Expanding on the triple threat: The catch and hold jump shot

The triple threat is not important to me as it is for most coaches. First, I do not believe that players who use the triple threat are truly a threat to dribble, pass, or shoot. Second, when players receive the pass with a small advantage, and move to a triple threat position, they forfeit their advantage and must create a new advantage.

When players receive a pass with an advantage, they should shoot or drive. Once they hold the ball, they become passers. Most plays or continuity offenses are based on this idea: Players pass and hold, pass and hold, until the designated player catches and shoots. Therefore, players need a position in which to hold the ball while waiting for a teammate to get open, and we can this position the triple threat, although the player is really a passer.

I want players who receive the pass with an advantage to shoot or drive. Once they hold the ball (>2 seconds), and give away the advantage, I do not want them to shoot. I always have believed that these are poor shots, and Nylon Calculus presented some proof:

Now, if I had a player such as Dirk Nowitzki or Al Horford, I would change my philosophy to fit their skill set, but these are low efficiency shots.

In general, these attempts tend not to be a very efficient choice — yielding a league average effective field goal percentage of 39.0 percent so far this season, as compared to 40.5 percent for pull-ups and 51.9 percent for catch-and-shoot.

With the players who I have coached, I do not want catch and hold shots. When we catch and hold, the player becomes a passer or waits for a ball screen, typically, as I do not want players trying to go 1v1 with jab step after jab step or multiple dribble moves. The key to our offense is not the triple threat position, because that stops the ball. We want the ball to move, which means attacking once the advantage is created, and not allowing the defense to return to neutral. For more, see SABA: The Antifragile Offense.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

13 thoughts on “Expanding on the triple threat: The catch and hold jump shot

  • Great post. I don’t let my players hold and then shoot. Sometimes their response is “Well Kobe and Carmelo do it.” My response is always that “Kobe and Carmelo shoot it at a low percentage and they play basketball for a living so how are you going to make it at a high % ?” That stats chart is great to show them. Hopefully, the popularity of Steph Curry (and the Spurs) is taking the game to quicker decisions with the ball era and getting away from the Kobe/Leborn/Carmelo iso era of holding the ball which is so boring to watch.

  • The goal of quicker decision making and quicker ball movement is the entire philosophy behind SABA. The problem in the U.S. is the lack of a high-school shot clock allows teams to recycle play after play on a possession, which leads to slower decision making and less ball movement and awareness. A shot clock is not the entire answer, but it encourages a quicker style of play and quicker decision making, especially with a shorter clock (24 secs) compared to a longer clock (35 secs). So much of shooting is rhythm, and most players struggle to get their rhythm when they catch and hold the ball.

  • Id say the Shot clock and horrible skill trainers out there who love to teach jab jab jab jab then shoot are a big part of the problem. I once worked with a coach (who is now a major D1 college coach) that played in the NBA for years and he loved to teach the catch hold and read method. It was so ingrained in him having playing during the NBA when Iso hold the ball was the majority of the game. Incidently, his college team has struggled for years to score – Surprise!

  • Agree. I really think the cult of the trainer is a huge problem because in individual training, you focus on individual skills (well, technique really), but those individual skills like multiple jab steps or triple moves on the triple are useful only when one player dominates the ball, which is bad basketball. Hard to teach quicker decision making in an individual session. Focus leans toward tricks and gimmicks to improve moves that are used rarely in a game, but that look cool and hard and attract attention.

    With all of the analytics available now, I don’t know why so many coaches are beholden to the basketball played in the 80s and 90s. Honestly, I hated the NBA then; now I can’t watch college basketball because it features a lot of the worst aspects of the old NBA style with players who aren’t as good.

  • As an individual trainer, I don’t teach the catch and hold. We work on a variety of finishes and shots, always starting from a catch and attack situation.

  • I’ve been training players for over 20 years and I rarely do individual training. The reason being is that training 1 player at a time is the slowest path to improvement (no decision making, no pressure, no reading the defense). Unless I’m teaching shooting technique, I always want a defender and preferably 2 or 3 defenders.

  • Try doing workouts with at least 1 defender. You can still give individual attention to whatever you want, 1 kid can learn from watching the other, and they get reps reading the defense. Getting that feel for when to do moves. You will see that the things you are trying to teach be implemented into a game a lot quicker. Not saying your players don’t improve a lot in 1 player workouts, just saying you will see even faster improvement with a real defender (not a coach simulating defense).

  • I think it depends on what you are trying to teach. My team practices are very gamelike, and I do small group workouts that are gamelike as well. However, my 1v1 workouts are very technique oriented. I like to get heavily into the footwork and teach them various moves and finishes. At the end I play some 1v1 with them. i encourage them to play as much as possible, letting them know that these workouts are only effective if they play a lot and try these things in games. In basketball you need to play whether at recess, pickup ball, with your friends, with your team, etc. But I do believe there is a place for technical focus as well.

  • The problem is that defenders change technique, whether dribbling moves, finishing, or shooting. Shooting with younger players is the primary time for individual workouts, in my opinion. Also, I think older (college/professional) players can utilize individual workouts because they have the experience to use visualization and other tools to enhance the workouts. Also, to reduce wear and tear in the offseason for expert players when maintenance, not development/improvement, is the primary goal.

  • I agree with all that. These things aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because a kid is spending an hour with me, working on technique, does not mean he can’t spend other time actually playing and putting these things into context. Often when I show these kids certain moves, they’ve never done them before. So I’m just throwing things into their bag of tricks and tools that they can use in games, whether that’s a pro hop, a step back, a crossover into a side step jumper, etc. This technical work isn’t the answer, but it does help, and it’s part of the larger equation.

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