Welcome to Hoops Fiend’s first instructional article. We are excited to provide great information on the game of basketball and basketball related products. One of the most common questions from beginning basketball players is “How do I properly shoot a basketball?”
While shooting a basketball may seem simple, the truth is that very few people truly understand proper shooting mechanics.
This is why it is incredibly important to teach players how to shoot correctly when they are younger or they may develop bad habits that are difficult to break later on.
Because of this, we wanted to provide you with thorough, yet easy-to-follow steps that will make shooting a basketball as easy as 1, 2, 3. By practicing and applying these steps you will no doubt improve your form and make more shots.
The five steps that we will be discussing today are the following:
Okay, are you ready? Let’s get down to business and on our way to becoming a better basketball player.
1. Foot Placement/Alignment
Let’s start at the bottom like Drake and explain proper foot placement and alignment when shooting a basketball. The biggest misconception about alignment in shooting is that you should have your feet squared to the basket.
This is one of the most pervasive myths I’ve heard coaches use, and it is totally wrong. So, what is the correct foot placement? For right handed players your feet should be turned to the left somewhere between 25 and 45 degrees, and visa versa for left handers.
However, this is just half of the story because you also need to properly align the rest of your body for your shot. When shooting a basketball it is key that your right hip and right shoulder are squared to the hoop (for right handers).
Having this combination of foot placement and alignment will maximize the accuracy in your shot, making it much more likely that you shot will be straight.
2. Hand Placement
This is probably the shooting step that most people actually get right. For right handed players, your right hand, or shooting hand, will be placed directly at the center of the basketball with your fingers spread evenly. This hand will actually follow through and shoot the shot.
The left hand, known as the guide hand, will be placed on the left side of the ball and is responsible for balancing the basketball while your shooting hand is following through.
As the names of each hand implies, your shot should be powered by your shooting hand. If you find yourself using your guide hand to shoot as well, then you are not practicing proper shooting mechanics.
Make sure that your shot is derived from your shooting hand and guided throughout with your guide hand.
3. Knee Bend and Dip
Once you have established solid foot position, alignment, and hand placement, then you are ready to focus on the knee bend and dip.
When you are ready to actually take a shot, the first move with your body that you should make is actually downward by loading the knees, quads, and glutes. This loading motion helps you to build tension so that you can explode upward when you go up to shoot.
As part of this loading you will want to also slightly dip the basketball downward as well. Many players and coaches will say that they do not engage or coach this motion, however, every player makes this movement and it is necessary to build the power needed to make shots from long distance.
At this point you have established your knee bend and dip position and are ready to power upward to start the shooting motion.
The power generated will be primarily created from your glutes and quads as you begin the vertical jumping motion. As your legs begin to extend your back should straighten and your posture should become more upright.
Once your back is straight and you are in the process of jumping, your arms should rise with the ball in front of your face or slightly to the right (for right handed players). This ball placement is called the “shooting pocket” and is often a matter of trial and error to find what placement provides the best accuracy for you.
Finally, we have come to the final and most important step in the process of shooting a basketball, the follow-through. This is the step that can be the difference between being the best shooter on your team or being just another average player.
The follow-through begins as your shooting arm extends to propel the basketball toward the goal. As this arm extends your shooting hand should “fold” over into a bent wrist position. The release of the basketball should be primarily off of both the pointer and middle fingers, with the other fingers used for extra balance.
As your wrist folds over your thumb should be positioned directly under your pointer finger with the other four fingers straightened and spread apart (See picture for example). By practicing and implementing this proper follow-through you will ensure that your shots will be straight and on target.
So, there you have it. Not too hard, right? Here are a couple of final thoughts about how to shoot a basketball and where you can go from here.
First, these steps may take a lot of thought at first as you practice learning how to shoot, but the basic goal is for each step to combine into one fluid movement that is smooth and athletic. By breaking the shot down into steps you can practice each element independently so that each can be mastered resulting in a shot that is pure with right amount of spin, arch, and touch.
Second, remember to always be obsessed with the process of shooting, not the result. The truth is that NBA players as a whole miss 54% of their shots during games, and 72% of the threes they attempt!
Realize and accept that you will miss many shots during your basketball career, but you will make many shots as well. What you can control and should focus on when it comes to shooting is practicing and using proper shooting technique. If you follow the steps laid out in this article we guarantee you will become a more accurate shooter and will make higher percentage of the shots you take.
Bonus: Here are some tools to help you become a sniper on the courts.