Speed Over Form

By Andrew Gilstrap

It’s time to start boosting that Pop-A-Shot score. Tonight’s technique will get you started on that road. It won’t be easy, and it will take some patience, but it will be worth it in time; you will move to the next level if you can follow my cues.

To draw a parallel, I will connect tonight’s Pop-A-Shot technique to something I did in bowling a few years back: I had always been a solid bowler, but I realized my scores were stagnating, and I didn’t see much of a brighter future in throwing the ball straight-armed down the middle. So, one outing I worked on spinning the ball down the lane, sort of like the pros do. It took perhaps a dozen or so bowling nights spread over a year or two for my scores to equal — and then start surpassing — my rounds when I bowled ‘the old way.’ I don’t necessarily record jaw-dropping scores each time, but I now have the ability to do so thanks to my new way of throwing: I’ve topped 200 three times.

John "Hot Rod" Williams

None of this during Pop-A-Shot. Photo credit: Tom DeFrisco, Getty Images

With that change in mind, here’s your first major step to raising your game in arcade basketball: Go for speed over form. What I mean is that you got to grab the basketballs quickly and get them out of your hands and to the hoop in one fluid motion. Don’t stand there and try to perfect the form of your shot as if this were an official game of basketball; Pop-A-Shot is a different animal. And there’s not enough time for long windups or shooting from above your head. It has to be from about your face level or even lower than that.

It’s also going to help to to reduce the distance between you and the basket during arcade play. Try to extend your hands out the the hoop while shooting: It reduces the margin for a missed or wild shot. Most arcade systems don’t let you shoot as high as you want anyway; so, you can take the pressure off of hitting the ceiling of the machine by, hey, never having your shot go within that vicinity.

One-handed release

Reduce the distance between your release and the hoop.

For an example of why this style works, take an instance of when I was playing on my basketball machine at home: I shot left-handed for the first round and made all of my shots but one (this accuracy doesn’t even happen with my dominant hand); I scored a solid 36 in this first round, but that still pales to the best first round I’ve recorded at home: 45. Why? Although my accuracy was top-notch, rapidity and sense of urgency were lacking. I’m still working on my shooting form with my left hand, and that appears to cost me precious time. I can shoot at a blazing pace with my right hand and it’s okay if I miss a few during the round; I’m still recording high scores because of the sheer number of shots I get to the rim. Watch this guy in a Youtube video from user kadiation23 to see how some of these elements today combine to elicit big scores.

Although it feels as though I discussed multiple techniques, the many elements truly all disseminate from speed-over-form — or quantity-over-quality, if that suits you better. Shooting fast entails keeping your shots low and reducing the distance between your hands and the basket. Don’t be worried about missing a few; keep firing away. Now go get started on this technique. Be patient: You may see a lot of missed shots at first. But, stick with it and you’re going to eventually reach that next level.

Update from last week’s post:

I previously implied that this would be another long winter without a Ricardo “the Busboy” Reyes sighting, but have no fear: You’ll see him briefly in this epic Nike basketball commercial — one that reached 1 million views in three days (not bad for a commercial, especially one that is a minute-and-a-half long). This advertisement was part of a promotion by Nike to assert that basketball always goes strong, even during an NBA lockout. I believe Reyes’ inclusion is a testament to his current prominence in basketball’s pop culture. Look for him at the 1:13 mark. (Video from Youtube user nikebasketball.)

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