Every basketball player aspires to learn how to shoot a basketball at a high level.
Anyone who walks into a gym or a court will notice this.
Players of all positions and ages would be shooting from everywhere on the court, especially the 3-point line.
With players like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard on the rise, as well as the game of basketball evolving to take more advantage of the three-point shot, learning how to shoot a basketball at a high level has never been more important.
Becoming a great shooter isn't an easy thing to do, but you can do it!
I'm going to give you detailed, step-by-step instructions on exactly how players should be shooting the basketball.
#1 Shot Preparation
Being a great shooter begins before you even receive the ball.
Most players and coaches overlook this step, but it can mean the difference between having enough time to take a good shot and having your shot blocked by a defender closing out.
“You don't shoot fast. You get ready to shoot fast” — Don Meyer
Things to note:
Keep your knees and hips slightly bent
Show target hands (so they know which hand they should be passing you the ball)
Be mentally prepared to shoot
#2 Hand Placement on Ball
Players must be able to quickly adjust their hands to the correct positions on the basketball after catching the ball or raising up into a shot.
The shooting hand must be under/behind the basketball, and the balance hand must be on the basketball's side.
Your shooting hand's thumb and the base of your balance hand's thumb should form a 'T.' (as pictured).
All finger and hand pads should be in contact with the basketball.
The only part of your shooting hand that does not make contact with the basketball is the small gap in the middle of your hand.
Another important but often overlooked detail is that the fingers on the basketball should be spread comfortably wide.
These adjustments must be made as soon as the basketball is received.
#3 Balanced Base
It's difficult to become a consistent shooter if a player can't get the foundation of their shot right.
Three critical factors contribute to a well-balanced foundation:
Feet slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart
Dominant foot slightly in front
Weight equally distributed on each foot
"The key to being a good shooter is balance. Everything follows balance" - Larry Bird NBA Star.
#4 Comfortable Shot Pocket
The 'shot pocket' is the area where a player feels most at ease starting the basketball when taking a shot.
This is usually around a player's lower chest or stomach area, either in the center of their body or slightly to the shooting hand side.
Every player must find what feels right for them.
When a player catches the basketball to shoot, they should return it to their shot pocket before raising up into their shot.
This is due to two major factors:
Maintaining a consistent shot pocket ensures that players shoot the basketball, in the same manner, each time they shoot.
Because the shot pocket is frequently low, this will provide players with a much better rhythm as they go up for their shot.
#5 Guide Hand/Balance hand
The non-shooting hand is referred to as the 'guide/balance hand.'
Its only function during the shooting motion, as the name implies, is to help balance the basketball on the shooting hand until the release point.
This is the left hand for right-handed shooters.
This is the right hand for left-handed shooters.
If you've played basketball for a long time, you've probably heard this hand referred to as the 'guide hand.'
When taking a shot, the balance hand should not exert any force.
The guide hand releases flat off the side of the basketball as the elbow begins to extend in the shooting motion.
If the guiding hand isn't flat on release, it means the player pushed the basketball with their balance hand (usually their thumb) while shooting, and it usually causes the shot to miss left or right.
The main purpose of the guiding hand is just to ensure that you have a straight alignment towards the basket as you are shooting.
#6 Rhythm Shot + Follow Through
The final stage is where everything comes together:
Shooting with rhythm entails many moving parts that all happen at the same time:
The basketball is taken out of the shot pocket.
As the player raises themselves into the air for power, the knees, and hips straighten.
The wrist is snapped in the direction of the rim near the top of the shot so that the fingers point towards the ground.
This ensures that the basketball has good backspin, resulting in a soft shot.
At the top of the shot, the balance hand will also release from the basketball while remaining perfectly flat. This prevents the balance hand from pushing the basketball.
The last two fingers to touch the basketball should be the index and middle fingers.
When you land, the rhythm of your jump shot will have guided your body forward slightly from where you started.
When practicing, I encourage players to maintain this form until the basketball has struck the rim, at which point they can look up and evaluate their technique.
Ready to test your shooting skills?
Join us in our upcoming Basketball event and try this step-by-step guide.
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Credit: Basketball for coaches, R2BBall
Paraphrased by: Darren Koong
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