What is a Bank Shot in Basketball?

Basketball is an offensively-focused game. There are many ways to score, ranging from the mundane to the truly exceptional. One of the most fundamental ways to put the ball in the basket is what is known as a bank shot.

Bank shots are an essential part of basketball. They typically aren’t fancy or flashy, but they’re an important tool that every player at every level needs to have in their arsenal. If you want to learn more about the move, read the sections below.

The Bank Shot

Most of the time, a shot goes in the hoop without ever touching the backboard. When it goes through and only hits the net, it’s called a swish.

When a shot hits the rim first, it’s just a made basket. However, if the shot hits the backboard at any time before going in it’s a bank shot.

Bank shots are not the way most players shoot from outside the key. Almost all successful long or mid-range attempts go directly into the basket. Once much closer up, however, it becomes beneficial to try and get a shot to hit off the backboard before dropping in.

While players do shoot threes and midrange bank shots, most of the time they’re accidents more than intentional. Often, a bank three will come when a player has to chuck up a shot at the buzzer, when the shot clock expires, or when they’re trying to get around tough defense. 

When to Use a Bank Shot

The general rule of bank shots is that they’re hard to control from far away. The closer you are to the hoop, the more their percentage goes up. Layups are almost always shot as bank shots, as are a lot of post moves like turn around hook shots, drop steps, and step throughs.

The utility around the basket is why so many big men specialize in bank shots. Stars like Tim Duncan made their entire career off of efficient banks. If you can hit the right spot on the backboard at exactly the right angle, your shot will always go in.

However, knowing when to shoot a bank shot versus a regular jumper is not that easy. Most players are trained with, or are so used to, shooting normal shots that they ignore the backboard completely. What it comes down to, are angles.

You only want to attempt a bank shot if you’re on either side of the hoop and have a good way to hit the ball off the backboard right into the basket. If you’re straight on to the hoop, or if you’re too far towards the sideline, you don’t want to use the backboard.

In addition, you want to at least be fifteen feet or closer to the basket. If you’re any further out, attempting a bank shot is a bit too risky. As a general rule, you don’t want to try to bank in a three point shot when you can avoid it.

How to Shoot a Bank Shot

Bank shots are one of the highest percentage shots in basketball when done right. Once you understand the best situations to shoot them in, you next need to know how to shoot them. Angles are great for the setup, but touch and power are how you actually score.

If your bank shot isn’t strong enough, it will hit the backboard and die before bouncing down through the net. On the other side, if it’s too strong it will simply overshoot the entire hoop or rattle against the rim before flying away.

You want your bank shots to always be strong enough to hit the backboard, but soft enough that they won’t completely fly off when the time comes. It’s about striking the correct balance and finding the perfect amount of touch. That’s something that you can only learn from practice.

Final Words

Sometimes a bank shot is intentional. Sometimes, it’s not. Either way, the shooter’s intention doesn’t matter if the ball goes through the net. The backboard is easy to forget about, but learning how to properly use it is a big step in anyone’s basketball career.

There are a range of ways to score during a game, but if you’re up close and personal nothing beats a good bank. As long as you can learn the proper touch and pay attention to the correct angles, it’s a wonderful way to get some easy buckets throughout the course of a game.

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