New Job: Personal Shooting Coach To NBA Players

Dave Hopla Knicks shooting coach job

There's a reason why Jason Kidd and other ballplayers like him are considered the professionals. They're the ones who are supposed to be the experts at nailing the crucial jump shot as the buzzer winds own. Yet as it turns out, there's a new market for shooting coaches for NBA players.

Yes, NBA players are hiring trainers to help them with the most fundamental element of their livelihood. And the coaches are charging them thousands for the hourlong sessions in how to perfect their forms and avoid unnecessary mistakes.

The shooting coaches are earning six-figure salaries, which is comparable to what other assistant coaches make. The trend could be interpreted as the workplace equivalent of, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, having NBA players "employing an expert to tie their shoes."

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But some of the most seasoned pros are sounding a note of approval.

"These guys are breaking down film of your shot, seeing it on tape," said Kidd, who currently plays for the New York Knicks. "When you have a guy who knows your shot and sees your tendencies and can say, 'Hey, you're dropping your left hand -- that's why you're not making them' -- that's valuable."

Kidd, a 10-time NBA All-Star, is currently in his 15th season in the league, and has experienced an extended NBA run in part because of a newfound ability to succeed as a long-range shooter from behind the three-point line. Ever since the 2008-09 season, Kidd has consistently been able to lift his success rate for scoring three-pointers to above 40 percent. Previously, he was never really able to surpass the clip.

And he credits his work with shooting coaches. Just last month, the Knicks hired coach Dave Hopla to work with Kidd. But he's been working with shooting coaches since the tail end of the 2005-06 season, while still playing for the New Jersey Nets.

Bob Thate, his coach back then, was not above employing creative strategies to help Kidd. One tactic he used, according to a report by, was to ask Kidd to remember the phrase, "lock it up," from the hit movie, "Wedding Crashers." The idea was to make sure that Kidd kept his elbow straight when he finished his jump shot.

In terms of making sure he had the proper follow-through on his jump shot, "I didn't have that concept down early in my career," Kidd said.

Not everyone is so convinced of the need for shooting coaches in basketball. Veteran coach Bob Hill put it bluntly to the Journal. "I can teach all that stuff myself," he said.

Yet in professional basketball, the trend of shooting coaches working one-on-one with players dates back to at least 1989, when Philadelphia 76ers owner Harold Katz brought on Buzz Braman to work with his players after he helped the owner land 17 consecutive free throws. "Hire this man," he said at the time. Braman, like many shooting coaches, never played a day in the NBA, gaining his expertise, instead, while earning a living at jobs such as selling cars.

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The rise of personal shooting coaches is perhaps an inevitable outgrowth of the boom in career coaching. There are now life coaches, career coaches and executive coaches -- people in all fields are using coaches. The coaching industry is widely recognized to have been invented by the early 20th century entrepreneur Frank Parsons, who in 1908 opened the Vocational Bureau of Boston, which aimed to help all people recognize their special abilities so that they might find their true vocation.

Within the sports field, the personal coach has been credited with much professional success. Perhaps most famously was when tennis star Andre Agassi teamed up with Brad Gilbert in the mid-1990s. Gilbert helped the one-time wild boy of tennis to focus -- and go on to win seven grand slam championships late in his career.

Gilbert laid out his gritty on-the-court philosophy in his popular 1994 book, entitled, "Winning Ugly."

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I think it is stupid to need to have a shooting coach, but I would gladly take the job as long as I did not have to share smelly locker rooms afterwards.

October 30 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical AOL story with flashy headline and little else. The writer does not know sports. Position coaches (ie. pitching coach, offensive line coach) and skill coaches (ie. weight training coach, nutritonist) have been around for a while.

October 30 2012 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know what I want to be when I grow up.. ! (;

October 29 2012 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are coaches at the top of any profession. Zig Ziglar and his cohorts in sales, golf has specialized short game coaches like Stan Utley, there is a small industry of baseball and softball coaches, of course there are shooting coaches. I'd argue that basketball may have the most need for specialized coaches. A supremely gifted player, 6'8" with a 40" vertical jump probably never had to hit a mid range jump shot until he got to the NBA. Guys like me, 5'11" with an almost unmeasureable vertical had to hit any open shot I got just to play intramurals in college.

October 29 2012 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personnal coaches are nothing new and have always made big money. Golfers like Tiger and Phil not only pay big money for the coaching but will send a private plane to get them and all expenses. So this story is nothing new.

October 29 2012 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, if Patti LaBelle and Roberta Flack utilize vocal coaches . . .

October 29 2012 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can assure you it's not a scam Dave is probably the best shooting coach in the world. He recently was in S. Florida working with kids. To watch what he does is simply amazing. He rarely misses a shot and makes it look so easy. After watching him you have to wonder why these NBA/WNBA players cant do the same thing. This up and and coming freshman girl bball player has worked with Dave and she really shows what can be done when you work on your shot at an early age.

October 29 2012 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Less hoop hanging, dancing in the end zones and practice more

October 29 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a scam job!!! Convince me when the free throw rate is 90% and we see at least one .4000 hitter in baseball. Practice practice practice !!! Hard work !!!

October 29 2012 at 1:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Doug Click

I know some hitting coaches that the pros use and they earn a very good living at it but they are the best in the business. They evaluate every aspect of the action of hitting. They study when an athlete is on and off and know how to explain and show how to correct the motion for the indvidual athlete. It is a science.

October 29 2012 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Doug Click's comment

Isn't that the job of the hitting coach that teams pay for

October 29 2012 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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