. A lot of girls, they'll start with the ball higher rather than lower. So that's a change where I go in and I've been working with them pretty much strictly at the foul line trying to bring that release point down. As I kind of highlighted earlier, start the ball towards the waist or the hip area, and then we work from there. I have them doing that and now they're starting to naturally do that in game speed action. So that's an assessment that I've made with them. With guys, other players, it's all different. I see a lot of guys that don't know how to get their hand underneath the basketball when they shoot. So I know a big area of, people like to talk about as the thumb flick off the guide hand and why that happens. And a lot of times that's happening because the shooting hand is never actually in the middle of the basketball when it's under the basketball. And as a result, that guide hand is kind of trying to help out and guide the ball straight. So having players understand the why, if they're thumb flicking and then saying, "Hey, this is why you're doing it," then the light bulb usually goes off for them and like, "Oh okay, that makes sense now." But when you just tell a guy, "Hey man, get your guide hand off the ball, you shouldn't be thumb flicking." It's not as easy for players to pick up on how to actually change it.

Tristan: Absolutely. You've just been nailing it all through here. Don't think that you're explaining it verbally well enough. I'll tell you what, I'm over here practicing my form as you're walking through it. [crosstalk 00:02:09]. That's certainly where I'm at. Now, obviously, at Hustle we are all about the future of training and incorporating technology into what we're doing here and to making us better players. Where do you see the future of training and technology and maybe if, obviously, you're Instagram famous yourself, social media famous yourself, how do you incorporate that into growing your business?

Mike: Well, first of all, technology, I think in the training, is going to be, it's just going to keep getting better and better. There's that stuff. I know that Steve Nash has the... What is it? The I Core... I forget what it's called. Like HomeCourt or something like that, that tracks your release point, in terms of the angle that you're releasing the basketball, which is incredible. It shows the actual arc. It will go on streaks, tell you how many you made, how many you missed. So all that kind of stuff is huge, especially in terms of just feedback for a player. And I think some of this really under-looked, or overlooked I guess, in terms of that kind of stuff. When you actually just watch yourself on video, you can pick up on a lot of stuff. You know what I mean? I think technology in shooting is going a long way. And then, for me, I mean in terms of social media and that kind of stuff, it's just the ability to connect with people. And I think that ability to reach people all over the world and kind of offer your services, whether that be online or however you're going to do it, it's incredible, man. It's incredible. And who knows what's going to be next. I mean, Instagram has been a really cool platform for me, but I'm sure something else is going to come along that's going to blow that out of the water eventually, that'll allow people to connect even more. When used for good stuff, I think all this stuff is pretty cool.

Tristan: I'd say so. Well, you're always on the lookout, obviously, it seems like, and looking for that edge. That's just the athlete's mentality in you. All right. Well, Mike, really appreciate your time here tonight. We're going to do something that we do with all our guests. We're going to get into a little rapid fire rounds. We're going to throw some questions at you. And as if somebody's just passing you the ball right there on the wing, you're just going to fire it up. All right?

Mike: Let's do it.

Tristan: All right, here we go. First question. If you could play horse with any NBA player, past or present, who would you pick and why?

Mike: Steph Curry, man. Why? Because he's the greatest shooter of all time, so why not play against the best?

Craig: That's great. So, what is the best warm up music before a big game?

Mike: I'm not a big warmup music guy. I tried to do that, and then I feel like it would take me out of my mindset. So I just stopped listening to music.

Tristan: I'm kind of with you on that. All of a sudden you're warming up and you're just bobbing your head way too much. Wait, no, I'm not even halfway through my training process here, so yeah, I'm with you.

Mike: Exactly.

Tristan: Wait, maybe the Hustle podcast? Maybe. That might work. That's might work out. All right, Mike, favorite sports movie of all time?

Mike: Favorite sports movie of all time? Man. I'm a huge He Got Game fan. No, I'm taking that back. My favorite sports movie, but I don't know if it can be considered a sports movie, is Finding Forrester. There's definitely the basketball theme to it, but it's my favorite sports movie that has sports involved in it, period.

Craig: Nice. Are there any YouTube channels you like to check out for coaching tips?

Mike: I'm not huge on YouTube, although I will plug myself and say that I'm diving into YouTube super heavy this summer with me and two good friends of mine that are going to try to tackle the... I'm tackling the shooting portion and they're going to tackle the skills portion of it. So that's where I'm heading the summer.

Tristan: There you go. Now you mentioned earlier you might be doing a little bit more with the NBA and some of the professional players out there. And we'll cut this if we can't talk about it right now, but is there anything that you can give us, a little preview of what's to come?

Mike: I can't. I can't

Tristan: Actually we won't cut that, because that keeps people tuned in.

Mike: I've been fortunate enough to talk to some really cool people in the basketball world, especially the NBA world. And one of the guys that I've got to really forge a friendship with, one of his big things of advice for me was to kind of let your work talk as things progress, and teams don't like when you broadcast certain things because it seems like you're using it for your benefit rather than the benefit of whoever you're supposed to work with. So I take that advice to heart.

Tristan: We're not going to jeopardize any of that, that's for sure.

Mike: I appreciate it.

Tristan: All right, Mike, Again, really appreciate your time here today. Before we go, let's hear all the plugs. I want to hear the YouTube channel that you're coming up with. I want to hear the Instagram. If there's anywhere else we can find you and anything else you want to plug, go for it.

Mike: Yeah. Instagram, @seemikedunn. That's where I do the majority of my stuff and even long form videos, all that kind of stuff, you could find on Instagram. And YouTube is See Mike Dunn, as well, just three separate words. So those are the two big platforms that I'm on. And I'm trying to take over YouTube this summer. I'm going to see what I can do and the content I can put out and try to help as many people, as many players and coaches as possible this summer.

Tristan: Awesome. Well, we got the official Mike Dunn watch going. Appreciate your time here, again, Mike. You take it easy. Keep that flow going. And I'm sure we'll talk with you soon. Check in with you a little bit down the line. How's that sound?

Mike: I appreciate you guys. Thank you.

Craig: Yeah, thanks, coach.