“For what he taught in three days, it’s probably the best camp I’ve had,” Souder said.
The Mercer coach’s schedule didn’t allow him to conduct the youth camp he usually holds early in the summer. He said he heard about the Hoover camps and thought one would be perfect for his team, which has struggled with its shooting percentage in recent seasons.
“We’ve been trying to find ways to improve our kids’ shooting,” he said.
That’s where Jackson, who has been teaching the Hoover system for about a year and a half, came in. He made extensive use of video in his instruction, then gave the players plenty of opportunities to put his ideas into practice.
“I’m not trying to change their shot; I’m just trying to offer them a different way,” he said. “If they want to improve, they have to be open to new things.”
Souder said those are things that he hasn’t been teaching, such as the idea that a shooter’s feet don’t necessarily have to be squared up before a shot.
“It’s basically keeping up with the game and the changes,” he said.
Shooting is sometimes taken for granted in basketball, where players spend much more time in camps and in practice on other areas of the game.
“People don’t really think about shooting, and they work on (other) fundamentals. But if the shots don’t go in, you’re not going to win,” Mercer guard Cawood Dedman said.
Jackson, a former player at Southern University who remains active in an over-35 league in Columbus, said he tried the Hoover system out himself before he began teaching it and proved to himself that anyone can change their shooting habits and their success rate.
“I’ve been playing in this league since I was 35, and I’m now 42. The first couple years I played, because I’m a lot quicker than some, they would back up on me and pretty much give me the open shot. This year, I’m having a much better season than I’ve had in the past because guys are having to get up on me,” he said. “And it’s like I told the (players), at 42 years old, if I can make that change, I’m sure they can.”
Dedman said that’s just what the Mercer girls needed to do.
“We’re not the best outside shooters, and we’re really small, so we’re not going to get a lot of inside looks,” she said.
Fifty-four players attended the camp, which was divided into two age groups. There were nearly equal amounts of boys and girls within the younger group, but the older division consisted primarily of girls players.
Both Dedman and Shewmaker said they and their teammates can see already see a difference in their shots.
“I can tell,” Shewmaker said. “My balls are going in, and I have more arch on them.”
The girls said they think their team will benefit from their work this week.
“All of us can shoot well (now), I think, so it’s not going to be just one person shooting outside,” Shewmaker said.
Jackson said he keeps in touch through e-mails and phone calls with schools where he conducts camps, and he plans to send Souder some shooting drills that he can use in practice.
“I keep in touch with a lot of coaches ... and see how certain players are doing,” Jackson said.
Souder said Jackson told him he would even be willing to conduct a follow-up camp next summer.
That might be a boon for the Mercer shooters, who said they seem to be more receptive to instruction that doesn’t come from a coach they listen to every day.
“We listen to (Souder), but when somebody else says something, I guess you pay attention more,” Dedman said.