The Shooting Instructions Nobody Gave You
It’s mid-season and it’s time to evaluate yourself to make sure the habits you’ve developed are the correct ones. After an hour long One-On-One Shooting Sessions with one of my star players, I decided to write down some suggestions on how to improve your shot in basketball. If I’m leaving something out, please feel free to leave a comment at the end!
First off, you can have bad form and still make shots. But you’re going to have to shoot thousands and thousands of shots per day to perfect that bad form. But having good form will make you much more efficient and keep you from having to shoot thousands of shots to only having to shoot a few hundred shots. So let’s walk through some of the key points for shooting:
Ready Position & Square Up
When you catch the ball, you must catch it in a position so that you’re ready to shoot. Besides catching the ball with your feet slightly in the air so that you can land in that magical “triple threat” position, you must square up.
Almost every shooting coach teaches 4-5 things that are really not all that effective. And one of the first things out of their mouths is: Square Up! Squaring up is actually a misnomer. The best shooters don’t square their bodies to the target – instead they have an “open stance,” which is more natural and athletic, plus alignment with the eye and target is easier the more open you are, and it’s more powerful because it’s easier to drive the ball upward and forward, not just up.
Every time you catch the ball, your weight should be evenly distributed on both feet and all ten toes should be facing the rim.
Secondly, you want your hips dropped. You should never be playing the game of basketball with your legs straight (unless you’re rebounding). So, with your hips dropped and your knees bent, it will give you some flexibility in your knees to move up and down.
You must have control of the basketball. I like to put my guide hand (my weak hand/ left hand) on the seams and put my shooting hand maybe right behind the logo. This should give be forming the letter “T” with your two thumbs. Your shooing hand should be in the form of an “L,” with the wrist, forearm, bicep, and shoulder.
Now, place the ball somewhere between your shoulder and hip (anywhere but too high above your shoulder). I like to place mine around my chest area. Now you’re ready for the perfect start.
Release When you release the ball, is your arm action going to full extension at the same speed every time, or is the speed inconsistent or is the arm stopping short (called “short-arming”) or moving around or pulling back quickly? Great shooters go to the “end of their arm” with full extension every time at the same approx. speed and thus have reliability and predictability.
Now, when you shoot the ball, it should be in one motion. It should be a clean, one motion release. You should release the ball right past your shooting ear. That will help you keep your eyes on the target. Try to keep from moving the ball in front of your eyes because it will take your vision off the rim. Plus, the more you have to move the ball, the more errors you’ll have.
SPIN What kind of spin are you putting on the ball? Is it pure backspin, or is there some sidespin creeping in? Maybe it’s a dead ball, or all sidespin. If it’s not medium backspin, you will know you are messing things up with the wrist, hand or fingers. A correct follow through will give you beautiful backspin every time.
There is a famous shooting acronym that Coach Don Meyer came up with called BEEF and it’s a great way to teach some of the key concepts of shooting. Younger players can learn proper shooting mechanics using this BEEF principle:
Balance: The most important foundation of every shot. The shot starts on the floor, before the player catches the ball, with proper footwork – with the knees bent and the feet ready first.
Eyes: To be accurate, players must pick up the target early for at least one second, and have a narrow focus on the spot target.
Elbow: Generally, players should limit all arm motion to a vertical plane, especially keeping the elbow up, in, and under the ball.
Follow through: Players should use full extension of the arm, locked elbow, held for one count on a field goal or until the ball goes through the net on a free throw. The wrist is fully extended, with fingers pointed down (like you’re reaching your hand into a cookie jar). The follow-through must be firm, but relaxed. The proper release angle is 60° above horizontal. Finish high (release it high and let it fly). Shoot up, not out is the critical guidelines for proper arch on the shot. Shooting high and soft is especially important on bank shots. A 55º-60° release angle on the shot produces an optimal entry angle into the basket of 45 to 50°.
And finally….. DON’T BELIEVE EVERY THING I SAY!
I say this often and I mean it – don’t just take my word for it. Check everything out with your own experience because only that will tell you if it’s true or not. Not many people take the time to learn the proper way to shoot – they just shoot with whatever form feels right. And the result is what we see today – poor shooting habits on every level!