Better Basketball Shooting Starts with Analyzing Your Misses

No matter how skilled a player is right now, better basketball shooting can be a reality.

But not until something very important starts to happen.

The ability of a player to identify and correct his own shooting errors.

Feedback from coaches is very important as players are developing their skills. Part of the learning process requires pointing out what is wrong and how to fix it.

But it isn't until players can figure out for themselves why they miss a shot that they can become a better shooter. 

Great players have a lot of offensive weapons...

They can sink a breakaway lay-up

They nail the free throw when they get fouled.

They hit consistently when they have the open set shot, and they're deadly with their jump shot.

Great players have mastered the basketball shooting technique for each of these shots. In part, because they've learned to pinpoint the cause of their shooting errors and make corrections.

You can learn to do the same.

There are a lot of moving parts in a basketball shot, and a lot of things can go wrong at any given time. By learning how to analyze their shots, players can learn how to become their own personal shooting coach. 

The basketball tips listed below will help you diagnose and correct problems you're having with these 4 kinds of basketball shots:

*Note: The shooting technique for the set shot, jump shot, and free throw share a lot of similarities. So, instead of repeating the same tips, refer to the set shot first and then note the additional comments for the jump shot and free throw.

Better Basketball Shooting
Basketball Tips for Common Shooting Problems

Better Basketball Shooting
Set Shot

Problem #1: Shot goes off to the right or left


  • Shooting elbow, wrist, and hand are not lined up properly
  • Feet, hips, and shoulders are not squared up to the basket 
  • Feet are not pointed directly at the basket 
  • Shooting hand is not centered on the ball 
  • Non-shooting hand is pushing the ball 
  • Index finger and thumb of the shooting hand are not making a comfortable "V." They are either too close together or too far apart 
  • Ball is lined up on the side of the body, and the shot is pushed across the body 

Problem #2: Shot is short


  • There's not enough power from the legs. Push off the floor harder 
  • Feet are spread too far apart which decreases the power from the legs 
  • Shooter does not follow-through with elbow extension and snapping of the wrist
  • Rhythm and timing of the shot is off. The legs are not moving in sync with the shooting arm, so the shot loses power

Problem #3: Shot is long


  • Shooting arm releases the ball with too flat a trajectory; the ball doesn't have enough arc on it 
  • Shoulders lean back 
  • Shooting hand and non-shooting hand are too far apart, so the ball is pushed 
  • Shooting arm is not completely extended when the ball is released 
  • Shooter pushes forward off of the floor instead of straight up

Use this interactive video to help you fix the shooting problems you're having.

Problem #4: Shot is inconsistent


  • Shooting elbow, wrist, and hand are not lined up properly every time 
  • Ball is cocked over the shoulder rather than in the shooting pocket 
  • Head moves backward when the ball is released 
  • Shooting elbow sticks out from the side of the body
  • Shooter doesn't follow through
  • Shooting rhythm is jerky instead of smooth
  • Ball is released off of the ring finger instead of the index and middle finger "V"
  • Ball rests flat on the palm, which doesn't allow for any touch or control on the ball
  • Shooter's eyes aren't on the target during the entire shot
  • Non-shooting hand influences the shot by rotating behind the ball causing a side spin or getting the thumb in the way to push the ball

Better Basketball Shooting
Jump Shot

Look at the tips for a set shot above and then add the following:

Problem #1: Shot goes off to the right or left

Causes: Shooter jumps off balance to one side instead of going straight up

Problem #2: Shot is short


  • Ball is released on the way down rather than near the top of the jump
  • Shooting arm is overextended back over the head before the arm moves forward

Problem #3: Shot is inconsistent

Cause: Ball is cocked too far back over the head

Better Basketball Shooting
Free Throw

Look at the tips for a set shot above and then add the following:

Problem #1: Shot is inconsistent


  • Shooter changes the free throw routine every time
  • Muscles are tight because shooter is tense before and during shot
  • Shooter uses a slower or different rhythm on free throw than when shooting from the court
  • Shooter is distracted by what's going on in the environment instead of concentrating on the rim
  • Shooter lacks confidence and mind is full of negative thoughts
  • Follow through is cut short by stepping back off the line quickly to get back on defense or by going in too quickly for the rebound

Better Basketball Shooting

Problem #1: Shot is inconsistent


  • You jump forward rather than upward. Your forward motion causes the ball to slam into the backboard or rim with a flat trajectory instead of banking up high off the backboard so it can drop in. 
  • You go too fast, get off balance, and lose control of the ball so it comes off your shooting hand improperly.
  • You are out of control on your take-off, so you charge into your defender and then can't get back on defense quickly.
  • You swing the ball to the side before taking it up for the shot, exposing it to the defense. This allows the defender to block the shot or steal the ball.

The best way to achieve better basketball shooting is with a lot of practice using good basketball shooting drills and games.

When it comes to correcting mistakes, video is a helpful tool for helping coaches and players identify and correct errors in shooting form.

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