Finding a good basketball coach is tough, especially at the youth level! More often than not, the coach doesn't really know how to teach the kids the fundamentals of the game because he never played at a high level himself, he just happens to be the father of the point guard.
If you want to teach your kid the basic skills of basketball the right way, or if you are a more advanced basketball player who wants to model his game after one of the best scorers of all time - then Steph Curry's Masterclass might be the solution!
Masterclass.com promises to teach you how to dribble, shoot and score like the 2x MVP for a one-time payment of only $90. But does it work?
I signed up for the Masterclass to check it out, this is my review:
What’s a Masterclass?
Masterclass.com is an online platform that allows you to learn skills from some of the most recognizable artists in the world. Through well-produced online video classes, you can learn acting from Samuel L. Jackson, cooking from Gordon Ramsey or attend a lecture about comedy held by Steve Martin.
The San-Francisco based start-up has raised over $35M of venture capital so far and is releasing new classes regularly - this is a very professional company, you definitely won't be scammed out of your money here!
Masterclass.com offers two different methods of taking a class:
- You can buy lifetime access to a single class for a single payment of $90
- Or you can get access to the complete library and every teacher for $180 per year
I decided to buy just the single Steph Curry class, paid via Paypal (credit card is possible too) and only seconds later I got an email with my access data and I was ready to go! If you are thinking about gifting the masterclass to someone, there is also an option to buy the course as a gift.
How Does It Work?
Once you log-in to your class you will be greeted by a list of all 17 classes as well as links to community, resources and office hours.
This is a simple bulletin board where students can introduce themselves and communicate with each other. Some courses like the Kasparov chess lessons have lively discussions, however, there was very little activity among Steph Curry's students. That's not a big deal though, as I didn't sign up to chat with other basketball players on a bulletin board straight from the '90s. For stuff like that, the target audience of young basketball players can always go to Instagram or Youtube.
As a student of Steph's class, you will get a very nicely designed workbook that is 54 pages long and accompanies the video lessons. This workbook includes recaps of what you learned, more detailed explanations and diagrams which help you to do the exercises correctly.
You are also provided with shot tracker spreadsheets that allow you to monitor your progress through the shooting exercises which I really appreciated as someone who is a bit crazy about crunching numbers:-)
The office hours allow you to record a video of yourself asking a question to Stephen Curry and he will post answers from time to time. At the time of writing the article (May 9, 2018) there were five answer videos posted, but I am sure there will be more as soon as the NBA playoffs are over.
The 17 video lectures are about 10-20 minutes long and focus on different aspects of basketball like shooting, dribbling, or more advanced techniques like using off- or on-ball screens. Steph Curry introduces every drill step-by-step in an empty gym and shows you what to look for and how you can avoid common mistakes. There are also film sessions where Steph breaks down plays from the Golden State Warriors and shows you how he uses the techniques you just learned in an NBA game.
Below every video lecture is a comment section where students discuss what they learned and can ask questions if they didn't understand something. Employees of Masterclass.com are present in these comment sections to answer questions, but most of the time the very friendly community will help out each other.
In each lecture, you will also find a link to the relevant tracking sheets and a link to download the corresponding chapter of the workbook.
Below you can find a short breakdown of each lesson:
Lesson 1: Introduction
In the first lesson, Steph Curry introduces himself and talks about what it took for him to become one of the best basketball players in the world. He shows how hard work pays off even if you are not the biggest, or most athletic player, and talks about low points in his careers (like not being heavily recruited out of high school) and how he used it as motivation to become the great player he is today.
This 5-minute video is a great start to the masterclass and really gets you pumped about what's to come!
Lesson 2: Shooting Stance, Alignment, and Mechanics
The second video is 15 minutes long and all about the mechanics of shooting a basketball. Steph emphasizes that you need to shoot from "the ground up" and how important the stance of your feet and the posture of your lower body is. He then talks about the proper ball positioning, where to aim, the height of the release and the angle of the shot.
You not only get slow-motion videos from one of the best shooting mechanics of all-time, but Steph also talks about common mistakes and gives tips on how to correct them. I was really impressed by how detailed this lesson is and it really shows you how much thought and practice went into Steph's shot.
He also shares the story of how he changed his shot from a lower-release "catapult shot" after his freshmen season in high school and how it took him a whole frustrating summer and thousands of shots to get used to shooting above his head. It's very motivating to hear that even the best shooter of all time wasn't born with the perfect shot but worked very hard at it from a young age.
Lesson 3: Form Shooting Practice
In this video, Steph shows you how to work on your shooting form. My main takeaways were that you should always start your workout by making 100 perfect makes from different angles at a close range. Don't start off by jacking three-pointers, but work on perfect mechanics at close range before extending your shots to the perimeter.
I also liked his tips on how to practice your shot if you are alone in the gym and how to learn from your misses by checking whether you are missing left/right or short/long.
Lesson 4: Shooting off the Catch
In this lecture, Stephen Curry talks about one of his biggest strengths: shooting off the catch. You learn how to receive the ball in a shot-ready position, how to move your body to the ball and how to avoid the most common mistakes. It's also the first lesson where we get to see how watching film can improve your game and provide a better understanding of the action on the floor. Steph breaks down a play frequently run by the Golden State Warriors where the team sets three different screens to get him open for a quick catch-and-shoot three-pointer.
Lesson 5: Ball-Handling: Foundations
The first lesson concentrating on dribbling skills was really interesting as it showed me a few things that I could definitely improve on. Steph starts off by showing basic concepts like dribbling stance, dribbling height and how to keep the basketball away from your own feet. He then introduces the three most important dribbling moves: crossovers, between-the-legs, and behind-the-backs and shows common mistakes like dribbling too high, too softly or moving your body around the ball instead of the ball around the body.
Ball handling is one of the weaker spots of my game and these lessons really showed me that I need to work on some basic skills if I want to become a more confident and efficient playmaker.
Lesson 6: Shooting off the Dribble 1
In this lesson, Stephen Curry shows you how to transfer your off-the-catch shooting mechanics to shooting off the dribble by using a strong last bounce and getting the ball into your shooting pocket quickly. He also talks about the mindset you need as a shooter, how to keep confidence in your shot and how to impact the game if your shot is not falling.
Lesson 7: Ball-Handling: On the Move
In this shorter lesson, you learn how to work on the basic dribbling moves we learned earlier, but this time on the move. The key is to stay in a low stance, lead with the ball, not your feet, and avoid glancing at the ball. In the accompanying section of the workbook, you also get a ball-handling circuit that will improve your handling if you keep working on it every day!
Lesson 8: Shooting off the Dribble 2
This lecture combines previous ball handling and shooting drills for more advanced moves like shooting off crossovers or behind-the-backs. The ease and speed of Steph Curry during these moves is really incredible and showed me that this is something I need to work on for sure.
I also liked the film session where Steph Curry breaks down NBA in-game action and we get to hear about his thinking process during the game.
Lesson 9: Creating Space from Your Defender
In lesson #9 we learn how to create enough space to get a shot off by looking at the defender's feet, hands and nose to determine weak spots and possible moves. Steph shows a series of jab steps, dribbles, and step-backs he likes to use to shift the weight of his defender and get him off-balance.
All these moves are shown in great detail with a guy acting as Steph's defender while he shows and explains the details of every attack and countermove.
Lesson 10: Beating Your Defender
I love this lesson because it is 100% dedicated to watching NBA film. You don't often get the chance to have a 2x MVP explain his moves and what he was thinking during a game. It also shows you that most of the time it's not about flashy moves but more about understanding the basics, reading the footwork of your opponent and using his weaknesses to your advantage.
I especially liked the concept of looking for the lead foot of your opponent and trying to get him off-balance by attacking it.
Lesson 11: Ball Screens
Ball screens are an important part of every NBA team's strategy and Steph Curry is one of the most dangerous players coming off a screen. In this lesson, he shows us how to communicate with the screener, where and how to set screens and how to react to the actions of your defender.
I especially loved that Steph went into great detail on how to dribble over the screen to make sure that you lose your defender because I sometimes have problems with that. He shows that you want to drop your inside shoulder to hip height of your screener and you can even touch the outside calf of your screener with your inside hand when dribbling by the screener - I am definitely going to try that!
Lesson 12: Ball Screens - Film Session
Another film session - my favorite kind of lecture in this Masterclass!
Steph breaks down 4 different ball-screen plays and explains how to read the floor, your defenders and potential help defense to make the best possible decision. He also shows how a hand-off can act in the same way as a ball screen.
Lesson 13: Scoring at the Rim
In this video, we learn how to protect the ball when scoring at the rim and how to use your shoulder to create separation between you and your defender. Stephen Curry also teaches different moves like reverse finishes of a euro-step or different types of floaters and shows how he uses them in-game.
Lesson 14: Off Screens: Curl, Pop, and Fade
Less flashy than on-ball screens but just as important: off-ball screens.
Steph Curry shows us three different options on how to use an off-ball screen:
- Curl to the rim: come off the screen and cut towards the basket, receive a pass and read the help defense to determine if you are going for a jump shot, layup, or for a floater.
- Pop: Use the screen to get to the three-point using a straight line cut.
- Fade: If your opponent tries to cheat and go under the screen you fade away from the screener to create separation between you and your defender.
This lesson is a nice mix of learning the theory using a chair as a screener and watching game film to see those moves in action. I especially liked how detailed Steph breaks down the actions of not only his defender but also the possible rotations of the help defense.
Lesson 15: Ball Handling: Overloading
If you are following basketball at all you have probably seen Steph Curry's crazy pre-game dribbling drills using two basketballs - that's called overloading. By working on your dribbling skills using an additional basketball or tennis ball you increase the difficulty and intensity and overload your current motor skills. Once you have mastered these drills, simply dribbling one basketball will seem so easy that the game slows down for you and you can use all your attention watching your teammates and the defense, not the ball!
This lecture goes through a progression starting with relatively easy stationary drills using two basketballs and goes on to more difficult drills on the move using basketballs and tennis balls. The workbook contains the exact progression you can use during your warm-ups.
Lesson 16: Pregame Preparation
In this lesson, Steph goes into how important it is to prepare for a game the right way by getting enough rest, stretching, eating right and watching tape of the opponent. He then shows his famous pregame dribbling sequence before he talks about his mindset and what he does to calm his nerves before a game.
Lesson 17: Conclusion: The Journey Towards Perfection
In this last lesson, Steph Curry talks about how to stay motivated, work hard, and how to push yourself to become the best player you can be. My main takeaway was that you have to love the process!
To become one of the best basketball players in the world you have to work incredibly hard. You will never be successful if you don't enjoy the process of shooting thousands of shots, getting up early to lift weights or stretch an hour after every game.
As a fan of the NBA you like to think that these guys are just extremely gifted and that the game comes easy to them. And while that might be true, the best NBA players work extremely hard and try to improve their game every day!
What I Liked About the Masterclass
Steph Curry is a Great Teacher
It's hard to find a better role model than that!
Steph has a great presence in front of the camera and explains the techniques and drills in great detail without being boring or mechanical. I like how he starts off with basic skills like shooting and dribbling but really emphasizes how important it is to get these basics down.
You often see kids coming into the gym and start jacking threes immediately. If you have ever been a youth basketball coach you will have an idea about how difficult it is to get kids to work on less flashy stuff like making 20 perfect shots close to the basket before moving on to more difficult shots. Watching this masterclass will teach them the importance of basics! If the 2x NBA MVP Steph Curry, the master of the deep three himself, starts off every training session with making 100 perfect shots from close range, it becomes difficult to find a reason why you shouldn't.
Learn How to Shoot Like Steph Curry
Learning how to improve your shot from the best shooter of all time? What's not to like about that!
Overall, there are five lessons which focus 100% on shooting. You start by learning the correct stance, posture and ball positioning and move on to more difficult drills like shooting off the dribble or coming off ball screens. I was really impressed by the depth of these lessons and how much I could learn from them - even though I always considered myself to be a good shooter.
Learn How to Dribble Like Steph Curry
Another one of Steph's strengths as a basketball player is his ability to handle the basketball! He isn't the most explosive or athletic player in the NBA, but he can get to the rim at ease because he has the ball on a string!
As part of the masterclass, there are three lessons that are exclusively about working on your dribbling. They start by teaching you the basics of dribbling stance, height and how not to dribble on your feet. They then go on to show you how to do crossovers, between-the-legs and behind the back and end with difficult overloading drills using tennis balls or a second basketball.
This part of the masterclass really showed me how much room for improvement there still is for my dribbling. Especially the mistake of moving your body around the ball, instead of the ball around your body is something I need to work on!
Watch Game Tape With Steph Curry
For more experienced basketball players this will be the most interesting part of the Masterclass. Steph breaks down game-action from the NBA, talks about his thought process and shows you how to exploit weaknesses of your defender. He also isn't shy to talk about the mistakes he made or open teammates that he missed.
Customers Are Loving It
Below each video lesson is a comment section where students ask questions, leave comments and talk about the progress they've made. These are just a few comments I found in the first shooting form lesson:
“The form shooting tips and practice have been a huge win for my son David. His accuracy is up dramatically, as is his confidence with shooting the ball. He got a personal best 38 points this weekend including 5 three's. Thank You, Steph for breaking down your shot and emphasizing making 100 perfect makes. It works!”
“Steph, my form has changed and I am making more shots now!”
“I can't wait to start to warm up and use the things I learned.”
Students are loving the masterclass and they give an average rating of 4.7/5 after finishing it. And if you' are not 100% satisfied you have a 30-day money-back guarantee!
What I Didn’t Like About the Masterclass
It's really hard to come up with negative stuff about this masterclass, but I'll try!
There Are No Lessons About Defense
A lot of kids tend to forget that you have to play defense in basketball too! Being a good defender is just as important as being great on offense - unfortunately, it's also a lot less flashy.
Steph Curry himself is a passable defender, but he plays with a lot of great defenders on the Golden State Warriors that do most of the work on that end so that he can focus on offense. If they were to make a Masterclass about playing defense they should probably find a different teacher like Draymond Greene or Kawhi Leonard, but I doubt they ever will, it's just not sexy enough...
I Want More!
Overall, the masterclass is made of around 4 hours of video and a 54-page workbook. I think the length of this masterclass is absolutely fair, and they are still adding new videos in the "office hours" section, but I would have watched another 4 hours - no problem!
Review Results: My Final Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised by this Masterclass. This is not a quick money grab by one of the most popular basketball players of all time, but a very well-thought-out program that delivers value to basketball players of all levels. Beginners will learn the important basics of basketball, intermediate players will learn more advanced techniques like reading the defender when coming off screens and advanced players will appreciate the in-depth film sessions.
Overall, I can recommend this Masterclass 100% and give it a rating of 5/5 stars!