Dec 20, 2023

Focus is a skill. 

Some of you may remember the absolute absurdity of this article about Steph Curry not being able to see 100% clearly for most of his career. 

In short, for his whole life, Steph has suffered from something called Keratoconus, which causes distorted and blurred vision. Sometimes it even results in needing a corneal transplant. 😲 (Side note: Who knew you could transplant a cornea?? Science is nuts, y'all.)

When Steph was young, his case was nbd. But as he's aged (gracefully, I might add), the condition worsened, which prompted Curry to get contacts in his 2019 season. We all know what happened next. 

Let me remind you, he got contacts years after his record-breaking season (402 3pt-made), as well as after he'd gained numerous accolades: 3X NBA Championships, 2X NBA MVP Awards, and 5X NBA All-Star Selections, to name a few.

So how did he manage to achieve literally all of the things while essentially shooting through blurred vision? 

He created a ridiculously strict regimen of quieting his eye with every single rep he takes.  


What does it mean to quiet your eye?


It means locking in on a teeny tiny point in the middle of your target... and then making that target point even smaller. 

Most shooters look at a general "middle-ish" area of the rim when they shoot, which leaves more room for error

Fun fact: Roughly half of the time when I've asked my athletes exactly where they look when they shoot, the answer I get is a wide-eyed, "I don't know."

Half of them!!!!!!! 😂


And then we both laugh and train their quiet eye for the rest of their lives.

Lol kids are hilarious. 

Moving on. :)

Aim small, miss small.

If your aim is too broad, any little deviation from your line will result in a miss.

If you're targeting a smaller point, you can be off of your line by a little bit and it's no big deal. We still get the bucket.

(Extra note: The graphic above shows the target as the back of the rim. What part of the rim should you look at? Research says it doesn't matter. Whether you're a front-rim, back-rim, or middle-rim looker, just pick the one that works for you and make it consistent. More info on where you should aim coming next week. 🙃)

I know what you're thinking.

"I'm completely, 1000% sold. How do I train this into my shot immediately??" (⬅ Your thoughts, exactly.)

We'll get there in a minute. ;)

First, I'd like to tell you WHY this is so important. 

The Why:

There have been MANY studies conducted on the benefits of quiet eye training across a range of sports that use balls, and I've scoured through the research. Here are my favorite basketball-related nuggets from one of the most recent studies on quiet eye training and 3pt percentage (2019):

Quiet eye training has been shown to improve overall team 3PT% by an average 21% from pre-test to post-test. Some individuals in that study saw up to a 33% change. Crazy.

The faster your eyes get to the rim after the catch, the higher the likelihood of your shot going in. In other words, we want our eyes quiet before the shooting motion starts. In those that were consistent with early targeting, this accounted for 87% of observed changes in their accuracy measures.

Defensive presence made a minimal difference in FG% after a significant amount of quiet eye training. (This is not to say a negative difference wasn't present--it definitely was. But when compared to those with no quiet eye training, those with better quiet eyes were less affected by a defender.)

**This one is a bit counter-intuitive, which is why I felt it was important to note!  As you shoot, the ball and your shooting hand and arm should come up through the mid-line of your body and occlude (hide) the hoop for a split second as you shoot. (TBH I don't really understand the "why" behind this one, this is just what they observed in the study and they didn't really offer much of an explanation. I plan to dig into this a little bit in the coming weeks. More on that soon.)

Now that I have you sold ☺... let's dive into a couple of training techniques. ⬇ 

Here's one way you can train it without even being near a basket. (I do this all the time when I'm working on the computer or scrolling through socials.)

Look away from your screen and focus on something else for a few seconds, and then look back and try to lock in on the heart emoji below as fast as you can. 

I'd be willing to bet that if you did this a couple of times, you were way quicker with the second and third reps. Your eyes are one of the most advanced features about you, and they can be trained quickly--take that momentum and run with it!

If we're talking on-court stuff, one of the best ways to train your quiet eye into consistency is to remove the miss/make results during your first shooting round of the day--meaning: forget about misses and makes for a minute while you're building something else. 

This sets your habit early, and by removing the miss/make part of that round, every quiet eye rep is a win. Shoot for 100%!!

(***Note/Reminder: Every time you shoot a rep, in any situation or training round, make it a non-negotiable to quiet your eye before your shooting motion starts.)

Now just sit back, put in the deliberate reps, and watch with a smile as your numbers go up. :) 

Train different. Focus hard. Enjoy what it feels like to get better at something each day.

And, of course, keep getting buckets. :)

I'll see you next Friday. 🔥

Shooters Shoot.