5 Shot-Blocking Tips From UH’s All-Time Leader Travis "No Fly Zone" Scribner
I read once when I was a younger ballplayer that to be successful you needed to have at least one ELITE level skill, so I quickly went in search of what that could be for me. Being one of the biggest kids on any team that I was on, I was quickly moved to the low block and played center.
Now I'm 40, so for all you youngsters out there this was long before the days of the stretch bigs launching 3s, think more of Patrick Ewing and young Shaq. With me being a center, ball-handling and passing were primarily out, which left me with three options for an elite-level skill: scoring, rebounding or shot blocking.
If you've ever looked at my career stats you'll realize that scoring ain’t it for me, Chief. I may be the first player in basketball history to have more blocked shots than points, so that left rebounding and shot blocking. I'm a fairly decent rebounder, but I think there's a lot of guys who rebound just as well as I do, especially since I'm only 6'4”.
Shot blocking was always something I had an affinity for. Becoming a good rim protector can totally alter a game in more ways than people think. Having someone protecting the rim allows your guards to play far more aggressively on defense knowing that if they get beat there's someone there to cover for them. Let’s talk ways to improve shot blocking, an underrated way in which you can impact the game.
1. be somewhat tall
Sorry I don't have better news for you guys here but there's gonna be some genetics in play. Now keep in mind you don't need to be overwhelmingly tall. I think the fact that I am shorter than most centers actually increases my shot blocking as more people try to challenge me than say a 6'10 monster waiting in the paint.
Anticipating ball movement and having a sense for how an offense is moving. You hear people talk about point guards seeing the floor, and it’s no different for a shot blocker. Understanding the flow of the game allows better positioning to block shots. This comes from repetition, the more you play the more you've seen and the less you are surprised. In the words of Ultimate Hoops ‘NEVER RETIRE’.
This is the biggest factor in my shot blocking. Most people think you need to be tall or have explosive jumping; I have NEITHER of those traits but still manage to block shots. If you saw the video of my 1000th block, it’s almost hard to see as I block the shot before the shooter gets to the apex of his jump and I manage to poke it away. The majority of my blocked shots look just like that. If you can get to the ball on the shooters way up as opposed to at his highest release, you can negate your own genetic short comings of height and jumping simply by good timing.
4. Directional Blocking
Most people want the highlight level block of sending a shot into the stands, and while yes, that looks cool, it simply gives possession back to the other team. The majority of my blocks stay in play thus leading to us gaining control of the ball. Limit your arm swing; you're not playing volleyball. If you simply have your arm out-stretched you can impact release and often the ball ends up in front of you so you can grab it, essentially turning the blocked shot into a steal and gaining possession for your team.
5. Limit your jumping on attempts
Now this sounds almost counter intuitive, right? The higher you are the better chance you can block a shot. The problem with this is if you get pump-faked, you are now completely out of the play. I try to use a small bunny like hop which allows me to recover and still have a chance at a blocked shot. I’d say roughly 300 or so of my blocks have probably come on an initial pump fake where a shooter now thinks they have an open look and I'm able to block the shot from behind.
And there you have it folks, how to block shots like No Fly Zone. Well, probably not just like me because no one’s getting to 1000 in 249 games…UNBREAKABLE. YOU THINK THEY CALL ME MR. GLASS?!