How to Shoot a Basketball
Establishing a solid foundation is crucial when trying to build an accurate jump shot…If you don’t take the time to master the fundamentals techniques of good shooting form, you are going to THROW AWAY your chance to become a GREAT shooter.
This tutorial will walk you through the 4 fundamentals of having a good jump shot. These fundamentals are spelled out in the word “B-E-E-F”. These are the building blocks on which you can build a deadly jump shot.
1. Balance (or Base)
- Developing a solid base to build your jump shot means having great balance from start to finish throughout the shooting process. Maintaining great balance throughout your shot requires two things. First, your feet should remain about shoulder width apart and should be positioned squarely under your shoulders. Feet that are severely staggered or narrow should be avoided. Second, your upper body and head should remain square towards the basket throughout the course of your shot. This ensures your body stays in a straight line towards your target and will increase the likelihood of your shot going straight.
Dont’s – feet narrow, feet staggered, head swayed, torso turned
2. Eyes (or focus)
- It is crucial before you release the basketball that you make sure you focus your eyes on the rim. Your eyes should lock in on the rim before you start your shooting motion. Once you have locked in on your target, your technique and jump shot will have a reference point to use. This is especially important when you are shooting off screens, or shooting off the move. I advocate looking at the front of the rim, but I know very accurate shooters who look at the back of the rim: either way the important point is that you head goes up BEFORE your shooting motion, NOT SIMULTANEOUSLY with your shot.
Do’s – focus on the rim, eyes up before shooting motion
Dont’s – focus on backboard, eyes come up with the ball
- Ideally, you want the upper part of your arm to form a 90 degree angle with your torso. This alignment ensures that your below is locked into your shooting pocket. If you consistently shoot the ball from your “shooting pocket” (see picture) you will develop the habits that are needed for a solid jump shot.
Do’s – elbow straight, consistent shooting pocket,
Dont’s – elbow angled to the outside or inside
4. Follow-Through (flick your wrist)
- The follow-through or flicking your wrist is the last piece of your shooting motion and is the crucial finishing aspect of a good jump shot. With the ball in your dominant hand, you should flick your wrist as if you were reaching on top of a high cabinet to grab a treat out of the box. The ball should roll off your fingertips and produce back spin on the ball and will give your shot a soft touch. Make sure your wrist is flexed so your fingers are pointing down towards the ground.
Do’s – extend wrist so fingers are pointed down to ground, follow-through with fingertips, produce backspin on the ball
Dont’s – ball has side-spin, fingers pointing sideways or up in the air,
Disclaimer – this is the shooting technique that we believe gives you the best opportunity to consistently make shots. It has worked for thousands of players…But this does NOT mean you can’t be a great shooter if you have a different type of shooting form. There are plenty of NBA players (Kevin Martin, Reggie Miller, Shawn Marion, etc) that shoot good percentages but don’t have standard technique. The biggest keys to becoming a great shooter are Consistency and Hard Work.
1. Hand Placement
Your hands should form a “W” with your thumbs almost touching. Your dominant hand needs to be behind the ball: a good frame of reference is to line your dominant hand so that the hole for the inflation needle is between your middle and pointer finger. Your “off” hand or non-dominant (most peoples left hand) should be placed on the side of the basketball and is your “guide hand”.
Shooting with your fingertips gives you greater control over the ball and ensures the ball rotates with backspin during your “follow-through”. There should be a pocket of air between the ball and your palm. When you flick your wrist the last part of your hand to touch the ball should be your pointer/middle fingers.
3. Shoot with your Legs
The power for your jump shot starts with your lower body, yet many people neglect to use their leg muscles when shooting the ball. As you start to fatigue during the course of a game players tend to miss shots short, this is when you need to shoot with your legs! Before shooting a set shot, get into an athletic stance with adequate knee bend so you can power into your shot.
4. Shooting Pocket
Great shooters always bring the ball to the same shooting pocket before they release the ball. The classic shooting pocket is in front of your face slight to the right of your nose, and in line with your right shoulder (for right handed shooters). Regardless of where a teammate passes the ball, good shooters always bring the ball back to their shooting pocket before they release the ball.
Basic Basketball Shooting Drills
1. Tray Drill
- The “Tray” Drill helps reinforce flicking your wrist, keeping your elbow aligned, and putting the ball in your shooting pocket. Start close to the basket and straighten your dominant arm in front of you with palm facing up holding the ball as you would a “tray”. Bring the ball back to your shooting pocket and shoot a one armed shot. Repeat until you have made 5 swishes at 3 spots, then start to move further away from the rim. You can continue to move backwards until it becomes difficult to get the ball to the rim (I usually stop at the free throw line).
Remember when doing the “Tray” Drill to…
- Flick your wrist so the ball has backspin on it
- Start the basketball in your shooting pocket
- Begin to move away from the basket as you get more comfortable
2. Shoot to the Sky
- Lie on your back with a basketball and position the ball in your shooting pocket. Shoot the ball up in the air practicing good shooting technique. If the ball comes back down into your shooting pocket you know that you are shooting straight. The great this about this drill is you can work on your jump shot anywhere!
Remember when doing “Shoot to the Sky” to…
- Shoot the ball Straight Up
- Have the ball land back in your shooting pocket
- Have a teammate catch the ball and return it to you if you are unable to control it
- Start a few feet away from the basket and shoot until you have swished 3 shots then move back a step. Continue this process until you have moved out to the three point line (or somewhere close to your range) or have completed 5 spots – this is called 1 line of shots. You can shoot from anywhere on the floor (top, sides, baseline) and do as many “lines” as you want. You can add any number of shooting movements (1 dribble, turnaround, fadeaway, etc) to the drill to increase the difficulty or work on other types of shots.
Remember when doing “Swish and Move” to…
- Not get frustrated if it takes you a while to make 3 swishes (the drill is designed to improve your accuracy)
- Mix up the shooting movements (i.e. off the dribble, step backs, turnarounds,)
- Be consistent in your technique as you move away from the basket
- Start outside the lane in line with the lowest lane marker (check this out if you are unfamiliar with court markings) and shoot a jump shot; then cross over to the other side of the court and shoot a second jump shot in line with the lane marker on the other side of the rim. Continue to work your way up the key shooting jump shots behind each lane marker. As you move up the lane your shots will get further and further away from the basket. Take your last two shots at each elbow and work your way back down towards the baseline. On most courts you will shoot 18-20 shots total. You can choose to stay close to the lane to practice closer shots, or your can expand your range to the mid-range or behind the three. This is also a great exercise to use as a conditioning drill.
Remember when doing “Zig-Zag” to…