Basketball Shooting Technique:
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

better basketball shooting

Good basketball shooting technique doesn't develop overnight. It takes years to complete the number of repetitions required to embed the proper shot mechanics into the body's muscle memory. 

It also takes feedback. 

Feedback lets you know what you're doing right, so you can repeat it.

And it lets you know what you're doing wrong, so you can correct it.

Each shot players take is a learning opportunity. Every shot provides feedback.

Was the shot long? Short? Flat? Pushed to the left or right?

Was it blocked? Did it swish through the bottom of the net?

All of these outcomes provide feedback.

Learning how the shot feels as it rolls off the hand and observing the outcome each time helps players learn what feels right and what needs to be corrected.

A lot of times, though, players have a hard time figuring out what they're doing wrong. Especially beginners. That's where coaches who understand shooting fundamentals come in.

 Learn how to shoot a basketball:

Probably the best way for a player to learn how to shoot better is to watch himself shoot. Video is a powerful teaching tool.

I remember as a player Coach often critiqued my form. Sometimes his corrections helped. But sometimes it just didn't click...until I actually saw myself shooting a basketball with my own eyes. A picture was indeed worth a thousand words.

Video gives you the chance to analyze the technique, replay the shots, play them in slow motion, and look carefully for the mistakes that might have been hard to notice in real time.

And nowadays with smartphones it's never been easier.

If you can capture the shooter from different angles (from the front, back, and both sides), you'll get a complete picture of what his basketball shooting form looks like from start to finish.

Alright, let's learn how to shoot a basketball better.

Here's a checklist to help you teach proper basketball shooting technique and troubleshoot problems your players are having.

Basketball Shooting Technique
Back View

  • Feet shoulder-width apart with weight balanced evenly on each foot
  • Head is straight; not leaning to one side
  • Index finger of shooting hand lined up in center of ball
  • Fingers of shooting hand spread evenly and comfortably apart
  • Index finger and middle finger of shooting hand form a "V"
  • Non-shooting hand placed on side of ball with fingers evenly spread
  • Shoulders square to basket
  • Shooting elbow positioned up, in, and under ball
  • Elbow, wrist, and hand lined up throughout shot
  • Ball has backspin while it's in air
  • Shooting hand and wrist stay on a straight line to basket during follow through
  • Shooting arm fully extended and wrist snapped so fingers point at floor at end of follow through
  • Shooting arm is in line with basket; not pointing off to right or left

Basketball Shooting Technique
Shooting Hand Side View

  • Foot on same side as shooting hand slightly ahead of other foot
  • Knees slightly flexed
  • Head is straight, lined up directly over rest of body and facing basket
  • Wrist is cocked while the ball is in shooting pocket with fingers of shooting hand pointed upward
  • Ball goes straight up from shooting pocket to cocked position just above eyes
  • Head stays straight and does not move backward when ball brought up to shot release position
  • When ball is in cocked position, back of shooting hand is about parallel to floor, and elbow should be ahead of ball
  • Shoulders, hips, and feet all aligned on top of each other
  • Wrist snaps, and ball is thrust off fingers
  • Ball released near top of jump at about the 1 o'clock position (Straight up is 12 o'clock)
  • Shooting elbow is extended and wrist is flexed so fingers point toward floor
  • Follow through is held until ball reaches basket

Basketball Shooting Technique
Non-Shooting Hand Side View

  • Non-shooting hand (balance hand) placed on side of ball or slightly under it
  • Ball slides up past fingers of balance hand on shot, and balance hand doesn't really move
  • Fingers of balance hand point upward throughout entire shot
  • Ball released near top of jump

Basketball Shooting Technique
Front View

  • Feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing straight toward basket
  • Ball brought in a straight line from shooting pocket to cocked position above forehead
  • Body squared up to basket; shoulders, hips, knees, and feet all facing basket
  • Shooting elbow kept close to body during shot
  • Eyes on target entire time
  • On follow through, fingers of shooting hand point down while fingers of balance hand point up.
  • Follow through held for at least a second
  • Non-shooting hand doesn't rotate or push ball on release
basketball shooting form

It will take some practice to learn to spot the mistakes your youth basketball player is making while shooting a basketball.

But, stick with it, and you'll be able to give her the feedback she needs to become a great shooter!

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