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The Art of Shooting a Basketball

This special section from The Coach deals with The Art Of Shooting a basketball. The coach will take you from the basics such as; proper form, follow through, and release,to the most advance aspects of teaching your players to master the art of shooting a basketball.


While some players seem to be born with the ability to shoot a basketball most are not. Most great shooters have honed their skills through trial and error and also hours of practice. The saying "perfect practice makes perfect" is very true in respects to shooting the ball. A player can stay in the gym for hours and shoot thousands of shots and not get any better because they are shooting the ball wrong! In other words if a player doesn't have the proper form all the practice in the world could be of little value and even hurt the players game all together because with every shot the player is actually "getting better at shooting the ball wrong". The first step in teaching your players to shoot the basketball is to teach them the proper form.


It's extremely difficult to teach the proper form of shooting a basketball through written text. I like to use a method I call the Catch, Square, Tuck, and follow through method when teaching players to shoot. First you catch the basketball then you square your shoulders to the basket next you tuck your elbow, and finally you follow through on the release.
1: Look at the picture to the left notice the players elbow and how it is in relationship to the shoulders. It's directly in-line with the shoulders, in other words it's not out to the right. This is where the elbow should be.

2: Assuming the shoulders are in-line with the basket meaning the body is facing the basket. By tucking the elbow this automatically aligns the ball with the rim. Now that the player has his shoulders squared to the hoop and his elbow tucked in he/she can concentrate on the shot. This brings us to the follow through step.

3: Following through is one of the most important aspects to shooting a basketball correctly because the follow through puts backspin on the ball which gives you the "shooters touch". Teach your players the "fishhook" method of releasing the basketball. This simply means that when the ball leaves the players hand the arm and hand should be in a form which is shaped like a fish hook (see image at left). In other words the arm will be fully extended and the player will "flip" the wrist when releasing the ball. On the release the ball should leave the hand in a "flipping" motion not a "push" motion. Teach your players to "flip" the basketball not "push" it towards the rim. The ball should leave from the fingertips not the palm of the hand.

Drills For Improving Form and Accuracy

The off hand (non-shooting hand) is simply there to hold the ball in place and should not be used in the shot. When the ball leaves the players hand only his/her shooting hand should only be touching the ball.

Players trying to improve their form and accuracy often get discouraged and revert back to their old style of shooting because it feels more comfortable to them particularly because they have shot the basketball their way from the beginning. Here are some drills and tips you can show your players to help them develop perfect form and ultimately become much better shooters.

The first step in improving a players shot does not involve showing the player how to" put the ball in the basket" but rather it is showing the player the proper form to use when shooting a basketball. I highly recommend not using a basketball goal to do this. A great way to teach form is line your players up along the baseline or anywhere there is a wall, give each player a ball and simply have each of them pick a spot on the wall and practice hitting the spot using proper form. They simply "shoot" at the spot and when the ball bounce back to them they shoot at the spot again using proper form and technique. This is a great drill because it helps the players concentrate on their form instead of on making a basket. This drill also allows you and your coaching staff the opportunity to watch each of your players technique and help them improve without chasing balls all over the gym and wasting to much time. Make sure your players have their elbows tucked, shoulders squared, and they follow through on the release giving the ball backspin.

Once your players start to understand the proper technique of shooting a basketball you can then let them practice actually making shots. Since the new technique they are developing will still be a bit uncomfortable to them it's not a good idea to let them start out shooting 3 pointers or other shots far away from the basket. The reason is, the players will get frustrated if their shots aren't going in and will revert back to their old style of shooting.

In this drill you can let all of your players have a ball or put your players in groups which ever you prefer. Have the players start out near the basket, no more than five feet away from the hoop, with ball in hand the player will shoot a shot from the first spot making sure to use proper form, when the player makes the basket from that spot or feels comfortable shooting the correct way from the first spot he/she takes two steps back and shots again.

Players keep repeating this process until they develop a rhythm for shooting correctly. Some players may get discouraged because their range may be limited for awhile until they get used to shooting the ball properly, so it's important to watch the players and make sure they are using the correct technique before they move further away from the basket to shoot. I know this drill sounds simple (and it is) but it is a very effective way for your players to improve their shooting ability.