What is a Jumper in Basketball?

Basketball is a high-scoring game that’s only gotten more offensively-focused over time. Point totals go up each year, and players find new ways to score. While there’s no one way to get the ball in the basket, some moves are much more popular than others.

This guide studies that by looking at one of the most iconic shots in basketball history. By breaking down what the jumper is, how it’s used, and why it came to be, the following sections will give insight into some of the most important mechanics behind modern basketball.

Jump, Then Shoot

As mentioned, there’s more than one way to score a basket. Players can shoot from behind the three line, they can underhand a layup, hit a floater, do a post move, or dunk. The list goes on. Though every shot is unique, and some players favor one over the other, most use the jumper.

A jumper, which is another name for a jump shot, is the baseline move for most NBA, college, and high school players. It’s taught at every level, and known as the proper way to shoot.

To shoot a jumper, players square their body up to the basket, jump up into the air, and then release the ball over their head towards the hoop at the height of the jump.

That movement, while basic, allows for a lot of control over the shot. While players can make shots in any way, the jumper is the most popular because it’s incredibly accurate when in the right hands. Much more so than a floater, fadeaway, or runner.

An Effective Move

With so many ways to score in basketball, it might seem odd that almost everyone goes with the same shot. Though centers and forwards don’t use the jumper due to them having lower verticals, almost all guards and wings get up quite high when shooting towards the basket.

That’s because the jumper has a series of advantages. As covered above, it gives the shooter much more control than a ball shot from the hip or chest. In addition, it comes out quickly and is released from a high point. Both of those make it extremely hard to contest.

The higher someone can get into the air, the more effective their jumper will be. The entire point of the shot is to rise up above the defender so that, even if they recover, it’s almost impossible to block. There needs to be a good amount of separation for that to happen.

It is those reasons why so many players use the move over just about everything else. It’s not simply that it looks cool, but that it goes in a lot as well.

Slow, Steady Progression 

Jumpers may seem basic for those who only watch professional basketball, but the shot is actually quite difficult. Not only does it take a lot of upper body strength to shoot the ball all the way to the hoop while in the air, but it takes a lot of skill to get the timing down too.

Most players start out their basketball careers by shooting regular shots. That is to say, they throw the ball at the hoop without going up first. They might also jump or hop off the ground, but they then shoot the ball from their chest or a lower point on their body.

As players get stronger and their skills progress, they get more and more accustomed to the jumper. It might be awkward at first, but those who practice will be able to get it eventually.

The Jumper’s History

While the jump shot is now synonymous with the NBA, it’s gone through some large shifts over time. Nobody knows who first invented it, but people do know it came about in the 1940’s. Still, the way the shot first looked is quite different than the way it’s shot now.

As players used to have smaller verticals than modern athletes, jumpers weren’t quite as high or as deadly as they are today. Of course, they weren’t shooting as far away either. That didn’t come about until the invention of the three-point line.

Once that happened, it completely took over the game. The jump shot isn’t just effective, it’s one of the moves that helped basketball explode in popularity. Greats like Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan all had incredible jumpers that put them on the map.

Final Words

There are many shots in basketball, but few are as iconic or as well known as the jumper. The shot is what made basketball what it is today, and it helped create a brand new style of game that led to the evolution of modern basketball.

Not every big NBA star has a jumper, but most players who use it do with lethal precision. It’s incredibly hard to block, comes with a ton of accuracy, and is fun to watch as well.

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