True Hoops

True Hoops

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ray Allen's Pre-Game Routine

Have you ever heard about  Ray Allen's pre-game shooting routine?
You know, the one where he gets up 300 shots before every game.
Every game. had a piece on it earlier this year as Allen was getting close to breaking Reggie Miller's all time three-point field goals made record. Of course, Allen eventually broke the record.

After reading that article and hearing about his routine, it was something that stuck in my mind.
It was certainly something that I wanted to see for myself.

Two weeks ago I walked into Madison Square garden three hours before tip-off of game 3 of the Knicks/Celtics series.
Guess what I saw as soon as I walked in?
None other than Ray Allen getting his work in, three hours before game time.

As soon as I saw this, I put everything down and started filming:

Amazing isn't it?
More like surreal.

Let me just say, for me this was like sitting down at a lecture by Ray Allen on "how to be great."

And the contrast in this scene is sublime.

Think about the Knicks city dancers.
While enjoyable to watch, is this really basketball?
Is this really why we play the game?
Not just them, but throughout my whole day at the Garden with the media, there were many times when I felt as if it all was just a big perversion of the game - for the sake of entertainment.
How much of it is real?
The big lights. The big city.
And we got swept.

Now think about Ray Allen.
All the distractions. 
At one point he is literally standing between two dancers while shooting.
But look how focused he is.
Not caring about the entertainment. Only the game.
15 years into the league.
And he's still staying true.
He's 35.
And he's still with a game that many of us fell in love with as a kid.
Yes this is his job, but the work he puts in is beyond occupational requirements.
It's the type of work you put in when all you care about is being better. Being great.
It's the type of work that isn't even really work.
Because if you love something so much - you'll do whatever it takes to keep it.

That's why he is one of the best shooters ever in the game.
That's why he has the all time record for most three point field goals made.
And that's why watching it was poetic.

Needless to say, being there was so insightful and so educational.
Seeing his focus.
But also seeing his routine and mechanics.
I certainly was paying attention to his footwork, his catching the ball, his elevation, form, and followthrough.
Look how consistent he is.

Honestly, I was a little nervous about posting these videos.
I didn't want to reveal his trade secrets.

However, then I realized. It doesn't matter who sees this.
Opponents can view this, but they can't stop it.
And he doesn't have to worry about someone jacking his skills.
Out of everyone that views this, including aspiring ball players, how many will do the diligence and followthrough to stick with the routine? Or perhaps even embellish and add their own nuances to it?
And for those that do, they deserve to see this film.

After all, this is just Ray Allen shooting.
In the world's most famous arena.
In the mecca of basketball.
With all the music, cameras, and spectators.

This is just Ray Allen shooting.
But to those who know better.
This is more than just Ray Allen shooting.
This is the essence of the game.

Some quick numbers:
87 shots total (1/3 of his routine?)
First video: 25/40 shots 
                   11/11 foul shots

Second video: 25/47 shots 
                       15/16 foul shots
                       1/1 dunk (and look how easy it was)
                       I like how he gives first bumps to everyone that helped him out.

Total: 50/87 shots (57.5%)
          26/27 foul shots (96.3%)


  1. Inspiring focus. No one else is doing this!

    I'd like to ask him what percentage is "work" and what percent That's not the right word, but the pleasant space where you are so absorbed in a task that everything else *poof* disappears.

  2. His focus is amazing. And inspiring.
    Especially considering how long he has been focused for - 15 years.

    In reading that article, Allen said that he was always the type of person that would rather work "now" and have fun "later."
    Such an amazing concept - to invest what you have now, and be able to enjoy the benefits later. And being able to look back and say you gave everything you had probably really is fun.

    For what it's worth, I also read another article about his routine where he said himself that he has OCD, although he's never been diagnosed.

    That brings up an interesting question, which I often wonder with regards to Kobe. A great work ethic equals greatness. But how much of that ethic and drive is due to some pathological condition?
    Or is it simply the passion for what you do? Is there a difference?

    Which brings us to the question of what percentage of what Allen does is "work" versus "fun." I think it's different with different players.
    Also, sometimes the routine becomes more maintenance to keep in shape.
    But for Allen, I believe a majority of it is passion based rather than work.

    And why wouldn't it be? Being in that moment, where it is just you and your craft, when no one else is watching, that is when you find out who you are. And the process itself, the feeling of dedicating yourself entirely to something, and knowing you are developing it - that's something ethereal.