Shot Charts: Single Out the True Hot Spots

See exact­ly where an offense excels and strug­gles, then pair­ the shot chart with video to find valu­able insights.

Shot Charts: Single Out the True Hot Spots

See exact­ly where an offense excels and strug­gles, then pair­ the shot chart with video to find valu­able insights.

The best way to craft an effec­tive offense is to get your best shoot­ers launch­ing from where they’re most effi­cient. That’s why it’s so impor­tant to use a shot chart to track makes and miss­es dur­ing the game, or lat­er in the evening when review­ing film.

But track­ing this data on paper only par­tial­ly unlocks the val­ue of a shot chart. 

The more you can under­stand why your play­ers excel at a cer­tain area of the floor and strug­gle at oth­ers, the more con­struc­tive your coach­ing will be. Conversely, see­ing how your oppo­nent sets up those shots from the hot-hand­ed quad­rant can stoke the imag­i­na­tion of a good defen­sive-mind­ed coach. There’s vir­tu­al­ly no downside.

How It Works

Every shot attempt­ed on the floor is mapped to a spe­cif­ic area of the shot chart. Looking at trends over an entire sea­son can give you a pre­cise eval­u­a­tion of your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, take this sea­son-long shot chart from a top-ranked high school team.

What’s the com­mon thread? (Spoiler alert: look at the left cor­ners of the charts.)

If this was your oppo­nent and you were look­ing to force a bad shot, what area of the floor would you try to fun­nel their offense to?

How Coaches Value It

It’s easy to lose objec­tiv­i­ty in the heat of bat­tle. That’s what Chris Horton, the girls bas­ket­ball coach at Lone Oak High (Texas), real­ized shot charts fixed. 

When you’re in the games, you’re just in the flow of things,” Horton said.​“My assis­tant coach­es see it and we talk about who’s doing what. But in terms of what par­tic­u­lar areas they’re scor­ing from, it’s hard to see until afterward.

If I’ve got a girl that’s hav­ing trou­ble scor­ing inside, why? What’s she doing? [The shot chart report] helps me coach them. It helps me big pic­ture with offen­sive design, but it also helps me help them. I’ll go into each indi­vid­ual area and I’ll pull up the video. It helps me as a team con­cept and it helps me indi­vid­u­al­ly. I’ve had them start look­ing at their own stuff.”

Having the per­cent­ages, and the video show­ing how they came togeth­er, has been a very resource­ful scout­ing tool for some of the sharpest minds on the high school front.

The num­bers always lead us to ask why, what’s the rea­son behind what we’re see­ing here,” Lynden Christian (Wash.) girls bas­ket­ball coach Brady Bomber said. Is it because the threes are going in because they’re inside-out threes? Or are they not going in because they’re con­test­ed threes?

Seeing those mar­gins can give you a lit­tle bit of an edge. We’ve been able to watch our play­ers and say, Hey, we want you to see how this girl shot the last cou­ple of games tonight, then come in the next day with a few ideas’ — Oh yeah, I’ve watched her shots the last two games, and I see what you’re say­ing, coach.’”

Beaver Dam (Wisc.) girls bas­ket­ball coach Tim Chase recalled a recent game where the shot charts showed him that a par­tic­u­lar opponent’s top shoot­er sim­ply did not miss from the left cor­ner. Chase knew they were going to have to face-guard her in that part of the floor all night, a tac­tic that proved to be the difference.

Perennially appear­ing in the nation­al polls, Beaver Dam last lost a game to an in-state oppo­nent dur­ing the Obama admin­is­tra­tion. This was one of the few games since that the Beavers had to win by sin­gle dig­its. The dis­cov­ery from the shot charts proved to make all the difference.

It was uncan­ny. She just did not miss from there,” Chase says. She was aver­ag­ing 14 points per game, she had zero in that game, and we end­ed up win­ning by two points.” 

How You Can Use It

Using the data to find out where your oppo­si­tion tries to get shots, and craft­ing your defense accord­ing­ly, is cru­cial. If there’s an area where your oppo­nent strug­gles, you should try to fun­nel them into that space more often.

From the shot chart report exam­ple ear­li­er in the sto­ry, there were two main con­clu­sions for an oppos­ing coach:

  • Every play­er is gen­er­al­ly bet­ter going to their right.
  • Every play­er, save one, is notice­ably poor­er shoot­ing from the left cor­ner. (Though it’s worth not­ing the one, Eric Andrews, is weak­er attempt­ing threes from the left side, align­ing with the left cor­ner theme.) 

Now, go to the film and take a look at why they have low per­cent­ages across the board. Are they bad looks from the cor­ner? Are they defend­ed well? Are they just not a great shoot­ing team? This can give you some ideas about how you want to fun­nel offense to that area.

When con­nect­ed to video, shot charts bring coach­es to a whole new lev­el of under­stand­ing. It’s an edge the nation’s best pro­grams have ful­ly embraced.

We use it a lot for the oth­er teams,” said Warren Central (Ind.) boys bas­ket­ball coach Garrett Winegar. If we have 10 games on a guy, and we see that he’s 50 per­cent beyond the arc from the right side of the floor, and only 30 per­cent from the left side of the floor, we’re going to real­ly try to push him to the left side of the floor. Working on defen­sive game plans, that’s real­ly helped for us.”

If a post play­er strug­gles from one block, but excels from the oth­er, call up video from both spots to see what he or she is doing dif­fer­ent­ly. Tired of watch­ing your oppo­nent rain 3-point­ers from the cor­ner? Check out the video and find the holes in your rotation.

You can’t put a val­ue on that,” Ryan Fretz of Clyde High (Ohio) said.​“You real­ly can’t. Just to be able to look at what type of shots he’s tak­ing, you stick it right in the scout­ing report — 75 per­cent of his shots came off a down screen. Three of his 10 shots were catch-and-shoot, the rest were all tak­ing it to the hole. It allows us to get that edge, to know what the guy is going to do before he gets the ball.”

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Shot charts have always been use­ful, but their evo­lu­tion with video has turned them into one of the most impor­tant weapons in a coach’s arse­nal. And now it’s eas­i­er than ever to get these game-chang­ing sta­tis­tics. See what Hudl Assist can do for you.

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