How to Get Better at Shooting a Basketball

Maybe it is because I could never dunk the basketball but, to me, there are few plays in basketball more exciting than a three-point jump shot. Picture a team making a furious comeback in a game and getting a steal down by three points. If they are able to get the ball to a shooter that takes a three-pointer and hits it, that is my version of the most exciting play that you can have in the sport.

You may be wondering how you can improve your jump shot and become more deadly beyond the arc. This article is going into great detail on how you can get better at shooting a basketball.

1. Shooting: The Basics

The basics of shooting are relevant for any type of jump shot or set shot that you will take in the game of basketball. The body parts that we cover below are imperative for having the most technical jump shot possible and can be practiced at great length to help you create killer form and become a great shooter.

Feet

The first step in shooting a basketball correctly is to “square” your feet to the basket. Squaring your feet means that they are pointed at the basket and are parallel to each other in order to line up your shot.

Your feet are your foundation and lining them up will set the tone for a balanced jumper. If your feet aren’t squared up, then there is a good chance the rest of your body – legs, hips, chest, and head – aren’t either giving you an off-balance approach to your shot. Squaring up your entire body will ensure that you are shot ready and improve your overall shooting performance.

Legs

Your legs are very important to the jump shot as well. Good shooters get all of their power from their legs and not their arms. The arms should just be the benefactor of the strength shooters receive from jumping into their shots so as not to push the ball too much and negatively affect their shooting form.

When you catch a pass with the intention of shooting the ball, your feet should be properly bent and in an athletic stance. You should also be sure to jump forward towards the basket instead of away from it. This will give you an even better chance to have enough on your shot to reach the basket.

Upper Body

Your upper body, starting from your hips and ending at your shoulders should align with your feet during the shot. Imagine throwing a football, or a baseball, or darts with your body not being as lined up as possible. The same principles apply with the proper positioning of your body during a jump shot in basketball.

Squaring up and aligning your upper and lower body helps you stay balanced and once both are aligned with each other, you will notice that your shot accuracy will improve substantially.

Arms

The shooting form that you make with your arms can seriously make or break your shot and if you form bad shooting habits, it may take several hundreds, even thousands, of practice shots to right your wrongs.

Your arms should bring the ball up towards your forehead and your shooting arm should form the shape of an “L” if someone were to look at you sideways. The elbow of your shooting arm should be facing the direction that you are shooting in order to align with the rest of your squared up body. Your non-shooting arm is what we call your “guide arm/hand” which keeps the ball on your fingertips and guides the ball to ensure that it does not fall off of your hand.

Once your pre-shot form is set you will push your shooting hand almost straight up in the air to give your ball proper arc which increases your chances of making the basket. The diameter of a basketball rim is very close to the diameter of two whole basketballs and the more arc you give your shot, the better the chance of it going in.

Shooting a Basketball
The proper way to hold the ball with your shooting hand

Fingers/Wrist

Your fingers and wrist play an important role in the shot and follow-through of your shot. Once you have pushed the ball towards the basket with your arms your wrist will snap forward catapulting the ball towards the basket along with your arms. Once the ball is released your hand should look like you are reaching your fingertips into a cookie jar on a shelf higher than you.

Your fingers are what holds the ball during the shot and gives you the shooters touch you are looking for. Much like the proper dribbling technique, the basketball shouldn’t rest much on your palm or heel of your hand but more at the fingertip and front of the palm region. This allows you to feel the ball and increase your ball control during your shot.

2. Quality Shooting Drills

Now that we have a better understanding of the proper technique of an effective jump shot, there are specific drills that you can practice (and practice, and practice) that will help you master a great shooting stroke and help you improve your shooting. Here are three can’t miss drills to perfect your shooting form.

One-Hand Form Shooting Drill

This drill is very basic, but also so effective that several professional basketball teams begin their shooting warm-ups with this drill to warm themselves up and practice proper shooting technique.

The drill starts with you directly under the basket and the ball in your L-shaped shooting form without any assistance from your guide hand. You will simply shoot the ball from right under the basket and work on the basics of your form. Once you have made 5-10 shots in a row from directly under the basket, you will move back a few feet and do the same thing. You will continue to move back a few steps each time until about 10 feet from the basket.

Stationary Shooting Drill

Now let’s incorporate your whole body into the form and start from about the foul line. This drill is best done with a partner to rebound for you. Start with your shooting stance – legs bent, body squared to the basket, and hands ready to receive a pass – and when your partner passes you the ball you simply catch it and shoot the ball at the basket.

Once you make 5-10 shots at the foul line, you can repeat the drill a couple of steps back until you have reached the three-point line.

Elbow to Elbow Shooting Drill

Now we will incorporate movement in your jump shot. Each corner of the foul line on a basketball court is called an “elbow” because of the right angle it makes. For this drill, you will be moving from one elbow to the other and shooting the ball.

The drill starts by you shooting at the first elbow and, while your partner is rebounding the ball, you will run to the other elbow and get squared up and ready to catch the ball to take another jump shot. You will continue this drill for either a set amount of time (possibly a minute to 30-seconds) or until you make a certain amount of shots.

The first two drills will help you to master the proper form that you should use to shoot well. The One-Hand Form Shooting Drill helps you gain foundational perfection through repetition of where your arm and hand should be during a jump shot and the Stationary Shooting Drill adds in the rest of your body and the act of receiving a pass from someone, which is a very common occurrence in games.

The Elbow to Elbow Shooting Drill adds the element of moving around the court, and conditioning to shooting. You will most likely be moving before you shoot and this amount of movement within the drill will help you learn how to take shots when you are tired or off-balance during games.

What are some of your favorite shooting drills that have helped you in the past? Share them with us in the comments below!

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