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.”


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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