Shooting Tips

(pictures coming soon!)

Proper way to shoot a basketball 

Most often, someone thinks that they shoot the ball well simply because their shot went in the basket. This is not the case, this can be what most consider “fools gold”, if you are not shooting with the proper mechanics, you will develop bad habits. The longer you practice with bad habits, the longer it takes to correct them. There are some key mechanics that must be present in every shot. This is something that takes years to master, but with the right foundation, your ability to shoot the ball with great accuracy will increase dramatically. Here’s a quick roadmap of the shooting fundamentals that all great shooters posess:

  1. Eyes on Target
  2. Stance and Balance
  3. Hand Placement
  4. Shot Pocket
  5. Shooting Hand vs. Guide Hand
  6. Delivery
  7. Elevation and Release Point
  8. Proper Release
  9. Follow Through and Landing
  10. Swish the ball

Eyes on Target

  • To improve accuracy, locate the target (rim) as early as possible
  • Keep your eyes on the target at all times (do not follow the flight of the ball)
  • Keeping your target focus is very important! Learn to have laser focus and block out any distractions such as defense, crowd, noise, etc.

Stance and Balance

  • Start in a relaxed standing position
  • Your feet should be shoulder width apart for good balance
  • Your shooting foot is slightly ahead of the non-shooting foot in a comfortable position (about 1-2 inches)
  • Point your feet in the direction of the basket, but not directly at it, point your toes about 5-10 degrees to the left of the rim. (If you are left-handed, feet should 5-10 degrees to the right of the target) Make sure that your feet are not pointed too far sideways
  • Flex/bend your knees on every shot to create balanced stability

Hand Placement

  • As you are holding the ball on both sides, move your shooting hand over to the center of the ball, while leaving your guide hand on the side of the ball
  • Line up your fingertips on your shooting hand parallel to the horizontal seams of the ball (this will help create proper backspin on your shot)
  • The ball should only be touching your fingertips and the pads of your shooting hand (the ball should NOT be touching your palm)
  • Your right thumb should be pointed at your left thumb at a 90 degree perpendicular angle. I like to refer this as making at “T” with your thumbs. (But make sure your thumbs do NOT touch)
  • Align your shoulders, chest, hips, and feet all at the same target (5-10 degrees to the left of the rim is ideal) 
  • Hand placement should be the same way every time you catch the ball no matter where you are on the court

Shot Pocket (aka “Triple Threat Position”)

  • Immediately cock your shooting wrist
  • Bend your knees (make sure you bend at the hips, do NOT arch your back)
  • Move your shooting elbow underneath the basketball. Your shooting elbow should be at a 5 degree angle from the floor to your elbow. (NOT straight up and down, and NOT sticking out sideways)
  • The ball should be level with your chest (NOT touching your chest) 
  • If you are in the correct position, your right shoulder will slightly dip
  • Keep your eyes focused on the target (rim)

Shooting Hand vs. Guide Hand

Shooting Hand
  • (with your wrist cocked) make sure there is space between the ball and the middle of your palm. You should be able to insert a finger in the area between the ball and your palm
  • Spread your fingers apart to comfortably balance the ball in one hand
  • Make sure that your index finger and your middle finger are still on the seam of the ball
Guide Hand (non-shooting hand)
  • Your non-shooting hand should be on the side of the ball.
  • Your Guide Hand should NOT add power, distance or spin to the shot
  • Your Guide Hand should NOT move on the delivery and should always come off the ball before the ball is released
  • Make sure that your left thumb does not push the ball in any way (this is the #1 cause of a inconsistent jump shot)

Delivery (Ball in motion)

  • The ball should start motion directly upwards from the shot pocket, there should be NO dipping of the ball (if your child is dipping the ball, it means they are trying to generate more strength, which also means they are shooting from too far away from the basket)
  • Your elbow should be positioned comfortably under the ball at a 5 degree angle.
  • Your legs should be uncoiling at the same speed your arms are lifting the ball (the better your timing, the more accurate the shot)
  • Make sure the ball stays in front of you and should be shot in one fluid motion (Do NOT bring the ball behind your head or to the side of your body)
  • The ball should go upward directly from your shot pocket, through your face as you are creating a ‘vertical’ lift on your shot
  • Your elbow and wrist should be starting to extend in a straight line to the target (rim)
  • Your Shooting hand should extending vertically in a straight line to the rim 

Elevation and Release Point

  • Use the power in your legs to generate the the elevation of your shot
  • Release the ball on the way up, just a fraction of a second before the apex (top) of your jump.
  • Your guide hand remains to the side and does not influence the flight of the ball
  • As you begin to release the ball, your guide hand should disconnected from the ball, but still in the picture (Do NOT bring your left arm down)

Proper Release

  • When releasing the ball, make sure that you are shooting that ball high into the air (Do NOT shoot the ball ‘AT’ the rim, you want to shoot up & over the rim)
  • As you release the ball, your wrist should be snapping forward at the same time your fingers are releasing to create power and backspin on the ball
  • As you reach the Apex of your shot, the ball should be rolling off your fingertips creating a beautiful backspin of the ball. Most successful shooters only use their index finger and middle fingers to generate the most backspin on the ball. (An easy way remember this, is to think of the basket as a ‘cookie jar’ on top of a fridge. You want to put your hand up and over the cookie jar so that you can reach down into the jar)
  • (TIP) The average NBA jumpshot has a trajectory of 45 degrees, but the great 3-point shooters have been shown to have a 50-55 degree trajectory on their jumpshot. This increases the surface area of the rim by almost 25%, which gives greater probability that the ball will go into the basket. 

Follow Through and Landing

  • Your wrists should be relaxed
  • Index and middle fingers should be pointed at the rim (or in the cookie jar)
  • Balance! Make sure you land in the same spot as you jumped (you should NOT be jumping forward, backward, right, or left)
  • Hold your follow through until the ball hits the rim (This is Important) 

“Swish” the Ball

  • Too many times, people will ‘AIM’ and ‘SHOOT’ the ball at the basket. This is a mindset that will create average shooters. You are not shooting a gun, so the objective is to ‘SWISH’ the ball into the basket. Studies have shown that if a player is trying to ‘SWISH’ the ball, they are more focused, and therefore, have a higher likeliness of successfully converting the basket.

HOW TO TELL IF IT WAS A PERFECT “SWISH” – If you are lucky enough to master your jumpshot, a “perfect” shot is when the ball swishes through the basket without touching the rim, and when the ball hits the ground it bounces/rolls directly back to you (due to the backspin on the ball)

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