Defense has always been the biggest key to determining a basketball game, and blocking shots happen to be one of the most important categories.
What it Takes to Be a Great Shot Blocker
Just like other skills in basketball, shot-blocking requires a lot of practice if you want to be good at it. As a matter of fact, not everyone can become a shot blocker.
To be honest with you, if you are not tall enough, it is extremely hard for you to become a shot blocker. For instance, if you are merely six feet tall, it is challenging for you to guard or even block a 6’9″, 6’10” player. Yet, you can still be a great perimeter defender by having quick hands and lockdown defense, just not a rim protector.
So, let’s assume you have the right body type and height. There are still a few things you should keep in mind if you want to be a great shot blocker, athleticism, timing and be smart.
Simply put, the more athletic you are, the higher chance you can block a shot. If you look at the current NBA’s leading shot blockers, Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert. All of them are regarded as the most explosive big man in the league.
As the stronger you are, the quicker you can explode and elevate from the floor to block a shot. Also, training your lower body muscles can increase your vertical leap, which is also a huge factor when blocking shots.
So, if you want to work on your athleticism to help your blocking ability, focus on working your legs and your lower body in order to optimize your strength, vertical and explosiveness.
Just like grabbing a rebound, blocking shots is all about timing. If you can get it right, you will become an elite shot blocker.
As you well know, shot-blocking is a reaction to the offensive player in order to hinder them from making the field goal. So, it is extremely important not to jump unless the offensive player is leaving the ground for a shot. Generally speaking, it takes at least a split-second longer for the offensive player to get into his shooting form so there should be enough time for you to jump after he does and still manage to block the shot. Unfortunately, if you fall for a pump fake and leave the ground, you may wind up committing a foul and your opponent converting a three-point play.
On the other hand, it is much harder to get the timing right when your opponent is going for a layup instead of a shot. While the offensive player is driving towards the rim, all you can do is to wait until he makes a move. A lot of players always try to play aggressive defense and initiate contact with the opponents and ended up getting a whistle. Don’t be one of them unless you want to sit on the bench for the whole game due to foul trouble.
Being a smart shot blocker can help you stay out of foul trouble and also increase the chance of blocking the ball, there are a few tips that can help you become a smarter defender.
Study Your Opponent
One of the best ways to defend and block your opponent is to study his playing style. By analyzing his game, how he shoots and how he goes for layups. You will find out his strengths and weaknesses, after that, you will be able to predict what is his next step and have a greater chance of blocking the basketball.
Shooting foul is the most common type of foul in basketball, which is called due to unnecessary or excessive physical contact initiated by the defender. This usually happens when the defender is attempting a block shot and accidentally bump into the offensive player, resulting in a personal foul.
If you want to avoid getting these quick foul calls and be substituted out during games, practice jumping straight up all the time when committing a block shot. In this way, you will be considered as absorbing contact rather than initiating contact and no foul call will be made.
First thing first, consider the consequences before you decide to block the shot. For example, if you already have three personal fouls in the first half, think twice before you try for a block shot as you are potentially getting the fourth personal foul, which will significantly bring down your minutes in the second half.
Don’t Swipe The Ball
As entertaining as it may seem, swiping the ball out of bounds is the last thing you would like to do. There are two reasons you should not strike the basketball when blocking shots.
First, if you strike the ball out of bounds, the opposing team will retain possession of the ball, meaning that they have another chance to score on your team. The best way to avoid this is to keep the basketball in play by block and tip to your teammate.
Apart from that, swiping the basketball highly increases the chance of getting a foul call as it is a much aggressive move. Besides, if the referees don’t see a clean block, they may judge it as a foul because you are more likely to have physical contact with your opponent with your considerable movements.
When it comes to practice, we usually put our emphasis on our explosiveness rather than our timing. As you play more and more competitive basketball games and attempt more blocks, you will gradually realize you’re jumping based on your experience and instinct but not your reaction. Basically, the more you practice in real games, the better timing you will master.
Just like training your vertical leap, you want to explode up as fast as possible in order to reach your highest point of vertical and block the shot effectively.
The best way to train your explosiveness is by doing plyometric workouts, which is an exercise that enables athletes to jump higher and farther. Click here if you want to learn more about how to improve your explosiveness.
Blocking is a skill that requires tremendous effort and practice. But, if you are willing to commit yourself and implement my tips to your training. I’m sure you will become a great shot blocker before you know it!