In a previous post titled, You Should Study This Technique, Melissa Dixon of the Iowa Hawkeyes was featured as having the quickest release in College basketball.
Below is an interview with Melissa in which she shares her thoughts on shooting:
One Motion: While at Iowa, you were considered one of the best shooters in the College game, if not the best. Growing up, would you consider yourself a natural shooter or one that worked extremely hard to develop your shot?
Melissa Dixon: “Shooting has always been the strongest part of my game. Naturally it has always come the easiest to me and has always been my favorite part of the game. That being said, I have also spent many hours and lots of hard work perfecting my shoot and making it as consistent as possible.”
One Motion: What does it take to succeed at the Division I level, besides talent?
Melissa Dixon: “Talent is what gets you to the Division I level and attracts coaches to recruiting you, but hard work is what makes you successful. At that level everyone has talent or they wouldn’t be playing at that level but hard work is what separates you.”
One Motion: Any future plans as a player?
Melissa Dixon: “At the moment I am pursuing a professional career of playing overseas.”
One Motion: Great shooters are very confident and quite surprised when the ball doesn’t go in. Tell us your mindset when several shots in a row miss the mark.
Melissa Dixon: “As a shooter you must have all the confidence in the world in your shot. You also have to have a very short memory. If I get on a stretch where I’ve missed a couple of shots in a row I just let it go and forget about it and know that the next one is going in. I know that I’ve make thousands of shots in my life so that gives me the confidence to concentrate on the next shot going in rather than focusing on the last couple I’ve missed.”
One Motion: What advice do you have for young players wanting to become better shooters?
Melissa Dixon: “Advice I would give younger players who want to become better shooters is to get in the gym. You aren’t going to become a better shooter without putting in the work. Also when you are in the gym, be in the gym. Be present and fully engaged and focused on becoming a better shooter.”
One Motion: Is your shooting style patterned after someone else or is it a God-given talent?
Melissa Dixon: “I don’t necessarily think my shot is styled after a specific player. I was taught good mechanics and fundamentals at an early age and just kind of built on those as I got older.”
One Motion: Did anyone ever try to change your shooting mechanics?
Melissa Dixon: “I think when I was younger my dad and others trainers and coaches taught me the correct mechanics so I’d make adjustments here and there when something needed to be adjusted, but I never fully changed my shot. I have pretty much had the same natural shot I’ve had since I was little.”
One Motion: Since your release is so quick, do opposing players get frustrated at not being able to block your shot?
Melissa Dixon: “I’d like to think so.” :)
One Motion: Is coaching in your future?
Melissa Dixon: “I’m not totally sure at the moment. I definitely think coaching is something I’m interested in. Not sure at what level but I really enjoy working with others and I love being around the game!”
One Motion: In your opinion, what is the secret to your shooting success, e.g., mechanics, confidence, a lot of hard work, etc?
Melissa Dixon: “The secret to my shot I think is a combination of things. I was taught the correct mechanics and fundamentals early on and was able to successfully build on those. A lot of hard work has been put into my shot, which has given me the confidence to be a successful shooter. It also helps that I have a quick release to get my shot off against opponents.”
One Motion: You have the most efficient shooting stroke I’ve ever seen (boys or girls). Have you ever analyzed your mechanics to understand why you’re so successful?
Melissa Dixon: “I’ve watched a lot of film of my game and shot and I think a lot of it has to do with my quick release. My shot is really quick and a one motion shot so it makes it difficult for defenders to guard. I also think that having a shooters mentality has helped I’m always thinking shot first before I even catch the ball so my feet and everything else are ready as soon as the ball enters my hands.”
One Motion: Can you describe what your shot “feels” like from start to finish, e.g., effortless, smooth, etc?
Melissa Dixon: “My feet are set so from the second I catch the ball so I am ready to shoot as soon as the ball enters my hands. My shoot and release are quick so when I catch the ball it’s a smooth but quick one-motion shot. I’ve taken so many shots that it has become a natural feeling.”
One Motion: Do you have any thoughts while shooting or is your mind blank? Explain…
Melissa Dixon: “I don’t really think I have any thoughts while I am shooting. It has become just a natural instinct.”
One Motion: When shooting, do you focus on the front rim, back rim, or middle of the basket?
Melissa Dixon: “I focus on the front of the rim when I shoot.”
One Motion: Do you watch the flight of the ball after the release?
Melissa Dixon: “I watch the flight of the ball after I release it and follow it until it hits the rim or goes through the net.”
One Motion: Describe your intensity level or focus when shooting in games.
Melissa Dixon: “In order to having a successful shooting game its important to have total focus and a high level of intensity throughout the entire game.”
One Motion: What was your best scoring game in College and who was it against?
Melissa Dixon: “32 points against UNC-Wilmington.”
One Motion: Since you don’t “dip” the ball when shooting, the so-called “experts” say you’re doing it wrong. What would you say to them?
Melissa Dixon: “I don’t think you can generalize that there is a right or wrong way to shoot the ball. I think there is a right or wrong way for every specific player. There are plenty of great shooter but they do not all shoot the same exact way. They may have similarities but their shots are not identical. Even though I may not dip the ball, the way I shoot works for me.”
One Motion: How important is “focus” as it relates to shooting?
Melissa Dixon: “I think having focus through the entire shooting process is key to being successful. You have to focus on doing things the right way and make sure you are shooting with the correct mechanics. Also, when you are working on your shot you have to make sure you have a full focus and are fully engaged on becoming a better shooter.”
One Motion: Briefly describe one of your off-season shooting workouts.
Melissa Dixon: “In an off shooting workout the goal is usually to make at least 500 shots. Using a shooting gun makes this a lot easier. I usually start off by shooting threes and then I’ll do other drills where I am shooting off the dribble and I always end with making free throws.”
One Motion: When did you first “fall in love” with shooting?
Melissa Dixon: “I fell in love with shooting when I fell in love with the game. Shooting has always been my favorite part of the game. Its something I just really enjoying doing. I love to shoot whether it is competitively in a game or workout or if it’s just in my backyard.”
One Motion: Can you share some of your techniques for getting open?
Melissa Dixon: “Going off screens really helps to get open shots. It’s really important to set up the screen and rub your defender off in order to be open when you catch the ball. Getting open without using screens you still have to focus on making movements to get your defender away from you. If I am really getting overplayed I will go backdoor a couple of times to make my defender play me more honestly.”
One Motion: Do you think “great shooters” are born or made?
Melissa Dixon: “It’s probably a combination. Being a talented player and a great shooter both have a little to do with God-given talent and natural ability, but if you want to be really great at something you have to put in the time and hard work.”
One Motion: Any interests/hobbies outside of basketball that keep you busy?
Melissa Dixon: “In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love being outside and staying active, I love to travel, and love to go shopping.” :)
One Motion: In one sentence, please describe your shooting motion?
Melissa Dixon: “My shooting motion is a quick one-motion shot where as soon as I catch the ball everything is set and ready that I can go through a one motion until I release the ball.”
With God and a powerful dream, anything is possible!