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Sounds of Thunder: Kyle Singler, your OKC team needs your shot to start falling

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Kyle Singler is the proverbial riddle wrapped in an enigma. He may also be a necessary component of the Thunder’s chances this season.

Ronald Martinez @ Getty Images

Dear Kyle,

Anyone who has ever read either my posts or comments here at Welcome to Loud City knows I am NOT one of your biggest fan. Sorry about that. However, Billy Donovan apparently is, so it appears we are stuck with one another. I assure you it isn’t anything personal on my part. I think you are a fine upstanding individual that works hard, plays hard, contributes to the community, and represents the Thunder organization and Oklahoma City admirably. It’s not you, it’s your shot.... it really... really.... Kyle...it sucks.

From what I’ve seen it isn’t a mechanics issue. You have a very nice shooting stroke and it is obvious that you have invested countless hours perfecting it, which brings me to a question. When did you stop trusting it?

From your days as a Piston:

Basketball-Reference.com

A steady improvement from beyond the arc. From serviceable to very good.... and then you were traded to Oklahoma City:

Basketball_Reference.com

There is no sugar coating it. Your 3-point shot has dropped steadily from serviceable to YMCA pick-up league bench level. So again I ask, when did you stop trusting your mechanics?

I found this highlight video from one of your games at Detroit dated 1/17/2015, just over a month before coming to OKC:

That was some nice work, Kyle! See how smooth your transition from catching to shooting the ball Is? No hesitation, smooth. Efficient, but not rushed. That is what Presti saw that prompted him to make the trade, and what Donovan hopes to reawaken.

I didn’t see that silky smooth transition in your 0 for 4 effort last night. What I saw was an air ball, a shot off the side of the backboard, and 2 bricks.... and I saw something else. A hitch in your motion, a hesitation which leads me to believe you are thinking the shot rather than trusting it. You can’t do that in a game. There is no time to run through a mental checklist at that point. You gotta get back to trusting the muscle memory developed in practice, relax, and just let it go.

Kyle, if you were a golfer I would tell you that you have the shanks. The problem is not your mechanics or your effort, it’s in your head. At some point, after being traded to the Thunder, you lost confidence in your shot and now would be a really nice time to find it again.

First things first before I go on, I like the new ‘do. Not only do you look better, but you can actually see what you’re shooting and that was a vital step in turning your shot around. Nice job.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder-Media Day Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

My guess is that, by this point, you have tried just about everything you can think of to get back on track. Such as...

...and

Attack it differently. Try, Try new things

A photo posted by Kyle Singler (@kylesingler) on

I’m curious, was this some extreme yoga inverted tree pose kind of thing? Interesting.

Here is how I see it Kyle. You want to start hitting those 3-point attempts almost as much as I want to stop writing about the clunkers you have been throwing out there, so I propose that we put any personally feelings aside and work together. Granted, the bulk of any said personal baggage stemming from my side, but that is beside the point. I want to help.

As stated earlier, if you were a golfer I would tell you that you have a bad case of the shanks. The shanks can happen to anyone, even the best:

(guh)

For a golfer, the shanks are much like a baseball player going into a hitting slump or a basketball player missing shots. One day he is knocking the pin down and the next the gallery is ducking for cover and the key for overcoming the shanks is understanding they aren’t the result of some major physical breakdown. They are a result of the loss of the subconscious mental cues that trigger the muscle memory developed in practice, and without them, money balls turn into air balls when the pressure is on.

Sometimes there is a quick fix:

But of course we are talking hoops and not golf in your case, and I seriously doubt tying your left shoe in a double-knot, moving all your change to a different pocket, turning your hat around backward, and sticking a tee behind your left ear would do any more good for a golfer that has had the shanks as long as you have any more than the “inverted tree pose” did for you. I don’t suggest the final step of Rome’s cure either.

All kidding aside...

Most players on cold shooting nights attempt to get to the free throw line, and the simple visual of seeing a free throw going in does the trick. Unfortunately in your case Kyle, your free throw percentage since the trade has tanked worse than your 3-point shooting. For whatever reason, your mental cues are buried so deep in your sub-conscious you are unable to retrieve them during the flow of a game. I suggest you try something that helped me many years ago when I couldn’t beat a case of the shanks:

Science, specifically, cybernetics. The science of communication and control theory that is concerned especially with the comparative study of automatic control systems (as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems).

At one time I was a pretty fair golfer with a single-digit handicap, but for whatever reason one spring, I lost my stroke. Distance and control...both lost. I can still remember the sound of my club hitting the ball that awful summer. Rather than the crisp snap on contact, it sounded like whacking two hollow sticks together. I almost quit.

Then a friend of mine turned me on to something called Sybervision and it helped me regain not only my swing but my confidence as well. From their website: (I’m going to inject some things to help make my point)

First of all, what does the word "SyberVision" mean? SyberVision derives from the words "cybernetics (except we have replaced the "c" with the phonetically similar "S") and "vision."

Cybernetics is the science of guiding a system (you) toward an ideal goal state (repeatable, fundamentally sound golf skills, shooting mechanics) through the feedback of goal relevant information (repeated sensory exposure to a highly skilled model). Once you receive the information, your nervous system processes and adjusts it until the goal state is realized and maintained (high level golf skills, shooting mechanics become a habit).

"Vision" is taken from the use of video generated images as the primary source of feedback information, received through the eyes, transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve as nerve impulses with unique frequencies that represent the movements, identified and interpreted by the brain, and matched to repetitively stimulate similarly stored memory.

Secondly, what is "Neuromuscular Training"? The performance of an athletic skill or movement by your body's muscles and skeletal system is directed by a set of nerve units in your brain—a neural "blueprint" or representation of the motion. These blueprints are formed through repetitious practice—performing the movement over and over until it becomes an automatic or conditioned reflex (you don't have to think about it).

The quality of the movement is dependent upon the quality of your practice—whether or not the movement is practiced correctly. Perfect physical practice makes for ideal skills and leads to consistency and confidence. Imperfect practice consolidates imperfection, leading to inconsistency, self-doubt and unpredictable results under pressure.

Through the SyberVision system of sensory imaging, your nervous system responds to the observed modeled skills almost as if your muscles and body were physically performing the desired action, over and over. The same nerve pathways that are stimulated by perfect physical practice are similarly activated and reinforced by watching your SyberVision Golf video, basketball video.

Here is an example of Sybervision:

Hypnotic, is it not? Did you see the trick? First the video reinforces proper body motion then builds to a proper rhythm.

The concept helped me find my swing and I think a similar video, using your best makes from game footage, like the example from your Detroit days above, are worth a shot (pun intended).

Sincerely,
R.K. Anthony

P.S. - What could it hurt? A six minute video. Less time than it takes to fix your hair and who knows, maybe someday I will be writing about Rome’s “finely tuned athlete on the verge of greatness” instead of that chili pepper you bounced off the side of the backboard against the Suns.